Lokanta is the new Mediterranean spot downtown

Mediterranean food is a favorite of mine – from hummus to kebobs to fish, they always make their dishes with savory flavors that keep me happy. Here in Walnut Creek, we just got a new place for all you foodies to try and will probably give Opa a run for their money: Lokanta!

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Lokanta has menus for all types of occasions: brunch, lunch, dinner, happy hour, dessert, kids’ menu and more. I tried the Lokanta Classic Martini, it was perfect, the St. George Botanivore Gin made a big difference.  Of course the flaming cheese is an attraction and delicious along with the mixed platter.

Their daily happy hour is from 3-6 p.m., and their delicious appetizers (hummus, pita, meatballs, dolmas, soup, salad, calamari, lamb burger, shish kebab…to name a few) are all $10 or less at that time. Beers and wine are $5 or less and they have bottomless mimosa brunches both Saturday and Sunday.

Lokanta has another popular location in Pleasanton, but only recently opened its doors on Locust St. in Walnut Creek where you will see the owner making his rounds that everything is running smoothly and the customers are happy.

For you wine-lovers, there is a half-off wine deal on Mondays and no corkage fee on Tuesdays if you want to bring your own bottle to the restaurant.  The atmosphere is cozy, a great bar area and community table  to eat as seats become available.

All in all, I highly recommend giving Lokanta a shot next time you’re downtown or craving some Mediterranean/Greek food in Walnut Creek. I give it 4 out of 5 Mt. Diablo’s!

WC Proposed Land Use Survey

In a recent survey given by the Walnut Creek City Council about proposed land use and circulation concepts, we saw some interesting results about what citizens want to see in the future. Take a look at the survey results here.

Residents may want more bike lanes like these ones in Portland, OR, as long as they don’t interfere with parking!

For example, people really seem to like the idea of bike lanes, but want landscaping and extra parking even more, and most don’t want additional living spaces.

One theme throughout the results was that people want more creative, walkable spaces. One question asks if facilitating a “Makers’ Row” along Pine St. for hand-crafted manufacturing spaces like brewing, ceramics and jewelry-making was a priority. An overwhelming 75.1 percent of respondents supported that idea.

Most questions regarding more office or living developments were either split evenly or heavily disfavored. It seems like residents of Walnut Creek are more interested in retail and restaurant spaces, publicly usable areas and space that encourages outdoor activity than just another apartment building.

Beautiful parklets like Coffee Shop’s might start gracing the Walnut Creek streets if poll respondents have their way! (From Coffee Shop’s Instagram feed)

In fact, 74.2 percent of respondents support an arts-entertainment-hospitality district that might include an outdoor plaza for events and with a focus on public art. A general question about enhancing the public realm with small public plazas, parklets and seating areas received a whopping 79 percent approval on the survey.

When the survey then asked what that proposed arts-entertainment-hospitality district would look like, hotels, conference facilities and mixed-use living/work spaces were all not supported by the majority of respondents. Anywhere from 65 to 81 percent of people who responded did support restaurants, retail, art galleries and theaters in that section of the survey, though.

This is an interesting glimpse into the potential future of our great little city. What do you have to say about the poll? Do you agree or disagree with the results?

Road Trips: Concord Pavilion

Have some of our other “Road Trips” installments been too far away for your liking? Love music and being outdoors like me? Then this blog is for you!

Recently, I took a short trip to the Concord Pavilion – basically the mini-me of Shoreline Amphitheater – to see One Republic play a show. It was a rare warm summer night; we sat on the grass, brought in sushi and enjoyed the show. Fitz and the Tantrums were the opening act and they were also very good. It’s a really fun place to hang out with friends, grab a drink and enjoy an outside concert.

One Republic is one of my favorite bands. This is the third time I have seen them – but the Super Bowl arena in downtown San Francisco didn’t really count since it was so crowded and with limited space. The front guy Ryan Tedder is extremely multi-talented. I didn’t realize until this concert that he wrote “Rumor Has It” for Adele, plus songs for Rihanna, Ed Sheeran and many more artists.

The Pavilion is bigger than you’d expect for a venue buried in the East Bay, holding up to 12,500 guests. When I was there, it was packed but didn’t feel suffocating.

