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May 2012


FACES behind Bakersfield’s BEST

Divas dine at Uricchio’s Food Dudes check out Steak & Grape

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Bakersfield Life

May 2012

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Divas and Dudes



Best Of


We sent both our Dining Divas and Food Dudes out to eat this month. The Divas enjoyed a nice Italian meal and wine at Uricchio’s Trattoria while the Dudes devoured delicious dishes at the new Steak & Grape Restaurant.

The results are in! We profiled 20 businesses that won your vote and highlighted others throughout the magazine. Look inside to find out the winners.

Designing women

This creative duo makes up C&C Hardware, a unique jewelry line that combines Ethiopian Coptic crosses with crystals and pearls. Read about these best friends who turned a hobby into a local business.

Ladies who …

We found four travel agents who have been all over the world. Discover what these ladies love about their job and the destinations they recommend.

Photo by Mark Nessia


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D E PA R T M E N T S Downtown

1231 18th Street (18th and L Streets) 10:30am - 2:15pm Closed Sundays

Phone: (661) 323-2500


9160 Rosedale Highway (Target Shopping Ctr.) 11:00am - 8:00pm Daily

Phone: (661) 587-1600


9500 Ming Avenue (Just West of The Marketplace)

10 13 28 30 42

60 62 64 94

Feedback Up Front It Manners A Lot Kelly Damian

All-Star Athlete On the Road Hometown Hero Pastimes

Page 42 128 132 136 138

Personality Going Green Real People Health and Wellness

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Bakersfield Life

May 2012

50 54 56

Photo by Tanya X. Leonzo


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Feedback Staff Shares

Bakersfield’s Premier City Magazine

What’s your favorite item at Smith’s Bakeries? “Definitely, it would be the wished there were more of them in my Easter basket.” — Jeff Nickell, contributing writer

“Smith’s thumbprint cookies are delicious! Whenever I’m in the mood for a treat, I’ll pick out a few of the chocolate flavor or give them as thank you gifts.” — Breanna Fields, intern “My favorite is the heartshaped valentine cookies. I always bought them for my son, until he grew up and found his own “real life” valentine. They are my favorite because they bring back memories of a little boy with red icing on his lips who loved Smith’s Bakeries Valentine cookies and expected them each year.” — Sally Ellis, interactive advertising director 10

Bakersfield Life

May 2012

May 2012 / Vol. 6 / Issue 8

Bakersfield Life™ magazine is published by The Bakersfield Californian. The magazine is inserted into The Bakersfield Californian on the last Saturday of every month. To subscribe, please call 392-5777. Publisher Ginger Moorhouse

thumbprint cookies. I always

“Ever since (my now husband) Pritesh introduced me to the Smith’s smiley face cookie, they’ve always been a favorite. When it came time for him to propose, he chose to have it written on my favorite cookie. It was March 21, 2009, and he came up north to visit me and had two boxes — one with the proposal cookie and the other with a half-dozen kery a B t Smith’s smiley face s e B cookies. I remember vividly grabbing the top box not knowing which one was what. He had to stop me from opening them so I wouldn’t ruin the surprise. That evening before dinner, Pritesh got down on one knee, had me open the box with the proposal cookie and proposed! It was very cute and thoughtful. How could I say no! So when it came time to ordering wedding favors, we obviously went with smiley face cookies, so that everyone could be a part of our journey.” — Mira Patel, marketing manager


President/CEO Richard Beene Senior Vice President Revenue and Marketing John Wells Vice President, Administration and Operations Nancy Chaffin Director of Display Advertising Roger Fessler Interactive Advertising Director Sally Ellis Interactive Sales Manager Lisa Whitten Advertising Traffic Manager Shauna Rockwell Marketing Manager Mira Patel Distribution and Marketing Representative Patrick Wells Editor Olivia Garcia

“Can’t go wrong with a standard maple bar, or the tradi-

Assistant Editor Stefani Dias

tional sugar-glazed shortbread cookies, especially those done in

Specialty Publications Coordinator Hillary Haenes

holiday themes!” — Roger Fessler, director of display advertising

Editorial Assistant Marisol Sorto

“The clown cookie. Not always available, they provide the perfect ratio of cookie to frosting. And who doesn’t love destroying a clown?” — Stefani Dias, assistant editor “My favorite is the maple bar! Add a glass of cold milk and you have the perfect comfort meal! The breakfast of champions with sweet childhood memories in every bite.” — Lisa Kimble, contributing writer “My favorite is the happy face cookie because my older boys loved it from the time they were little guys. Even now as teenagers, they still enjoy a nice happy face cookie with Mom.” — Olivia Garcia, editor

Art Director Glenn Hammett Photography Felix Adamo, Sally Baker, Henry A. Barrios, Casey Christie, Gregory D. Cook, Jessica Frey, Lydia Gonzales, Lois Henry, Alex Horvath, Tanya X. Leonzo, Greg Nichols, Mark Nessia, Jan St. Pierre, Carla Rivas, Annie Stockman, Rodney Thornburg, Brian N. Willhite, Kenneth Wong Contributing writers Vicki Adame, Sally Baker, Sylvia Cariker, Allie Castro, Gregory D. Cook, Kelly Damian, Gene Garaygordobil, Lois Henry, Lisa Kimble, Katie Kirschenmann, Stephen Lynch, Dana Martin, Mateo M. Melero, Jeff Nickell, Gabriel Ramirez, Mike Russo, Annie Stephens, Chris Thornburgh, Michael Wafford, Brian N. Willhite, Interns Paola Becerra Breanna Fields Myriam Valdez Local Retail Sales Manager Lupe Carabajal, 395-7563

to the RNs of the Year at San Joaquin Community Hospital! And, a sincere thank you to all of SJCH's dedicated caregivers, as we celebrate National Nurses Week May 6-12!

Stella Williams

Community Health

Angie Almendares Lifetime

Jamie Pair Education

Karen Garner Leadership

Jason Silvas Patient Care

San Joaquin Community Hospital (SJCH) would like to recognize the more than 700 health care professionals in its nursing departments. We are truly blessed by the teamwork, professionalism and caring hearts of our nurses.

The Sacred Work You Do Makes the Difference!

Georgina Manning Advanced Practice

Editor’s Note

Bakersfield’s best is here

Some of the people behind the best Bakersfield has to offer. Top row: Paul Ulrich, Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital, Best Veterinarian; Heidi Nicoll, Bella at The Marketplace, Best Women’s Apparel; Larry Andrew Jackson, AJ’s Tuxedo Junction, Best Tuxedo Store; Chelsea Brewer, Advanced Women’s Health Center, Best Masseuse; Dr. Donald Montano, Montano Orthodontics, Best Dentist.

Each year, we ask readers of The Bakersfield Californian, (the publisher of Bakersfield Life), to select their favorites local places and businesses. The response is always grand, and as our team quietly reviewed the list of the winners prior to publication, we were impressed with the diverse selection of returning honorees and newcomers. Quietly because the winners are not alerted until our magazine is delivered to homes and in single copy racks throughout town. Our staff is either sworn to secrecy. But that mystery is what builds up the excitement. We’re honored to introduce you to Bakersfield’s Best Of 2012, thanks in large part to The Californian’s readership poll. This contest highlights what makes our town stand out and rein-

forces a belief held by many that we have a piece of perfection right here in Bakersfield. I have used the Best Of readership poll in the past to pick a pediatrician or a new restaurant to explore. I encourage you to do the same. Also, we would love to hear feedback from you on what you thought about our winners or if you have suggestions on new categories. Last, I’d like to wish a happy Mother’s Day to all the special women in our community. I leave you with an inspirational phrase from the poem “My Mother” by Ann Taylor (1782-1866): “Who ran to help me when I fell, And would some pretty story tell, Or kiss the place to make it well? My Mother.”

Second row: Stephen D. Ratty, Best Optometrist; Kim Fiorini, Sweet Surrender, Best Cupcakes. Third row: Dr. Javier Bustamante, Bakersfield Pediatrics, Best Pediatrician; Jolene Billiard, Little Red Schoolhouse, Best Day Care Facility; Jon Busby, Best Real Estate Agent; Jim La Mar, Greenlawn, Best Funeral Home; David Dobbs, Imbibe Wine and Spirits Merchant, Best Wine Selection. Fourth Row: Dixie Brewer, In Your Wildest Dreams Antiques, Best Antique Store; Darin Schwicker, Lengthwise Brewing Co., Best Bar and Best Microbrew Selection; Dawn Baumgarten, Log Cabin Florist, Best Florist and Best Customer Service. Bottom row: Jeff Simpson, The Sequioa Sandwich Co., Best Deli and Best Lunch Spot; Stephen Goldwater, Emporium Western Store, Best Western Store; Rosco Rolnick, Guarantee Shoe Center, Best Shoe Store; Chere Smith, Automobile Club of Southern California/AAA Travel Agency, Best Travel Agency; Dr. Ravi Patel, CBCC, Best Specialty Doctor.


Bakersfield Life

May 2012

This month I’m loving ... Tazo tea My family and friends know that I am not too crazy about tea, but one of my girlfriends introduced me to Tazo Zen green tea while I was battling a sinus infection, and I have to say it’s the best. Very calming and soothing. It’s available at most local stores and coffee shops.

Edible Arrangements Talk about a healthy way to recognize friends or family on a special occasion such as Mother’s Day. Stop by the northwest Bakersfield location off Calloway Drive or visit Coach iPad sleeve For my fellow geek sisters, check out the cute iPad sleeves offered through Coach. I originally got the Julia Stripe iPad sleeve for my iPad3 (birthday gift — thank you, dear husband). But one of my best girlfriends got me a snazzier patent leather one, so I am now using my other sleeve to carry my books. Yes, even though I have an iPad, I still love hardcover and paperback books. Some things never change. or

Photo by Tanya X. Leonzo

On the cover

Olivia Garcia Editor 395-7487

Up Front Word on the Street Compiled by Brian N. Willhite

What is your favorite place to hang out in Bakersfield? “The Marketplace because I like to bring the kids to play by the fountain, and it’s relaxing here.”

“The bowling alley because it’s a fun place for me and my friends.”

“Logan’s Roadhouse because I like the bar there, and they have the best steaks in town.”

— Nerissa Stevenson

— Danielle Aranda

— Juan Barron

“Havok Airsoft. I like to go there and hang out with my buddies and shoot some airsoft guns.”

“Luigi’s restaurant. I like the atmosphere there.”

“Maya Cinemas. I like to go there to watch movies, and it’s a nice theater.”

­— Noel Raub

— Pam Binns

— Delia Barron

“Just Wing It, of course! It’s a really fun place to go.”

“Café Med. I enjoy the food and the wine, and they also have live music sometimes.”

“I like to go to Noriega’s because I love the food, the family-style seating and the environment.”

— Kaitlyn Kaufman

— Lana Martin


— Teresa Sword

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Up Front The Big Picture

Making waves Photo by Rodney Thornburg Kevin Spencer of Garces Memorial High pops his head out of the surface of the water during the 100-yard breaststroke event at the Garces Memorial Swimming Invitational held at Bakersfield College on April 14. vate Best Pri ol Scho


Bakersfield Life

May 2012


Up Front

Facebook contest

Why is your mother the best? With Mother’s Day right around the corner, Bakersfield Life wanted to know why your mom is the best. Readers shared why their moms are No. 1. Congratulations to our lucky winner, Nina Ha, who won a $50 gift certificate to Anamie’s Sweets! “My mom gives me something to strive for. She is the essence of grace and elegance, class and pulchritude. From humble beginnings, she and my dad created a life for us that we couldn’t have imagined. She loves others with all her heart and teaches us to do the same.” — Nina Ha

“My mom had me and my older sister before she graduated high school, but that only made her work harder and get a good job. She was able to give us more than we needed. She is not just a support system anymore. She’s a best friend.” — Nichole Bridgewater “My mom is the best because she raised four children of her own and four foster children. In addition, my mom went back to

school to become a RN, helped my dad run his painting business and worked as a CNA. Even though it took my mom more than two years to finish her associate’s degree at Bakersfield College, she was determined, and her hard work paid off. My siblings and I are proud of all her accomplishments.” — Cheryl Valenzuela Rodriguez “I’m blessed with my mother’s devotion. Never ignore a person that loves, cares and misses you. She loves all four of her children eternally and is nonjudgmental. Her heart is warm and gracious. Can’t say enough about mom, and everyone who knows her will say the same. Love her eternally!” — Diana Chavez-Herrera “My mom is the best because she has put her goals aside to be there for my brothers and I. Now she works two jobs and still is there for us!” — Megan Luecke “My mom is the best! She is always here for me. I had twin daughters two years ago, and it’s been hard but she’s helped me out when I was having a hard time. My mom has also lost 100 pounds over a few years, and I’m so proud of her for that! My mom deserves to win.” — Ashley Camarillo

Russo’s Read

‘The Carpenter and the Caretaker’

Mike Russo

‘The Carpenter and the Caretaker’ is available for $10.95 at Russo’s Books at The Marketplace, 9000 Ming Ave.


Bakersfield Life

May 2012

by Dale B. Dow

A compelling mystery that propels you from one chapter to the next, “The Carpenter and the Caretaker” is the ideal summer beach read. No, scratch that. With a 60-year-old unsolved mystery and a kind-hearted, redemption-seeking ghost (the caretaker) guiding the protagonist, this is the ideal summer camping read. Local engineer turned author Dale B. Dow delves into the mystery genre with his first novel. The fast-paced, characterdriven story alternates between the Decemeber 1949 disappearance of a wealthy businessman’s only child and a present-day master craftsman (the carpenter) who is called upon to put the pieces together. With twists and turns, the two eras collide with the carpenter not only solving the mystery, but ultimately finding closure on demons from his own past. Fun and quick, Dow has laid the foundation for an ongoing series. He has recently published a sequel and plans for a third novel to be released this month. — Mike Russo, co-owner of Russo’s Books



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Up Front It’s Named After

During a time when new businesses are regularly opening and closing, Bakersfield is fortunate to have one longtime home appliance company that continues to prosper. In fact, the original name of Urner’s Inc. was the Home Appliance Co. It opened its doors on Sept. 1, 1919, during a time when “modern appliances” were sold primarily in hardware and lighting stores. This new concept, a store that specialized in just home appliances, was the brainchild of local high school teachers-turned-entrepreneurs Errol P. Janes and David E. Urner, me who honed his salesman skills by selling Best Ho ce Applian WearEver aluminum cookware off the back Store of a bicycle during his summer months. Home Appliance Co. was located at 1678 Chester Ave. when it first opened, and the business offered an impressive line of “modern” appliances, including a washing machine, a freezer, a gas range, an automatic dishwasher and an assortment of small appliances — many of which were found in just a handful of homes at the time but would be considered standard in just about every home today. Over the decades, the location, size and emphasis of the business has changed, as has the name. Home Appliances Store became Urner & Janes, and then finally just Urner’s in the mid-1920s when Janes left the business entirely. But the direction of the business remains true to David’s original dream to create a “new type of store — one that would cater exclusively to providing an easier way of living for the women of Kern County.” Of course, today Urner’s, located on Wible Road, also reaches men and a

Photo courtesy of Urner’s


younger audience. The founder’s son who carries his namesake strives to carry on the tradition of excellence, reaching generations of families. Urner’s now resides in a 30,000-square-foot retail showroom in southwest Bakersfield and has earned annual recognition among the Top 100 Appliance retailers in the U.S. Its appliance line has grown to include big-screen TVs, home theater systems, home furnishings and a recently expanded selection of sleep systems and mattresses at both the main store and a new northwest location, Urner’s Z’s Please Sleep Center, located at 9500 Brimhall Road. — David Perkins, Urner’s marketing director

Short Take

UFW marks 50-year anniversary Since its inception in 1962, a lot has changed for the United Farm Workers, and it has been for the better. The well-known farmworkers union has sought to improve the working conditions and other rights for agricultural laborers. This year marks the UFW’s historic 50th anniversary, which will be celebrated throughout the year with a series of concerts, as well as a grand celebration convention to be held May 17 to 20 at the Rabobank Arena. The event is free and open to the public. What was once a dream that began in an abandoned theater in Fresno by founder Cesar Chavez and 200 delegates, then known as the National Farm Workers Association, has now grown into a globally recognized organization for farmworker rights and includes more than 800 delegates nationwide. 18

Bakersfield Life

May 2012

The UFW also developed the nonprofit Cesar Chavez Foundation in 1966, which is still in operation today. The May convention will consist of union business, as well an election of new officers, according to Tanis Ybarra, special counsel to the president of the UFW who is helping coordinate convention plans. Approximately 400 farmworker delegates coming in from states such as Washington, Oregon, Texas, Arizona and California will be attending the event as well. “Just about every (farmworker) law — nationally or just in California that’s on the books — is because the UFW put it there,” Ybarra said. For more information, visit — Brian N. Willhite

Short Take

Local WWII vets head to D.C. for memorial Local veterans, particularly those who served in World War II, will take to the skies this month as beneficiaries of the Honor Flight Network. The vets will spend several days in Washington, D.C., on an all-expenses paid trip touring war memorials and paying their respects at Arlington Cemetery. As a national nonprofit, Honor Flight provides charity trips for veterans to the war memorials in D.C. The program is open to veterans of all American wars. However, World War II veterans are being given top priority due to their age and health conditions, officials said. According to the Honor Flight website, the program was started by Earl Morse while working at a Department of Veteran Affairs Clinic. When the World War II Memorial opened in 2004, Morse noticed veterans’ desires to visit but inability to do so, due to health, age and financial reasons. Being a private pilot and an aero club member, Morse recruited volunteer pilots to fly the vets to D.C., and the program

took its first flight in May 2005. To date, there are 114 Honor Flight chapters nationwide, with Honor Flight Kern County being the newest addition. Flight schedules vary for each chapter and are held throughout the year with Honor Flight Kern County’s first flight scheduled for May 25. The inaugural flight for the chapter will be carrying 20 veterans and 17 guardians. All veterans for the May flight served in World War II, and according to HFKC chairperson Lili Marsh, “The youngest on the flight is 84, and two are 91. I don’t think we are going to find any younger than 84.”Additional flights are anticipated for the fall but will ultimately be decided by the funds available. Beginning with Morse’s initial flight, the program’s fundamental principal is that the vets do not pay for their trip. This leaves the program to rely on donations to fly and board the veterans. For more information, call 544-VETS or visit — Mateo M. Melero

Hoffmann Hospice

Hoffmann patient Milton Davis lived life on his terms in the mountains above Lake Isabella until his death on Nov. 26, 2009.

It’s about life and making the most of every moment.

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Up Front 25 random things you didn’t know about ...

Tim Terrio

cal therapy, athletic training, nutrition and, most recently, aquatic therapy, Terrio continues to look for new venues and programs to Arriving in Bakersfield more than better serve the community. 20 years ago with only a duffel bag in As an active volunteer, Terrio founded hand, Tim Terrio has certainly made ysical Best Ph pist League of Dreams, a local sports and recrea name for himself through the years. Thera ation league for children with disabilities. He established the first Terrio Physical He’s currently working on the Abilities Therapy in 1998 and has since expanded Field, the first and only wheelchair accessible his business to include 14 locations in Bakersfield, Tehachapi and Fresno. Offering physi- field in Kern County. Compiled by Breanna Fields

1. I was born and raised in Helena, Mont. I am the second oldest of four children. 2. We lost the Montana State championship football game 3-0 in a complete blizzard when I was a senior. 3. My first major at Montana State was agriculture business before I switched to pre-physical therapy. 4. I worked for the L.A. Dodgers minor league system for three years as an athletic trainer. 5. I was sent to Bakersfield in 1989 to work

with the Bakersfield Dodgers, and we won the California League Championship.

6. I got to meet many hall of

fame baseball players while working for the Dodgers, including Sandy Koufax and Hank Aaron.

7. I met my wife,

Nancy, at Memorial Hospital when I took an injured Dodgers player into the emergency room. We are still going strong 21 years later.

8. I own a 1988

World Series ring from the Dodgers, along with two other championship rings from minor leagues.

9. I arrived in

Photo by Casey Christie

Bakersfield with a duffel bag full of clothes as my only possessions. I still have the duffel bag in my office as a constant reminder of where I came from.


Bakersfield Life

May 2012

10. My first house in Bakersfield was the clubhouse at Sam Lynn. I lived there for a couple of months.

11. I worked at a spinal cord rehabilitation center in Pacific Palisades before going to physical therapy school. 12. I am the only member of my family to graduate college, and I’ve done it three times. 13. My daughter, Brooke, has my sarcastic, dry sense of humor, which occasionally gets us in trouble. 14. With the help of our amazing pediatric staff, I founded League of Dreams in 2007 to give children with all types of disabilities a chance to play. 15. One of my favorite quotes is: “Choices, not chance, determine destiny.” 16. I believe that lifelong learning is the key to personal and professional growth. 17. I have coached all three of my children in

sports over the years, including last year’s NOR championship win with my youngest son, Luke.

18. My oldest son, Nick, is attending Montana State as a freshman this year. 19. My grandpa Charlton was one of my biggest heroes growing up. (I still miss him.)

20. I have two patents for therapy/exercise

equipment I have invented, just haven’t put them in production yet.

21. I am a devoted “meatatarian” with a preference for steak but still mix in some fruits and vegetables — it’s a lifestyle choice. 22. I love to travel to new locations with my family; some of my favorites have been Belize and our month in Europe. 23. My motto in life is: “There has to be a better way.”

24. I really enjoy drawing and painting, which is something I need to find more time to do. 25. I believe that anything is possible if you are willing to work hard enough and long enough.

Up Front Short Take

Flamingo girls swoop down on cancer Prepare to be “flocked.” In the coming weeks, fundraising for one of Bakersfield’s biggest events — Relay for Life — will reach a feverish pitch. In addition to bake sales and car washes, the event’s only relay team of fifth through eighth-graders, the St. Francis Challenge Girls, will be tagging lawns around town with plastic flamingos. That’s right. Flamingos. Hundreds of plastic birds, secretly stuck into the front yards of homes across Bakersfield in hopes of raking in a flock of green for the annual Relay For Life event on May 4 and 5. Before your feathers become ruffled, note that this small army of dedicated young volunteers collectively raised more than $24,000 last year. Of the 400 teams that participated last year, only 11 out-raised them, all adults. The spirit of volunteerism is nothing new to these St. Francis students. Over the years, the school has engaged classes in helping out causes near and far. But this mission was personal. “My father’s cancer took so much away from him and our family from diagnosis to his early passing. I only had 10 years of my life with my father, who loved me as much as I loved him,” said Andie Grimm,

the Garces Memorial High School freshman whose father, Mark, lost his five-year battle with the disease in 2008. Grimm was part of the original Challenge Girls and continues to help — for good reason. “I wake up every day knowing that my father won’t get to see everything that I have and will accomplish. This alone is one of the biggest reasons that I raise money for Relay for Life. I hope that with my efforts and others like mine that no other child will ever have to watch a parent, or any other loved one, slowly slip away from them like I had to.” Like Grimm, Bridget Boylan, also a Garces freshman, knows what a powerful foe cancer can be, having lost family members to the disease. “I wanted to help people have more memories and be there for their children because my aunt and grandma had to leave this earth too early,” Boylan said. Anyone interested in helping with time or donations can contact the American Cancer Society, or St. Francis School with contributions to the Challenge Girls. — Lisa Kimble

Money Matters

New tax on investment income Editor’s note: Chris Thornburgh is a CPA and partner at Brown Armstrong. Given her expertise, we asked Thornburgh to provide monthly financial tips that can come in handy for individuals and businesses. Now that you have met the tax deadline this year, it’s time to be aware of upcoming changes. Income taxes are skyrocketing in 2013, especially for those earning at least $200,000 in annual income. This means you should consider making certain income moves (i.e. selling appreciated stock) in 2012 or risk facing higher taxes that kick in as part of the new rules. On Jan. 1, 2013, a new tax taking effect will subject some individuals, trusts and estates to pay a 3.8 percent Medicare surtax on certain types of net investment income. The top 2013 federal income tax rate could rise as high as 43.4 percent, if the surtax applies. It doesn’t stop there. The top capital gain rate increases to 20 percent and the maximum rate for dividend income rises from 15 percent to 39.6 percent. If the surtax applies, dividends peek at 43.4 percent. The kicker for “wealthier” taxpayers is the new tax on net investment income. Net investment income includes interest, dividends, royalties, rents, annuities and capital gains. Also included is passive income from partnerships and S corporations. 22

Bakersfield Life

May 2012

How does it affect me? This new law applies to single taxpayers with annual income in excess of $200,000, married taxpayers with annual income in excess of $250,000 if filing a joint return or $125,000 if filing a separate return. Also affected are trusts and estates that are taxed on the lesser of undistributed net investment income or income in excess of $11,200. How can I reduce the hit? Despite the bad news, you can minimize the tax bite through investment strategies, income acceleration, gifting strategies and maximization of retirement contributions, to name a few. If you’re planning on selling an asset, consider doing it this year rather than next. If you can control the timing of a bonus, consider receiving it this year. While tax planning is wise, it’s important to consider your overall longterm plan when reviewing strategies. — Contact Chris Thornburgh by email at cthornburgh@ or by phone at 324-4971.

