Peet’s Coffee is holding its own

In a town dominated by big chains like Starbucks and Dunkin, and little hipster shops like The Coffee Shop, it’s impressive that Peet’s Coffee (also a chain, just not as big as the others!) is still standing in downtown Walnut Creek.

I still love going there for a cup of coffee, especially on the weekends when a group of regulars play some music in the morning. It’s such a good “locals” spot, they have some great seats out front and it seems like I always know somebody when I am there.

Peet’s recently remodeled, updated their interior and seating, they even changed the color of the ceiling – check it out if you haven’t already or just enjoy the pictures.

There are no shortage of coffee options in downtown Walnut Creek, but if you like a good strong cup of Joe and want to listen to some music wander down to Peet’s on a Saturday morning and see how you like it!

Art Town: Painted Frog!

I recently came across this in sculpture on my way to Physical Therapy. I hurt my shoulder back in March while skiing at Jackson Hole and kept thinking it would heal. In June, I finally went to my doctor to see if the PT would help. Muir Orthopedics recently moved to 2625 Shadelands Dr. in Walnut Creek. On the corner of Shadelands and N. Wiget, there is a community garden. On the Wiget side, I drive past this artwork and every time I laugh. This may not be the typical type of Walnut Creek art that I have shared in the past, but it is so funny and cute, I couldn’t pass it up!

The structure is made of rock, and shaped into a large frog with its tongue out, which is like a mosaic. The rocks have been painted to create a cute sculpture by the garden. I don’t know who created it, but I love it!

It’s refreshing to have a nice mix of goofy and eclectic art in our little town. We have a beautiful city to wander through, and this just adds another level of charm!

Art Town: BART parking

We discussed these cool pieces in a previous post about the Walnut Creek Transit Village, but I wanted to share the art and focus specifically on that. Also, you might need this link with so many changes coming to the BART parking situation. You’re welcome!
https://www.wcbartparking.com/

Dan Corson was the selected artist for the BART Station and it looks like it is part of his Grandicus work. This artwork celebrates its urban nature with bold colors that juxtapose its silhouettes against the beige backdrop of the parking structure. Sculpturally expressive in the daytime, the form and colors are designed to stand off against the neutral backdrop of the parking structure night, the artwork is designed to be responsive to the adjacent train environment.

It will celebrate the arrival and departures of the trains by changing color and providing chasing sequential colors that emanate from the cobra head fixtures. It is the intention that the colors will be more quiet and subdued (shifting between blues/teals/greens/yellows) and both sculptures slowly morph in the same color palette most of the time. When the trains arrive, the colors and speed of color changes and chases will become more “dynamic” and “active” and moveto a warmer palette (oranges/reds). Each train platform will be assigned to interact with one sculpture providing a sense of interactivity and dynamic change.

I have not seen it at night, but think the changing light will be in line with his other work that is quite spectacular. Check him out at: www.corsonart.com.

Monthly prices for a reserved spot in privately owned BART parking lot is now $120 a month. With Walnut Creek becoming such a hub for traveling workers, (see Riv.com a recent blog) it makes sense. All rents seem to be rising, look at the all changes in our local restaurant scene lately. At least this art brightens things up a bit!

Sunol Ridge is now TKK and that means Thai food

It must be a day ending in “y” if a popular restaurant in downtown Walnut Creek couldn’t keep its doors open. Sunol Ridge, which was a great little spot to get together for casual drinks or to watch a game, has given way to a new Thai restaurant called TKK.

It’s the way of the world in our little town now – high rents mean you always have to be busy, so I said goodbye to Sunol Ridge, and checked out TKK! You’ll be happy to hear that all those same TVs and a similar layout grace the building, so it’s still a good hang-out spot after work.

Obviously, the menu has changed now, but there is still a good Happy Hour at TKK, too! I went during the Warriors playoffs twice; once with a friend and once alone (when I ended up sitting next to an old friend!). The first time, we got the lettuce wrap appetizer and a couple of cocktails. The second time I had the lemongrass fish and both were amazing. The volcano beef (which is apparently very popular here), looked very appetizing. I was very happy with the food we got, and will definitely be back!