Other acts on the schedule include country stars like Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan, as well as Janet Jackson. Kings of Leon, Linkin Park, Fall Out Boy and Nicki Minaj are some of the performers who have graced the Pavilion stage in the past couple years.

To get to the Pavilion, just drive up to Kirker Pass in Concord and follow the signs. It is a fun evening the whole family can enjoy!

New City Manager & the Walnut Festival is coming!

Walnut Creek has a new City Manager as of August 7th: Dan Buckshi. I attended a welcoming reception at Lesher last week. After 15 years in San Luis Obispo County and the last five as County Administrative Officer (similar to County Manager), Dan is excited to be in Walnut Creek.

He just wrote his first City Manager’s Update, including a nugget about the Walnut Festival …

via Patch.com

If you’re new to Walnut Creek  – or haven’t been in some time like myself – I recommend going to the festival! I especially have wonderful memories with my boys and as they got into their tweens. It was a safe place to drop them off for a couple of hours, allowing them to gain some independence. You’ll be amazed by the number of people who show up to ride the rides, test out the carnival food and play games.

There is also live music and performances, and the nearby glory of Heather Farm Park in and of itself. This is truly the biggest event of the year in Walnut Creek.

Don’t forget about the nostalgic twilight parade that kicks off the event is this Saturday at 6 p.m.  It will travel along Walnut Creek’s Main Street from Mt. Diablo Boulevard to Civic Drive, ending at Civic Park.

This year’s theme, “Through The Wide Eyes of a Child,” is all about imagination and whimsically-created costumes, floats, decorated cars, motorcycles, bicycles, bands, drill teams, cheer teams
and all others who will entertain us with their talents and creativity.  They are encouraging people to join in on the theme and attend the parade in costume.

The Carnival portion of the 81st Annual Walnut Festival will take place from September 21-24 at Heather Farms.

Did you know the original festival was held in 1911 and was called The Grape Festival? For more information and a little bit of history, you can visit The Walnut Festival Association website here.

Enjoy this wonderful Walnut Creek tradition!!!

Beat the heat with San Francisco Creamery!

What’s better than ice cream on a hot day? San Francisco Creamery packs it on! This picture below is a “1 scoop” with two different flavors. If you get the 2 scoop, you’re eating an entire pint of ice cream!

Most people who live in or around Walnut Creek have probably stopped into the Creamery for a quick bite – they have food and drinks in addition to their delicious ice cream!

There are a lot of great spots in Walnut Creek for ice cream and frozen yogurt, but San Francisco Creamery is one of the tastiest and most recognizable. Did you know there was even a Man vs. Food episode taped there? He took on the “Kitchen Sink,” which is an insurmountable mountain of ice cream!

With the hot, late-summer weather engulfing the East Bay, take the family, stroll down Locust St. and grab a scoop or two from the Creamery. You won’t be disappointed!

Open House: 4391 Pembroke Dr. (Concord)

The Kristin Lanham Team has another beautiful home going on the market – this one is in Concord, on Pembroke Dr. Take a look at some of the pictures below, and swing by for a peek at our Open House this weekend!
 
The home is a cozy, mid-century charmer with a serene, quiet backyard. There is room for an RV or a boat, which includes a spa and storage shed, all surrounded by professional landscaping and lots of plants and flowers.
An open concept makes it warm and welcoming. The updated kitchen with its expansive island is the centerpiece for family gatherings and additional storage. The open-beamed ceilings add to the interior charm. There are stylish updated bathrooms, dual-pane windows, lots of natural light and great flow from outdoor to indoor for entertaining.
 
This house has been meticulously loved – an updated, warm interior and a vibrant backyard planted specifically to attract hummingbirds, butterfiles, and bees.  A perfect place to call home!
Come take a look at the Open House this weekend from 1-4 p.m. on both Saturday (9/9) and Sunday (9/10)!
3 bedrooms | 2 baths | 1250 sq. ft. |.17 acre lot
Offered at $580,000
To take a virtual tour of 4391 Pembroke Dr., click HERE!

What is the most expensive zip code in CA?