Up Front Finding Fame

Joseph Julian Gonzalez With his exceptional musical talent, Bakersfield’s Joseph Julian Gonzalez has reached a level of success, of which most could only dream. As a composer and conductor, Gonzalez’s music has been heard all over the world and featured in films.

Late at night, blaring through the headphones of a young Joseph Julian Gonzalez, the dynamic sound of Igor Stravinsky inspired and defined Gonzalez’s passion for classical composition, which led to his successful career as a critically acclaimed musician and composer. “When I first heard classical guitar, I was emotionally moved by the polyphony and counterpoint. It did something to my brain, and I just had to learn it, play it, dissect it and know what was going on,” Gonzalez said. His sentiment toward musical expression carried through his college years at Cal State Bakersfield. Gonzalez credited music instructor Doug Davis as being a primary influence on his musicianship and skill. After completing Davis’ music courses and performing in CSUB’s jazz ensemble, Gonzalez transferred to UCLA to continue his studies. With the intention of becoming a philosophy major, his course of study changed when Davis “tricked” him into applying for a music scholarship. “He told me, ‘Don’t worry about it. I don’t think it’s just for music majors.’ After I won the scholarship, he informed me that in order for me to get the money, I had to become a music major. That changed my whole direction,” Gonzalez said. Upon receiving his bachelor’s degree in classical guitar performance and composition for motion picture, he set out to work as a composer for a number of films and quickly gained notoriety within the industry.

Composer, conductor and teacher Over the last 20 years, Gonzalez has composed music for more than 200 different TV episodes, movies and documentaries. His compositions have been featured in notable films like Quentin Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown” and “Curdled,” as well as the Academy Award-nominated, “Colors Straight Up.” His resume boasts an impressive amount of television work, including “Little Girl Lost,” starring Judy Reyes, Lifetime’s second-highest grossing TV movie. Apart from composing film scores, Gonzalez has worked as a music instructor at Bakersfield College. He has also given speeches and discussed film scoring at a number of universities, including UCLA and Cal State Long Beach. Gonzalez ventured into the realm of conducting, with his symphonic choral composition “Misa Azteca,” performed at Carnegie Hall in February 2011. His piece was performed by a full orchestra, soloists and a 250-voice choir in front of a sold-out audience. “Needless to say, it made me feel pretty good. It was a thrill of my life to have taken a bow on that historic stage,” Gonzalez said about receiving a standing ovation. 24

Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Photo courtesy of Joseph Julian Gonzalez

Early years

Collaborations Throughout his career, Gonzalez has worked with a number of artists ranging from pop music to rock ’n’ roll. In 1996, he had the opportunity to work with the notorious Slash of Guns N’ Roses on the Tarantino film “Curdled.” “He (is) much more knowledgeable about the craft of songwriting than people realize. He really thinks about music. Not just the mechanics of it but its context in culture. I found him somewhat philosophical — much different than the Jack Daniel’s drinking rocker that you think of,” Gonzalez said. During a meeting at Slash’s house, he revealed an instrumental that he’d written and asked for Gonzalez’s thoughts. They jammed on the track that would eventually become the most recognizable song off of the album titled “Confession/Obsession.” Gonzalez has collaborated with other interesting characters, including Zach Staenberg who won an Oscar for editing “The Matrix,” Cheech Marin, Britney Spears, Los Lobos, Linda Ronstadt and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

What’s happening now? Currently living in L.A., Gonzalez keeps busy by composing music and working on films. He’s scoring a movie with Sonia Braga and just recently worked on a project starring Teri Polo and Esai Morales. “There’s so many things going on right now that I’m eagerly awaiting where my music will go next,” Gonzalez said. Even with his busy schedule, Gonzalez still finds time to return to Bakersfield during the holidays to visit family and friends. If he’s not out listening to music at the Crystal Palace or water-skiing on Buena Vista Lake, you may find him dining at Cafe Med. — By Breanna Fields



We believe 60 is the new 30.

Up Front

Find more community events at or submit yours via email:




Happenings: Can’t-miss events in May Tue. 1

Fri. 4

Fri. 4

Fri. 4-5

Sat. 5

Roy Clark, 7 p.m., Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace, 2800 Buck Owens Blvd. $36 to $46. or 322-5200.

2012 Education and Gaming Symposium, 7 to 9:30 p.m., CSUB, Dore Theatre, 9001 Stockdale Highway. csubcampusgamers@

Wine & Beer Tasting, enjoy a wine and beer tasting along with appetizers, 5 to 7 p.m., Steak & Grape Restaurant, 4420 Coffee Road, $20. 588-9463.

PRCA Stampede Days Rodeo, gates open at 6 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Kern County Fairgrounds, 1142 S. P St. or 391-7463.

Cinco de Mayo Party, featuring Mento Buru, Velorio, Mariachi San Marcos, 7 p.m., Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace, 2800 Buck Owens Blvd. $10 all ages. 328-7560.

Wed. 9

Thur. 10

Fri. 11

Fri. 11-12 Sat. 12

Farm Day, presented by Valley Oaks Charter School, learn about plants, animals and agriculture, 9 to 11:30 a.m., Valley Oaks Charter School, 3501 Chester Ave. Free. 852-6700 or 852-6734.

40th annual CSUB Spring BBQ, with live entertainment, dinner served 5:30 to 9 p.m., CSUB, Icardo Center, 9001 Stockdale Highway. $30 presale; $35 at the door. or 654-3473.

Boys & Girls Club Golf Tournament, check-in 11 a.m.; teeoff 12:30 p.m.; awards 6 p.m., Rio Bravo Country Club. $200; $700 team of four. bgclubsofkerncounty. org or 325-3730.

Country Fun … In the City, country music concert 6:30 to 8 p.m. Friday; 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Bethany Ministries, 1200 Baker St. Come dressed in a country outfit. 633-120.

Thur. 17

Fri. 18-19 Sat. 19

Sat. 19

Third Thursday, entertainment, barbecue, arts and crafts, games, contests, farmers market, 5:30 p.m., Central Park at Mill Creek, 21st and R streets. 325-5892.

Fourth annual Bakersfield Biggest Baddest BBQ. 5 to 9 p.m. Friday (free admission); 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday (adults $10, 12 and under free) Kern County Fairgrounds. bakobbq. com or 331-3900.

Kern Green Wine Fest, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Rio Bravo Ranch, 15701 Highway 178. $75.

2012 Walk for the Arts, 8 a.m. to noon, Central Park at Mill Creek, 21st and R streets. 324-9000.


Fri. 25-27


Standing Bear Powwow, American Indian dancing, drumming, arts and crafts, food, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Kern County Fairgrounds. 589-3181.

Bakersfield Life

May 2012

“Orchestral Paintings on Display,” presented by Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, 8 p.m., Rabobank Theater. $34 to $50; full-time students half price. bakersfieldsymphony. org or 323-7928.

By the Numbers

Hodel’s Country Dining Compiled by Paola Becerra


5 Number of catering vehicles 6,500 Approximate number of eggs used in a week

Number of banquet rooms available


Times Hodel’s has been remodeled


Number of guests at the largest plated and hand-served catered event

ffet Best Bu ior and Sen l Specia

4,500 Number of guests at the largest buffet catered event 5 Number of the most weddings catered at one time

15,000 Approximate pounds of breakfast sausage gone through in a year


Approximate pounds of broccoli raisin salad gone through in a week


Number of servers hired in the last five years

350 Approximate number of 1967 Year Hodel’s opened melons gone through in a week $1.25 Price for lunch in 1967 Approximate 825 of $1.65 Price for dinner in 1967 pounds bacon gone through in a week 1984 Year Hodel’s started serving breakfast 12 Number of parties of 20 that Hodel’s can handle for Sunday brunch 75 Number of employees at Hodel’s

Photo by Felix Adamo

Source: Don Hodel, owner

It Manners a Lot

Politeness par for the course By Lisa Kimble


make noise of any kind or play with the loose change in your pocket when someone is swinging.

Be polite

Stay off the green, please

ore so than just about any other sport, the game of golf relies heavily on players ensuring that politeness is par for the course. There are no referees or umpires to officiate, so civility will go a long way toward engendering good will and keeping from teeing off other golfers on the green. At last month’s Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga., gallery and television audiences witnessed a frustrated Tiger Woods. Whether you’re on the national stage or the 12th tee at Seven Oaks, remember that the consideration of others is like making a hole in one — not impossible, and priceless.

The rules at individual clubs will vary, but there are basic expectations of courtesy that are observed everywhere. The United States Golfing Association offers user-friendly guidelines, and most junior golf programs include a class inside the clubhouse devoted to golfing etiquette. The rules in play aren’t just about social graces, but for the safety of the participants as well. Players should make sure not to stand near someone preparing to take a practice swing. The risk of serious injury from a club is obvious, but from time to time, someone leaves the game without a full set of teeth after one too many stops at the beverage cart.

Watch your move

“Don’t walk into someone’s line of play,” advised The Links at RiverLakes Ranch general manager and head pro Cory Thomas. Wait until the players ahead of you are out of range before taking a swing. The only time it is permissible to shout is when yelling the traditional warning “fore” if it appears your shot may strike someone else.

Take a message

Remember, too, that on the course, when clubs are in use, silence is golden. Turn off ringers on the cell phones. And don’t yell. It’s not your personal course. Don’t talk,

Walk the line

Knowing where to stand is just as important as knowing when to silence yourself. “Stand still, don’t move around or let your shadow interfere with the other golfer’s line,” Thomas added. And definitely don’t walk across someone’s line on the putting green either. Don’t be a distraction to others. Take care of the course, too. Just because you have paid for the privilege of playing, doesn’t mean you have the right to disrespect the course. Avoid taking a divot on a practice swing. Repair divots in the fairway by replacing them or using the seed mix on the cart. Same goes for ball marks on the green. After taking your shot out of a sand trap, rake the bunker like it’s your front lawn full of leaves. When you are moving from hole to hole in a golf cart, stay on the path and observe the signs. Keep carts away from tees and greens or wherever someone is swinging.

Be ready to go

Several years ago, golfing great Arnold Palmer put together his own list of courtesies on the course for Golf Digest. Among them: Be ready to go. Don’t be the slow poke in the group. Playing at a snail’s pace will not only affect other golfers, but your game as well, Palmer advised. Always let faster groups play through. The game of golf, steeped in tradition. Every course has a dress code. Respect it, and dress your best.

Maintain control

Also, don’t be the one throwing a temper tantrum. Tiger, you there? No one will remember your score, but they will most certainly remember if you cursed, threw your club or kicked your bag. Nobody likes a poor sport or inebriated loudmouth. Have fun, and remember it is, after all, just a game. Agree, disagree? Send your questions, comments or topics you’d like to read about to or visit

Lisa Kimble

5300 Lennox Avenue, Suite 103, Bakersfield, Ca 93309 661.325.6939

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Bakersfield Life

May 2012

We Support the Best of Kern County!! Memberships include: • Bakersfield Association of Realtors: Equal Opportunity/Fair Housing, Pro Standards, Education Committee and Membership Development. • Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary • Rosedale Kiwanis • Right To Life • Mendiburu Magic Foundation • Bakersfield Masterworks Chorale • Active 20/30 Club Women Golden Empire • Past President Men’s Active 20/30 Club • Bakersfield Homeless Shelter • Bakersfield Rescue Mission • Boys & Girls Club • MARE • S.P.C.A. • Police Activities League • Junior Chamber International • Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce • Wounded Heroes

Gayle Hafenstein

Beauty Beduya

Sang Dang

Kathy Keener

Sonia Sides

John Machado

Dottie Patterson

Rhonda Anderson

Ann Olcott

Ronda Chaffin

Richard Rivera

Rachael Newell

Louie Gregorio

Lezlie Chaffin

Eva Martinez

Rhonda Lewis

Diana Aronson

Bob Levesque

Leann Newfield

Jeanie Gray

Cathie Paulovitz

Jackie Putman

Marvin Bush

Karen Vanderhurst

Stacy Harrison

Wade Aldean

Joyce Hanson

Amy Short

Adoree Roberson

Joe Roberson

Beth Shanley

Kym Plivelich

3977 Coffee Road, Ste. C (Behind Chicago Title)




Kelly Damian

Accident-prone writer considers becoming a bicycle rider


ay is bike month, and I am toying with the idea of getting a bike. I’d like to lessen my particulate contribution to our air. I also wouldn’t mind getting that lithe cyclist body. There is one tiny problem: Bikes have been hazardous to my health. Under my chin, I have three rows of scars — medical embroidery commemorating the unfortunate ends to various bike rides of my youth. Of course, I also have plenty of good memories of riding bikes: the wind on my face, the impossible speed and the way those two wheels expanded the perimeter of my world. But my clearest recollections — the ones that are of photographic quality — are those of that moment right before the crash. My first accident happened when I was 6. My oldest sister’s friend hopped on the back of my banana seat. We went downhill at an unexpected speed that shook my handlebars. The bike moved of its own accord to the gravely shoulder, and I knew we were going down. After that incident, which required stitches, there was yet another hill and more gravel (that time, my back bore the brunt of the injury). Each following accident had its own special flavor — sometimes a flip over the handlebars and other times a sideways skid with the bike landing on top of me like a brutish metallic butterfly. But they were all the same in one quality, the moment of clarity before the moment of pain: Well, here I go again, right into the road. Upon graduating high school, I didn’t have enough money for a car, so my dad found a 10-speed at a garage sale, gave it a tune-up, and wrapped the handlebars with tape that looked like it should have been cordoning off a crime scene. Presto, instant transportation! On that particular bike, I crashed into a trash can in front of a truck full of boys (humiliating!), got a traffic ticket (didn’t even know that was possible), and ended up with yet another set of stitches on my face (third time’s the charm).

A Nurse’s Prayer Let me dedicate my life today to the care of those who come my way. Let me touch each one with healing hand & gentle care for which I stand. And then tonight when day is done let me rest in peace, if I have helped just one.

Then, glory be, I got a car. I was now one of the four-wheeled dictators of the road. Did it matter that my vehicle was primer bronze? That the sound system was a boom box in the front seat? That the windshield wipers one day broke in the on position, and I drove through sunny San Diego with wiper blades popping along the windshield? No, it did not. I had a car, and I remained accident-free for several years. Then, when I graduated from college, I traveled through Mexico and signed up for a mountain biking excursion in Chiapas. (I guess I got caught up in the moment and forgot my limitations.) The ride began with a lung-shredding climb to a church at the top of San Cristobal. (The one smoker in the group grabbed a hold of a truck’s bumper and hitched a ride to the top.) We came upon several hills with my old nemesis, the dreaded gravel, at the bottom. My companions’ advice? Whatever you do, don’t use your brakes. Here’s the amazing part: I did it. I did not crash. If I fell at all that day, I don’t remember it now. We rode along farms, through forests, and explored a cave thick with stalagmites and stalactites. At the end of the trip, I was exhilarated, proud and incredibly sore. It occurs to me now that maybe those moments of prescience before crashing were really self-fulfilling prophecies. That even though I certainly hadn’t wanted to, maybe I had decided I was going to crash. Maybe by focusing on the gravel and the unforgiving cement and the malicious crack in the road, I had brought about my own collisions. Then again, maybe it was just my elephantlike reflexes and poor sense of balance. Either way, perhaps when you pass by me this month, I will be riding a bike, with the wind in my face and positive thoughts at the forefront of my mind.

Thank you Kern County! Birthday Parties, Team Parties, Play Groups, Field Trips, Summer Camp

We think NURSES are special, especially OURS!



Darlyn Baker, RN & Family Owned 30

Bakersfield Life

May 2012

661-392-8800 •

2841 Unicorn Rd., Ste. 103, Bakersfield, CA 93308

Thank You to our customers, the community & to the voters who voted us one of the Best of Kern County!

7 Hills Drive

8915 Rosedale Hwy.


Off Hwy. 58 - Across from Northwest Promenade Mall Blue Star Memorial Hwy

58 El Toro Viejo Rd

Rosedale Hwy

Bakersfield, CA 93312 661.588.7953

Mon - Sat: 10am to 8pm & Sun: 10am to 6pm

NOW OPEN! Under New Ownership!

HomeStores are independently owned and operated. ©2012 Ashley HomeStores, Ltd.

Dining Divas

Uricchio’s Trattoria Best ood Italian F antic m o R d n a nt Restaura

Photos by Greg Nichols

Diva favorite more than lives up to expectations Location: 1400 17th St. Phone: 326-8870 Website: Hours: Lunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday; dinner 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Heel ratings (out of five)




Bakersfield Life

Claire Porter, third from right, greets the Dining Divas, from left: Amanda Meszaros, Katie Price, Molly Clark, Tammara Newby and Lisa Verdugo.


Drinks Service

May 2012


he Divas were thrilled to go to dinner at Uricchio’s Trattoria, one of Bakersfield’s premiere restaurants. All of the them had eaten here before, except for Tammara, who not only found the company and atmosphere to be great, but she thought the food was delicious, too. Uricchio’s is one of Molly’s favorite local restaurants. Her husband, Matt, and his co-workers eat here at least one — if not three times — per week. He claims to have eaten everything on the menu, including the regularly rotated specials. Since he eats here so often, it was a real treat for Molly to venture into the comfortable surroundings. As for Amanda, Uricchio’s has been a family favorite for years and a go-to spot for date nights with her husband. However, she said this Divas’ night out gave her a new appreciation for an old fave. Lisa had a fun time with her fellow Divas, and in between laughs and

giggles, she managed to eat way too much. Katie considers Uricchio’s one of her favorite locally owned eateries and still remembers when it opened in 1995, at a time when downtown Bakersfield was a bit of a ghost town — especially when it came to restaurants. Aside from a few fast food joints and a couple of delis, it was slim pickings in the area of food — good food, anyway. Many in Bakersfield were grateful when Nick Uricchio, a Beverly Hills restaurateur, decided to move 100 miles north to open this quaint trattoria and be closer to his grandkids. Nick, who is now retired, handed things over to his daughter, Claire Porter, a few years ago; she has been helping run things almost since the beginning. You will find Claire in all her charming efficiency at Uricchio’s most nights. On the night the Divas visited, Claire treated them like royalty and made sure we didn’t leave hungry (or thirsty).

Crab cakes


Appetizers and drinks Amanda on the pre-dinner drinks: When we met at Uricchio’s, it happened to be the birthday week of both Katie and Lisa, so what better way to kick off a Diva birthday celebration than with cocktails? A glass of pinot noir and a lemon drop were just the way to start a fabulous evening. Katie enjoyed the house chardonnay (Hacienda) and Lisa had a glass of riesling. The sugar-rimmed lemon drop was perfect — light and refreshing. But be careful, it’s a lot like lemonade and it wouldn’t be difficult to down a few without realizing it! The bar and restaurant remind me of my college years in New York City: the dimmed lights, exposed kitchen, outdoor street lamps and wall photographs of

Antipasto salad

well-known customers. In the case of Uricchio’s, the photos are of Nick Uricchio, posing with celebrities like Angie Dickinson, Tommy Lasorda, Frank Sinatra and George Burns, among many more. During the cocktail time, Katie’s husband, Bob, joined us for a glass of wine. He was our first Diva guest of the year — or should I say Divo? Lisa on the crab cake: I like to think of myself as a crab cake connoisseur. These crab cakes were lightly breaded, had a great texture and weren’t made with too many ingredients. (Sometimes crab cakes can taste too much like mayonnaise). I loved the light, crisp outside and the warm crab blend inside. They were laid on top of a Nantua sauce, which is a classic French cream sauce flavored with shellfish. Katie on the bruschetta: A friend told me to order this since it’s one of her favorites on the menu. I’d never tried it before, so I decided it was a good idea. And I was right! The best way to describe this bruschetta is that it tastes like homemade pizza. It has a light crust that isn’t too hard, and a nice tomato flavor that’s fresh and yummy. Tammara on the calamari: Whether you’re a calamari fan or not, you will like the calamari at Uricchio’s. The lightly battered and fried squid strips were perfectly cooked. The fresh taste was even a hit with Amanda and Katie, who are not big fish fans. All of the Divas enjoyed this appetizer to the point of finishing the marinara before the calamari was all gone. We decided to try the rest of the Nantua sauce from the crab cakes ... good choice! Next time you go, make sure to ask for both sauces. Veal saltimbocca

Continued on page 34


Linguini pescadora

Mocha crunch cake

Pecan pie

Continued from page 33

Molly on the mushroom provencal: The mushrooms were stuffed with bread crumbs, chopped mushrooms and a touch of garlic. They melted in my mouth, and the garlic added just the right amount of seasoning. Amanda on the antipasto salad: This salad is a colorful array of lettuce, olives, mortadella, salami, provolone cheese, tomato wedges and roasted red peppers. It’s topped with gorgonzola cheese and just the right amount of balsamic dressing that was refreshingly light, yet full of flavor. This salad could easily substitute as an appetizer for two or more people or as an entree because it’s so large.

Entrees Tammara on the Chilean sea bass: This dish is not on the menu every night but is frequently offered as a special, which certainly describes it well. The sea bass was extra moist with a slight crispiness on the outside. The lemon butter and white wine sauce, along with the tangy capers on top, made the flavor outstanding. Even Katie, who never orders fish, loved it. A fresh vegetable medley of squash, zucchini, broccoli and carrots cooked in garlic butter was served, along with a side of scalloped potatoes topped with butter and parmesan cheese. Lisa on the chicken piccata: Piccata means to pound flat, and that it was. A scaloppini of boneless chicken in a lemon, butter and caper sauce was paired with a cheese ravioli in alfredo sauce. It’s one of Uricchio’s most-ordered dishes. Now I see why. It was savory and tasty, and the capers on top gave it that little burst of flavor in each bite. Knowing I had to share with the other Divas, I devoured as much as I could before I was forced to pass it on. Amanda on the linguini pescadora: I always order the same thing when I go to Uricchio’s. Yep, the aforementioned chicken piccata. However, I decided to have Claire pick my entree for me. Being Italian, I’ve enjoyed many homemade pasta dishes from my 34

Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Molly and Tammara share a moment with guest “Divo,” Bob Price. grandmother. I grew up eating all different types of pasta, and I would eat it every night of the week if only it weren’t so hard on my waistline. So what a treat it was to indulge in a seafood medley smothered in pasta. The linguini was served with shrimp, scallops, clams and mussels in a tomato, basil marinara sauce. I was surprised by how light this dish was. The shrimp was cooked to perfection, and the sauce had a bit of a kick to it. Katie on the filet mignon: It took every ounce of willpower to not order the chicken piccata. I, like Amanda, never order anything else when I’m at Uricchio’s. In fact, I have yet to find another chicken piccata anywhere that measures up. Not even my hubby’s homemade piccata (sorry, Honey). Anyway, I also love a good steak, so I settled on an eight-to-10-ounce filet rolled in a peppercorn and porcini mushroom sauce. To say it was good is a definite understatement. It melted in my mouth (and the mouths of the other Divas) and was cooked exactly as I ordered it — medium rare. For those

steak connoisseurs out there, you know just how important that is. This filet was paired with a vegetable medley and yummy shoestring potatoes, which were thin and crisp. It almost made me forget they were fried. Molly on the veal saltimbocca: Saltimbocca is literally translated as “jump in the mouth.” And that it did! The veal was sliced into thin, round cutlets and topped with prosciutto ham and mozzarella cheese. It was coated with Madeira wine sauce. The cutlets were extremely tender and the cheese perfectly melted on top. This dish was easy to slice with a fork — no knife needed.

