Newell Promenade becoming apartments soon?

I have some unsurprising news, fellow Walnut Creekians: another block of high-rise apartments is expected to go up in the downtown area soon.


This time, it’ll be where the Newell Promenade is (360 Burritos, former home of Taxi’s, etc.), across from Kaiser. A developer bought the commercial space and they want to develop it into a mixed space with retail on the bottom and more apartments above. It would include a 5-story, 120,574-sq. ft. building with 102 residential apartments, more retail than is currently in the plaza, plus two levels of parking.

There have been discussions about utilizing the creek in that area; I can see a restaurant with a patio overlooking the creek, but then where would the front entrance be?

The developers who bought the buildings in the Newell Promenade have had conversations about presenting ideas formally to the Parkmead and other surrounding neighborhoods. So far, they’ve had two conversations with members of the Parkmead Community Association but only got some basic input and opinions; not a representation of the entire community.  There have also been some informal meetings amongst home owners and attendance at the planning committee.

Walnut Creek City Council asked the group to prove more what they want to do and to make the presentation more user-friendly.  Then we will see how it works out. I asked my favorite cleaners – Vogue, who currently are doing business in the Newell Promenade, what their thoughts were. They think it will be a few years out before anything happens and they have another two years on their lease, so they can’t worry about what will be and only continue to focus on their business. My biggest concern will be how much the rents will go up and whether my cleaners will be able to stay at that location.

You can get more information on the development proposal at this link.

Also, on a sidenote, the city is finally putting in a z-shaped crosswalk to make it safer. We won’t have to worry about running over people scurrying across that busy road between Kaiser and Newell Promenade!

Sauced Opens in the old Pyramid Location

Pyramid Alehouse was a long-standing favorite in downtown Walnut Creek, but has recently given way to a new barbecue joint called Sauced.

The owners are cousins (one raised in Pleasanton, one in the South) and imported everything from the South – from the wood used in the restaurant to the menu and drinks. Their goal is to bring authentic BBQ to Northern California, but they did not bring southern pricing to the table.


Where the old Pyramid brewery tanks were is now a huge, open bar and that seating area looks massive with the new layout. They do trivia on Tuesday and Bingo on Wednesday each week, and the dining area also has plenty of space for big groups.

I had the brisket which was served with apple coleslaw (very good) and a slice of corn bread with whole kernel corn (authentic and tasty) plus two drinks. It was rich and I had a food coma for a few hours, but maybe the drinks attributed to the feeling.

The food and ambiance is good; my son ordered a Cubana, which includes a fried pickle in it and two sides, the cost $20. The BBQ I have had outside of Austin, TX would cost much less and is just as good, but we can’t all go to Austin for some down-home BBQ and I am sure our rents are much higher, thus Sauced is local and may be the next best thing if you are hunkering for BBQ.

They do have a great bar area, tons of mico-brews to choose from and a daily happy hour. It is a great place to gather with friends and enjoy a game. Pyramid left some pretty big shoes to fill, considering its popularity, so time will tell if Sauced can keep the seats filled. I do hope they continue the live music on the patio in the summer and would love to hear what you think and if you know of any other great BBQ spots!

Art Town: Sea Queen

This week for Art Town, we have another cool utility box in downtown Walnut Creek. This one is by Casey Rasmussen White and located at the corner of Locust and Cypress right along side Sunol Ridge.

As you can see, this is a multimedia work with an interesting perspective on the “sea queen” herself. I really liked the quote on the side: “She was made of magic that only I could see.”

I was also lucky enough to get a snapshot of a mother and her kid admiring it. Looked like the mother was trying to explain the art to her child – it was adorable!

Lemonade is a healthy, delicious lunch option

Lemonade opened up a location next to Corner’s Tavern and across from Stanford’s at the outskirts of Broadway Plaza – if you haven’t tried it yet, you should!

Lemonade is best known for its healthy options and a buffet-style bar of grab-and-go meals. You can get anything from sandwiches, salads and soups to four samplers in one box of premade options much like the Whole Foods hot bar.

It’s quick and easy and all the food I’ve tried there has been really great. Most recently, I had a poke salad with avocado mash. Oh, and as the name implies, they also have a great selection of fresh lemonades to choose from!

I really like this as a healthy lunch and quick lunch option as you can be in and out in 10 minutes, but I still miss La Boulange and wish Starbucks would have kept them around. Let me know what you think!

Art Town: Family

There is a very good chance you’ll recognize today’s Art Town sculpture. Even if you don’t bank with Chase (or Washington Mutual, as it used to be known), you’ll surely have wandered past “Family” on the corner of Newell and S. Main before.

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This is a bronze sculpture (it has changed colors over the years because of basic exposure to the elements) created by Richard Ellis and placed on that corner in 1982. It was one of the first public pieces of art in Walnut Creek!

Ellis made the 9-foot tall sculpture to represent a timeless scene of “a fleeting moment in time.” Very cool! Fun fact about Ellis, who studied Sculpture in Los Angeles: he crafted the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award that was presented to Oprah Winfrey in 2002.

Art Town: The Reader

I love this utility box art on Locust St. and Cypress St. by Ruth Kolman Brophy. She is an Austrian artist living in the Bay Area. As you can clearly see by this beautiful mural, she is very influenced by working with bold colors. What a great piece!

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Z Gallerie’s shelves full of treasures

Z Gallerie has made a triumphant return to Walnut Creek!

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Years ago, the furniture and home decor store was open where Patio World currently resides and now it has a new home where Anthropologie was on Locust St. This location might have more staying power than the last one, given their nice new storefront and the addition of more parking.

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I went there recently and saw some fanciful items. The store is organized primarily by color. I especially liked the cool skull selection – also love those pillows. It is very hip with many accouterments, some furniture, and perfect for some last-minute Christmas gifts, too!

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img_9620 img_9617I remember when I first moved to San Francisco, I would browse Z Gallerie and think about the days I could afford their stuff and have a home to put it in. Flash forward to today: I see a lot of stuff that isn’t really needed, but are extras to decorate your home with in current styles. Either they’ve changed their merchandise, or I’ve changed my views!

Art Town: Laws of Nature

One of my favorite utility box art projects is on the corner of Cypress and N. Main St. in downtown Walnut Creek near Bonanza; it’s called “Laws of Nature,” and was done by Netsanet Tesfay.

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Information on the artist and the piece are scarce, but I love the childish, cartoonish lion overlapping with a passage from C.S. Lewis’ collection of signature spiritual classics.

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Art Town: Tree Art!

You may not always notice some of the public art in Walnut Creek, especially when it blends in with your surroundings, or is tucked away on a less heavily-walked part of downtown. The latter was true for me, until I stumbled upon a really cool tree across from the creek next to Maria Maria.

Check out the creativity that went into creating this little scene, and allowing a nice place to sit down. I couldn’t find any title or artist information, but this piece is awesome! I especially love the quotes on the bench!

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Art Town: I’m Your Puppet

Walnut Creek has been doing a really cool utility box painting project for a few years, and they’ve recently changed some of their art for 2017. You can see more information on the program and recent additions here, but we’ll be including some in Art Town moving forward.

This one is called “I’m Your Puppet” by Jennifer Bain and covers the utility box on the corner of Newell and Main. Check it out!
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