A closing in Walnut Creek!

I recently closed on a home at 536 Coralie Dr. in Walnut Creek. My clients, Kim and Adam (I have known Kim since the 90s!), had been living in a small flat in San Francisco for many years. But their last child recently went to college, and they decided the East Bay would be a nice place to live – and more affordable than the city.

We met this summer over lunch and talked about what they were looking for. They worked on their approval, we tinkered with their search criteria, and then started to look at homes. They fell in love with one right out of the gate, which had been on the market only a couple of days. When I called the listing agent to get additional information, I was informed they had just accepted a preemptive offer. 

A few weeks later, we looked at another set of houses and they decided to write. There were 7 offers. We went above the list price, and they decided to remove all contingencies. Three offers were countered: only those who removed contingencies and all above asking. So, the sellers did not counter price. I inquired with the agent if we were the highest and he said no. 

These clients were the fastest learners of how to compete in a crazy market. They decided to go all-in, gave them a couple of weeks of rent back, and won the house. They are so excited to have fruit trees, a backyard with extra space, and a cook’s kitchen. Sometimes dreams do come true!

A Celebration At Galpão Gaucho Brazilian Steakhouse

This was my first time eating here and it is definitely a place for celebrations. I took my son, Ryan, who was turning 30, and his girlfriend, Emma, for his birthday. He was out visiting high school friends for a long weekend and stayed at my house on Sunday. 

This is a high-end restaurant with a fixed-price menu. It is $63.67 per person, which includes a gourmet salad bar and all the meat you can eat, with popover bread and sides of mashed potatoes and fried bananas. 

You are given a card; the red side means you are not yet ready for meat, and the green side means to bring the spits by. Emma decided she wanted the meat right away while she was eating her salad, so they kept coming by the table. I ended up with meat because they kept stopping by.  I did feel a bit rushed.

However, if you order while eating the salad, you don’t fill up on the salad bar.  Of course, drinks, bottled water, and deserts are additional.  We brought a bottle of wine and the corkage fee was $25.  I was impressed with the salad bar; it was well-stocked and clean. You had to put on plastic gloves to pick up the tongs – part of COVID restrictions, I assume. 

A waiter would come with a big skewer of meat, slice a piece, and you would grab it with your tongs to put on your plate. A favorite among us was the roasted pineapple they would slice for you. Ryan and Emma mentioned they had been to other types of Brazilian restaurants and they were much larger, so it took longer for the different meats to come along. 

For me, I am not sure that would be a bad thing, as I would have liked a slower pace to enjoy the moment. Have you tried Galpão Gaucho? If so, what are your thoughts? Leave a comment!

New coffee shop just opened!

It looks like a new coffee shop just opened in downtown Walnut Creek! Good for them for opening during a lockdown, when so much is up in the air. I truly hope they do well! I saw their sign up in the Schroeder Insurance building a few weeks ago, but they hadn’t yet opened. I hav always admired this brick building it has such a cool architectural vibe, with the faux metal panels at the front entrance to the color of the bricks and now it is open for all to enjoy.

Now, according to their website and their Instagram, they are officially open for business, though at limited hours due to the pandemic (I’m guessing). The menu looks fantastic, and I really can’t wait to walk over and give it a try. Tellus Coffee is all about the healthy, good vibes. I mean, check out that plant wall!

That reminds me a lot of Rooted Coffee, which I’ve blogged about before. They found a brick-and-mortar home in Pleasant Hill after years at the Farmer’s Market. It seems like Tellus Coffee also has a ton of potential. Their menu includes everything from coffee to avocado toast to empanadas.

Here’s to hoping that COVID ends soon and we can all give Tellus a try indoors! For now it might just be grab and go. I know I’ll be placing a to-go order and visiting with my mask in the near future. I always love seeing what a new neighborhood coffee shop can offer our community!

Duncan Arcade Murals!

Walnut Creek has one of the most amazing ongoing public art projects a city can have and another one has just been completed. Strolling through Duncan Arcade downtown (the covered passageway that connects Main to Locust by the Amplify Barber Shop), I was thrilled to see some beautiful murals on the walls!

From: Bedford Gallery

Bay Area-based artists Velia De Iuliis, Cannon Dill, Casey Gray, Sirron Norris, and Ricky Watts are responsible for the art and did so in partnership with Walnut Creek Public Art. The murals were described by Bedford Gallery as “dynamic and colorful,” and that description really nails it.

As for the future, the city plans to rotate murals regularly, to give new artists a chance to participate in the project. For now, I’d highly recommend making a detour next time you’re wandering downtown to see these murals.

This visually improved the walkthrough from Main to Locust! Check out the shops along the way, Norf London always has fun items, and now there is a photography venue focusing on baby pictures.

Morucci’s: A History

During shelter-in-place, I did some giveaways supporting local businesses. One of them was a gift card to Morucci’s on Boulevard. I had an opportunity to speak with the owner, Robert Fambrini (a very Italian name for the owner of an Italian deli!), and ask a few questions.

He told me he spent 25 years in the Petrini’s market chain, a family-owned business until 1989. It was founded as a butcher shop in San Francisco in 1935 by Italian immigrant Frank Petrini and later expanded to specialize in gourmet foods. At the start of the 20th century, grocery stores were a lot like department stores, with different partners owning and operating their departments.

Robert was in six of the Petrini locations from San Francisco, Novato, and Moraga, to Walnut Creek. When asked what words of wisdom he would give his 18-year-old self, Robert replied, “Go slow. When you are young, you want to conquer the world, however financial issues will arise and you don’t want to extend yourself too far!”