Desserts Tammara on the pecan pie: Slightly crunchy, but not mushy is how I would describe this delectable dessert. It had a perfect filling and a caramel drizzle under the graham cracker crust. Whether you only take a few bites or you eat the entire thing, you won’t be disappointed. As a side note, I also enjoyed the cheesecake with fresh strawberries. It was a great version of an old fave and would be perfect for those dessert eaters who just want something simple and fairly light. Amanda on the mocha crunch cake: When dessert arrived, I was unsure whether or not I would be able to eat anymore because I was so full. But all it took was one look at the mocha crunch cake and I knew I could manage to make some room for more. This three-layered vanilla cake is covered with crushed Heath candy bar and chocolate between the layers. It was the right amount

of sweetness to end my fabulous meal. Lisa on the chocolate windmill cake: My grandma always said that I could eat dessert first. And if this cake were ever offered, I certainly would! It was topped with white chocolate ganache shavings and white chocolate fudge with a chocolate mousse consistency. Wow! Molly on the tiramisu: Tiramisu is my favorite dessert, and I must say this was one of the best I’ve ever had. The ladyfingers soaked up the right amount of coffee while the mascarpone cheese had the perfect amount of sweetness. Tiramisu in Italian means “pick me up” or metaphorically “make me happy.” It definitely did the trick! Interestingly, Uricchio’s doesn’t make its own desserts. Instead, they are all prepared by La Mousse Desserts of Beverly Hills. Claire told us years ago, her father was driving home in Arcadia when he stopped to buy desserts from a woman selling them in her driveway. The desserts were so good that Nick Uricchio felt they couldn’t be topped. To this day, that’s all Uricchio’s carries. Divas tips on the perfect Uricchio’s experience: We’d begin with a lemon drop and our favorite appetizers — the calamari, bruschetta and mushroom provencal. Then we’d move onto an antipasto salad. For the main course, we would order the Chilean sea bass if it were on the menu that night. If not, we’d go with our old standby, the chicken piccata with alfredo ravioli. We’d finish off the meal with the tiramisu. And if you have a chance, ask for Mica. She was a wonderful waitress.

Kid Friendly and Puppy Proof, ClearTouch®

(661) 323-5251 | 4301 Rosedale Hwy | Bakersfield, CA 93308 Lic# 802760


Food Dudes

Steak & Grape Restaurant

From left: Gary Frazier, Ray Pruitt, guest Tiffany Combs, Matt Munoz and Don Martin enjoy a glass of wine at Steak & Grape.


Photos by Greg Nichols

Heart and soul kind of place Location: 4420 Coffee Road Phone: 588-9463 Website: Hours: Bar, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily Dining, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

Boot ratings (out of five)

Atmosphere Food


Bakersfield Life



May 2012


ith so many historic eateries in Bakersfield, we always appreciate it when a new restaurant makes a solid effort to try something different. A few days prior to our visit to Steak & Grape, the Food Dudes were given so many recommendations from friends about the restaurant that curiosity was raging. After meeting our guests, “Dudette” Tiffany Combs and her husband, Heath, at the side bar, we were all pleasantly greeted by our host. Before we headed to our table, a few glasses of white wine were just what we needed to relax and prepare. The decor was upscale and refined. Right off the bat, we knew was this was going to be a classy affair — and we were in great company. It was fun having the Combses join us; they are returning Steak & Grape visitors so they helped with pointing out some of their favorites.

Tiffany Combs was selected as a special guest by bidding on An Evening Out with the Food Dudes, which was part of a silent auction at the recent GO RED luncheon. “I bid on it because I thought it was a unique item and sounded like fun,” Combs said. “My husband and I thought we would find the Food Dudes entertaining. It seemed like a winner, and it was! Besides, this was a fundraising event and for a great cause.” Now let’s talk about our Steak & Grape experience!

Classy feel Ray: When I first walked in, I was impressed with the interior of the restaurant. The restaurant previously housed Maitia’s, which closed several years ago. The owners have remodeled the interior extensively and extended the bar area. It is very impressive, classy and elegant yet laid back and easy going. There is also an outdoor patio area,

Steak & Grape’s interior is clean and elegant.

Crab cakes

which I am sure will be the place to hang out once the weather gets a little bit better. Don: I walked into Steak & Grape and was immediately blown away by the clean, contemporary design. It’s very apparent the effort the owners put into redesigning this space. One of the owners is seasoned restaurateur Shai Gordon. His touch and experience in Bakersfield is evident from the design of the dining room to the selections on the menu.

The right service Rack of lamb

Matt: It was nice to meet the owners of Steak & Grape at our table. The owners are Jeffrey Thorn, Steve McGowan, Shai Gordon and

Majid Mojibi, and you could see that they have invested their heart and soul into providing one of the best dining experiences Bakersfield has seen in years. I have to make another comment about the service. We may have been Food Dudes on a mission, but when a server can list the menu with details from memory, plus answer all of our questions — that is to be commended. We were treated attentively, and as I observed around the room, the other guests we also given the red carpet experience. Another plus was the courteous tidying up by their crew following the removal of some of our dishes. Bravo! Ray: From the moment I sat down at the bar to wait for the other Food Dudes to arrive until we walked out of the restaurant, we were catered to, and we were having so much fun we didn’t want to leave. Dinner at Steak & Grape isn’t just a meal; it is an experience.

Perfect bar setting Don: The bar at Steak & Grape is a great spot for a drink and appetizer. The “U” shape design is very unique and conducive for conversation and people-watching. I focused on the wine list, which I found to be well planned with something for all tastes. Often you can be overwhelmed by selections. I found this list to be the perfect size. I tried the cab from Heitz Cellars — Napa Valley and a chardonnay from Rombauer Cellars, also from Napa. Both were excellent and priced by the glass. The bartenders were very knowledgeable about the wine list and made great Continued on page 38

About our guests Tiffany and Heath Combs met through family and friends back in 2006 and have been together ever since. The Bakersfield natives were married in 2008. “And we are both BHS alumni,” said Tiffany who is the employer liaison for Managed Care Systems while her husband is the technical services manager for American Incorporated/Bakersfield division. “We both love to cook, barbecue, camp, wine-taste, and hang out with family and friends,” Tiffany said. “When eating around town, we are conscientious about supporting local businesses. My family owned the former Lorene’s Southwest back in the late ’80s to early ’90s. We understand the importance of that firsthand.” The couple said they were excited that Steak & Grape opened up on their side of town and find it “comfortably elegant.” “We had eaten there twice before our dinner with the Food Dudes and when we learned this is where we’d be with the Dudes, we were counting down the days,” Tiffany said. “They are a great addition to the community, and we will do our part to help them remain as a local favorite.”


Chicken picatta

Brie-stuffed filet mignon

Continued from page 37

suggestions. The servers were equally impressive, making suggestions for appetizers and well versed with the dinner menu.

Off to a right start Ray: Our dinner started out with four amazing appetizers: crab cakes, sausage-stuffed mushrooms, three cheese plate, and the ahi tuna, which was not on the menu. Our waitress Shelby did a great job setting us up, and we relied on her expertise in pairing the appe-

tizers with our wine selections and entrees. But my favorite was the ahi tuna. It was seared to perfection, cooked just right on the outside and inside — the best ahi I have had. Gary: Wow! Where should I begin? The crab cakes were delectable and perfect. The sausage-stuffed mushrooms were a pleasant surprise and a must-have when you come here. They were stuffed with Italian sausage and topped with shaved Parmesan and cognac cream sauce; they were scrumptious. These guys really know how to whet the palate; and yes, I can agree: the ahi tuna was the bomb! (Translation: really good!).

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Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Don: I love crab cakes and the crab cakes at Steak & Grape are some of the best in Bakwesfield. I found them to be prepared perfectly… the crab was fresh, and I loved the pairing with the Sriracha aioli sauce. I’m a cheese lover, especially with wine, and I loved the combo of Brie, dry jack and blue cheese plate. Matt: To me, the three cheese plate had generous portions of artisan cheeses, including my favorite, Brie. It was freshly sliced and a perfect start to what would be a steady stream of more delicacies. And who doesn’t love crab cakes? When they were headed our way, I saw everyone’s eyes light up. Thankfully, there were enough to go around. You could hear our collective “ooohs” and “aaahs” throughout the restaurant. Hopefully we weren’t too loud, but they were that good. Also, I’m really enjoying the Mediterranean flair of the marinated white beans with hot rolls. They were a perfectly blended chilled mix, and worked well as an appetizer. Tiffany: I loved how tender, fresh, and perfectly prepared the ahi tuna was, but when the menu says there is a spicy sauce, they are telling the truth. It’s the first fish that kicked me back but in a good way! Crab cakes — in a word, yummy! Again, perfectly prepared, sweet crab, and delicate. Could’ve had these for dinner. And I agree about the cheese plate. How can you go wrong with Maytag blue cheese, hard jack, Brie and grapes?! Not only was the selection for this plate top-notch, but also the portions are very generous. My husband and I have had this before in the bar during happy hour, and we were stuffed! For the soup lovers, you must try the tomato bisque. Again, one word: velvet. Oh, and did I mention that I do not like tomato soup? But, from time to time, I will try bisque. Well, Steak & Grape knocked it out of the ballpark for me! All ingredients were married so well that although it was delicate and far from demure. They achieved a creamy texture without overpowering the true essence of the bisque — tomatoes. I truly enjoyed this from start to finish.

Grand selection of entrees Tiffany: I had the lobster, and it was fantastic. Great sized portion and perfectly cooked. The lobster was accompanied by two of my favorites: wild rice and steamed veggies. This was really great. Heath: The brie-stuffed filet was a wonderful combination, and the cut of meat was perfect. This isn’t for the faint of heart (no pun intended) though. Not only is this a bold

and creamy combination in and of itself, but to top it off with a red wine cabernet sauce? Well, that launched it to another level! Ray: There are great steaks, and then there is the Flintstone. When we sat down at our table, our chef came out to the table to allow us to view the Flintstone, a 40-ounce bone in rib eye steak that was on special that night. He presented the steak to us on a platter uncooked and asked if anyone in our party would like to try it as it is not served regularly. I immediately volunteered. He asked how I wanted it prepared and I ordered it medium, a little pink in the middle. He said it would take at least 30 minutes to prepare and I told him to take his time. When our dinner plates came out, the chef presented me with the most amazing plate of food I have ever seen. The steak was cooked to perfection, covered with mushrooms, sauteed onions, sauteed red peppers, and sauteed Italian sausage. As soon as I started eating, everyone at the table had to try a bite, and I was more than happy to accommodate them because I probably would have eaten the whole thing if someone had not stopped me. Several years ago, I ate dinner at a steakhouse in Chicago that has been named the best steakhouse in America, but I can honestly say the Flintstone was a better steak, without a doubt the best steak I have ever had. It was served with golden French fries and sauteed vegetables. I may never eat a meal that good again. Matt: We all shared some of each other’s main courses, but looking at Ray’s plate, we all stopped to stare in wonder. I’ve personally partaken in some massive feasts, but when looking at what was cooked up by the chef, it was as if angels were singing. This was a real meat-lover’s paradise here, and of course, I was not about to go without asking for a slice. No wonder cooking time was 30 minutes; by slow cooking, it’s guaranteed to retain its entire natural flavoring while the peppers and sausage add the perfect kick. For my main course, I chose the chicken picatta, which, according to the menu, was an in-house specialty. When it arrived, I can’t begin to share the delight in my first impression. Steak & Grape once again served up some nice portions of chicken. The lemon caper butter sauce made my mouth water, even before I took my first bite. I was so impressed that I had to show it off to the rest of the crew. Being the extreme foodie I am, I also shared that the Italian term piccata is related to the word piquant, a reference to the tanginess of the lemon juice used in the dish. Amazingly well prepared

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Continued on page 40


asking for more. I asked Ray for bite of the huge Flintstone steak he ordered and it was every bit as delicious as the lamb. What can I say. The name of the restaurant is Steak & Grape for a reason. They really know how to cook steak and other meats.

Bring on the sweets


Continued from page 39

and by far the best chicken picatta I’ve had. Steak & Grape was winning me over fast. Don: Obviously with the word steak in the name of restaurant this suggests that their steaks are going to be something extra special and they were. I tried the 16-ounce New York. It was perfectly cooked, medium with the perfect coloring. I was impressed by the tenderness and the taste. Gary: I ordered the roasted rack of lamb. It was the best rack of lamb I ever had (this is no exaggeration). As you all know, I am a meat lover and if something was undercooked, overcooked, or over spiced I would tell you. Trust me when I say it was the best, I mean it! I shared some with our guest “dudette” Tiffany and the other dudes at the table; I had to fight them off because they kept

Gary: For dessert, I had the bananas foster, which is bananas, vanilla ice cream and the warm sauce that tops it all. Sounds simple, right? But wait. It gets better. The sauce is made from butter, brown sugar, dark rum, and banana liqueur. This is a classic dessert that the chef at Steak & Grape did just right. Tiffany: I haven’t had bananas foster since the ’90s, and this was Heath’s first encounter. Seems no one makes this anymore? Boy, were we happy to see it not only on the menu, but that they knew what they were doing as well. This is a dessert for all ages and never disappoints. One other thing, I do not know what they did differently with their tiramisu, but wow. This is one of my all-time favorite desserts and Steak & Grape’s version will rank as one of my top three. So decadent.

The finish line Matt: Steak & Grape is a welcome fine dining addition to Bakersfield’s list of great restaurants. The atmosphere is welcoming, spacious and comfortable. If you’re looking to impress visiting business clients, I would suggest you bring them here. It also makes a great romantic spot for couples to dine in style. With the weather warming up, you should also check out the spacious patio area. Highly recommended.

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Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Food and Wine


hen the weather heats up (or, let’s face it, cools down), work gets crazy or the weekend arrives, Bakersfield has no shortage of great places to go for a great time. These local hot spots are known for their good eats and cool drinks.

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere Local restaurants do happy hour right

Gino Valpredo, owner of Luigi’s Restaurant and Delicatessen What makes Luigi’s a great place for happy hour? We have two bars — an inside and outside bar. The outside bar is open on Fridays and Saturdays and is a popular spot when the weather is nice. Our bartenders also pour stronger drinks, which everyone seems to like. What makes it different than other places? The atmosphere and the history. The

inside bar is kind of tight, and when you’re in there everybody’s kind of put together, so you have to socialize, which seems different than any other bar I’ve been to. The outside is also beautiful; we spend a lot of time on our garden.

By Allie Castro Photos by Tanya X. Leonzo

What are some of your most popular happy hour menu items? The Moscow

mule. We have a Limoncello lemonade people really like. Not a lot of people know about it, but when they do they order it quite often. What should people try? There’s a sweet iced tea that we serve with lemonade and liquor — like an Arnold Palmer — that’s good when it gets warmer. There’s also an Aperol cocktail made with Aperol and Prosecco, which is an Italian sparkling wine, and we put an orange in there and it’s really good. Foodwise, people don’t always know we do little antipasto platters or sausage appetizers that are fun to snack on when you’re having a drink at the bar. What’s your go-to recommendation? I love to have a Peroni on draft. We also have an unbelievable wine selection. My sister is the sommelier and is great at pairing things and getting people in the mood. Wine is what I would come in and have. • Happy hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday Mike Johnson, general manager of Elephant Bar Goose Loonies’ honey blonde


Bakersfield Life

May 2012

What makes Elephant Bar a great place for happy hour? The vibe of the building and the value you receive. The food for the price to me is

just amazing. It almost makes me wish I could partake in our happy hour! What makes it different than other places? The biggest thing from what I’ve heard from our guests is the value. At most places you go to happy hour, there aren’t that many filling items, but we have value along with the atmosphere. We also recently completed a huge remodel in our bar that’s really taken us to the next level. What are some of your most popular happy hour menu items? The Olu passion mai tai or raspberry lemon

Luigi’s full rack of baby back ribs with rigatoni

drop for drinks, and, for the food, the buffalo chicken tenders and tempura salmon rolls. Do you run any happy hour specials? You can get a tall 23 oz. draft beer or a pint-sized craft for $4. Where we really hit home runs are house margaritas and regular domestic draft beers, which are $3. Another thing that’s really taken off lately is getting a burger, fries and domestic beer for $6.50. What should people try? Our bowl of steamed edamame. We steam it in our wok and sprinkle on a little sea salt. It’s a winner, and that one is not on our regular menu. What’s your go-to recommendation? Our house specialty would be the raspberry lemon drop or our Olu passion mai tai. Also the tempura salmon rolls and the wokContinued on page 45

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Luigi’s outdoor bar


Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Elephant Bar Olu passion mai tai

Continued from page 43

fired chicken and lettuce wraps. We make everything from scratch in-house. • Happy hours: 3 to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, 9 p.m. until closing daily Demetri Katsantonis, manager of Goose Loonies Tavern & Grill What makes Goose Loonies a great place for happy hour?

We feature tons of different sports on our big-screen TVs and always have a great crowd. What makes it different than other places? Unlike other places, we run our happy hour specials all day on Sundays as well. What are some of your most popular happy hour menu items? Our buffalo wings and bistro pizzas are big sellers during

happy hour. Do you run any happy hour specials? Our wings are half off as well as all of our small pizzas. We have 20 beers on tap, and during happy hour, we slash $2 off all draft beers, house wine and select cocktails. What should people try? Our blackened rib eye dinner — a 12-ounce rib eye seasoned with Cajun spices and served with fresh vegetables and roasted potatoes — is amazing. Once people try it, they are hooked; they love our home-run dinners! What’s your go-to recommendation? My personal favorite item on our menu has to be the Loonies burger. You can’t go wrong with it. It is absolutely delicious and everyone enjoys it! My go-to drink recommendation would have to be our pomegranate martini. It Continued on page 47


Elephant Bar interior


Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Tahoe Joe’s jackpot nachos

Actual Completed Remodel

Continued from page 45

is a fun and fruity spring drink that is great for anyone. • Happy hours: 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and all day Sunday Reem Atkins, manager of community and public relations at Tahoe Joe’s Famous Steakhouse What makes Tahoe Joe’s a great place for happy hour?

We offer a full bar with premium wine and liquors; an inviting patio for our guests to enjoy good times and great friends; five, 46-inch flat-screen televisions located in the bar and patio; and everyday drink specials during happy hour. We also have signature appetizers starting at $2.99. What makes it different than other places? The atmosphere is reminiscent of a warm and friendly ski lodge. The cooking style is Sierra Mountain dining, which is unique as we grill everything over a real almond wood fire.

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What are some of your most popular happy hour menu items? Some of our most “crave-able” happy hour appetizers are our

railroad camp shrimp, our quarter-pound burger and cabin fries, our jackpot nachos and Joe’s steak sliders — all for only $3.99! Do you run any happy hour specials? Incredible appetizers starting at $2.99, and our drink specials are $3.50 for 22 oz. domestic drafts, $4.50 for house wine and $5.50 for gold rush margaritas! What should people try? Our new seared ahi tuna appetizer — sashimi-grade tuna rubbed with Joe’s bold spices and seared rare, served with baby greens tossed in a cucumber vinaigrette with a sweet-soy dipping sauce. What’s your go-to recommendation? For steak lovers, there is no better choice than our 14 oz. Joe’s rib eye or the twin petite filets — two 5 oz. center-cut filets wrapped in crisp bacon and topped with Gorgonzola cheese and/or garlic butter. Joe also offers several fresh catch options: Knob Creek salmon, Taylor Creek salmon or our simply grilled “fresh catch” of the day — swordfish or mahi-mahi served with our lemon caper sauce. And nothing pairs better with fresh fish than a glass of Napa Cellars chardonnay or our Geyser Peak sauvignon blanc. • Happy hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. until closing Monday to Saturday and all day Sunday Eric Ueberroth, manager of Lengthwise Brewing Company What makes Lengthwise a great place for happy hour? The atmosphere we create is casual and relaxing. Whether you’re with Continued on page 49

Mon. - Sat. 10:00am - 5:30pm

(661) 324-6484 1723 18th Street



Tahoe Joe’s new signature libations

Thanks to all our loyal customers!

It’s been an exciting first year in business, and it is an honor to be nominated! Thank you for nominating and voting for us! Our customers are the BEST, and as we always say: Call for reservations 661.587-3377

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4715 Coffee Road | Suite D | 661-588-1800 48

Bakersfield Life

May 2012

12748-B JOMANI DR. Off Allen Rd. North. of Rosedale Hwy.

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Lengthwise’s slowroasted pulled pork sandwich

My client’s have praised my work and have referred family and friends to me because they liked the way their cases were handled and the results they received. We are honest and focused on getting the best outcome for every client.

Continued from page 47

friends or family, you’ll have a great time at Lengthwise. What makes it different than other places? We make our own beer that ranges from Lengthwiser Golden Ale (on the lighter side of a microbrew) all the way to Kern County Porter (a dark, smooth beer). Nobody else in Bakersfield can boast that!

REAL CASES – REAL PEOPLE – REAL RESULTS Terrorist Threats and Spousal Abuse Felonies: Misdemeanors Time Served Felony Sex offenses: acquittal at trial

What are some of your most popular happy hour menu items? The fire fries top the list. They are french fries that are double

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cooked to give them that extra crispiness, lightly dusted with chili powder, then tossed in a specially made hot sauce that uses just a touch of AV (our super-hot sauce you can order on the side). The more you eat, the hotter they taste! Do you run any happy hour specials? All of the beer that Lengthwise makes is sold for $4 a pint (after the government’s share). Do the math; that’s only $3.69 a glass! The fire fries are also priced to sell at $3.75 a basket. What should people try? A beer that’s been dubbed “The RedCent” or “Red-Penny” is one of my personal favorites. Half Triple Hop Red Ale and half Centennial Ale (our IPA), it is an outstanding combination of two completely different beer profiles. If you’re a beer lover, try one — you won’t be disappointed. What’s your go-to recommendation? Right now, (and I say right now because everything is so delicious that my “favorite” changes frequently,) I would tell everybody to order our pulled pork sandwich on jalapeno focaccia bread with a glass of Centennial Ale. The slow-roasted pork is so juicy and tender it melts in your mouth. Combine that with the sweetness from the barbecue sauce and the spicy kick from the jalapeno bread and you have yourself one worldclass sandwich! Wash it all down with a cold glass of Centennial IPA and I couldn’t ask for anything more (except maybe another beer). • Happy hours: 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday

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Merv Crist Prime Cut owner talks meat and other good eats

By Hillary Haenes

Photos by Felix Adamo


hat started as a butcher shop more than 30 years ago has expanded to include catering services, along with a deli, after Merv Crist and wife, Michelle, took over Prime Cut Meats & Eats in 1994. They have since turned it into a successful, full-blown Louisiana-style restaurant and bar that offers live music and entertainment. Not only does he own and operate the business, but Crist, 48, is also a chef, butcher, baker and father of two. Every day, Crist wakes up at 5 a.m. to begin baking bread — and not just any bread — we’re talking the Mervburger bread (that sandwiches 12 ounces of fresh ground-chuck), as well as sandwich loaves and dinner rolls. Then he preps the other foods for the day and finishes just in time to pick up his kids from school. With such a busy schedule, Crist doesn’t have much free time, which is fine because he said, “In this economy, it’s time to tend to your business.” Keeping busy, Crist plans for events, like the annual Crawfish Festival that’s held the day before Mother’s Day or karaoke contests and live music on the weekends. “I love music! We have been so lucky to attract some of the best talent you can ever hope for. It’s always a treat to listen and get to know these talented musicians,” Crist said. And while it has been a few years since they’ve been back, the Crists always look forward to traveling to New Orleans for inspiration that has transformed their restaurant into a charming Southern eatery down to the Cajun decor on the walls. 50

Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Merv Crist, owner of Prime Cut Meats & Eats.

Crist carves chuck roast that he will grind into ground chuck for his burgers.

No pink slime in this ground beef.


One was over 12 inches across. I remember we cut it likes steaks and sauteed it. I’ve never seen anything like that since.

How I developed an interest in food and cooking: It took me a long time to realize, but as a child, I loved making food. It helped having older sisters. I figured out if you cook, you don’t have to do dishes!

I buy this in bulk: Lots of great meats.

My ideal dinner meal to make: The ideal meal depends on the group you’re entertaining. Great beef works when it’s the guys, but it may be a huge assortment of great foods that make the night special.

Ingredients needed to make the best bloody Mary: A good bloody mix, garlic, pepper, celery seed, Worcestershire, hot sauce, lime, then dress it like you like!

How often I cook at home: Almost every night!

One ingredient I love to use in my recipes is: Garlic.

My favorite piece of cooking equipment is: The barbecue. I don’t always have the time to use it, but it never disappoints!

One ingredient I never use is: Pink slime.

My disastrous cooking story: We had a catering for a dairy, and as we started to cook under a tent in a field, the wind started blowing 50 to 70 mph. We were cooking whole pigs that take many hours to complete. It was the hardest cook I’ve ever had, but we got it done. Wow — what a day! My favorite cooking memory: After deer hunting, it was always a great meal. Half the family wanted fresh liver and onions, and the other half wanted fresh cooked heart. We always loved mushrooms and did a lot of harvesting in the mountains early in the year. One day, my uncle came by with two mushrooms he found.