If you had to guess which California city has the most expensive real estate, what would you say? San Francisco, maybe? Certain parts of Los Angeles – remember the show 90210?
Watkins-Cartan House, 98 Alejandra Ave., Atherton, CA
Nope, the honor goes to the 94027 zip code – Atherton, CA. For those not familiar, Atherton is right above Palo Alto and the average cost of a home there is…wait for it…$6.17 million. According to Zillow, home values in Atherton reached a low point in summer 2009, dipping below $3 million.
I asked my friend Jay Vorhees of JVM Lending what kind of average income would be necessary to afford a home in Atherton at 25 percent and 50 percent down.
Given that the average income in Atherton is about $250,000, I was wondering how exactly a median home price of $6.17 million was affordable there! Here’s his assessment:
Assuming no consumer debt, a 4.0% rate and a 42% debt ratio, with 25% down, PITI would be about $29,000 per month (rounded). This would require $69,000 of monthly income or $828,000 annually.
With 50% down, PITI would be about $22,000 per month (rounded). This would require about $52,500 of monthly income or $630,000 annually.
So how does the average income earner in that area afford Atherton? Most likely people have had these homes for years, thus the lower income. For new purchases, stock options from IPOs are not usually included in your annual income, thus allowing the the nouveau riche of Silicon Valley to buy with cash or put 50% or more down.

Brewery madness in the Bay!

I occasionally like a good beer and love trying new brews, especially with all the microbreweries popping up around the Bay Area. We had our annual Parkmead Community Associate block party this past Saturday and Adam, one of our Board members, was adamant about getting a keg of quality beer. He was given a budget and the task of ordering it. He got a beer called Simtra, a triple IPA by Knee Deep Brewery in CA with 11.25% alcohol. Apparently, there are folks who are very serious about their beer. This blog is for you.

We’ve blogged about Farm Creek Brewing and Calicraft in the past, and they remain standouts in Walnut Creek. There is also no shortage of amazing breweries in San Francisco, where the craft beer scene is unmatched in Northern California. Check out this list of lesser-known places to try next time you’re craving a beer in the city.

In the intro of that article, they mention my writer’s favorite local brewery, 21st Amendment. They recently built a massive new brewery and factory in San Leandro.

Of course, Oakland is also stocked full of good spots to check out the beer scene. Oakland Brewing Company, Faction, and Golden Gate Brewing come to mind, but I’ve heard great things about all the little breweries popping up in Oakland!

If you’re into beer, you’ll want to try as many of these cool places as possible. Start here in Walnut Creek and then move West from there. Make sure you take Lyft, and give a shout-out to your favorites!

Open House at 10 Stugun Ct. (Pleasant Hill) today and tomorrow!

Are you a family with kids looking for a new Bay Area home? Check out this spacious Valhalla North property, located walking distance from Valhalla Elementary!

It’s situated on a cozy court and has a massive, naturally-shaded hillside deck with a perfect view of Mt. Diablo. This home will adapt to changing needs – whether you have a small, growing family or one that spans multiple generations. The five bedrooms and three bathrooms will do the trick.

Downstairs, you have one large bedroom with a full bath that can serve as a master suite. Add to that newer stamped concrete, recessed lighting, plantation shutters, updated baths and ample storage, and you’ve got a winner here in Pleasant Hill.

You can check out a virtual tour of the home here.

Come swing by our Open House at 10 Stugun Court in Pleasant Hill from 1-4 p.m. both today (Saturday, 8/26) and tomorrow!

 

Join us this Saturday for the Dewing Park Pool Party!

Parkmead neighbors: come join us for our annual pool block party at Dewing Park this Saturday! We’ll be grilling burgers and dogs from 11-3 and the pool will be open to all.

Also, Adam (one of our board members) really wanted a keg of quality beer for the adults. So, he was given a budget and tasked with ordering: he decided on a triple IPA by Knee Deep Brewery called Simtra.

You don’t want to miss out on this Parkmead Community Association block party. The burgers, dogs, sunshine, 11.25% beer music by Funky Jams from Las Lomas and cool pool will be well worth your time on a hot day, temperatures are forcasted to be 95 degrees.

Living in the neighborhood all these years, I can attest to the close-knit community that is only grown through events like this. It is a great way to get to know your neighbors and be part of your community.

Check out some fun photos from years past: