Panama Bay Opens Downtown

I checked out Panama Bay recently, located in one of the most unique buildings in downtown Walnut Creek. You may remember it as Yogurt Castle (a cousin to Yogurt Park – ah, those were the days!), next to Scott’s Seafood. Sadly, Scott’s has been closed down.

Panama Bay, though, is a coffee shop! I tried a mocha, but they were out of whipped cream (because of one too many pup cups that day, which is an adorable reason!). I thought Panama Bay was a little bit pricey, but they had some uncommon syrups like banana bread syrup.

I had caramel, coconut, and sea salt added to my mocha. It was delicious and definitely a unique drink. They also have sandwiches and a banana bread mix for sale. I’m just glad to see something finally go into this little hobbit house downtown. They get a lot of business from people who live in the apartments across the street and in the surrounding neighborhoods, as well as lunchtime office workers.

New BART Art!

I found these wonderful new statues at the corner of Pringle and California by BART. As it was new construction, builders are required to provide artwork, as is city policy. These can be found in front of the new Waymark Apartments, once a parking lot for Walnut Creek Bart.

I love the flowers (are they California state flowers, poppies?) and the bees! These are so awesome! I could not find any specific information about this art but I wanted to share it with all of you. This is one of my favorite installations, I drive past it on my way home from work and it always puts a smile on my face. Check it out on the corner of Pringle and California.

Where are your other favorite pieces of art in Walnut Creek? Comment below!

Must-Try: The Yogurt Spot!

The Yogurt Spot is now open in the Rossmoor Village Shopping Center on Tice Valley in Walnut Creek. Heather and Aron are the proud owners and their son Aiden is working there with some of his school buddies.  Aiden is already asking about stock options! Hey, you never know; maybe the concept gets franchised.

I really like how they have The Yogurt Spot set up.  You buy by size, which includes two toppings (additional toppings are 75 cents).  They have root beer floats, coffee floats, shaved ice, and gelato. What more can you ask for on a hot summer day?

Aron & Heather have been long-time clients, along with some of their family members. Another agent Kara (who focuses on commercial real estate) and I helped them get this lease. It was a wild ride, as we started the process before COVID and got nowhere fast. Then, we tried again thinking with all the stores closed during COVID, plus having their business plan and process honed, we could get a lease signed during the pandemic; and we DID!

Of course, everything these days happens with delays or at a much slower pace than intended, but they are finally open and I urge you to give Yogurt Spot a try. I have five poker chips that give $5 off a purchase to the first five people who comment on this blog. Ideally, you live in or around Walnut Creek, so you can keep coming back or will actually use the poker chip! Discounted sweet treats are a comment away.

Community Earth Day Event!

On Earth Day, I teamed up with a bunch of neighbors through Parkmead Community Association and event organizer Karen of The Cleanup Crew to walk around Parkmead and pick up trash. We focused on the main neighborhood, Parkmead Elementary school, and the 680 on-ramp right near there.

We picked up a ton of trash and even got four additional bags’ worth on the on-ramp. Someone dumped some of their own trash on the side of the ramp, which CalTrans will come by and pick up. We had lots of families, so the ones with small kids cleaned at the school and Tice Creek.

We worked under the underpass by Kaiser and there was lots of trash on Lilac, including many cigarette butts (they have to go off property to smoke). Nobody really cleans around that area, or into the chain-link fenced area across from Hickory Pitt by the Kaiser offices.

Karen (“The Litter Lady”) has been coordinating trash clean-up in Walnut Creek for some time and gave an intro. She was wonderful, and it was a day well spent making our little slice of the town look beautiful again. Please take care of our home and throw your trash away!

Holiday Outreach For The Homeless

Every year, I try to do some volunteer work to benefit the homeless in the Bay Area. This year, I worked with Hope 680 and Trinity Center. Trinity used to want coats and miscellaneous clothing items, but they are now a bigger organization with a list of items on Amazon that you can donate to and of course they still accept gift cards and cash.

I can’t really know whether Trinity received any items from the outreach I did, but I hope so! I did have a lot of neighbors who dropped off blankets, sleeping bags, coats, and socks for Hope 680. That organization partners with NorthCreek Church on Ygnacio Valley Rd., which is where I dropped off those donated goods.

Hope 680, a Christian non-profit ministry in Concord, is an independent entity partnering with local churches to provide food, prayer, coats and blankets. They are dedicated to the vision that every homeless person in the 680 corridor experience love and have access to services.

At Trinity, they collaborate with the Walnut Creek P.D. to form a Walnut Creek Homeless Community Task Force to make a positive impact in the area’s homeless community. If you have the time and means, please give to a charity of your choosing this holiday season! Wishing you a Happy Holiday season and a moment to reflect on how much we have to be thankful for.

A closing in Walnut Creek!

I recently closed on a home at 536 Coralie Dr. in Walnut Creek. My clients, Kim and Adam (I have known Kim since the 90s!), had been living in a small flat in San Francisco for many years. But their last child recently went to college, and they decided the East Bay would be a nice place to live – and more affordable than the city.

We met this summer over lunch and talked about what they were looking for. They worked on their approval, we tinkered with their search criteria, and then started to look at homes. They fell in love with one right out of the gate, which had been on the market only a couple of days. When I called the listing agent to get additional information, I was informed they had just accepted a preemptive offer. 