I always mess up: When I don’t use a timer. I rock at making: A huge mess for the dishwashers. Sorry, guys!

One of my kitchen secrets is: Start with great product.

I can never find: Enough time. Number of cookbooks I own: I quit counting around 300. My favorite cookbook is: “The New Professional Chef.” Sometimes I get too creative, and it always brings me back to the basics. Worst kitchen injury: A good knife stick in my hand. Ouch! I find my inspiration when creating a new dish: Everywhere you look and go, there is something to get you thinking about food combinations. Continued on page 52


Continued from page 51

Eating My go-to cocktail is: Our Mardi Gras martini. My favorite meal to order at Prime Cut: Depends on my mood. I love my burgers, but when I want fish, it’s our fish and chips or the smothered catfish. My splurge at the grocery store: All kinds of fresh fruits. My favorite local restaurant and my order: I don’t go too much, but I’ve been going since I was very young to Pizzaville USA. I loved to watch them make the pizzas. I always order a mushroom pizza.

Preparing Southern style dinner rolls, one of Crist’s many jobs at Prime Cut.

My favorite cuisine: I love great sushi. Favorite toppings on my Mervburger are: Red onions. Best food memory: A sandwich my dad would make after we were done deer hunting. It was a Spam, mayo, red onion and tomato on fresh Pyrenees sourdough bread.

Weirdest food I like: I grew up eating all kinds of stuff. Weirdest is subjective. I guess sauteed cow brains and eggs is kind of weird, although I love it.

The fast food I sometimes eat is: Shhh! Taco Bell.

My favorite comfort food: Pork chops and scalloped potatoes.

The single tastiest thing I’ve eaten this month: Chicken Italiano I made the

My favorite midnight snack: I never eat late night.

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Bakersfield Life

May 2012 CA Lic.#874183

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5025 Wible Road • Bakersfield, CA 93313

other day for a few friends. I’m addicted to: Etouffee. My most memorable meal: Lobster etouffee. Michelle and I had gone to New Orleans for July 4, just for fun with a couple of friends. We watched the fireworks from the balcony of The French Market Cafe. They boil crawfish and shrimp in the front of the store. You can smell it for blocks. It might have been the company or the place, but there is no getting away from that being one of the best meals I’ve ever had! The cooking shows that I watch are: “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” and Alton Brown’s “Good Eats.” But, if I could find the old shows, it would be by far “Two Fat Ladies.” My most expensive meal: It was at Brigtsen’s Restaurant in New Orleans (I think in Uptown), a small house that was the restaurant. Chef Frank Brigtsen did all the cooking. It was about $150 per person without drinks. It wasn’t wagyu beef or anything like that. The food was cooked perfect in every way. It was worth the money. With so many local restaurants, the type of restaurant I think Bakersfield is missing is: You know I see a great variety of restaurants in Bakersfield. I like to see local people who love food make it for others — it tastes better that way — with love! I think food that works for the general population is a great way to judge how you’re doing. Just keep bringing new flavors and feeling to everyone.


3255 Allen Road Bakersfield, CA 93314 661-587-8104 1112 Wible Road Bakersfield, CA 93304 661-398-8128


From left: Jolene Billiard, founder, owner and coordinator; her son and school principal, Don Billiard; and Aggie Curtis, CFO and school director, in front of their Fruitvale Avenue location.

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Little Red School House Modern classrooms get an old-fashion approach By Brian N. Willhite


arents looking for a more traditional approach in their children’s classrooms may want to discover the Little Red School House and get aquatinted with the old-fashioned, instructional based learning programs for preschoolers through first graders. The state-licensed school also places a strong emphasis on classroom instruction and creating a more 54

Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Photo by Brian N. Willhite

Our Town

traditional classroom environment. The classes can also serve as a substitute for attending public schools in kindergarten and first grade classes, according to Don Billiard, principal of the Little Red School House. “We teach all the phonics and the sounds that letters make, and we get our 4-year-olds in reading groups and we do handwriting skills. We’re more of an academic school,” said Billiard as he discussed how the school’s old-fashioned roots play a part in the academics. “It’s kind of like the name implies: We teach manners and we teach all the good ol’ things. We still say the flag salute and sing ‘God Bless America’ every morning.” Billiard added that they are a nonreligious-based school, but they do celebrate all the holidays and encourage a family-like atmosphere. He and his fully credentialed teaching staff have been working together for a long time, and he is proud of the progress that the children are making. “My teachers know what to do, and they know my

program and they administer it well. They’re really good,” Billiard said. “Our kindergarteners and first-graders always test out very high. Our kindergarten average last year was second grade, and our first grade average was in the third grade.” Now in its 45th year of operation, the Little Red School House offers two locations — 4601 California Ave. and 4601 Fruitvale Don Billiard, principal Ave. — currently reaching about 250 students, according to Billiard. He is also in his 32nd year with the school, which was founded by his mother, Jolene Billiard, in 1967. To learn more about the Little Red School House, call 324-5774 or 588-2227 or visit littleredschoolhouse

“Our kindergarten average last year was second grade, and our first grade average was in the third grade."

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For a Cause

Andy’s Angels carry their banner at last year’s Relay for Life.

A walk to remember Relay for Life teams committed to raising money and memorializing loved ones By Sylvia Cariker

Phots by Tanya X. Leonzo

The requirements for a Relay for Life team are pretty simple: 10 members and the willingness to raise a minimum of $100 in donations for the American Cancer Society and walk the track for part of the 24 hours of relay. This year’s Bakersfield relay should field close to 400 teams, some large and rthy Best Wod Best some small, but each has a story to tell. Here is a n Cause a l Event review of some teams that make this annual event a u Ann so special.

Andy’s Angels Andy Cadena was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October 2009, and he wanted to start a relay team. Julian Najera is the team captain and said 2010 was their first relay, which Andy missed. He passed away from his cancer in January that year. The team carried on, raising $12,000 their first 56

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May 2012

Andy’s Angels year, $10,000 last year. “We had 42 members last year,” said Najera. “We’re getting kind of a late start but we now have between 25 and 30 members, and we’re all Andy’s family and friends. Our meetings are more visiting and family time when we all get together to discuss our fundraising.”

CBCC CBCC isn’t a single team but can be anywhere from one to five teams, according to Linda Goad, captain of CBCC #2. “Most are employees, families and some patients,” said Goad. “We have to break up into several teams because we can only have 20 to 25 on a team.” They sponsor large events like a holiday boutique and a spring barbecue, “and then we have individuals raising money here at CBCC with lunches, breakfasts and raffling baskets.” Comprehensive Blood and Cancer

Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center Center is a treatment facility, and Goad said that’s the main reason they participate. “We don’t do it for us. All my volunteers do it for the patients. That’s why they get involved.”

Survivor Bakersfield Relay team members usually share a commonality. For Survivor Bakersfield, it was breast cancer because they’re survivors who met in support groups at Links for Life. Co-captain Billie Reynolds their year-round fundraising is key to their success. “When relay finishes, we start working

Survivor Bakersfield on the next year,” she said. The hard-working 20-member team sponsors yard sales, a Bizarre Bazaar, bingo and bunco nights. “Our goal is to raise $20,000. It’s a good cause and we want to get a cure. We’re so tired of people being diagnosed with cancer.”

Team A-C Electric Captain Heather Irvin said their company-based team is now in its seventh year with more than 60 team members. Continued on page 58



2012 Relay for Life of Bakersfield When: 9 a.m. May 5 and 6 Location: Wingspoint, Airport and Merle Haggard drives Opening Ceremony: 8:30 a.m. Survivor Lap: 9 a.m. Fight Back: 8:30 a.m. Luminaria Ceremony: 9 p.m. Closing Ceremony: 8:30 a.m. May 6

Continued from page 57

Known as the “Twilight Booth,” this year it’s “Glee” with a cast of singers and dancers performing in their campsite. “We have a choreographer, voice coach, wardrobe design. It’s a full-on show,” said Irvin. They also sponsored fundraisers like karaoke, company lunches, barbecue dinner and the Boob Tube Comedy show. “It’s hard to get people to do


Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Team A-C Electric individual fundraising, but if we do a big event together, we can raise money and divvy it up among our team.” Don’t let the glitz fool you: This team’s motto is “Don’t let Cancer bully you. Fight Back!”

The Dream Team Co-captain Holli Pyland met best friend Melissa Flores when they played Bakersfield College softball together. Melissa was only 25 years old when she was diagnosed

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The Dream Team with stage four breast cancer in 2006, then started her relay team. She passed away two years later. “Melissa came up with the name because she was always so positive, never a pity-party,” said Pyland. More than 60 Dream Team members came out the first year with even more the year Melissa passed away. “That was our largest team, maybe 75 to 80 people.” It was Melissa who inspired their $25,000 goal. “She wanted to be a Power of Purple team. It’s the highest achievement, and Melissa always wanted to win, to be the best.”

San Joaquin Community Hospital Participating in only their second Bakersfield relay, captain Nonie Kennedy said their goal is a lofty $20,000. “Last year we started just two months before Relay and still raised

over $12,000 with most donations coming online,” said Kennedy. One of their more creative fundraisers is a special T-shirt to be sold in the hospital gift gallery. “On the back of the shirt is a scan to use on an iPhone that links to a website showing the cancer center being built.” The new SJCH cancer center should be up by late 2012, and Kennedy said it’s providing inspiration to her fledgling team. “We’re going to have literature in our campsite on how people can learn about early diagnosis and how to improve their odds against cancer.” The 21st Bakersfield Relay for Life on May 5 and 6 hopes to raise $2 million for the American Cancer Society. It will play host to 4,000 team participants. That’s 4,000 stories and 4,000 reasons why they relay, but only one goal: to find a cure for the disease.

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All-Star Athlete

Rachel McCall By Stephen Lynch


Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Photo by Felix Adamo


ike countless college students around the country, Rachel McCall did some traveling during spring break this year. But instead of heading to an exotic locale near a beach somewhere, the Cal State Bakersfield swimmer was off to Montreal where she competed in the Canadian Olympics Trials. The CSUB senior and Canadian citizen ultimately failed to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London. A long shot going into the six-day event, McCall performed well nonetheless. She finished 38th out of 147 entries in the 200-meter (long course) freestyle with an all-time personal best time of 2:05.32 and 64th in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:15.35). Her 200-meter free time was also a new CSUB school record. It’s one of a dozen that she currently holds as an individual or part of a relay team. “You have to really want it more than anyone else,“ McCall said when asked what makes her such a good swimmer. “When you get in that water, you have to want to touch that wall first. You have to push yourself every day in practice to simulate that race experience and to get that drive and to push forward.” McCall is widely acknowledged as the best women’s swimmer in Roadrunners’ history. Among those that feel that way is CSUB director of swimming Chris Hansen. “She’s a stud,” Hansen said. “She loves to race. We depended on her in every dual meet that we had … If I needed to win any race, whether it was her race or an off race, we’d put her in it, and she’d win it.” Hansen believes McCall’s success is due to her strong will to do well and mental toughness. A senior, McCall’s time at CSUB is nearing an end, but her legacy at the school is set in stone. “If you see her record book, she’s meant a lot for us,” Hansen said.

McCall facts Learned to swim as an infant under the guidance of her mother, Janie, who swam in the 1976 Canadian Olympic Trials. Began swimming competitively at age 10. A native of Alberta, she attended high school at the prestigious National Sport School in Calgary. Holds six CSUB school records, including the 100 breaststroke (1:02.14) and 200 breaststroke (2:19.43), both set in 2011. Favorite event is the 50 free. “There’s something about that dead sprint, that ultimate test of speed to be the fastest one in the pool that makes it the most fun,” McCall said. Ranks in the CSUB top 5 all-time in six other events. Came to CSUB after making a trip to see her cousin, who was a Cal State student at the time. Served as CSUB co-captain this past year, her senior season with the Roadrun-

ners. Was voted team MVP as a freshman. Named Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Swimmer of the Week during junior year after helping reset school record in the 400 medley relay. Holds a 3.9 GPA at CSUB. Only blemish on straight-A college academic career was a B+ in U.S. history. Scheduled to graduate with a degree in physical education/kinesiology in June. Completed her NCAA eligibility but wants to keep swimming competitively as long she can. Currently is training for U.S. Winter Nationals. Has two older sisters, and just turned 21 on April 16. Interests outside of the pool include bike riding and hanging out with teammates. Plans to continue living in the United States after college graduation. Has applied to attend Palmer College of Chiropractic West in San Jose. Her goal is to become a chiropractor.


On the Road

2012 Buick Verano Big-time luxury in a small package

Fuel-efficiency, performance and technology are among the best features of the 2012 Buick Verano.

By Olivia Garcia

Photos by Greg Nichols


veryone, I have an announcement to make:The Buick is back. Yes, I know for some, the Buick image has been unfortunately a boxy, plain-looking has-been kind of sedan of the 1990s. But this is a new era for the Buick, more specifically the Verano, a new model that defines comfort, style and efficiency — aka gas saver! I can’t tell you how excited or relieving it was for me to test-drive the 2012 Buick Verano for a few days without worrying about gas. If you are a parent juggling kids’ school schedules, sports activities and social plans along with your other job, you know exactly how I feel when the gas meter reads “E.” It’s usually at that time when I am telling myself, in frustration, “I just put in gas two days ago!” Now I have two picky teenagers. (Then again, are there teens who aren’t picky? Do those exist?) These boys will not step in just any car with Mom. It must meet the “cool” standard. Given that they were happy to hop in the Verano, well, it signified a stamp of approval. In fact, I test-drove the Verano during spring break when my boys and I enjoyed an exclusive mother-and-sons day while my husband worked. We’re talking no interruptions — school, work, 62

Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Drive in comfort and style.

Buick’s new IntelliLink voice-activated radio connects with smartphones.

The trunk offers plenty of storage space for out-of-town trips.

It’s all in the details: Five best features about the Buick Verano: 1. Fuel efficiency. The thinking that went into the 2012 Buick

sports — to interrupt our day. We drove to the mall, out to lunch and a few errands, including the photo shoot. We had a chance to talk and catch up. Sometimes it feels like life moves so fast that you fail to take advantage of these precious moments and carry on heart-to-heart conversations with your children (and I don’t mean Mom is lecturing and the kids must listen). The Verano delivered an early Mother’s Day gift to me as it allowed me to spend much-needed quality time with my teenagers. Along with that gift, there is plenty to love about the Verano. First, there are plenty of great features, including a seven-inch touchscreen that connects you to radio, SiriusXM, the navigation system and the ability to connect to your smartphone’s apps, such as Pandora or Stitcher radio. Plus, the Verano comes with an option to subscribe to OnStar, and the standard audio system is Bose (they had me at Bose). The Verano is a new small luxury compact car that really doesn’t have a competitor, according to Motor City product specialist Brett Kieke. The remote start makes it easier for drivers who don’t have to worry about fumbling for their keys. I test-drove the leather interior version. Talk about comfort and class. Kieke added that safety is a selling point for the Verano, which comes with 10 air bags and offers a weather and traffic app feature. Other draws: auto-dimming rearview mirrors that will block the other drivers’ high beams so it doesn’t hurt your eyes (been there) and a backup rearview assist system. “(The) Verano does make a nice luxury car for someone,” especially in the 25 to 40 age group, or “up and comers,” as Kieke described them. One great feature about this model is its eligibility for the two-year lease program, which comes with a bumper-to-bumper warranty, free OnStar warranty (including the ability to use the OnStar smartphone app, which will help you find your car just in case you forget where you parked) and free satellite radio for the duration of the contract. Plus it’s a zero-down lease, Kieke said. Can’t beat that!

Verano went beyond looks and comforts to include performance and fuel efficiency. So while style is nice, it’s even nicer to get gas less and enjoy more driving time.

2. Technology. The 2012 Verano is loaded with purposeful technology that helps you stay connected and focused on driving.

3. Performance. The Verano delivers a refined, responsive performance with a powerful 2.4-liter dual overhead camshaft 4-cylinder engine and responsive StabiliTrak handling that forms a bond with the road. 4. Interior and exterior. The 2012 Verano is as elegant as it is beautiful. With Buick’s signature black chrome waterfall grille, jewel-like headlamps and impeccable chrome accents, its sophisticated design will have you driving in style. 5. Safety. Attention to detail is evident in the number of standard safety features in the 2012 Buick Verano. Drive confidently knowing you are backed by 10 airbags, anti-lock braking system, full-function traction control and a comprehensive child seat LATCH system. Mileage and price tag: 21 mpg for city, 32 for highway; starting at $22,585

The Verano is perfect for people who: want luxury in a smaller package.

What makes the Verano stand out from others? It’s quiet, has great looks and high-standard feature content.

Target customer: Someone looking for a highly fuelefficient luxury vehicle. Three words that define the Verano: Luxury, comfort and affordability.

What you like most about the Verano: Its overall quality. You can’t find a midsize compact vehicle that compares for less than $40,000. Source: Lezley Pumphrey, marketing manager for Motor City Auto Center


Hometown Hero

Matthew Kirschenman United States Marine Corps Age: 23 My assignment was: Infantry I was stationed at: Camp Pendleton I was in the Marines for: Five years Why I decided to join: I wanted to join because I felt that I

needed to do more for my country. I’ve also always wanted to be a police officer, and I figured I would get more experience by joining the military than going to college. Valuable advice I learned as a Marine: Complacency kills

and, always strive to do better. Never quit, no matter what. I’ve been deployed to: The Middle East, Australia, Guam,

Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. What I learned while being deployed: Although I enjoyed

my deployments, I learned that being away from home can take its toll on people. My best military accomplishment: I would say graduating

from the infantry squad leader’s course and becoming a team leader within two years of being a Marine. My favorite memory in the Marines: Having a good time with friends. I am still in contact with a lot of my friends from the Marines and will talk to them on occasion. What I missed most about Bakersfield: Family. Since returning to Bakersfield, I’ve been enjoying:

Hanging out with my family, having the freedom to do what I want and going to school. One of my goals for this year is: To get hired after graduatNow that I’m out of the military, my plans are to: Become a Bakersfield police officer or become a Kern County sheriff — pretty much any type of law enforcement.

— Know a Kern County resident who has or is currently serving in the military? Email us at bakersfieldlife@bakersfield. com with the message subject line: Hometown Hero. Please include an email, phone number and/or Facebook link to reach the nominee. 64

Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Photo courtesy of Matthew Kirschenman

ing from the sheriff’s academy.


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Best Microbrew Selection and Best Bar: Lengthwise Brewing Co.

From left: Jeff Williams, Tim Douhan, Darin Schwicker, Jenny WentworthSanchez, and Eric Littlejohn of Lengthwise Brewing Co. 66

Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Photo by Mark Nessia


ot only does Lengthwise Brewing Co. make its own beer, co-owner Jeff Williams said he and partner Darin Schwicker also roast their own coffee, make homemade beer bread and brew a fresh root beer. “We create a restaurant/brewery atmosphere for the whole family,” said Williams of his business that not only garnered best microbrew selection in this year’s Best Of, but also was named best bar. So why was Lengthwise selected? Simple: “We are a local company brewing Bakersfield’s favorite beers since 1998,” Williams said. Their most popular brew is Centennial Ale, while other favorites include Triple Hop Red and Lengthwiser Golden Ale. “Our entire staff at both of our locations are excited and satisfied that Bakersfield recognizes all our hard work.” Williams said of their win. “We know our customers are the individuals that nominated and

voted for us,” he said. “We are a good match. Bakersfield loves Lengthwise, and Lengthwise loves Bakersfield.” Because of the popularity of their original brewery location, the duo opened a pub restaurant last July, which offers the same menu, along with 18 additional beers. However, food still reigns supreme, with 65 percent of sales at both locations. In September, Lengthwise remodeled the back patio at the brewery into a large outdoor beer garden, complete with pool tables, foosball and dart boards, he said. What’s next for pals Williams and Schwicker? Well, Williams said news will be released in about a month or so. But here’s a hint … “Lengthwise is working on a third location near Cal State Bakersfield,” he said. • Brewery, 6720 Schirra Court; 836-ALES (2537) • Pub, 2900 Calloway Drive; 589-7394

Best THE

OF BAKERSFIELD By Gene Garaygordobil


he results of the 2012 Best Of, The Bakersfield Californian Readers’ Choice Poll are in! Because Bakersfield gets placed on numerous lists that don’t necessarily provide positive reinforcement for our community, Bakersfield Life is happy to showcase some great longtime local institutions, from clothing stores to restaurants, real estate agents to doctors and even cupcake makers. What makes this 19th annual

poll even greater is that the votes were cast by you — the readers — who experience these products and services firsthand. Along with the list of winners and favorites, we decided to change things up this year and profile 20 businesses that have either been previous winners or received top honors for the first time. Sit back, relax and discover the best places to shop, eat, visit or play in Bakersfield. Continued on page 68


Continued from page 67

Best Cupcakes: Sweet Surrender

Community Best Annual Event • Bakersfield Relay for Life Held at Wingspoint — Southwest corner of Airport and Merle Haggard drives 327-2424;

Favorites • Kern County Fair • HolidayLights at CALM

Best-kept Secret • Noriega’s 525 Sumner St.; 322-8419;

Favorites • Apricot Lane Boutique • Kuka’s Folk Art

Best Place to Worship • St. Francis Catholic Church 900 H St.; 327-4734;



upcakes may be a new Best Of category this year, but owner Kim Fiorini and her sweets go way back. She opened Sweet Surrender bakery in 1989 but only started creating the popular gourmet cupcakes in the last several years. Sweet Surrender began as a chocolate shop that eventually added cakes, cookies, breads and bars (you must try the Neiman Marcus bar!) to its menu. So why does Sweet Surrender rank as the top cupcake maker? “Because they are good,” Fiorini said with a laugh. “The secret is having a moist cupcake and good flavor choices.” With exceptional confections to choose from like pink champagne, chocolate turtle, English toffee and Hostess cupcake, you can’t go wrong. Be sure to select Fiorini’s personal favorite — Matterhorn chocolate — generously covered with white buttercream frosting and chocolate shavings. It’s so tasty that Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis declared it one of the best things she’s ever eaten. Last September, Sweet Surrender remodeled with a 2,500-square-foot addition that nearly doubled the space, which now employs 23 people. Fiorini sells gift items, such as shirts, fun seasonal trinkets, cards, baby clothing, accessories and jewelry. The bakery also caters weddings, parties and other events. 6439 Ming Ave.; 835-8530;

Photo by Mark Nessia

Best Of winners and favorites

• Valley Bible Fellowship • RiverLakes Community Church

Best Furniture Store: Weatherby’s Furniture

Photo by Mark Nessia


eatherby’s, for the furniture you really want.” This has been the motto Weatherby’s Furniture has used for many years, and it could not be truer. Sales manager Gene Torigiani, who has spent 37 years with the business, acknowledged that the salespeople’s welcoming interaction with customers has been the answer to being open for more than nine decades. “Every store has a friendly, knowledgeable staff,” he said. “But our people are more personable with customers, so to speak.” That’s why the successful family-owned store in downtown Bakersfield was selected as best furniture store. It’s also been at the same location since the early 1950s, Torigiani said. “We were one of the first furniture stores here. And we are the only one remaining from the 1940s and ’50s.” “It’s the customer interaction with our sales people,” he said. “We get lots of repeat customers. People come back in 10 years, then 15 years and 20 years later, because they had a good experience. And we have an outstanding record with the Better Business Bureau.”

620 Chester Ave.; 327-2747; 68

Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Best Private School • Garces Memorial High School 2800 Loma Linda Drive; 327-2578;

Favorites • Stockdale Christian High School • St. Francis School

Best Worthy Cause • Bakersfield Relay for Life Held at Wingspoint — Southwest corner of Airport and Merle Haggard drives 327-2424;

Favorites • St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital • Bakersfield SPCA

Health & Beauty

Best Antique Store: In Your Wildest Dreams Antiques, Consignment & Liquidations

Best Chiropractor • Christopher Berry, D.C. 8501 Brimhall Road, Building 300; 410-9355;


t offers a little bit of everything: from designer labels and vintage clothing, shoes and accessories to antique and retro home furnishings. So it’s no wonder why In Your Wildest Dreams Antiques, Consignment & Liquidations is considered the best antique store. “We are very different from other antique stores because we are a consignment shop,” said owner Dixie Brewer. “Our items change every day because we have inventory coming in every day.” That lends to the very eclectic mix of the nature of consignment. “We pick and choose inventory that comes into our store and keep it priced competitively.” Brewer said reputation also has a lot to do with being voted No. 1. The innovative Wildest Dreams team follows trends to sell the latest in high-quality treasures and has been doing so for 15 years. “We have the most fantastic staff anyone can have. All of them love their job. They are very energetic, and they project that to the public,” she said. Another reason to love this shop is Brewer gives back to the community. Clothing and furnishings go to the needy, while help is provided for estate liquidation sales. “If stuff doesn’t sell, we have options to donate to charity. We also loan a lot of stuff to local theaters for their projects,” Brewer said.

