Burger Lounge, Hella Good!

Burger Lounge, the new burger joint on Oak Grove Rd., is making its first foray into Northern California with its Walnut Creek location.

Rooted in San Diego, they are well-known for their grass-fed beef, craft sodas, huge salads, half-and-half fries and onion rings and delicious shakes. The decor is fresh and stylish; I saw lots of people comfortable and conversing.

(Note: if you get there after 11:30 on weekdays, there will be a line out the door)

Burger Lounge also serves wine and local craft beer (Calicraft at the Walnut Creek location). Maybe the coolest aspect of the Burger Lounge mission is that they try so hard to make food that tastes good but is also as sustainable as possible. As mentioned, their burgers are grass-fed and they avoid a lot of the processed ingredients other places use.

I really liked my burger. I got mine to go and it was gone before I hit 680. Overall, I give Burger Lounge FIVE Mt. Diablo’s! Give it a try and let me know if you agree.

Are Walnut Creek’s In-N-Out dreams dead?

According to ABC7, the new In-N-Out location Walnut Creekians have been salivating over might be in trouble.

Just TRY to say no to this picture…

Apparently, a community near the proposed site (N. Main St. at Second Ave.) of the new location is trying to stop the construction because of the expected long drive-thru line that will cause traffic and late night noise.

The city has not taken a stance yet, and the owner of the property already has it zoned for a restaurant, so it may very well still happen. Would In-N-Out have a restaurant without the drive-thru window? If so, how will In-N-Out feed all the folks who don’t want to leave their cars to eat their fast food?

Anyway, the local community rightly likes its quiet, peaceful street and think there is already a plethora of fast food restaurants nearby, making In-N-Out unnecessary.  My son will be bummed, I for one am indifferent.  They are not my favorite, the patty is too small…stay tuned for future blogs on our areas burger locals.

This would look great on N. Main St. Just saying.In all seriousness, it looks like the city will plan a few public hearings after they review the proposal again. It remains to be seen if the local community will have their way, or if residents of Walnut Creek will be able to save themselves 10 minutes of driving on 680 (in either direction…) for those juicy burgers.

For what it’s worth, the anti-In-N-Out petition on Change.org has about 10 times as many signatures as the pro-In-N-Out petition. At least our town gets involved.

Road Trips: Strawberry Jam 5K in Capay

Grab your kids for a short road trip! Today there is a fun event going on in Capay (1.5 hours from Walnut Creek, just North of Vacaville): a 5K run and farm tour at Capay Organic.

I get produce from the delivered to my door weekly if I choose and you pick what you put into that box – of course it is only fruits and veggies currently in season and they often have a recipe included.  Last week I got sunchokes as I forgot to modify my order – these are also called Jerusulum  articokes and I made a wonderful potato sunchoke latke which will be recreated and served for Easter Brunch.

From the Capay Organic website.

Tickets are available here, and sign in begins at 10 a.m., with the run starting a half hour later. The farm will be open to tours from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and includes the options of tractor rides, a Q&A, arts and crafts, face-painting, a petting zoo and an Easter egg hunt!

If that’s not the most perfect way to spend Saturday of Easter weekend, I don’t know what is! For you foodies, there will be a little farmer’s market section with local honey, olive oil and pesto tastings, fresh Mexican food and plenty of sweet dessert and coffee options.

For a little different twist on your regular Bay Area road trip, consider Capay Organic for your next weekend away. They have events almost every month, and the pictures make it look like an absolutely gorgeous setting. I wish I could have been there today myself!

The problem with large AMC’s for lenders and clients

Our friend Jay Vorhees at JVM Lending wrote a blog recently about Apprisal Management Companies (AMC’s) that I found really interesting. Jay wrote about the mess that usually comes out of a broker-lender relationship due to appraisal issues.

Family Home, Residence, Contemporary, Property, Modern

After the mortgage melt down the laws changed that required lenders to use AMCs instead of cherry picking their appraisers directly.  This past practice created an opportunity for dishonest practices.  However, creation of AMC’s created a separate list of issues and caused the cost of appraisals to increase.  The AMC’s usually paid the appraisers too little and decreased motivation by appraisers to do a good job or they hired inexperienced appraisers because the seasoned appraisers got out of the business as their salary decreased. Initially there was no parameters in place for the appraiser you got.  Many times, I got an appraiser from Sacramento appraising a property in the Walnut Creek School District and would get a low value because the comps they pulled were parts of Walnut Creek not in the school district.  As you can imagine, this led to some huge problems

As time passed, mortgage brokers such as JVM have moved to a “mortgage banking channel” to avoid using AMC’s and now utilize their own internal AMC that is still compliant but staffed by competent, local, highly-skilled appraisers of JVM’s choosing.  The lender still can’t talk to the appraiser, but at least they have control of the quality of appraisers and know the area they are appraising.