He found trying to manage six locations at once was too much, and in 1989 Petrini’s ultimately sold to a Canadian company. Now he has been happy to focus on just one deli for the last 20 years – Morucci’s, in Walnut Creek. He says it is more profitable and much easier to manage. “It’s been a wild ride,” says Robert.

He said having one bigger deli is always better and that he’s happy it is in Walnut Creek. In hindsight, I wished I’d asked him how the name “Morucci’s” came about, but it was crowded and busy (no surprise to those who have been there!), so I’m grateful for his time.

On the state of things…

The murder of George Floyd has struck a chord with the world. It has created a spark, which has ignited the tinder ignored for decades. Unfortunately, unconscious bias, racism, and racial stereotyping exist. My hope is this movement will create the needed changes and initiate conversations for understanding and acceptance.

I am all for civil disobedience, freedom of speech, and the right to protest. There were thousands who came to Walnut Creek and peacefully protested. The key words are “civil” and “peaceful.” I deplore the few opportunists who choose to loot our cities. They dilute the message of the peaceful protestors and reinforce the opinion of those who are already biased or racist, and cause the police to be more vigilant. To be clear, I believe looting here and nationwide has mostly been done by outside agitators and opportunists who are not associated with the peaceful movement itself.

I live very close to downtown, and the night the looting occurred, I worried rioters would come into my neighborhood and I considered what I would do. The next day, there were some emails asking what we could do to keep our neighborhood safe if that happened. This photo was sent out. I suspect the police were preventing anybody from looting Kaiser, which is directly behind them, but also the main access to my neighborhood. The next night, when I heard helicopters, I felt safer and appreciated the police who are there to protect, though some heavy-handed police actions across the nation has made people skeptical about their intentions. The police, as a general entity, obviously have issues to fix. Their main duty is to serve and protect, and most do that admirably.

As a result of the looting on Monday, our beautiful town of Walnut Creek is boarded up. My heart also goes out to all the businesses who had to shut down or restrict their business activities due to the mandated shelter-in-place. They now have had to protect their businesses by boarding up the windows or repairing damage caused by the looting. The downtown area was closed off for a few days and there are very few who are wandering down there. Please continue to support them in whatever way you can. The day after the looting, many residents came downtown to help clean it up. Kudos to all who did. I only heard about it afterward – otherwise, I would have been there too.

I debated about posting this because there is fear in sharing it. Fear that I will say something wrong, offend somebody, or not say enough. I believe we all have a voice and we should express it when something is a concern and stand up for what is right. This is what protesting is all about and we should stand up for what we believe in. Our voices should be heard. Vote. Strive to make a change for good. Be heard.

I will end this with a quote by James Baldwin: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

“Broadway Club” coming to Walnut Creek

The seemingly always rotating lot where Corner’s Tavern and Bing Crosby’s have been is getting another new tenant. This time, it will be a concept called Broadway Club. From what I understand, it will be a music, dinner, and drinks club.

Image result for broadway club walnut creek
Courtesy of BroadwayPlaza.com

One thing I’m not sure about is how they will justify charging $20 or more to see a cover band, when you can get a similar musical experience for $5 at Dan’s (or for free some nights in Broadway Plaza!)? On the surface, it doesn’t seem worth it to me.

They will cater to events or corporate rental space, which could work. Maybe if it becomes a fun place to meet people like Bing Crosby’s was, they will make something out of it. We will see! I personally don’t really want to visit and pay that much for a cover band, but I’ll see how it all plays out. I would enjoy upcoming artists – maybe somebody like Alejandro from last year’s runner-up on American Idol.

What are your thoughts? Where is your go-to place for music downtown? Do you see yourself paying extra for a bigger, newer space to enjoy a band? Have you been? Would love your feedback.

DeAfghanan is a new flavor in Walnut Creek

I love variety, especially when it comes to food and other cultures. Cinco de Mayo, which used to occupy the space next to San Francisco Creamery, is now a Kabob House called DeAfghanan. I went recently and was pleasantly surprised.

The owner, Wais Omar, who is pictured below, left Kabul, Afghanistan in 1979 and moved to Fremont. There is a large Afghani population there, so that’s where he got his start with restaurants. He’s been cooking Afghani food for a long time, and you can tell! The meal was excellent.

Of course, we ordered a chicken Kabob, just like the one he is holding. We were asked if we wanted white or brown rice. The brown rice is really white rice with some special seasoning, which was recommended. And it was the right choice. We were also given some flatbread with a spread that most likely was some sort of yogurt dip.

Wais was a gracious host, who gave us a free eggplant appetizer that was out of this world! I really enjoyed my visit to DeAfghanan, and a vast improvement from the last establishment that lasted maybe six months. I look forward to going back and trying something new! The portions are a good size and if you are not too hungry, they could be split. I can see having a cold beer with these dishes once their liquor license is in hand. I would love to hear what you think!

Art Town: Lululemon Tree!

Sometimes, we can find some of the best art in the most random places in town. For instance, did I expect to see a really cool piece while wandering past Lululemon of all places? Definitely not. But here we are!

The store has a really interesting matted tree on its entrance, that looks sort of like a shadow and sort of like a permanent installation. Obviously it is there to stay, but it still kind of sneaks up on you until you pull back and look at it! The city of Walnut Creek is big on Art and require developers to have some sort of art at any new building project.

I have to say, a storefront like this is much more appealing to me than just a regular one with a bunch of signage and branding. What appeals to me most is it is unexpected, but blends in well.

Have you noticed any other uses of this style in downtown or around Walnut Creek? Send me pictures! I might feature it on my next Art Town blog! One that comes to mind is a past blog in front of the building across from Target – the trees on the front of the building look like shadows, but it is really hard to tell that is actually a piece of art.