Continued on page 70

• Troy Sorensen, D.C. • Jason Sabol, D.C.

Best Dentist • Donald Montano, D.D.S., Montano Orthodontics 9330 Stockdale Highway, Suite 200; 665-7600;

Favorites • Thomas A. Berry, D.D.S. • Thomas Frank, D.D.S.

Best Doctor/General Practitioner Group • Kaiser Permanente Various locations including 5055 California Ave.; 334-2020;

Favorites • Dr. Raj Patel, Preferred Family Physicians • Dr. Susan Helper, Mohawk Medical Group

Best Fitness/Health Club • In-Shape Health Clubs Various locations including 3409 Coffee Road; 615-6125;

Favorites • Body Xchange Sports Club • 24-Hour Fitness

Dixie Brewer, owner of In Your Wildest Dreams

Photo by Mark Nessia

1723 18th St.; 324-6484;


Best Hair Salon • Essentiels Spa Et Beauté at The Marketplace 9000 Ming Ave., Suite K7; 654-0321;

Favorites • Paragon Salon & Day Spa • Via Bella Salon & Spa


Best Health Food Store

Continued from page 69

• Trader Joe’s 8200 Stockdale Highway; 837-8863;

Favorites • Lassen’s Natural Foods & Vitamins • Cone’s Health Foods

Best Hospital • Mercy Southwest Hospital 400 Old River Road; 663-6000;

Favorites • San Joaquin Community Hospital • Bakersfield Memorial Hospital

Best Masseuse • Chelsea Brewer, Advanced Women’s Health Center 8501 Brimhall Road, Building 300; 410-2942;

Favorites • Massage by Brian Holloway • Lorre Webb, Wholistic Massage Spa

Best Medical Group • Kaiser Permanente Various locations including 5055 California Ave.; 334-2020; • San Dimas Medical Group • Bakersfield Family Medical Group

Best Optometrist • Stephen D. Ratty, O.D. 2222 E St.; Suite 1; 327-2681;

From left: Veterinarians Paul Ulrich, Sukhjit Dhaliwal, and Irene Takata of Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital’s small animal facility pose with Gracie.

Favorites • Premier Eyecare Optometric Center • Fritch Eye Care Center

Best Pediatrician • Dr. Javier Bustamante 300 Old River Road, Suite 105; 663-4700;

Favorites • Dr. Kaye Sykes • Dr. William DiNicola

Best Physical Therapist • Tim Terrio, P.T. Various locations including 3400 Calloway Drive, Suite 603; 377-1700;

Favorites • Michael Marotta, P.T. • Tamara Billings, P.T.

Best Plastic Surgeon Dr. Darshan Shah 4850 Commerce Drive; 865-5009;


Best Veterinarian: Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital


hen you are this big, it takes a team to win best veterinarian, said Dr. Paul Ulrich, CEO and one of the five owners of Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital. It also helps having a history that dates back to 1923. “I think it has to do with our history, our size, our scope of services and the quality of services we offer,” Ulrich said. “We think it is great that our clients take the time to vote for us online. It is an honor and reaffirmation of doing a good job of taking care of them and their pets,” he added about the hospital’s third win for best vet. Ulrich, who has been with Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital since 1989, is one of 14 doctors at the hospital, which is open 24 hours, seven days a week, with a doctor and staff available at all times.

• Dr. Dev Vipul • Dr. Gordon Mitts


Bakersfield Life

May 2012

With locations for both small animals and large animals, Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital serves a broader client base. Although dogs are definitely the most common animal they see on a daily basis, they also care for their share of exotic animals, such as birds and reptiles. Ulrich used to work in zoo medicine, so he has treated giant cats and snakes. The hospital does business with those in the entertainment industry in Frazier Park. “As a vet, I like working on all animals, just not the ones that try to bite me,” he joked. He pointed out that the hospital has hired new doctors born and raised in Bakersfield who have chose to come back home. • Small animals: 8610 Harris Road; 327-4444 • Large animals: 4408 Wible Road; 832-1150

Photo by Mark Nessia


Best-kept Secret: Noriega’s

Best Specialty Doctor



Photo by Mark Nessia

or folks who grew up in a large family, eating at Noriega’s is a lot like eating at home. The reason it’s Bakersfield’s best-kept secret is not only because of the extraordinary fare, but the unique way that the food is served, said owner Linda ElizalzeMcCoy. “You are not handed a menu,” she said. “Everyone eats what is being served that day for that particular meal.” After more than 80 years in business, it seems to still be working. While Elizalze-McCoy has owned Noreiga’s with her sister, Rochelle Ladd, for the past 10 years, their family has operated the restaurant since 1931. When dining, prepare to feast on delicious dishes like rib-eye steak, served for dinner on Tuesdays, prime rib on Wednesdays and roast lamb on Fridays. But this type of food set-up comes with a strict timetable. Lunch is served at noon sharp, and dinner is promptly served at 7 p.m. So don’t be late, since everyone sits down to eat at the same time. You have a little leeway for breakfast, as it is served

• Dr. Ravi Patel, CBCC 6501 Truxtun Ave.; 322-2206;

from 7 to 9 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday and includes your choice of fried eggs or an omelet; potatoes; Basque sausage, bacon or ham; salsa; bread; jack cheese; and even wine or coffee. “The food is good, very good,” she said. “And we have one waitress who has been here for 50 years, who used to be the cook and knows all the recipes. We’ve been cooking it the same way. Nothing has changed around here.” And that’s a good thing. No, make that a great thing. 525 Sumner St.; 322-8419;

• Dr. Christopher Hamilton, Southern California Orthopedic Institute • Dr. Jason Helliwell, Advanced Women’s Health Center

Food & Drink Best Bakery • Smith’s Bakeries Various locations including 2808 Union Ave.; 325-3411;

Favorites • Sweet Surrender • Pyrenees French Bakery

Best Bar • Lengthwise Brewing Co. 6720 Schirra Court.; 836-ALES and 2900 Calloway Drive; 589-7394;

Favorites • BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse • Brimstone Bar at the Padre Hotel

Continued on page 72

We Couldn’t Be the Best Without You



Your Good Neighbor Day Florist


Continued from page 71

• Jake’s Tex-Mex Cafe 1710 Oak St.; 322-6380;

Favorites • Famous Dave’s • Prime Cut Meats & Eats

Best Basque Restaurant • Wool Growers Restaurant 620 E. 19th St.; 327-9584;

Favorites • Benji’s French Basque Restaurant • Noriega’s

Best Breakfast Food • 24th Street Cafe 1415 24th St.; 323-8801;

Favorites • Cope’s Knotty Pine Cafe • Village Grill

Best Buffet • Hodel’s Country Dining 5917 Knudsen Drive; 399-3341;

Favorites • Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace • Golden Corral Restaurant

Best New Car Dealer, Best Used Car Dealer and Best Auto Service: Bill Wright Toyota


e are awfully good at what we do,” said Dearl Tate, service coordinator at the Bill Wright Toyota auto dealership. “We are very personable with our customers, and that has a lot to do with it.” And Toyota has an excellent product, added Tate, who’s been with the dealership for 16 years. But three awards in one year is an amazing feat. “The most honest representation of service is the people who experience it,” said Kevan Juergens, general sales manager. “We focus on customer service. It is a true measure or mark of the customer experience.” The voter results are a testament to Bill Wright Toyota, and its entire staff, said Juergens, a 20-year veteran at Bill Wright who has been in his current position for the past 10 years. “We have a huge client base, and we are very blessed

Founders of Basham Funeral Care John and RuthAnn Basham

FD #1708


Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Members of the Bill Wright Toyota staff with the new Scion iQ.

Photo by Mark Nessia

Best Barbecue Restaurant

with a very high-quality product,” Juergens said. “Our organization is totally guest-focused in delivering a quality experience.” It’s the most important thing they do on a daily basis: Repeat business and referrals is key. “We gain the trust of customers and the comfort level that we are here to serve them,” Juergens said. 5100 Gasoline Alley Drive; Dealership, 735-4989; Service, 735-4700;

Best Burger Place • In-N-Out Burger 5100 Stockdale Highway; 2310 Panama Lane; 800-786-1000;

Favorites Photo by Mark Nessia

• Juicy Burger • Moo Creamery

Best Business Lunch • Luigi’s Restaurant and Delicatessen 725 E. 19th St.; 322-0926

Favorites • The Sequoia Sandwich Co. • Uricchio’s Trattoria

Best Chinese Restaurant • Bill Lee’s Bamboo Chopsticks 1203 18th St.; 324-9441;

Favorites • P.F. Chang’s • Great Castle Chinese Restaurant

Best Coffee Shop • Starbucks Coffee Co. Various locations including 9000 Ming Ave.; 665-8065;

Favorites • 24th Street Cafe • Dagny’s Coffee Co.

Best Cupcakes • Sweet Surrender 6439 Ming Ave.; 835-8530;


Steve and Dawn Baumgarten, owners of Log Cabin Florist

Best Florist and Best Customer Service: Log Cabin Florist


hen you’re there to make your customers happy, your business will survive a long, long time. Just ask Dawn Baumgarten of Log Cabin Florist, whose business was not only awarded best floral shop, but overall in best customer service. Baumgarten has been at the shop for about 30 years, but she bought Log Cabin 10 years ago from its previous owners. “Our customer service is probably our No. 1 focus,” she said. “We care about our customers, about their experience and follow through to make it the best product purchase possible.” This requires taking weekly trips to the coast to get the best selection of flowers, which sometimes means getting them from the field. “You can’t get fresher than that,” Baumgarten said.

• Smith’s Bakeries • Cupcakes N Crema

Best Deli • The Sequoia Sandwich Co. Various locations including 1231 18th St.; 323-2500;


With a 79-year history, Log Cabin’s employees have a passion for what they do. The management team recently returned from training in Michigan. “We need to keep up to speed to anything current happening in the floral industry, in trends, designs and management styles,” Baumgarten said. To keep in contact with their customers, Log Cabin interacts on Facebook by posting photos of floral arrangements and community events. “We have over 40,000 customers, and we are in contact with them on a weekly, bi-weekly basis to offer them reasons as to why we are the best in Bakersfield.” 800 19th St.; 327-8646; Continued on page 74

• Caesar’s Italian Delicatessen • Luigi’s Restaurant and Delicatessen

Best Drive-Thru (no indoor seating) • Sonic Drive-In Various locations including 6701 White Lane; 827-9100;

Favorites • Country Boy Drive-In • Andre’s Drive-In

Best Happy Hour • Tahoe Joe’s Famous Steakhouse 9000 Ming Ave.; 664-8723;

Favorites • Lengthwise Brewing Co. • Elephant Bar


Continued from page 73

Best Italian Restaurant • Uricchio’s Trattoria 1400 17th St.; 326-8870;

Favorites • Luigi’s Restaurant and Delicatessen • Frugatti’s

Best Lunch Spot • The Sequoia Sandwich Co. Various locations including 1231 18th St.; 323-2500;

Favorites • Jake’s Tex-Mex Cafe • Chipotle Mexican Grill

Best Margarita • Mexicali 631 18th St.; 327-3861 and 5601 California Ave.; 327-5201;

Favorites • Mauricio’s Grill & Cantina • Chili’s

Best Women’s Apparel: Bella at The Marketplace

Best Mexican Restaurant • Mexicali 631 18th St.; 327-3861 and 5601 California Ave.; 327-5201;

Favorites • Mauricio’s Grill & Cantina • Red Pepper Restaurant

Best Microbrew Selection • Lengthwise Brewing Co. 6720 Schirra Court.; 836-ALES and 2900 Calloway Drive; 5897394;

Favorites • BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse • Goose Loonies Tavern & Grill

Best New Restaurant • Chef’s Choice Noodle Bar 1534 19th St., Suite A, 325-1234;

Favorites • Steak & Grape Restaurant • Chipotle Mexican Grill at River Walk

Best Overall Restaurant • Wool Growers Restaurant 620 E. 19th St.; 327-9584;

Favorites • Tahoe Joe’s Famous Steakhouse • Luigi’s Restaurant and Delicatessen

9000 Ming Ave., Suite K6 in the Rose Garden Courtyard; 664-4974; Continued on page 76


Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Heather Abbott, left, and Heidi Nicoll (holding Willemina), owners of Bella at The Marketplace.

Photo by Mark Nessia


aybe it’s their variety of chic clothing, stylish shoes and affordable accessories paired with a personal touch in customer service. Or perhaps Bella at The Marketplace’s customers voted them No. 1 because they can’t resist Willemina, the adorable Yorkshire terrier (who goes by Willie), and greets customers at the door. For the first time in several years, a locally owned boutique takes top honors for best women’s apparel. “We are very excited and happy just to be nominated,” said co-owner and manager Heather Abbott. “We are happy to know that our customers voted for us, and love us that much.” Co-owner Heidi Nicoll opened the shop in 1999, and several years later, Abbott became a partner. The two fashionistas make a good team when deciding what to buy for the store. Abbott said Bella tries to offer a wide range of items that appeal to different age groups. “From jeans and T-shirts, to dressy dresses, shoes and jewelry — for a smaller boutique, we have quite a few styles and a lot of selection,” Abbott said. So what fashions can ladies expect this summer from Bella? “There will be lots of really pretty colors, like coral,” Abbott said. “There will be skirts with highlow hemlines, and a new trend of colored and printed denim.”

Jon Busby is honored to have served Kern County for 26 years offering exceptional customer service in resale, new construction, investment, and commercial real estate. We’re Honored To Be Nominated For


Thanks!! 003 RN

























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E R S’










R S’ C H O I C E P

Jon Busby • Kim Busby • Jennifer Busby • Jonathan Busby Annette Huston • Jeri Schueler • Lisa Anderson • Angelica Roquemore

661- 410-SELL (7355)

Favorites • Rusty’s Pizza • Pizzaville

Best Restaurant for Kids/ Family • John’s Incredible Pizza Co. 3709 Rosedale Highway; 859-1111;

Favorites • Moo Creamery • BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse

Best Romantic Restaurant • Uricchio’s Trattoria 1400 17th St.; 326-8870;

Favorites • Cafe Med Restaurant • Valentien Restaurant & Wine Bar

Best Salsa • Mexicali 631 18th St.; 327-3861 and 5601 California Ave.; 327-5201;

Favorites • Mauricio’s Grill & Cantina • El Jacalito Grill

Continued from page 74

Best Wine Selection: Imbibe Wine and Spirits Merchant


avid Dobbs, who owns Imbibe Wine and Spirits Merchant with his wife, Tamera, wants those learning about wine to know that their palate matters. “Too often they feel pressure when tastImbibe Wine and Spirits owners ing a wine, and someone has told them that David Dobbs and Tamera Dobbs it is great,” David Dobbs said. “So when with general manager Josh Ochoa. you disagree, you feel like something is wrong with your palate. But that’s not the case.” his shop. At Imbibe Wine, you’ll find a wine bar with 24 differFor the aficionado, Imbibe has everything from ent wines and a knowledgeable staff to walk you through bottles starting at $5 up to $2,500. your tasting experience. “We also test drive a lot of stuff here,” Dobbs said of “You tell us what you liked in the past, and we make his tastings. “A lot of places don’t let you do that.” suggestions for what works for you,” he said. “It makes On Friday and Saturday nights, sample a flight of you feel good about it.” wines with a common theme, ranging from $5 to $20 a Dobbs said he is tickled with the latest honor as taste. merchant with the best wine selection, since his store has Imbibe has a fine beer selection with 400 beers, only been in business for three years. “We take wine seri- including six on tap. Be sure to look out for Imbibe’s ously, I’ll tell you that.” upcoming Monday Daily Deal with a ridiculously low Born and raised in Bakersfield, Dobbs moved away in price on one item. 1984, and came back in 2006 to raise his kids. He wanted 4140 Truxtun Ave.; 663-WINE (9463); to put his 25 years in wine retail to work, so he opened

Photo by Mark Nessia

Best Pizza • Tony’s Pizza Various locations including 4750 Coffee Road, Suite 101; 588-4700;

All of us at Smith’s Bakeries wish to thank you for the opportunity, over the last 67 years, to prepare the best quality baked goods we know how to make. You expect us to use the best ingredients and our artisans enjoy the fact that baked goods made with a combination of their hands and hearts are still appreciated.



Kern County’s Only Certified Master Baker


Brookside Market

Bake Shop And Sales

Coffee & Hageman • 588-2070

2808 Union Ave. • 325-6357

White Oaks Plaza

Decorating Dept.

6401 White Lane • 834-1916

2808 Union • 325-3411

Brookside Market

Grand Island Village

The Marketplace • 654-0858

(Inside Sully’s Chevron Station) 11400 Ming Ave. • 663-8611

Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Best Real Estate Agent: Jon Busby

Realtor Jon Busby

Photo by Mark Nessia


ust try to catch Jon Busby in his office. We challenge you. He spends a majority his time with the most important people in his professional life: his clients. “I have a real simple philosophy,” Busby said. “Treat your clients well, and they will tell their friends, who then tell their friends. We try to pay real attention to service or you won’t get that repeat business.” Because of his referral business, he did not have to trim his team in the lean years of 2008 and 2009, like many real estate professionals. His three employees and five independent contractors help make his office at Re/Max Magic stand out above the rest. For instance, since 2001, Busby has offered the services of a moving truck to help his customers. “It’s a free service only to my customers,” he said. “Saves them money and is more convenient for them.” He continues to further his real estate education by taking classes each year in the industry that he’s been in since 1986. The hometown boy got his real estate broker’s license about four years ago. “I’m glad the public views our team the way they do,” he said of his nomination as best real estate agent. 110 New Stine Road; 410-SELL (7355); Continued on page 79

Best Seafood Restaurant • Red Lobster 8180 Rosedale Highway; 589-9956;

Favorites • AMF Westchester Lanes • La Costa Mexican Restaurant

Best Senior Special • Hodel’s Country Dining 5917 Knudsen Drive; 399-3341;

Favorites • Pappy’s Coffee Shop • Spencer’s

Best Steakhouse • Tahoe Joe’s Famous Steakhouse 9000 Ming Ave.; 664-8723;

Favorites • KC Steakhouse • Outback Steakhouse

Best Sunday Brunch • Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace 2800 Buck Owens Blvd.; 328-7560;

Favorites • Hodel’s Country Dining • Don Perico’s

Summer Cooking Class

June and July call for dates. 661-834-4433

Thank You For Nominating Us For Best of Wine Selection

4809 Stockdale Hwy

Romantic Restaurant

8200 Stockdale Highway

(661) 397-5070

Located Next to Trader Joe’s

A Family Tradition Since 1948


Best Sushi/Japanese Restaurant • Akira Japanese Restaurant 4154 California Ave.; 326-1860

Favorites • Tokyo Garden • Miyoshi Japanese Restaurant

Best Thai Food • Blue Elephant 8200 Stockdale Highway, Suite M-1; 833-8190

Favorites • Chef’s Choice Noodle Bar • Thai Kitchen

Best Wine Selection • Imbibe Wine and Spirits Merchant 4140 Truxtun Ave.; 633-9463;

Favorites • Trader Joe’s • Cafe Med Restaurant

Best Wings Place • Wingstop 3880 Gosford Road, Suite 100; 835-9464;

Favorites • Buffalo Wild Wings • Goose Loonies Tavern & Grill

The staff at Akira deserves much recognition for best sushi honor, said owner Yung In.


ou y k ! Than County n Ker

Kern schools as the beesst ffin ina iin nancia anci a nc n cia iial al ins in nsstitu nstitu titution. tit titutio tiion on. NOMINATED FOR BEST OF FINANCIAL INSTITUTION 18 YEARS IN A ROW AND BEST OF MORTGAGE COMPANY FIVE YEARS RUNNING.




Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Continued from page 77

Best Sushi/Japanese Restaurant: Akira Japanese Restaurant

Photo by Mark Nessia


ung In, owner of Akira Japanese Restaurant, has worked in the restaurant business for more than 30 years. His favorite job: chef. “It was fun learning to make different types of food. That has helped me to deliver quality food to our Bakersfield customers, he said. “That’s because you must know the food to run the restaurant,” said In, who continues to successfully run Akira since 1993. “We serve high-quality food at a reasonable price. We serve food that I would want to eat. If I can’t eat it, I shouldn’t be selling it.” Many of his employees have been with him for more than a decade, while a few have been around since he took over the restaurant. “They are very good workers.” That’s why Akira has been named best sushi restaurant for almost the past 15 years. As for the food, “we have good steaks, seafood, shrimp, scallops, along with the sushi,” he said. “If you are always consistent, that’s what people like, so we continue to do what we are doing and try not to mess up.” 4154 California Ave.; 326-1860

Best Yogurt Shop • Tutti Frutti Bakersfield 8200 Stockdale Highway, Suite M-2; 396-8000;

Favorites • Yogurtland Bakersfield • Daddy O’s Frozen Yogurt & Gelato

Shopping & Services Best Antique Store • In Your Wildest Dreams Antiques, Consignment & Liquidations 1723 18th St.; 324-6484;

Favorites • Wooden Nickel Trading Co. • Mill Creek Antique Mall

Best Auto Service • Bill Wright Toyota 5100 Gasoline Alley Drive; 735-4989;

Favorites • Motor City • Jim Burke Ford

Continued on page 80



Thank you Kern County, for nominating us in The Bakersfield Californian’s 2012 Best of Readership Poll

What people are saying: “I do love it when a restaurant is so good, yet priced so reasonably, that regular visits are affordable.” Pete Tittl, Bakersfield Californian Reviewer

The crew of the new Star Trek calls 24th Street Cafe“The best breakfast in town”.

1415 24th Street Bakersfield, CA Open daily: 6:00am -2:30pm



Check Out Our Daily Specials at


Best Bank/Financial Institutions

Continued from page 79

Photo by Lydia Gonzales

• Kern Schools Federal Credit Union Various locations including 4530 Ming Ave.; 833-7900;

Favorites • Wells Fargo Bank • Chase

Best Bike Store • Snider’s Cyclery 2700 Union Ave.; 324-4759 and 2700 New Stine Road; 833-2700;

Favorites • Action Sports • Finish Line

Best Bridal Wear • David’s Bridal 1210 Wible Road; 831-5400;

Favorites • Ladies & Gents Bridal • The Brides House

Best Camera Store • Henley’s Photos 2000 H St.; 324-9484;

Favorites • Costco • Best Buy

Best Carpet Flooring • Carpet Outlet Plus 4301 Rosedale Highway; 323-3133; carpetoutletplus. com

Favorites • Jost Carpet One Floor & Home • Stockdale Ceramic Tile Center Inc.

Best Catering Service Jake’s Tex-Mex Cafe 1710 Oak St.; 322-6380;


Best Pediatrician: Dr. Javier Bustamante

• Hodel’s Country Dining • Coconut Joe’s Beach Grill


r. Javier Bustamante’s efficient staff is dependable and caring, while the practice reflects the attention to detail that its patients deserve. “We were probably nominated because the parents of our patients feel we consistently strive to address their concerns using a variety of options, such as same-day appointments, professional over-the-phone advice and email requests,” Bustamante said. Most importantly, Bustamante’s longstanding involvement with health care organizations in our community reflects his true mission: to leave Bakersfield in better shape than when he started practicing medicine back in 1985.