For more information about this topic, see this Washington Post article Jay quoted in his blog. You can visit JVM Lending here.

Pending: 304 Grapevine Pl. (Pleasant Hill)

A past client just put his home at 304 Grapevine Place in Pleasant Hill on the market. It went pending in 7 days and received four offers all over the asking price.

He only bought 15 months ago, but a career with the Coast Guard has him moving to Seattle and he will still walk away with some money in his pocket, although he is telling me Seattle is as pricey as the East Bay if not more so.

I love helping our military sellers and VA buyers. I specialize in knowing about the VA loan, have worked on a military base in Nuremberg, Germany and have a son who is currently in the Navy (on a nuclear sub, NuPoc graduate). If you know somebody who is eligible for the VA benefits and would like to know more about the home buying process, I would be honored to help them.

You can take a tour of their beautiful home here. If you’d like to know what it takes to get your home sold in 7 days or be next on my list of satisfied customers, please give me a call or visit my website at www.kristinlanham.com.

Art Town: Sparks

Tucked away in front of a building on Cole Ave. (off N. California Blvd. by The Counter), is a cool sculpture called “Sparks.” I never would have noticed it if not for looking up while I was walking by.

The sculptor is Linda Fleming, a longtime sculpture professor at California College of the Arts. She has three major pieces at the Oakland Museum, which you can see HERE, HERE and HERE.

Lesson learned: always pay attention to your surroundings so you don’t miss anything!

Broderick doesn’t live up to the legend of Hubcaps

My son Jackson and I tried Broderick recently. And as much as I loved Hubcaps, which formerly occupied the space there, I have to say Broderick was slightly disappointing.

I used to go to Hubcaps for burgers before movies, and it was a Walnut Creek classic. But it definitely needed a remodel, so when the owners shut it down with the intent of rebranding as Broderick, I was pretty excited.

There’s a definite decor and lighting change, and a better bar-sitting situation if you want to watch a game while eating. The casual atmosphere is nice, and updated compared to its predecessor. Unfortunately, that’s about as far as the positives went.

Jackson ordered a burger and I ordered a fried chicken sandwich. I had visions of the fried chicken you get at Tender Greens, however, I got a thickly, breaded, heavily-seasoned coating that separated from my chicken. Jackson’s burger was ordered medium but only had a tiny bit of pink in the middle – and was dry.

This may sound like a funny complaint, but we also had so many fries on our plates that there was no room to put ketchup. Speaking of the fries, they had weird seasoning on them. The sriracha-mayo doused my chicken sandwich and made the whole situation sloppy and hard to eat.

The huge pickles on the sandwiches were good, and the artisan buns were great. They do have brunch there and the wait staff was attentive, but did not ask us about our meal. The food just wasn’t special and it cost $38 for two burgers, fries and a beer.

Overall, I give it 2 Mt. Diablo’s out of 5.

April events to mark on your calendar!

Believe it or not, it’s already almost April! As the calendar turns from winter to spring, Diablo Magazine has provided a few awesome ideas for local events in the Bay Area next month.

Image result for mt. diablo

Here are four of the best ones that I’m personally interested in going to:

The Naked Magicians: April 3rd at Livermore’s Bankhead Theater

An Australian duo who put on “the world’s naughtiest magic show,” complete with illusions and comedy. Adults only!

Bay Area Craft Beer Festival: April 22nd at Martinez waterfront

More than 50 local breweries, live music and food trucks from all over the East Bay? Yes, please!

Diablo Trails Challenge: April 15th at Mt. Diablo

You can choose from a 5K, 10K, 1/2 marathon and a 50K. Partial proceeds go to Save Mount Diablo!

Monet: The Early Years: Through May 29th at Legion of Honor (San Francisco)

You can get a cool perspective on Claude Monet’s early period of work, covering his evolution to Impressionism at the SF Legion of Honor.

Leave a comment if you know any other fun things to do next month!

Emerald Elite Award

Our annual BHG convention recently occurred in Las Vegas. It is at this time of year they announce award winners based on production. I am happy to share that I was the recipient of the Emerald Elite Award, for which any agent nationwise, within the Better Homes and Gardens Company, meets the following criteria:

  • $325,000 GCI (Gross Commission Income, before taxes and expenses) OR 59+ total transactions

Thank you to all my great clients, referrals from friends and agents, team, lenders, inspectors, stagers and title reps! Additionally, I was awarded the 2017 Best of Walnut Creek Award in the Real Estate Agents category by the Walnut Creek Award Program. You can see a press release about that here, if you’re so inclined:

http://walnutcreek.walnutcreek.onlineawarded.org/PressReleaseub.aspx?cc=DJGB-TBHJ-QZRR