A few weeks later, we looked at another set of houses and they decided to write. There were 7 offers. We went above the list price, and they decided to remove all contingencies. Three offers were countered: only those who removed contingencies and all above asking. So, the sellers did not counter price. I inquired with the agent if we were the highest and he said no. 

These clients were the fastest learners of how to compete in a crazy market. They decided to go all-in, gave them a couple of weeks of rent back, and won the house. They are so excited to have fruit trees, a backyard with extra space, and a cook’s kitchen. Sometimes dreams do come true!

A Celebration At Galpão Gaucho Brazilian Steakhouse

This was my first time eating here and it is definitely a place for celebrations. I took my son, Ryan, who was turning 30, and his girlfriend, Emma, for his birthday. He was out visiting high school friends for a long weekend and stayed at my house on Sunday. 

This is a high-end restaurant with a fixed-price menu. It is $63.67 per person, which includes a gourmet salad bar and all the meat you can eat, with popover bread and sides of mashed potatoes and fried bananas. 

You are given a card; the red side means you are not yet ready for meat, and the green side means to bring the spits by. Emma decided she wanted the meat right away while she was eating her salad, so they kept coming by the table. I ended up with meat because they kept stopping by.  I did feel a bit rushed.

However, if you order while eating the salad, you don’t fill up on the salad bar.  Of course, drinks, bottled water, and deserts are additional.  We brought a bottle of wine and the corkage fee was $25.  I was impressed with the salad bar; it was well-stocked and clean. You had to put on plastic gloves to pick up the tongs – part of COVID restrictions, I assume. 

A waiter would come with a big skewer of meat, slice a piece, and you would grab it with your tongs to put on your plate. A favorite among us was the roasted pineapple they would slice for you. Ryan and Emma mentioned they had been to other types of Brazilian restaurants and they were much larger, so it took longer for the different meats to come along. 

For me, I am not sure that would be a bad thing, as I would have liked a slower pace to enjoy the moment. Have you tried Galpão Gaucho? If so, what are your thoughts? Leave a comment!

Mt. Diablo’s 100th Birthday!

Did you know 2021 is Mt. Diablo’s 100th birthday? In 1921, it was just a few hundred acres of land you could reach by private toll round. Now, in 2021, it has grown into the 20,000-acre park we all get to enjoy today!

For thousands of years, the caretakers of the land were Native Americans who considered Mt. Diablo a sacred place. Of course, there were gold seekers and ranch owners who eventually forced Native Americans from the land but we are lucky that the park we have today is preserved and protected from development.

A few months ago, my son was visiting from the East Coast with his girlfriend and he wanted to show her where he grew up. We decided to head to Rock City to see the wind caves and the sentinel. Surprisingly, I had never been there before. After a few hours of hiking and adventures of rock climbing, we took a drive to the summit for 360-degree views of the Bay, Marin, and the Valley.

It was still a bit hazy with some leftover fire smoke, but you could see the tower of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance and the Salesforce Tower in downtown San Francisco. I had forgotten there was a beacon atop the Mt. Diablo tower to navigate night planes before electronic navigation. It now only lights up once a year, in remembrance of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7. What a fascinating tidbit – keep your eyes peeled for the blinking light this December!

One other bonus of the fall atop Mt. Diablo is that October is mating season for tarantulas. Over the years, I’ve seen several tarantulas while hiking through Shell Ridge, but the Park Ranger said they seem to congregate at the Mitchell Canyon entrance area in Clayton. He also mentioned that mornings and evenings are the best time to see them. It’s quite a sight, but not for the arachnophobes out there.

All in all, we are lucky to live in such a gorgeous place, under the shadow of an amazing peak like Mt. Diablo. Here’s to 100 more years of exploring it!

A Must Try…Dumpling Hours!

Dumpling Hours is the newest (and apparently, the can’t-miss!) location in downtown Walnut Creek for dumplings. They opened back in mid-August and are always packed. Even when I drove by on a weekday at 11:30 a.m., there were already people eating outside!

No longer do you have to go all the way to San Francisco to get excellent dumplings. At Dumpling Hours, you can get a number of tasty appetizers and buns steamed, boiled, or fried. They also have soup, soup dumplings, vegetable options, and noodle dishes.

We tried some green beans, a Dan Dan noodle dish, and a couple of different kinds of dumplings. They were all excellent! The owners of San Francisco’s Dumpling Home opened this second spot and we are lucky they did.

We went on a Saturday evening, there was a long wait list, so we put our name in and walked to check out a couple of other restaurants. By the time we got back, 20 mins, they had called our name. We opted for either inside or outside, so that may have made it quicker. I highly recommend giving them a try, if you do, please let me know what you think! Have you tried Dumpling Hours yet?

Music In Broadway Plaza

As we (very) slowly creep back towards normal with more people getting vaccinated, we are allowed to go back to some of our regular social activities – especially those ones that are outdoors and naturally socially distanced. Baseball games come to mind, for instance. But so does music in Broadway Plaza!

Every summer, Broadway Plaza hosts a summer concert series on Thursday nights in August. They are back in 2021, with two of their shows remaining. Tomorrow night, Briefcase Blues Brothers will take the stage at 7 p.m.

white and black boat on sea under blue sky

The following (and final) Thursday (Aug. 26), Tainted Love will play at the same time, in the same place. They encourage concert-goers to bring their own chairs, as there is only limited seating provided, and drinks and food will be available for purchase at the show and at the surrounding eateries.

I’ve been to a few of these in the past and they are always such a blast! And it feels great to get back out there and do something social, even if we are still under some COVID restrictions.