Event Round-Up: June 15th

It’s officially summer, in case you missed that massive heat wave at the beginning of the week! Time to plan around pool parties, trips to the beach, and picnics at the park! Here are some fun, local events for the next month or so happening in the Bay Area:

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Exploratorium: Self, Made (thru Sept. 2)

A really cool-looking exhibit about self-discovery that is on display for all ages at the Exploratorium all summer. Find out what makes you, you at this interactive-heavy exhibit. Information here.

Walnut Creek: Uncorked (June 20th)

The best restaurants in Walnut Creek offer delicious food, you’ll get to sip wine and walk through downtown, and mingle with the rest of the local community at this annual event. Get tickets here!

Walnut Creek: Music and Movies at the Park (June 21st)

This summer movie and music series will start at Tice Valley Park on 6/21, showing Bumblebee and playing the Rossmorr Band. Music starts at 7 p.m., and the movie starts around 8:30 (at sundown). Bring your family! Information here.

Pleasant Hill: Summer Concerts by the Lake (June 23)

Every other Sunday in Pleasant Hill, you can enjoy free music by the lake from 6-8 pm. On this date in particular, you can take in the sounds of Midnight Flyer. For more info and a full schedule, visit:
https://www.ci.pleasant-hill.ca.us/888/Festivals-Events.

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The Mercury News

Orinda: CalShakes (July 3rd)

Can’t beat a great outdoor venue for some small-time theater. Though the run on A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be over at CalShakes, you could take up The Good Person of Szechwan or plan ahead for House of Joy or MacBeth later in the season. Get more info here.

More apartments to come in WC Transit Village

As you may have noticed, the Walnut Creek BART station has taken on some renovations. There is now a new large 900 space parking structure along with a bus terminal at street level on the southwest side of the Bart station. Now, the loading zone is on the opposite side and getting there is trickier than it used to be as you can’t get in and out of area the way you could before.

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WCTransitVillage.com

This is all part of the transformation to the Walnut Creek Transit Village which is starting to taking shape. In addition to all the construction of apartments and condos on the side streets around Walnut Creek BART (see past blogs), they are building a mixed-use development with 360 apartment units, shops, restaurants and public plazas in the northwest lot next to Pringle Ave. It is supposed to have all the amenities you’d expect from a modern housing development (co-working space, pool and spa, rooftop deck, bike repair lounge, fitness center, etc.). Currently, there is a fence surrounding this old parking space and lots of weeds.

The second part of this project, on the corner of N. California Blvd. and Ygnacio Valley Rd. will have about 240 units and 12,000 square feet of retail space. That is expected to break ground next year. Combined with all the other new living areas around BART, the station really is being transformed into a living/shopping village.

The renderings look beautiful and the BART police station rendering turned out exactly like the finished product. As with any new development, the city requires some sort of art work to be installed and the most recent garage addition recently added their personal touch. We’ll discuss these pieces later in a separate blog post. My son visited me this weekend, hasn’t been in Walnut Creek since last August, and he feels it has really changed in nine short months. Our once sleepy town has grown up and continues to transform.

Event Round-Up: May 18th

We’re almost all the way into summer here in Walnut Creek! The kids will be out of school soon, and the days will keep getting longer and warmer, giving us ample opportunities to take advantage of some awesome Bay Area events.

Diablo Symphony – May 19th (Walnut Creek)

The Diablo Symphony presents Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and Bach’s Double Violin Concerto tomorrow at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek! You can get tickets at the door, preceding the 2 p.m. concert. The Symphony Orchestra will be joined by members of the San Ramon Valley High School orchestra for this performance!

Rooftop History Walking Tour – May 31st (San Francisco)

Real estate nerd alert! This sounds so interesting to me, and if you like rooftops with beautiful views, you’ll be amazed by which buildings in the city might have them. This is a really cool tour to take if you like history, as you’ll get into some of the more exclusive private buildings in SF. Tickets are just $35.

Art & Wine Festival – June 1st (Walnut Creek)

For the weekend of June 1st, you can take advantage of an awesome event right in our own backyard! Pair your wine and beer with food vendors, art, live music, a Kids Zone, and more! It’s time for the Walnut Creek Art & Wine Festival. More info here.