Best Cellphone Carrier • AT&T Wireless Various locations including 4180 Truxtun Ave.; 852-0100;

Favorites • Verizon Wireless • Sprint

Best Children’s Apparel • Target Various locations including 11000 Stockdale Highway; 617-3657;

Favorites • Spoiled Rotten Boutique • Kohl’s


Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Winning the award for best pediatrician is quite an honor. “Because it is a real-team effort, it means a lot to our staff,” he said. “Our staff spends more time with patients, and they facilitate and provide very useful services that reflect this award,” he said. To provide even better care for his patients, Bustamante said he wants to add more staff members. “We wish to add providers and are eagerly looking to add nurse practitioner providers to expand the scope and range of services we provide to the children of our community.” 300 Old River Road; 663-4700;

Best Cigar Store • John T’s Unique Gifts Valley Plaza Mall, 2701 Ming Ave., Suite A5; 832-7002

Best New Restaurant: Chef’s Choice Noodle Bar

Favorites • 17th Street Cigar Co. • Havana House


ow many restaurants do you eat at that literally have a doctor in house? Well, if you go to Chef’s Choice Noodle Bar, you are likely to run into owner Nick Hansa, who is also a pulmonary physician. He spent years working in restaurants while attending college and had the longtime dream of opening his own restaurant, which he has finally achieved. Chef’s Choice Noodle “We have a professional kitchen staff, a proBar believes fresh fessional service staff and a professional maningredients are key in agement team,” Hansa said about his downtown making great Thai food. Bakersfield Thai restaurant that’s not the traditional family-run business. “You won’t see me cooking in the kitchen or my wife (who works in Noodle Bar likes to use fresh ingredients so certain real estate) serving food.” items are imported from South America because of Having this kind of a team is why Noodle Bar won their seasonal scarcity. best new restaurant. This year, Noodle Bar is expanding the catering “We are honored to get that kind of recognition. from simple office lunches to much bigger affairs, We’d like to think we bring in a different presentation complete with tables, chairs and china. 1534 19th St., Suite A; 325-1234; and an authentic Thai menu to Bakersfield,” he said, about serving popular dishes like drunken noodles Continued on page 83 with chicken or barbecue chicken and Thai sauces.

Best Customer Service • Log Cabin Florist 800 19th St.; 327-8646;


Photo by Mark Nessia

• Urner’s • RJ’s Bar & Grill

Discover the Secrets Behind Personal Comfort.

Best Day Care Facility • Little Red School House 4601 Fruitvale Ave.; 588-2227 and 4601 California Ave.; 3245774; littleredschoolhouse

Favorites • St. John’s Children Center • Olive Knoll’s Christian School

Best Department Store • Target Various locations including 11000 Stockdale Highway; 617-3657;

Favorites • Macy’s • Kohl’s

THANK YOU KERN COUNTY! from the kids of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Thank you for nominating St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for Best Worthy Cause!

NEW! Coffee Rd.

Wible Rd.

Inside Urner’s White Ln & Wible Rd 396-8400

Calloway Dr.

99 White Ln.

Hughes Ln.

Take the comfort test today. Available exclusively at Urner’s two great Z’s Please locations.

Brimhall Rd.

Brimhall Square Brimhall & Calloway 241-9329

Giveaway conducted by ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Proceeds benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. ©2012 ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. License R-0061 (BACA12-AD-5)


Best Dry Cleaner • Today Cleaners Various locations including 8200 Stockdale Highway, Suite M11; 634-1210;

Favorites • New City Cleaners • Kleenerz

Best Electronics • Best Buy 8300 Rosedale Highway; 587-0675;

Favorites • Costco • Urner’s

Best Florist • Log Cabin Florist 800 19th St.; 327-8646;

Favorites • Uniquely Chic Florist & Boutique • Garden District Flowers

Best Funeral Home • Greenlawn 3700 River Blvd.; 324-9701 and 2739 Panama Lane; 834-8820; greenlawn


Dr. Stephen Ratty earns best optometrist honor.

• Hillcrest Memorial Park and Mortuary • Basham Funeral Care


Best Buffet

NORTHEAST (661) 324-9701 FD # 779 SOUTHWEST (661) 834-8820 FD# 1347 82

Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Continued from page 81 Best Furniture Store • Weatherby’s Furniture 620 Chester Ave.; 327-2747;

Best Optometrist: Stephen D. Ratty, O.D.

Photo by Mark Nessia


ord-of-mouth may be the best advertising, throw in great customer service and an awesome selection of a products, and you have the not-so-secret reason why Stephen D. Ratty, O.D. was selected as best optometrist. That comes straight from Sandra Rodriguez, Ratty’s office manager, who has been at the practice for 12 years. “All of our girls give great customer service,” said Rodriguez, who took over as office manager about a year ago. “We feel very honored because there are a quite a few optometrists in town, and having won is really great,” she said. “It makes us feel special because we all work hard, and we feel good that the patients appreciate it.” Ratty started work with his dad, also an optometrist, but decided to open his own practice in 1982. He works with Fred Narzisi, a fellow optometry school class-


mate. The duo makes an unbeatable team for servicing their patients. And their product also helps their cause. They recently added the Bulgari line. “We do have quite a few designer frames, plus we have a boutique for our higher-end selections,” Rodriguez said. “That’s part of the reason people are drawn to come here, because of the selection.” The staff plays a big role, too. Most of them have worked there more than a decade, including one employee who has been there for more than 20 years. “We all love to work for Dr. Ratty, and that’s why we are so good to customers — because it makes us comfortable in our jobs.” 2222 E St., Suite 1; 327-2681; Continued on page 84

• Urner’s • Ashley Furniture HomeStore

Best Heating/Air • Stockdale Aire 2730 Unicorn Road; 399-0100;

Favorites • Oasis Air Conditioning • Econo Air

Best Home Appliance Store • Urner’s 4110 Wible Road; 396-8400;

Favorites • Lowe’s • Sears

Best Hotel • Padre Hotel 1702 18th St.; 427-4900;

Favorites • DoubleTree Hotel • Bakersfield Marriott at the Convention Center

The best times are in your own backyard. Time is precious. Timing is everything. At Continuum Senior Care Management, we are able to recognize your unique needs at precisely the right time. That prevents suffering, saves money, keeps you out of hospitals and care homes. That’s what we do. Senior and Dementia Care Management since 1995 4800 Stockdale Highway, Suite 308 Bakersfield, CA 93309 Phone (661) 861-8628


Best Jewelry Store

Continued from page 83

• The American Jewelry Co. 3200 21st St., Suite 500; 325-5023;

Favorites • Rogers Jewelry Co. • Knight’s Jewelers

Best Mattress Store • Costco 3800 Rosedale Highway; 8522643 and 4900 Panama Lane; 398-4740;

Favorites • Urner’s Z’s Please Sleep Center • Sleep-n-Aire

Best Men’s Apparel • Macy’s 2601 Ming Ave.; 832-5550;

Favorites • Kohl’s • Snead’s for Men

Best Mortgage Company • Kern Schools Federal Credit Union Various locations including 4530 Ming Ave.; 833-7900;

Favorites • Wells Fargo • Agape Mortgage

Best New Car Dealership • Bill Wright Toyota 5100 Gasoline Alley Drive; 735-4989;


Nahrain and Matthew Antonaros, owners of John T’s.

Best New Home Builder • Castle & Cooke Homes 10930 Stockdale Highway; 665-1540;

Favorites • Froehlich Signature Homes • Lennar

Best Nursery • White Forest Nursery 300 Morning Drive; 366-6291;

Favorites • Bolles Nursery • Robby’s Nursery & Landscape Service

Best Pet Supplies • Petco 8220 Rosedale Highway; 587-1097;

Favorites • PetSmart • Biscuit Boutique & Doggy Spa


Bakersfield Life

Best Cigar Store: John T’s Unique Gifts


ong-standing in the community means a lot to many people, including Matthew “Sky” Antonaros, partner and manager of John T’s Unique Gifts that has been in Valley Plaza since the mall opened in 1967. “We are one of two original stores in the mall,” Antonaros said. “We started out as a tobacco shop.” John T’s has since branched out to sell items like cutlery, men’s accessories, games and hardto-find collectibles. “But we still have a walk-in humidor, lots of tobacco products, pipes and cigars,” Antonaros said. “We just have a bunch of other stuff.” Antonaros hopes this year’s win is due to a combination of service, a broad selection of products and longevity in the community. May 2012

“We are deeply rooted in Bakersfield. People come in and say, ‘My grandfather used to buy pipe tobacco from here, and then my dad,’” he said. Speaking of three generations, Antonaros said his grandfather, Johnny, started the business. His father, George, is now a partner with him and his brother, John, who lives in the Dominican Republic, where their cigars are manufactured. This year, John T’s is making a bigger marketing push to drive sales for the company’s signature nationally sold cigars, The Crowd Pleaser and Sweet T’s, which have been produced since 1982. Valley Plaza Mall, 2701 Ming Ave., Suite A5; 832-7002

Photo by Mark Nessia

• Jim Burke Ford • Three-Way Chevrolet Cadillac

Best Real Estate Agent • Jon Busby 110 New Stine Road; 410-7355;

Favorites • Mary Christenson • Betty Byrom

Best Yogurt Shop: Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt

Best Real Estate Company


• Coldwell Bankers Preferred, Realtors Various locations including 9100 Ming Ave., Suite 100; 836-2345;

Favorites • Watson Realty • RE/MAX Magic

Best Retirement Home

Photo by Mark Nessia

• Glenwood Gardens 350 Calloway Drive, Suite A1; 587-0221; glenwood-gardens.aspx

Favorites • Rosewood Senior Living Community • Carriage House Estates

other chains don’t offer. “We are the only one with soy products,” he said. “It is dairy and gluten-free. It is a good choice to have for those unable to eat dairy products.”

Best Shoe Store • Guarantee Shoe Center 2101 Chester Ave.; 325-8751;

8200 Stockdale Highway, Suite M-2; 396-8000; Continued on page 86

• Macy’s • Famous Footwear






O R S’ C H O I C E P








O ’ C H O IC E P






nominating Snider’s as the Best Bicycle Store!




THANK YOU Kern County for


Thank you for voting for us for the last 17 years, Bakersfield!



t hasn’t even been open a year, and Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt secured a win for best yogurt shop. With a friendly staff, more than 50 self-serve yogurt flavors available and toppings including fresh fruit, mochi, granola, chocolate candies and caramel ans marshmallow sauces, it’s no wonder Tutti Frutti placed No. 1. “It’s great and good to know that we were voted for. We are very excited,” said Joe Zhou, owner of the Bakersfield location, about the overall effort that he and his 10 employees provide. “People ask me, ‘Are you going to open another one,” Zhou said. “I tell them we just openedGive us some time.” He thinks people love the self-serve concept, the affordable price and the creative flavors. Some of those popular flavors include: royal red velvet, choco peanut butter, orange cream, pomegranate, almond, coconut and, of course, tutti frutti. Zhou also added that his yogurt is high in protein, very healthy and rich in vitamins — something that






• 100s of Bikes to Choose From • Full Line of Parts and Accessories






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1203 18th St. - Established 1938 11AM - 10PM M-F • 11AM - 11PM SAT • 11AM - 10PM SUN


Celebrating Our 74th Anniversary




Serving Kern County Cyclists For Over 106 Years

r s’ C h oi c e

P 2700 New Stine Bakersfield 833-2700

2700 Union Ave Bakersfield 324-4750


Best Shopping Center • The Marketplace 9000 Ming Ave.; 714-5451400; themarketplace

Continued from page 85

Best Camera Store: Henley’s Photos

Favorites • Valley Plaza • Northwest Promenade

Best Sporting Goods Dick’s Sporting Goods 9300 Rosedale Highway; 588-8100;

Favorites • Action Sports • Big 5 Sporting Goods

Best Tile Store • Bill Ray Ceramic Tile Center, Inc. 6301 E. Brundage Lane; 3663255;

Favorites • Stockdale Ceramic Tile Center Inc. • Bedrosians

Best Tire Store • Big O Tires Various locations including 6911 White Lane; 827-9888;

Favorites • Big Brand Tire & Service • America’s Tire Co.


fter more than 60 years in operation, Henley’s Photo came under new ownership in September 2010, when Craig Neville purchased the building. A transformation began soon after with drastic changes including an entire remodeling, said manager Jimmy Bunting. “It’s a new beast, clean and beautiful, and it has helped a lot,” Bunting said. “It’s like a brand new camera store.” This longtime standing staple in Bakersfield expanded to provide customers with more products and services such as options for digital and film processing as well as online print orders. Henley’s still offers great personal customer service, which this corner camera shop is known for. For those tech junkies, the store

gets new product lines as soon as they are available. Henley’s now offers the full Canon and Nikon lineup, making it the only place in town where you can purchase a camera over $2,000, said Bunting. But the store still makes sure to cater to traditional customers. “We still carry more than 20 different types of film,” he said. “We still do processing, and what we can’t do, we outsource to some great labs.” Henley’s has brought back a black-and-white dark room accessible to customers. The store also offers various photography classes with its knowledgeable staff and instructors throughout the month. 2000 H St.; 324-9484;

Lisa Enns of Henley’s Photo

Continued on page 89

• To our Staff • To our School System • To our Loyal Customers • To our many Friends and Family



Call Amber Today 1-800-691-7817 661-323-7817

Open: Monday - Friday 7am -5pm Serving Kern County Since 1910

330 E. 19th Street 86

Bakersfield Life

May 2012


“Always giving Thanks to God for everything” - Ephesians 5:20

6:00-9:00 p.m. Mon. Sat. 7:30-9:00 p.m. Sunday 7:30-2:00 p.m. Sun. Brunch

5917 Knudsen Dr. Fwy 99 & Olive Drive (661) 399-3341

Best Travel Agency • AAA Travel 1500 Commercial Way; 3274661;

Favorites • Uniglobe Golden Empire Travel • Lambourne Air & Sea

Best Tuxedo Store • AJ’s Tuxedos Junction 2527 F St.; 325-2044 and 3699 Ming Ave.; 831-4114;

Favorites • Mr. Tuxedo • Friar Tux Shop

Best Used Car Dealership • Bill Wright Toyota 5100 Gasoline Alley Drive; 735-4989; Photo by Mark Nessia



• Jim Burke Ford • Motor City

Many thanks to our Kern County patients, friends, and physicians for nominating us

Best Plastic Surgeon for 2012

2901 Sillect Ave, Suite 201 Bakersfield, CA 93308 Tel.: 661 327 2101 Bakersfield (661) 327-2101 2901 Sillect Ave, Suite 201 Bakersfield, CA 93308

Hanford (559) 584-2695 125 Mall Drive, Suite 201 Hanford, CA 93230

Palmdale (661) 327-2101, ext. 5 38600 Medical Center Dr., Suite 200 Palmdale, CA 93551

Coming Soon! Santa Barbara


Best Veterinarian • Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital 8610 Harris Road; 327-4444 (small animals) and 4408 Wible Road; 832-1150 (large animals);

Favorites • Stiern Veterinary Hospital, Dr. Eric Bollier • At The Oaks Pet Hospital

Best Western Store • Emporium Western Store 1031 19th St.; 325-8476;

Favorites • Boot Barn • Floyd’s General Store

Best Women’s Apparel • Bella at The Marketplace 9000 Ming Ave., Suite K6; 664-4974;

Favorites • Chico’s • Apricot Lane Boutique

Just for Fun Best Art Gallery • Bakersfield Museum of Art 1930 R St.; 323-7219;

Favorites • Metro Galleries • The Empty Space

We’re honored to serve the people of Bakersfield since 1881



It has been a pleasure serving you. And we want you to know we appreciate your business. We will do everything possible to merit the confidence you have shown in us.



St. Francis Church and St. Francis School would like to thank Kern County for their 10th year of being nominated for the “Best Place to Worship” and “Best Private School”

Come by and see us soon.

The COMPLETE Tile Store OPEN EVERY DAY (661) 366-3255 6301 E. BRUNDAGE LN. • BAKERSFIELD, CA 88

Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Msgr. Craig Harrison

Best Community Theater

Continued from page 86

Photo by Kenneth Wong

Best Hospital: Mercy Southwest A hospital may not necessarily be anyone’s favorite place. But when you mention Mercy Southwest, part of Mercy Hospitals of Bakersfield, people can’t stop saying enough positive things. “Mercy has a long-standing relationship with our community — starting with the Sisters of Mercy in 1910. We’ve cared for our friends and neighbors for more than a century,” said marketing manager Sandy Doucette. For many, employees as well as patients, Mercy is a part of the family. “It’s that special connection we share with generations of Bakersfield residents that sets Mercy apart. It’s why Mercy is first in their minds,” Doucette said. “We challenge ourselves to deliver quality care and consistently exceed the expectations of our patients and families. Recognition like this tells us we are doing just that.” There are several projects under way at Mercy that will help better serve the hospitals’ patients like the expansion of the emergency department. “More space means we can care for more people, faster,” Doucette said. 400 Old River Road; 663-6000; Continued on page 90

• The Fox Theater 2001 H St.; 324-1369;

Favorites • The Gaslight Melodrama • Theatre & Music Hall Stars Theatre Restaurant

Best Golf Course • The Links at RiverLakes Ranch 5201 Riverlakes Drive; 587-5465;

Favorites • Seven Oaks Country Club • Bakersfield Country Club

Best Park • The Park at River Walk 11298 Stockdale Highway; 326-3866;

Favorites • Hart Memorial Park • Central Park at Mill Creek

Best Place for a Birthday Party • Pump It Up 2841 Unicorn Road, Suite 103; 392-8800;

Thank You Kern County For Supporting our Local, Independent Business

• Carriers • Collars • Grooming • Clothing • Food • Dog Training • Doggy Day Care

1617 19th Street - 321-9602


Continued from page 89 Favorites • John’s Incredible Pizza Co. • Color Me Mine at The Marketplace

Best Place to People Watch • The Marketplace 9000 Ming Ave.; 714-5451400; themarketplace

Favorites • Kern County Fair • Valley Plaza

Best Place to Take Out-of-Town Guests • Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace 2800 Buck Owens Blvd.; 328-7560;

Favorites • Dewar’s • Wool Growers Restaurant

Best Weekend Getaway • Pismo Beach

Favorites • Santa Barbara • Las Vegas

Best Tuxedo Store: AJ’s Tuxedo Junction Building a business with employees who not only deliver excellent customer service but are trustworthy to watch over the shop while the owner is on medical leave has been a blessing for Larry Andrew Jackson, owner of AJ’s Tuxedo Junction. “That’s why I was able to go get surgery and leave most duties to them. I’m really lucky,” he said. Jackson, who recently turned 70, said being on his feet helping cutstomers for more than 40 years has been worth it, despite having gone through right knee replacement surgery in March. Two weeks after his surgery, Jackson was proud to talk about his business being named the best tuxedo store. “It makes me feel very honored and proud,” he said. “Ever since the contest started, we have either won or been named a favorite.” So why do customers continue to vote for AJ’s year after year?


“We carry everything in stock,” he said. “We don’t have to order from some big warehouse. If you need your tuxedo within an hour or two, we can do that.” AJ’s Tuxedos has more than 80 mannequins, so customers can see how the clothes actually fit, whereas other stores can only show looks from a catalog or display outfits on a couple of mannequins, Jackson said. There’s also a full-time alterations person on staff who Jackson raves is one of the best in Bakersfield. “We do a lot of over-the-counter work, which means bridal gowns, lots of men’s regular dress clothes, too.” Jackson mentioned the fun tuxes that just arrived for prom and wedding season. “We have the new skinny tuxedo by Perry Ellis, along with the hot new pick stitch tuxedo from John Galante.” • 2527 F. St.; 325-2044 • 3699 Ming Ave.; 831-4114

Thank you Bakersfield for your Votes


We look forward to offering you the same quality food & service. We appreciate your loyalty.

2 Locations

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Bakersfield Life

May 2012

5601 California Ave. • 327-5201

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Photo by Alex Horvath










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Larry Andrew Jackson, owner of AJ’s Tuxedo Junction.


For voting Little Red School House “Best Day Care Facility in 2012 Readers Poll”. We appreciate the trust you have placed in us for the past 45 years. Congratulations to our staff for a great job! Now Accepting Registrations




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Thank You Kern County








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Horsing around Local orthodontist hits the trails on the weekends

By Allie Castro


Bakersfield Life

May 2012


Best De

Dr. Donald Montano in his office on Stockdale Highway.

Photo by Mark Nessia


is Bakersfield beginnings may not have been not strategically calculated, but Dr. Donald Montano would learn life is about taking risks and finding blessings in disguise. Risk one: After being offered a position at a local orthodontist’s office, Montano loaded everything he owned into his car, threw caution to the wind, and headed from Santa Monica to Bakersfield — a place he had only driven through up until that point.


“Unfortunately, they eat like a horse, and with hay prices up, lots of horses are for sale.”

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In the 24 years since then, he has built his own local practice and has grown to be one of the most recognizable names in his field. In addition to running his own practice, he is also a member of the Bakersfield West Rotary Club and a board member of the Smile for a Lifetime Foundation, a charity he formed with a friend that provides orthodontic scholarships for deserving kids who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford orthodontic care. The Bakersfield chapter currently supports 24 youth. Dr. Donald Montano With all of these activities, two daughters and a loving wife of more than 20 years, it’s a wonder that Dr. Montano finds time for sleep, much less hobbies. Yet his hobby isn’t as simple as a pickup game here or there. Montano is an avid horse rider, and he and his wife personally care for four of their five horses (one is currently being trained in Reno, Nev.). Montano said it’s his wife who first got him into riding, as she

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grew up around horses. Riding horses could be risky for someone like Montano, who was new to the sport. But his wife left him with some great advice. “She said, ‘It’s not a matter of if you’ll fall off. It’s a matter of when,’” said Montano with a laugh. “In 24 years, I’m doing OK. I haven’t fallen off.” While his wife still competes in cutting (a sport in which a rider isolates a chosen animal from a herd), Montano rides for pleasure and relaxation. “I told her I’d go to the competitions, but I like riding around Panorama Bluffs and up and down the river better,” he said. Montano, his wife and their daughters also enjoy riding along the coast when time permits. Though rides are relegated to weekends and vacations, Montano knows caring for the horses is a full-time job. He laughs when asked how the family manages. “It’s called a busy wife,” he said. “She loves doing it. She doesn’t mind cleaning the stalls. My job is fixing the stuff they break; they’re always tearing things up. We have a five-acre property, and there are always things to do.” But it’s worth it. “My favorite thing is just being outside and getting away. I love being up in the hills, especially this time of year when it’s green, and spending time with the family. We usually ride, just the four of us.” For those who are interested in taking up the hobby, Montano cautions that a little research is necessary. “Just buying a horse isn’t a good idea. With the economy down-

When you purchase a 20 lb. bucket of 3” tabs.

turn, lots of people couldn’t take care of their horses,” Montano said. “Unfortunately, they eat like a horse, and with hay prices up, lots of horses are for sale.” If you are ready for the commitment, Montano advised getting “help with finding a horse that’s a good horse to ride. A lot of horses are a little spunky, and if you don’t know what to look for, you could get yourself in trouble. Try an older seasoned horse that is wellmannered and well trained.” Of course, one of the first things to do is to take some riding lessons, Montano said. The bottom line: “Get some advice. People with horses tend to be pretty darn friendly.”

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Bakersfield Life

May 2012


Designing women Best friends Cindy Eller and Connie Wedemeyer, owners of C&C Hardware, create one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry

By Lisa Kimble


Photos by Alex Horvath

heir one-of-a-kind designs are coveted, not only for their unique of silver and pearls, but for the rare Ethiopian crosses used to anchor their creations. The antique trinkets, adored by women across Bakersfield, are the signature look of C & C Hardware’s creative team of Cindy Eller and Connie Wedemeyer, whose hip loft-style workshop in the heart of downtown is Bakersfield’s best-kept secret.


Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Connie Wedemeyer and Cindy Eller in their workshop at C&C Hardware where they make custom jewelery.

In the shadow of Highway 178 downtown on Q Street, next to warehouses fenced in by barbed wire, there stands a building with an unassuming exterior that belies a burgeoning business inside whose success seems purely accidental. There is no sign out front. Customers shop by appointment or at invitation-only open houses. The proprietors take most of the summer off and rely solely on word-of-mouth advertising. And as if almost in spite of themselves, the best friends have carved out an enormously popular high-end niche business with their one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry from a bygone age and faraway lands inside their workspace that feels more Manhattan than Mill Creek. Their bracelets, buckles and signature cross necklaces are sought after, not just as fashion accessories, but also as investments in handcrafted works of art. Even if you haven’t heard of C&C Hardware, chances are you probably have already admired their jewelry. For eight years, Eller and Wedemeyer have been meticulously drilling, polishing and interlocking authentic Ethiopian Coptic crosses of sterling or solid silver with embellishments of crystals, real pearls and, most recently, leather. Their friendship began more than a decade ago when their daughters were in first grade. “We started knitting together, and we would meet for coffee. Then we made pigskin pillows,” Eller laughed. “Our husbands joked that we had cornered the market on pigskin in Bakersfield.” Continued on page 100

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Connie Wedemeyer and Cindy Eller shop around to create unique jewelry items.

