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.

More change coming to downtown WC

The ever-evolving landscape of downtown Walnut Creek is about to change again. Soon enough, there will be another new restaurant and Amazon’s new brick-and-mortar location.

Citra Grill, which has held a corner location by the movie theater for a few years now, is already out. In its place goes KoJa, which is a food truck-turned-restaurant that serves up a Korean-Japanese sandwich fusion with crispy garlic rice buns instead of bread.

Additionally, there is a physical Amazon location coming to Walnut Creek. The new bookstore, which will go in Broadway Plaza, will infuse a little literature into a town that lacks it. I find it ironic that Amazon’s business model literally (pun intended) closed most of the brick and mortar stores because it was much cheaper to order books via Prime. How I have missed browsing a book store before a movie, but isn’t that the problem? We as consumers browsed and then bought online and now with Audibles, I just download a book. I am curious to see how and why this fits their warehouse-style business model that ships to your door.

The last update is one recommended to me by a team member. Apparently, there’s a new sushi joint next to Crepes Ooh La La called Kurumi Sushi that gives gigantic portions for fair prices and which he says is above average in taste! I personally don’t think you can have both (great food and large portions), especially with Walnut Creek real estate rents, so you decide and let us know.

Art Town: Whaat?

Here’s another fun utility box project on the corner of N. Main St. and Duncan, right near Tomatina, kitty corner from the head fountain!

The painting here is a little more simple than others we’ve showcased, but still grabs your eye with the bright orange background and strange design in blue. It almost looks like a person with spiky hair listening to music, doesn’t it?

I can’t find much information on the piece itself or on the artist, James Woods Marshall, but it’s hard to miss this one when you’re walking down N. Main! Just another cool piece in a town chock full of hidden art.

Cornology & Chaology on Locust St.

Has anyone ducked into Cornology or Chaology on Locust St. downtown? They are in the old Bead House location, two doors down from Peet’s Coffee and across the street from Lark Creek Cafe.

 

I went in there recently to check them out and both spots are pretty unique! Cornology is expensive for popcorn, but they do give you a ton of popcorn in each bag and have some cool, different flavors. You can get anything from kettle corn to truffle oil corn there!

Chaology serves everything from tea to smoothies to boba, but also has a wide-ranging menu to give a bunch of different options. They do sweet and savory crepes, yogurt and pan-rolled ice cream. Both shops in that location are well worth a try, but if you’re on your way to the movie theater, I would just get my popcorn there!

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!

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!

Warning, don’t leave valuables in your car!

Walnut Creek has always been a pleasant, mostly crime-free little town. As the population (and popularity) of it grows though, we’ve seen more and more brazen crimes.

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For whatever reason, car burglary seems to be the crime that is really rising fast in Walnut Creek. Unfortunately, I was recently a victim of such an attack. That’s my car in the picture above, shown in the first space next to the elevator on Locust in the garage at the movie theater downtown.

I believe whoever broke the window saw my small purple duffel bag that is a tool kit I received as a Christmas gift this year.   Another car three stalls down also had their window broke and a back pack stolen out of the car.  My son and I went to dinner and then the 10:15 showing of LaLaLand which got out at 12:30.  There were very few cars and people at that time of night and the police department said their are no cameras in the garage.  I think we were watched, cars scoped out and they waited for a quite time to break the window and steal a specific item.

Based on this experience and the cost to fix everything as it doesn’t exceed my deductible is to not leave anything that looks like a purse or a bag in the car and maybe leave it unlocked or if it can be mistaken for a purse, make sure it isn’t in site.

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.