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Walnut Creek First Wednesdays – June 5th (Walnut Creek)

Did you miss out on last month’s First Wednesday celebration? Because they are a great time! You can make up for it by coming downtown on Weds., June 5th to take part in a small street fair right here in Walnut Creek. Get more info here – you won’t want to miss it!

Walnut Creek Uncorked – June 20th (Walnut Creek)

Sip, stroll, socialize. Walnut Creek’s Uncorked event is taking place on June 20th downtown! You can sip wines, eat local food, listen to live music, and just wander downtown with your wine. I’d recommend getting tickets in advance, as this event is popular every year!

Art Town: “Dogs” and “Cats”

Anyone who knows me knows I love animals. I have a Weimaraner, Bodie, who is my best buddy! We go hiking together all the time, and I can’t wait to get home to him every day. He even occasionally comes into the office.

So, when I saw this utility box, you know I had to stop and check it out! They are simply titled “Dogs” and “Cats” by Ammo Waylon. I couldn’t find much information on these online, but they speak for themselves!

Two sides of the box are dedicated to dogs and two sides dedicated to cats. It sits right in front of Walnut Creek Yacht Club, which has some fun upcoming events and starting their 23rd year in Walnut Creek on May 7th. Check out the utility box when you stop by for either Mother’s Day lunch or dinner with a special fixed price menu (note: they are normally closed on Sundays or May 29th with their annual Rum Dinner); June 26th is not a Wine Dinner – its a Beer Dinner with the special guest founder of Calicraft Brewing. And finally Oysterfest #7 is on August 11th.

Tomatina a lasting WC classic

As we’re all well aware by now, restaurants and stores open and close in downtown Walnut Creek on a weekly basis these days. Downtown is prime real estate, and as such, prices continue to rise and push out smaller, poorer businesses.

Unfortunately, that means some Walnut Creek classics end up falling by the wayside (I still miss places like Taxi’s, for example!). Then, there are the restaurants that have been popular downtown for many years and remain that way even in the face of massive churn.

One of those places – a steady favorite – is Tomatina. It is right there on the busiest corner of downtown, next to La Fogata and Teleferic/Rooftop. They’ve been turning out truly delicious Italian food in Walnut Creek since the 90’s and will hopefully be doing so for many more. They are known for their focus on fresh ingredients and seasonal specials.

The piadine is one of their signature dishes. Many know it as an Italian flatbread sandwich, but it’s so much more. After having one, it is easy to understand why so many always order this dish. It is essentially a flatbread topped with a fresh salad and a protein that you fold and eat. Everything is handmade here, and it shows in their food.

My favorite item, of course, is the piadine, but their pastas are also really good. The piadine is also great to go and take into the movie theater – shhh, just don’t tell Century Movie Theaters! It is also a great place to take the kids – or even your dog – as long as they sit outside the fence next to your table on the patio.

Keep supporting local businesses downtown; especially those like Tomatina that we don’t want to see fall victim to the ever-rising rents in Walnut Creek. They are located in seven Bay Area cities.

Go check out First Wednesdays tomorrow!

Every first Wednesday of every month from May through September, Walnut Creek Downtown will be hosting Walnut Creek First Wednesdays! That means that tomorrow is the first celebration of the entire season.

Walnut Creek First Wednesdays
Credit: WalnutCreekDowntown.com

Walnut Creek First Wednesdays include live music, dancing, food trucks, wine and beer, a Kids Fun Zone, interactive games, free prizes, and a Chef’s Demo – sounds like a mini Bottlerock! To add a little bonus, parking in garages downtown after 5 p.m. on Wednesdays is free.

Tomorrow, the festivities kick off with the band Neon Velvet. You can take part from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Cypress St. Admission is free, and it’s a great way to explore our little downtown that has become so hip in recent years!

I’d highly recommend checking it out. I’ve been to events like this in the past on Cypress St., and it’s always a good time with the family or friends, especially on warm evenings. The Walnut Creek Downtown organization does a great job hosting, so check it out if you are not in the mood to cook!