After the short-lived pigskin pillow enterprise, on a lark, the women visited an annual gem show in Southern California. “Because we weren’t wholesalers, the cash-and-carry jewelry area was the only place we could go at the show,” Eller said. Six hundred dollars later, they returned home with a tiny box of beads and a burning desire to put their creative juices to work. “We started making the necklaces in Cindy’s kitchen,” Wedemeyer said of their craftwork that seemed as therapeutic as it was imaginative. They had also met a trader from Ethiopia who sold Coptic crosses. Like most hobbyists, they began by making jewelry for themselves. Eventually they took some of their pieces to local retailers. “We were so excited with our first piece that we actually lost money,” Eller laughed. “We are slowly evolving,” Wedemeyer added, referring to the popularity of their designs and the growing pains of their business. Eller has also worked with stained glass and mosaics, but neither woman had any formal training in jewelry design. They had a lucky charm in Eller’s older brother, Erich Joiner, an L.A.-based commercial producer with a knack for hammering out memorable

“The pieces are precious, to be handed down from generation to generation.” C&C Hardware customer Tonia Cody

television spots and producing some sound business advice for his enterprising sister. Joiner bought and remodeled the building and came up with the name for the business: C&C Hardware. Although, by their own admission, they aren’t especially business-minded, the originality of their designs is unmistakable. Every piece is handmade, and no two are exactly alike. The Coptic crosses date back to the 1700s when they were cut out of coins. Each region had a different style. “These crosses are pieces of art, hundreds of years old and worn by Coptic Christians,” Wedemeyer said. “All of ours are original and in everything we make we try to incorporate vintage antique Catholic medals.”

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Bakersfield Life

May 2012

They cull Catholic charms from Belgium and comb through antique stores looking for the tiniest of treasures. Inside their cool, chic building is the workshop — an artisan’s dream space underneath modern lighting of suspended small bulbs. Leather straps hang from hooks on the cement slab wall. Another is draped with chains and covered with photographs of their pieces. Atop worktables sit tiny paper plates cradling stones, pearls and miniature crosses. An adjacent room is used for stamping, grinding and drilling. Eight years after establishing C&C Hardware, even these designing women are surprised by their good fortune and say they could not have imagined back when they would knit over coffee after morning drop-off that their collaboration would bring them so many admirers. “Their jewelry is a staple in my wardrobe,” said longtime friend and fan Tonia Cody. “To me, each piece is so special because no two are alike. The pieces are precious, to be handed down from generation to generation.” Others have tried to replicate C&C Hardware’s distinctive look. Customers like Cody say the tender, loving care they put into each and every piece can’t be reproduced. “I think this has worked because we were friends first,” Eller said. Wedemeyer agreed: “If we weren’t friends, I don’t think we could make it work.” As C&C works on a website, they hope to hop on the First Friday bandwagon with open houses. To be added to their mailing list, email

Best Real Estate Agent


CHIROPRACTOR! Dr. Jason Sabol, D.C. 3900 Coffee Rd. Ste #3 Medical Group, Inc.




Bakersfield Jazz Festival 2012

Maceo Parker

By Breanna Fields


Photos courtesy of Doug Davis

eaturing world-class talent and a selection of vendors, this year’s 26th annual Bakersfield Jazz Festival is just around the corner as artists and volunteers gear up to bring you another all-ages event on May 11 and 12. This event draws upon the explosive nature of a large-scale music festival while keeping it close to home with local acts scheduled to perform. The festival has continued to expand and fill the seats of Cal State Bakersfield’s amphitheater. Last year’s attendance record reached a total of 6,000 people over the course of the two-day festival. With increased support from sponsors and volunteers, the event will uphold the high standards set in previous years to bring the best of jazz music to Bakersfield. Starting out in the spring of 1987, the festival hosted


Bakersfield Life

May 2012

some of the biggest names in jazz, including the Yellowjackets who were nominated for multiple Grammy Awards. When a scheduling conflict arose with the performance of Dizzy Gillespie at Bakersfield College, it was decided that both campuses would combine to form a two-day festival. The result is the quality production and performances that we see today. With CSUB music instructor Doug Davis at the helm, the possibilities are endless. His vision of providing local and international artists, as well as CSUB students with an outlet to perform, has proven to be a worthwhile cause. “It feels like a mom-and-pop organization. For a long time it was just my wife and myself organizing,” Davis said. Not only has the festival provided entertainment for local audiences, it has also granted scholarships to deserving students to assist in their educational needs.

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“The whole reason for this festival is to raise money for scholarships in eight disciplines,” said Adele Davis, Doug’s wife. “All money, with the exception of costs, goes to scholarships that go directly to Cal State students.” Scholarships will be presented to students onstage during the festival in a number of different subjects, including mathematics, chemistry, public administration, business administration, liberal studies and, of course, music. The festival itself will be the platform for numerous talented artists this year, such as the R&B Bombers, a nine-piece outfit that will open for headliner Maceo Parker on Friday. The band’s jump-blues sound goes hand in hand with the typical jazz styles of other artists slated to perform. Formed in 1981, the band has seen relatively few changes since the original lineup and has reformed after a relatively long hiatus. “It’s the band that wouldn’t go away,” said sax player Dave Tolegian. Crowds can expect to see a 50-minute performance with a handful of tracks off of their second album including “991,” “Bad Behavior” and “White Boys Can’t Dance.” Saturday’s headlining slot will feature Richard Elliot, a Scotland-born sax player raised in Los Angeles who has had a Continued on page 104

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Continued from page 103

dynamic career with multiple albums reaching No. 1 on the charts including “On the Town,” “Soul Embrace,” “After Dark” and “Jumpin’ Off.” A firework show is scheduled during Elliot’s set. This spectacular display will shine bright in the sky and mark the success of the 26th annual jazz festival.

26th annual Bakersfield Jazz Festival When: Gates open 6 p.m. May 11 and 1 p.m. May 12 Where: CSUB Amphitheater, 9001 Stockdale Highway Cost: Two-day combo tickets for students, $35; general admission, $55; free for children under 12. Tickets: Call Vallitix at 322-5200 or visit Friday Steve Cole R & B Bombers Maceo Parker

Saturday Kern County Honor Jazz Band Ray Zepeda with Jamael Dana Dean Jim Scully 4tet Amina Figarova Alphonse Mouzon Melena Richard Elliot

Richard Elliot

John F. Hawley, O.D., Cache M. Crawford, O.D., Mona Gill, O.D. Thank you for nominating us in “Kern County’s Best Of” Reader’s Poll.

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Bakersfield Life

May 2012

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Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace

nday Best Su and h c n ru B Take Place toTown fo tOu Guests

Buddy Alan Owens and the Buckaroos play a set at the Buck Owens Birthday Bash in August.

By Paola Becerra


ince opening its doors in 1996, the Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace has been the prime place to enjoy great live music, delicious food and entertain out-of-town guests. The building is also a museum that houses Owens’ memorabilia, including his famous red, white and blue guitar; rhinestone suits; hundreds of pictures with celebrities; music awards and the 1972 Pontiac convertible that’s anchored right above the bar.

With such rich musical history, it’s no wonder why the Crystal Palace has been voted the best place to take out-of-town guests. “It’s a way to have a great dinner, be entertained and learn about the Bakersfield Sound in one visit,” said Jim Shaw, a longtime member of the Buckaroos and a member of the management team. During weekdays, (except for Mondays when it’s closed), the Palace has dinner and dancing. So if you’re 106

Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee takes in the largerthan-life statues of country giants Hank Williams, left, and George Jones at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace.

Photo by Felix Adamo

Out-of-town guests

Photo by Felix Adamo

in the mood to line dance or listen to live country music, this is the perfect place to visit. On the weekends, there are three different shows that rotate — The Buckaroos with Buddy Alan, The Buckaroos with Monty Byrom and Stampede. According to Shaw, 25 percent to 30 percent of visitors are from out of the area. If you have a guest visiting in June, you may want to take them to the Collin Raye concert on June 14.

Sunday brunch The Crystal Palace also takes the award for the best Sunday brunch, which is served from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The variety of foods on the buffet will make you want to sample a little of everything from fresh fruit and salads, breakfast foods, including made-to-order omelets, a waffle bar and muffins. You can also enjoy homemade pasta, enchiladas and mouth-watering tri-tip. Shaw mentioned that a minimum of 300 to 400 buffets are sold each week, but that number greatly increaes on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Easter Sunday.

Celebrity sightings

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Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Continued from page 107

ties have been, and the Crystal Palace has had its fair share of fame walk through its doors. Shaw rattled off a a few celebrity sightings like Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley, Dwight Yoakam, the Dixie Chicks, George Jones, Martina McBride, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. To Shaw, one of the most exciting nights at the Crystal Palace was when they dedicated the bronze statues inside the museum and Garth Brooks, Dierks Bentley, Merle Haggard, Ray Benson and others joined together for a jam session. Thanks to Buck Owens, the Crystal Palace has brought big names to Bakersfield and will always be a part of the community’s history. The food, music and environment combine to guarantee visitors will have a fun-filled time. For reservations, call 328-7560 or for more information, visit

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Why I Live Here

public or fundraising event that I am planning because it is my passion, and I love seeing people have an “experience” and a great time.

Photo by Henry A. Barrios

Nothing compares: My favorite local restaurant is The Petroleum Club, of course. It’s low-key, without intrusive loud music, the service is meticulous and attentive, and the food – I have the inside scoop of knowing how fresh it is — oh so yummy!

Lili Marsh Catering and front house operations manager, The Petroleum Club of Bakersfield; event planner, Signature Event Group Compiled by Vicki Adame Following the West Coast dream of music, sun and beach: I wasn’t born in Bakersfield, but I ended up here because I am a New Yorker and when you are young and live on the East Coast, everyone assumes all of California is music, sun and the beach. After college, I tagged along with friends who were headed west for the oil industry — but did you know — there is no beach in Bakersfield! I have been here for about 30 years. Two words that describe my neighborhood: Cozy and quiet – I am the last house on a cul de sac. My Saturday routine: Usually I am working events, and I love that. But otherwise it’s off to the beach – for all of the reasons previously mentioned. Favorite community event: Selfishly, I am usually at any 110

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May 2012

What I love to do: I relax in Bakersfield by reading, biking, shooting, hanging out with the cutest dog in town or planning events, which isn’t necessarily relaxing but it is what I love. I keep cool during the summer by heading to the beach or staying inside and working a lot! When I want to get out of town, I always go to I try to hit at least four concerts a year in Vegas. It’s a great release and normally you don’t run in to anyone you know. The dog beach on Coronado in San Diego is a hoot, too! Best-kept secret in Bakersfield: I would have to say The Petroleum Club again since it is a private club so few people get to experience what it is really like to be pampered on a night out in Bakersfield. We really are the epitome of a great dining experience. Good times: I have two good memories about Bakersfield. The first one was coming down the hill from Tehachapi, wondering where that darned beach was. And on the second day here, it was having someone tell me to meet them at El Torito by the (then) San Joaquin Bank. I drove up and down California Avenue 10 times looking for that bank because I could only find the San “Joe-Quinn” bank. Hey, I had my first avocado (and Mexican food) in Bakersfield, too. Who knew! Bakersfield is dear to my heart, seriously: The people are the best. Bakersfield helps its own. I have served on many boards and committees involved in fundraising, and the generosity of Bako folks never ceases to amaze me. Bakersfield often gets negatively ranked on lists, but the positive list I think we should rank near the top on is … Again, it’s the people. While not born here, there is a reason that all of you people keep coming back. It was a concept that I failed to understand for a while, but now I know that friends are easily made and kept even when you don’t see them often. And almost everyone is warm, sincere and generous.

San Joaquin Community Hospital knows “firsts.” Hospital to have both a Nationally Certified Stroke Center, along with our Nationally Accredited Chest Pain Center under the same roof. Hospital-based 64-slice CT scanner. Hospital to perform open-heart surgery. Nationally Certified, hospital-based Diabetes Education. Hospital-based Free Mobile Immunizations Program. Full-treatment Grossman Burn Center. Gold Standard Bariatrics Program. And coming soon, The Cancer Center at SJCH, Kern County’s first comprehensive, hospital-based cancer facility. The Cancer Center at SJCH


A sacred place Art for Healing program offers right-brained activities for relaxation, therapy

By Dana Martin


Photos by Jessica Frey

he chapel at Mercy Hospital is special, and not for reasons you might think. Its unique quality has a little to do with religion (you can’t miss the altar at the front), but the tranquility emanating from within is a direct result of the special nature of ongoing activities: art to help heal. The other inescapable religious influence is in its director, Sister Sherry Dolan. Dolan, 65, is a sister of Mercy, a title that often is used interchangeably with the title of nun but is different because sisters are frequently out in communities doing apostolic work, tending to people in need — the homeless, the sick and the imprisoned while many habit-wearing nuns are often cloistered, living a life of secluded prayer. Dolan calls herself a late bloomer, as she did not decide to enter the order until she was 49. “Women entering the order at midlife are more common now. They’ve been out, raised a family, some have lost a spouse, had careers, and have reevaluated life,” said Dolan. “My midlife, I was at a point where I’d already 112

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May 2012

Sister Sherry Dolan leads the Art for Healing class at Mercy Hospital.

worked over 20 years. I realized that the burden of a stressful career wasn’t helping me in terms of my health, so I wanted to give back.” To give back, Dolan moved to San Francisco in 1998 to go through the formative process to learn how to be a sister. She spent a year Sister Sherry Dolan in St. Louis learning more and then professed her final vows in 2004 to become “locked into a perpetual commitment.” In 2008, Nolan decided to look for employment and new ministry, but that was the year jobs were disappearing. “Nobody in the Bay Area was hiring people my age, Continued on page 114

Continued from page 112

thinking that we could just retire. I needed to make money for me and other sisters in the community who couldn’t work,” said Dolan. That’s when she thought of her Bakersfield roots. “We built Mercy Hospital 102 years ago,” said Dolan of the Sisters of Mercy, who came to Bakersfield from Los Angeles and started the hospital in 1910. “That segued me to Bakersfield to meet with senior management — Russell Judd — and ask him about creating a program called Art for Healing.” Dolan first heard of the program when she visited the University of California at San Francisco and saw that right-brained activities, such as yoga and painting, could help relieve the stress of illness and over active lifestyles. She pitched the idea to Judd, who prompted her to devise a business plan. The rest is history. In 2010, Mercy Hospital’s Art for Healing came to fruition. The free program offers workshops in the chapel, and if patients aren’t mobile enough to come to the art, then the art goes to them. Trained volunteers take art carts up to the rooms and provide bedside activities. Workshops in the chapel consist of anything that has to do with art: painting, bead work, clay, drawing, poetry, and even laughter yoga. Dolan says the artisans who help teach the workshops come from the community and want to be a part of the program. “When we offer programs and workshops, people are beating down the door to get in,” said Dolan.

The program attracts a mix of all kinds of people—transitional housing guests (coming off drugs or alcohol), or people who just want to “zone out” and play with a paintbrush and paper. “Some folks are struggling with the significant responsibility of caring for a sick loved one. Others are coping with chronic illness or chemotherapy, depression, or have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder,” said Dolan, adding that some guests volunteer why they are there, but no one will ever ask them. “Some folks are older, retired, and simply don’t want to go to a senior center to play and have fun.” Dolan says that most people are dealing with something and it’s important for them to do some kind of right-brain activity, like cooking, sports, music, dance or art. “You are allowing the body to relax. Prolonged stress causes your autoimmune system to become dysfunctional and incapable of doing what it needs to do to resist disease,” she said. Dolan tells the story of a traveling nurse visiting from Minnesota, who was showing signs of stress so clearly that Dolan encouraged her to “throw some paint on a wall.” “After about an hour, she was visibly more relaxed. She looked at me and said, ’If this isn’t the greatest reason for me to move to Bakersfield, then I don’t know what is!’” said Dolan. Dolan agrees. “It’s a wonderful, sacred place. When you come into the art center, there is a certain sense of, ’Ahhh, I have found a place I need to spend time,’” she said. “Art for Healing is an idea whose time has come.”











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Ladies Who …

… are travel agents Compiled by Hillary Haenes It’s May, which means summer is just around the corner, so it’s time to start planning your family vacation. These ladies have traveled all over California, the United States and even around the world. Discover some of these travel agents’ favorite places to visit. Who knows … you may get inspired to book your trip with these companies (that were awarded best travel agencies) after reading where they’ve been. From left: Sara Reshaw, 59, travel agent at Uniglobe Golden Empire Travel Amy Meisinger, 52, travel consultant for Lambourne Travel Partners Chere Smith, 55, branch supervisor at Automobile Club of Southern California — AAA Travel Agency Lana Hanson, 61, owner and travel consultant of Cruise & Land Holidays


When and why did you decide to become a travel agent?

Reshaw: My first job out of college was as a sales rep for a major food company. I worked alone and called on grocery stores. I really hated it. Then I tried teaching, also not for me. One day, a friend told me about a job opening at a travel agency, and I never looked back. I have been a travel agent for 35 years, and I still love my job! Meisinger: I was referred by a friend who worked at Lambourne. Travel is something I’ve always had a passion for, so I knew I would enjoy talking to people about it and helping them with it. It’s easy to give advice if you’re confident and excited about a destination. Smith: In 1989, I started working at the AAA Auto Club as a secretary because I knew they offered a training program for travel agents, and it had always been my dream to become an agent. I applied and was accepted, and I have never regretted my decision. Hanson: In 1995, I was in charge of the sales and service division for a local bank, which required a lot of traveling, as this was during the period of massive bank mergers. I found myself in hotels four 116

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May 2012

out of five days a week. Fate played a hand with the opportunity to purchase a cruise holidays franchise. I decided that if I were going to travel, it would be on my own terms. I bought the franchise and the rest, as they say, is history. I have since dropped the franchise and signed up with Signature Travel Network, a prestigious marketing consortium, which provides its members with $4 billion in buying power and a global network of destination experts.


What do you enjoy most about your job?

Reshaw: The world, and therefore, my job is constantly changing. There is never a day that is the same and the word “boring” would never enter a conversation about the travel industry. I also enjoy my clients. I specialize in leisure travel and half the fun is the planning and the anticipation of the trip. I’m the one person who really does like looking at someone else’s vacation pictures. Meisinger: It’s a happy job. It’s fun to get people excited about taking a dream trip, plan it for them, hear that they had a wonderful


What has been your personal favorite vacation destination?

Reshaw: The last place I went and the next place I’m going. That being said, I have managed to touch every continent, except Antarctica. Ireland gets my vote for fun, the Amazon for nature, India for exotic and Savannah, Ga., for the USA. Meisinger: I particularly enjoy Europe and Hawaii, but it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. I love sightseeing and feeling like I’m in the pages of a history book, but yet I can also enjoy cruising to Hawaii with four days at sea there and back — just relaxing! Every destination is so different, and I truly enjoy to the fullest where I am at that particular time. Some people say they have been to Hawaii, but you can’t say that unless you’ve been to every island, for instance. Smith: Hawaii. Recently, I worked in our Honolulu office for six weeks, and this experience gave me a greater appreciation of the beauty, culture and history of the islands. Each island has its own personality, and I always look forward to each visit.

Photo by Jessica Frey

Hanson: That’s a tough one, as there are so many places I have traveled. I have been to every continent. Every destination provides unforgettable memories. But I think my all-time favorite has to be Australia and New Zealand. They are both unique with so much to see and do that you have to make many trips to experience it all. The people are so friendly, and each city so different from the next. It’s also a very safe place, and they seem to be very happy to greet Americans. St. Augustine said, “Life is a book and those who don’t travel, read but a page.” I plan on filling a lot of pages.

time, and have them ask your advice on where they should go on their next trip. It’s a good feeling to book a couple’s honeymoon and have them return the next year to book a trip for the first anniversary — that’s job satisfaction.

Smith: I enjoy exceeding our members’ expectations regarding our travel services. In my current position, I superviser all of the travel employees at the Bakersfield branch. We plan vacations for our members to any destination in the world, including driving trips in the United States and Canada. The world is so vast that I learn something new each and every day. We always want to ensure our members are well prepared for their vacations. In my almost 25 years working in the travel industry, I am never bored and look forward to coming to work each day. Hanson: I get to help make people’s dreams a reality. I love escorting groups to exotic locations or fascinating ports of call. It’s fun to see the excitement on their face when they ride a camel in Egypt or zip-line in Costa Rica or witness the calving of a glacier. Nothing quite compares to being up close and personal with a lion or a leopard on an African safari.


Where do you recommend people go who want to escape for a weekend getaway?

Reshaw: Hands down, San Francisco. People come from all over the world for the food, art, history and atmosphere that is the beautiful city by the bay. You can fly there, train there or drive there, and it is surprisingly affordable. My second choice is Yosemite —Mother Nature got everything right there. Meisinger: The three-night cruise to Baja Mexico is always a popular choice. It’s a fun weekend getaway, even though it’s quick, but it’s all-inclusive with food and entertainment galore, and it’s cheaper than going to Las Vegas! Of course, Santa Barbara or Carmel are always nice choices if you want to do something nice close to home. Smith: Santa Barbara has it all — great weather, beaches, shopping, restaurants, resorts, culture, history, architecture and even a zoo. Hanson: It’s an easy drive to Pismo Beach and the Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa, with its luxuriously appointed condominium accommodations and breathtaking oceanfront views. They have a firstclass restaurant, infinity pool, fitness center and a spa. Great place to experience the many attractions and outdoor activities the area has to offer. Continued on page 118



Continued from page 117

Now that this industry has changed and travelers can book trips online, why should people still book with an agent? What do you offer that differs from booking on the Internet? Reshaw: Unlike a pair of shoes that you buy online and don’t fit or you decide you don’t like, you can’t return an ugly travel experience. If you start out by consulting an experienced travel agent, your chances of having a successful business trip or a fabulous vacation increase dramatically. So are your chances of saving money. Your travel agent works for you, they are your advocate for finding the best value and best experience. You are the priority. And let’s be honest, things can go very wrong with the best planned trips. I recently had a couple who were on their way to the airport to depart on a European vacation, and her husband passed out in the car. She was distraught about her husband but also her vacation. With one call to me, she no longer needed to worry about the vacation, or if she was losing all her money and concentrate on her husband. As we say at Uniglobe, “When you travel with us, you never travel alone.” Meisinger: I like to think that speaking with a person face-to-face who has some personal experience is still much better than speaking with some stranger on the phone with an online company (some-

Seer 16

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Bakersfield Life

314 Union Ave 832-1700 May 2012

times you can’t talk to a person at all). We are there to help you plan the trip, and we follow through with all the details to make sure it goes smoothly from beginning to end; we are also there to help you if a problem occurs. You’d be surprised how many people make mistakes when they book online, and then they come to us to fix them! Women build a relationship with their travel agent similar to the one they have with their hairdresser. We are both service-oriented professionals and we are there to make you happy and feel good. We also love to give advice!

Smith: At AAA, we do offer our members the opportunity to book their vacations on our website, by phone or in person. Travel agents have expertise that would take the average person years to acquire. If you’re booking a cruise, they can make sure your cabin isn’t under the dance club. If you’re traveling to Paris, they can recommend a great little bistro. Travel agents can also save you money, they have access to deals and discounts you can’t get on your own. When you’re booking a flight, say from Los Angeles to Seattle, you can do that yourself on the Internet at a variety of travel websites, including When you are booking a cruise or land vacation or planning a complicated itinerary, use a travel agent. And in the case of an unexpected interruption of travel, such as a strike or weather, they can quickly arrange a re-routing. These are services the Internet can’t provide. Hanson: People may book air and hotels online, but when it comes to more complex vacations, such as cruises and tours, they still want and need the interaction and expertise of a travel agent who has been there and done that. The Internet is one-dimensional and doesn’t ask what kind of experience you’re looking for. It simply provides price with no service. If something goes wrong, you are on your own. Besides our knowledge and expertise, we also offer a wide range of exclusive benefits through our marketing consortia that you can’t get online. We provide peace of mind. We do all the intricate planning and are there for you before you leave, during your trip and when you return. In most cases, a travel agent costs you nothing and can not only save you time, but provide extra amenities, such as free shore excursions, cabin upgrades, on-board credits, etc. Even The New York Times, that once described us as “extinct” are now touting the benefits of using a professional travel agent.


It’s a Guy Thing

Local businessmen

Adisak Smuthkochorn (aka Chang), 58, owner of Blue Elephant Restaurant and Little Italy

Ravi Patel

58, owner and oncologist at Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center (CBCC)

Best d Thai Foo nt ra u ta s Re

Compiled by Hillary Haenes


How long have you owned the business? How many employees work for you?

Chang: Four years. Eight to 10 employees at any given time. Patel: CBCC has been around for more than 30 years. CBCC currently has 280 team members. La Mar: I’ve been with Greenlawn since 1990, but became president in 2009. Currently, we have 65 employees. Goldwater: Although the store was started in 1909, my grandparents did not purchase it until 1928. In 1946, it was passed onto my parents, and to me in 1992. There are seven employees. 120

Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Best n Physicia


How did the business get started?

Chang: At the time I owned a successful Italian restaurant named Little Italy. Friends and customers found out I was Thai, and they were asking why I didn’t do Thai food. When a space became available after Prime Cut moved to a new location, we established the Blue Elephant. Patel: CBCC got started to meet the needs of the community. It was established to

provide state-of-the-art cancer care, which was never before available in the community. Patients had to travel for more than two to four hours to get cancer care. CBCC was started to eliminate this inconvenience by providing a one-stop cancer center.

La Mar: In 1927, owner Ed Helm started Bakersfield Monument Company and burial vaults. He opened Greenlawn Cemetery on River Boulevard in 1934. In 1943, Helm opened the funeral home on that location that became the first cemetery funeral home at one location in Kern County. Greenlawn

Stephen Goldwater a very young 65, owner of Emporium Western Store

stern Best Were Sto

Jim La Mar,

Photo by Jessica Frey

56, president of Greenlawn Funeral Homes, Cemeteries and Cremations

neral Best Fu e Hom

Southwest on Panama Lane, was opened approximately 40 years later. The most recent addition was the purchase of Wood Family Funeral Service in Tehachapi. The monument and burial vault company opened to serve Union Cemetery. Greenlawn’s cemeteries and funeral homes were added to meet the needs of a growing Bakersfield.

Goldwater: I don’t know how the business got started 103 years ago. I assume that the original owners saw a need for a general store or “emporium” in what was then a very young Bakersfield. In 1946, my father,

Al Goldwater, began to convert it to Emporium Western Store after encouragement from a loyal and trusted employee who felt that the cowboy population was underserved in Kern County. It was one of the first specialty Western stores in California.


What is your favorite part of your job?

Chang: My favorite part of my job is seeing the happiness my food brings to the faces of my customers.

Patel: I get a chance to be a part of the life of the wonderful patients I take care of. I also have been fortunate enough to have the best associates and staff to work with! They are a joy to be with and are dedicated to bringing hope, compassion and laughter into the lives of the patients we see and the people we work with. La Mar: Helping families create a fitting tribute to their loved one’s life. When the service is over, we want all in attendance to understand how special that person was. Goldwater: Without a doubt, the favorite part of my job is helping other people, and I am grateful to be given the opportunity to do so. This has different meanings at different levels. I take pleasure in helping our wonderful employees learn and watching them Continued on page 122


Continued from page 121

grow while they are with us. I also love watching the younger ones who go onto other careers do well, knowing that what they learned from us was instrumental in their future successes. I enjoy helping and visiting with our customers, some who represent the third or fourth generations of their family shopping with us. Lastly, I enjoy helping the community by supporting horse, or farming-related events or other endeavors, which are part of the great Western lifestyle. And being involved with worthwhile local charities like Court Supported Special Advocates (CASA) of Kern County, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, and the American Red Cross Kern chapter, just to name a few over the years. It is so important and so rewarding to give back to the community.


What have you learned through the years?

Chang: I believe one must be honest with one’s patrons by giving them consistent and satisfying food and service and providing topquality and fresh ingredients. Patel: Trust the one who runs the universe! He loves you and has the interest of all at heart. So surrender to him and know that he runs things a lot better than you. Helping others and making a difference in the life of others is the most important thing in life. La Mar: I have learned that the needs of families we serve change over time and we too must be willing to change to better serve them. We must be ready to change how we do business and create new

offerings, which the community desires. I also feel it is important to be involved and give back to one’s community. I serve on the local Teen Challenge Advisory Board, Optimal Hospice Foundation Board as well as the Bakersfield Breakfast Lions. We encourage our employees to be involved in our community, and our company supports many local charities.

Goldwater: The lessons learned over the years are endless, and I am still learning every day. I have learned that the most important asset that a business can have is its employees. It is important to establish a business culture that supports your employees and allows them to perform at their peak, and then get out of their way so they can do so. It is important to treat others with respect at all times and to know that what you give is what you get back. Kindness and support given to another spreads far beyond that one person; what you demonstrate to them is what they pass onto other people. Always set a good example.


How involved are you with the day-to-day operations?

Chang: I am completely hands-on! Patel: Very much so. Just like all our other team members. They sometimes say I’m the first to reach the office and the last to leave. La Mar: I meet each morning with our staff, assist with services and attend to any necessary details as the need arises. Goldwater: By choice, I am still very involved in the day-to-day

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May 2012

operations. For one thing, I love to go to work and usually have fun there. Secondly, in a retail business, you have to really feel the customers’ needs and desires to provide the best selection, service and value. The best way to do that is to stay in touch with the customer. I believe that is why locally owned and operated businesses best relate to their customers and offer a better shopping environment than out-of-town chain stores.


What steps have you taken to survive in this economic downturn?

Chang: Honestly, if you give them what they want, they will come and we have proven that. Patel: We have been innovative at figuring out cheaper and efficient ways to provide state-of-the-art cancer care. Be focused on providing the best care and the economics do fall into place.

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La Mar: In a family-run business, one must be ready and willing to do whatever is necessary. In this economy, we have tried to keep our costs in line, which allows us to keep our prices as low as possible. This allows us to be sensitive to the financial struggles many families face.

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Goldwater: Like so many other businesses, we have reduced our inventory levels and cut our overhead expenses. We have expended a great deal of effort to accomplish these goals with a minimum impact on our valued customers. We want to be able to serve them well even in these tougher times.

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St. Francis Church under construction on Truxtun Avenue in 1905. The Beale Memorial Clock Tower can be seen in the background. ce to Best Plahip Wors

St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church Serving Bakersfield Catholics for more than a century By Jeff Nickell


ne of the best photographs of Bakersfield’s history is of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in the midst of its construction in 1906 (see above). Taken by William Howell, the photograph shows a great celebration for the growing congregation. The Beale Memorial Clock Tower, erected in 1903, is seen in the background, as is 124

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May 2012

Photo courtesy of Kern County Museum


a sign of American pride with Old Glory draped on the partially completed Gothic-styled structure. St. Francis Church was awe-inspiring when it was completed in 1906. It had two magnificent spires formed at the front corners of the building. According to the church’s website, the main section of the church seated 700, while the large basement served as place for classrooms, a library and hall. “The main altar was beautifully carved from white marble,” according to the website. This structure, along with the beautiful Southern Hotel, stood as examples of Col. Thomas Baker’s vision that our town would become one of the growing cities in the West. Although this article cannot fully describe St. Francis Church’s history, it is worth noting that its first church was built in the 1880s, some time after Catholicism took hold in Kern County. Gold discovery in the mountains adjacent to the San Joaquin Valley brought people of all religious persuasions, as did Baker’s project allowing westward migration by redirecting the mighty Kern River (or Rio De

Photo courtesy of Kern County Museum

San Felipe as Father Francisco Garces named it). Garces is one of the Franciscan missionaries credited for bringing the religion to the county in the late 18th century. Land was purchased at 17th and K streets where a small white frame church was built by J.M. Montgomery for the grand sum of $730, according to the website. Construction began in 1880, and the building was completed to a point where it could be occupied in July 1881. Even though parishioners lacked funds to complete the interior, the church was dedicated that same year. A few years later, it was determined the church was just too small for the growing congregation. The fundraising efforts began, and a lot was acquired at Truxtun Avenue and Eye Street. The new St. Francis Church was dedicated on Oct. 8, 1908, and the cost of the project was $100,000. Interestingly, the first services in the church were held in the basement before the actual dedication. The church grew over time until the building — as was the case with many ornate structures in downtown Bakersfield — was majorly damaged by the 1952 earthquakes. (The first quake struck on July 21, 1952, and multiple aftershocks shook the area with the largest being a magnitude 5.8 temblor on Aug. 22, 1952.) With the demolition of the Truxtun Avenue structure, a new church was constructed at H and 10th streets in place of the condemned Lowell School (another 1952 quake

St. Francis Church in 1940. victim). The cornerstone was laid on Palm Sunday 1956 with more than 1,500 in attendance. Father Leddy led the ceremony. The honorary chairman was William Howell, the secretary of the committee that built the church (and whose Queen Anne-style home resides at the Kern County Museum today.) Continued on page 126

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St. Francis Church facts • St. Francis Church was established in 1881, with the first church services held at a home at 17th and K streets. • The new church was built on Truxtun Avenue in 1906 at an approximate cost of $100,000, and the parish school was held in the basement. • The property just west of the Truxtun Avenue church was purchased for a school site in 1910. • The current school at Palm Avenue and Pine Street opened in the fall of 1952. • St. Francis supported the St. Clair Hospital, which eventually became Mercy Hospital.

• Monsignor Patrick Leddy dedicated the H Street church on March 25, 1956. • Today, the parish enrollment is more than 7,500 families, overseen by current pastor Monsignor Craig Harrison, who grew up in the church.


Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Interior of the St. Francis Church at its current location on H Street.

Photo by Casey Christie

• The 1952 earthquakes destroyed the old church.


Rosco Rolnick After nearly 60 years in business, Guarantee Shoe Center still in step with local needs Best re Shoe Sto

By Lisa Kimble


Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Photo by Jessica Frey


ew people have had a view of the changes in downtown Bakersfield over the last half-century — its landscape, the comings and goings of shoppers and retailers — as unique as that of Rosco Rolnick, president and owner of perennial favorite Guarantee Shoe Center. At the northwest corner of Chester Avenue and 21st Street, the family business stands proudly at the heart and sole of Main Street. Long before the Valley Plaza or The Marketplace, there was Guarantee Shoe Center. Five generations strong, it is the last of the local independent shoe stores in town, reminiscent of a bygone era, having outlasted beloved institutions like Brocks, Coffee’s and Leeds. Serving as the store’s gracious custodian is Rolnick, the 64-year-old grandson of founder Nat Slepyan with a gentle demeanor and a smile wider than a size-10 loafer. Slepyan, who had been in the shoe business his entire life in New York and Los Angeles, opened the local store in August 1953 with the help of son-in-law Leon Rolnick. Rolnick’s dad was a route man for Challenge Dairy in the Glendale area and had never been in the business. Rolnick also learned on the job, starting as a stock boy while in junior high and working his way up to cashier sales.

“Growing up I remember working at the store on Saturdays, and we would go have breakfast at the Padre Hotel,” he recalled. “There would be Vince Clerou from Vincent’s Cyclery and Mr. Henley (of Henley’s Photo) having coffee, and they seemed so old. Now, I’m one of those guys!” After a year at Bakersfield College, Rosco Rolnick was drafted and served in Vietnam with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment under the command of George S. Patton III. He returned home 14 months later with an honorable discharge and rejoined the family business. Nat and Leon bought the building in 1969. The following year a fire gutted the store. It took three years to rebuild, but Guarantee reopened in August of 1973, encompassing the entire building. Where the current men’s shoe department is located, the Alibi Bar once stood. That same year, Guarantee became the first retailer to institute a “no smoking” policy — an unpopular decision at the time. Rosco Rolnick tried other endeavors but eventually came back, serving as a troubleshooter for company enterprises like Shoe Tree and Things and leases such as the one inside Sage Department Store. He also became somewhat of a local television celebrity. Having putting his faith in the power of advertising in television commercials since the 1960s, Leon Rolnick encouraged his Rosco Rolnick son to step in front of the camera in the early 1970s. Overnight, it seemed, a local television personality was born: Rosco Rolnick, with a beard and full head of hair, was the face of Guarantee Shoe Center. “I’m the Cal Worthington of Bakersfield,” he laughed, a reference to the longtime Southern California auto dealer. The television spots were often zany, with Rolnick sometimes on the store’s rooftop. “Where else?” became the commercial’s catchy slogan in English, and “¿Donde mas?” in Spanish. The younger Rolnick was uncomfortable with the notoriety. “Growing up, I hated it when people would recognize me,” he said. “I wasn’t that outgoing. I wanted to just blend in and be anonymous.” Guarantee’s commercials air at least 100 times a month on English and Spanish stations, giving Rolnick the distinction of being the longest-tenured local television personality in town. After nearly 60 years in business, Guarantee has seen a lot of styles and brands over the years, from the stilettos of the 1950s and ’60s to the platforms of the ’70s and ’80s. “Fashion is a revolving wheel. There is a cycle where trends reappear,” he said. What hasn’t changed much over time is the turnover among co-workers: “It is a challenge every day. I am responsible for the livelihood of over 15 families. They aren’t just employees, they are like family. My grandfather always told me, ‘You meet the same people going up as you do going down. Treat everyone with respect and how you want to be treated.’” Rosco Rolnick says he tries to live by that motto daily. It is also the touchstone for his devotion to community service, exemplified by the Homeless Shoe project, which he started 20 years ago. “I would see people on the street with no shoes, old shoes, and I















“I’m the Cal Worthington of Bakersfield.”


E R S’










O R S’ C H O I C E P

Continued on page 130


Continued from page 129

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May 2012

knew how hot the streets and sidewalks are in the summer.� The idea was to trade in a useable pair of shoes and receive $10 off a new pair. That year he collected a couple hundred pairs. “It was a humble beginning that has now spread to over 3,000 pairs, and we have taken on corporate sponsors,� he said. Through his efforts, he connected the Homeless Center with Wasco State Prison, which provided another 1,000 pairs of shoes. In 19 years, Rosco Rolnick estimates 40,000 pairs of shoes have been donated involving customers and vendors. “It makes me feel good and it is my way of giving something back to the community,� he said. Having weathered the highs and lows of retail while flirting with setting up shop in the southwest — as many others had done — Rosco Rolnick seems gratified by the longevity of the business. “I made the decision that instead of multiple units, with one big store, I could control my overhead and keep my fingers on the pulse of the business.� He said his customers wanted him to stay put, and so he did. Although Leon Rolnick died two years ago, in many ways, it is as if time has stood still. Downstairs, shoeboxes line row after row. The same 1970s paneling that the younger Rolnick and a friend installed nearly three decades ago remains. But the legacy is now in its fourth and fifth generations: Rosco’s youngest daughter is involved with the store, and his grandson was featured in a holiday commercial last year. So Guarantee remains in step with Bakersfield and an ever-changing industry. Now that’s a good fit.






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Going Green

The green gardener Eco-friendly tips for your new garden

By Myriam Valdez


ay is a great time to start your own bountiful organic garden. The benefits of having your own ecofriendly garden are numerous. For new gardeners growing edible foods, their first harvest will taste sweeter and be more nutritious for consumers. They’ll also be eating organic, hormone and pesticide-free fruits and vegetables for an overall health benefit. If a lush garden is what you’re after, sustainable, gorgeous drought-resistant plants ensure minimal effort on the part of the gardener and a beautiful backdrop to any home in Bakersfield. However, if you’ve ever felt daunted by the idea of starting your own garden, never fear. Bakersfield Life asked local experts and one local Bakersfield family for their top 10 eco-friendly ways to begin your beautiful — and potentially delicious — new garden.


Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Make your own compost Compost is, by far, the best organic fertilizer. It is a natural and safe way to fertilize your garden. To begin, you can repurpose an old plastic container to throw away all of your kitchen scraps. You can purchase organic mulch to mix into your compost. Alex Perez, a microbiology and immunology instructor at Cal State Bakersfield and an avid local gardener, recommends this method as best: “Everything is used, and nothing is wasted,” she said. Make sure to mix the compost regularly before using it.

Repurpose household containers Successful greenery is possible through unconventional eco-friendly tools. Graciela Griebling, owner and designer at Graceful Garden Designs, offered a secret into weed abatement: “Poke a few holes in the bottom of a cardboard and place it under the soil of your planter or garden bed. The

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cardboard prevents weeds from popping up then breaks down and acts as a fertilizer,” Griebling said. Perez suggests using egg cartons to grow seedlings, which you can then plant in your garden.

Explore different fruits and vegetables “What’s amazing about Kern County is that it’s one of the only places in the world where we can grow the widest variety of crops,” said Eric White, a gardening expert at White Forest Nursery. “You can harvest something every month of the year, and it’s very sustainable with a little bit of work,” he added. A treat for new gardeners is that the fruit you grow from your first harvest will taste 10 times better than store-bought fruit. “Organic produce has a higher glucose content, so they’re sweeter,” said Perez. White Forest Nursery also offers a fruit harvesting class to learn how you can harvest at home.

Nurture your seedlings Snails are one of the most common pests and most detrimental Continued on page 134



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to baby plants. White advised purchasing an organic pesticide-free snail repellent, as it is actually the best method to get rid of snails and their eggs.

Conserve water Make sure you water your garden in the mornings since this is the best way to make sure that the plants retain moisture. White advised against watering during the evenings as plants will stay wet and may grow fungus. For Miguel Piris, a clinical laboratory scientist at CSUB, a drip system and water harvesting help him reduce water costs. “It’s easy to collect rainwater, and it’s a great natural way to save water,” he added. Drought-resistant plants are also a great way to conserve water. “They are naturally disease-resistant, acclimated to the climate, and don’t take a lot of care,” added Griebling.

Grow what you love “Only grow plants or produce that you love. You don’t want to invest a lot

of time and effort into something you know you wouldn’t eat normally,” advised Piris.

Protect your pets in the process “You don’t want to grow anything harmful to your pets,” reminded Graci Griebling. For example, onions are poisonous to cats. Piris advises buying a basic fence to keep dogs or cats from ruining your garden and by digging or littering. “Particularly pregnant women should make sure they put up a fence so cats don’t use the garden bed as litter box and pass along harmful parasites to your harvest,” Perez warned. An added benefit of a fence? Grow organic beans and have the fence serve as a natural wall for the vines to wrap around.

Give your kids a green thumb Green gardening is a great project for kids. Perez explained: “In an age of instant gratification, it teaches kids to work hard and be patient for a reward. They will also be more eager to eat fruits and vegetables as they grew it themselves and be more likely to incorporate green gardening in their adult life.”

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Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Real People

Masseuse Change of career leads Chelsea Brewer to greater happiness Compiled by Michael Wafford


Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Photo by Annie Stockman


helsea Brewer became a massage therapist on a whim seven years ago. Today, she continues to enjoy the art and science of massage and is thankful to have helped many clients with their aches, stress, pain and more. Brewer definitely believes in the healing power of human touch, currently practicing her trade at Best sseuse a M Advanced Women’s Health Center on Brimhall Road near Coffee Road. She shares her story: “How I became a massage therapist is interesting. Several years ago, my uncle passed away and on the way home from the funeral, his son, who had decided to take over my uncle’s business, said, ‘I’m really excited about it. I don’t want to be a 29-year-old personal assistant anymore.’ At Masseuse Chelsea Brewer that moment, it flashed into my head that I didn’t want to be a bank teller anymore, and instantaneously, massage therapy popped into my head. I have no idea why, but I’ve cool about it. My boyfriend at the time just been doing it ever since. looked at me and said, ‘OK’ and shut his “By becoming a massage therapist, I mouth. It turned out to be a very good move had to learn all about anatomy. That was for me. something I was never interested in. I was “Originally, I thought people would nervous that I really would not like that part think that I was weird or a hippie, which at all and I would end up hating it. I think I kind of am. But, there have been some the anatomy part scared me for a while, and people who have made fun of me for it. I beit just seemed like a career move that a lot of lieve in holistic healing, I believe in Eastern people didn’t respect. But I ended up loving medicine, and this has just further supported it. It just felt very natural to me. I felt like I my belief. If people give me any crap about was supposed to do it. it, then I tell them this is what I believe in “I did have a lot of support. I was and they totally get it. surprised. My family — everyone — was “I like the fact that I do help people, and

I am helping ease their pain. For me, it’s not about ‘It’s my birthday; I want a massage.’ You need to manage your stress level to be healthy. Stress is the No. 1 killer in America because it causes heart attacks, cancer and more unhealthy problems. If you maintain your stress level, you can maintain a better overall well-being. “Being a massage therapist is really, really rewarding. I had this woman who was 84 years old, and she walked with a cane for years. She saw me every two weeks for about a year, and after a few months, she didn’t have to walk with her cane anymore.

She would tell me that I was the one who helped her, and it felt so wonderful. I also work on pregnant women. My specialty is prenatal massage. Expectant mothers come to me, and they feel awful because their ankles are swollen and their backs are killing them, and I make them feel better. It’s so rewarding. “When I have free time, I do theater. (Last month she was in ‘(title of show)’ at the Empty Space.) I’m also a writer. I’m in the process of publishing my first book, and I’m writing my second book right now. The first one is a collection of short stories based on actual experiences and my next is nonfiction. In addition, I’ve written plays and screenplays.”


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Health and Wellness

Body X c Sports hange Clubs bxfitn

Body Xchange strives to offer workouts for all fitness levels.

Local motion Bakersfield fitness scene benefits from personal service and expertise of local gyms

Bakersfield Life

mills and weight machines. This month, Bakersfield Life profiles a few of the more popular fitness clubs in town to see what sets them apart from the rest of the pack. Keep in mind that it is always recommended to consult a physician before beginning any new fitness routine.

Story and photos by Gregory D. Cook

Body Xchange Sports Club

rom aqua aerobics to Zumba, cardio training to weight lifting, unique activities can be found in the many fitness clubs and gyms in the Bakersfield area. With more than 40 fitness club locations around town, competition for the workout dollar can be tough, and that’s good news for the consumer as individual gyms try to include more diverse experiences and amenities among the usual rows of tread-

“A gym for every lifestyle” is more than just a catchphrase for locally owned Body Xchange Sports Clubs; it is the core of the company’s philosophy toward fitness. According to Body Xchange’s vice president, Rick Dennis, the clubs go to great lengths to make sure they offer something for everybody.“We place a lot of emphasis on making sure we offer activities that are very versatile for all fitness levels and age groups,” said Dennis. “We see parents come in and bring their kids, and we see kids

F 138 837-BO DY (263 9) 8 Baker sfield lo cations 7701 W hite Lan e 7691 W hite Lan e 9500 B rimhall R oad 2749 N. Callowa y Drive 13019 S tockdale Highwa 11206 O y live Driv e 1128 Tru xtun Av e. 2661 Os well St.

May 2012

bring their parents.” At Body Xchange, members have access to a wide variety of both traditional free-weight and machine training areas, as well as the usual array of elliptical machines, treadmills, stationary cycles and stair climber machines for cardiovascular workouts. In addition, many of the clubs offer basketball courts, boxing facilities, pools and other sport-specific amenities. Members can also sign up for specialized fitness classes, and soon the club will be adding something new to the class lineup at its northwest location with the addition of the Ring of Fire. “There are only a few of these programs that are available in the country, and we are first health club west of the Mississippi to do it,” said Dennis. The Ring of Fire is a guided workout that focuses on real-life movements, working the body’s muscles in ways more like they are used in everyday life. “It’s a fusion of functional training and crossconditional training,” Dennis describes. “The main concept is having a lot of fun, while putting your body through a higher intensity, more functional workout Indoor basketball is one than you would be able to do of the many activities at on machines.” Body Xchange. The hourlong class will have members performing tasks such as jumping up onto a platform, pulling and pushing against elastic bands, and pulling a large, heavy rope wound around a series of bars as fast as they can, as well as more traditional pushup and crunch-style exercises. Trainers are present to both encourage members to push themselves and to make sure the exercises are being done safely. “It’s a great all-around workout, upper body, lower body and cardio all at the same time,” said Body Xchange member Brian Mefford as he caught his breath after finishing a demonstration of the class. The classes will be offered three times a week. Official classes start May 7, but the club is offering toned-down demonstration classes until then. Dennis explained that Body Xchange, as a local company, has an advantage over the national fitness clubs. “We are very rooted in the community, and with that comes a lot more attention to detail with our members,” he said. “We’re not looking at making global decisions. All we have to concern ourselves with is what’s going on in Bakersfield. We can address the needs of our members a lot faster that way.” Continued on page 140

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In-Shape Health Clubs In-Shape Health Clubs was founded in 1981 in Stockton, with a simple, but farreaching vision: help people stay healthy and have fun. “It’s all about our members and the InShape lifestyle,” proclaimed Jared Robertson, southern district manager for In-Shape. “We want our members to live healthy lives, not just in the clubs but all the time.” To that end, In-Shape prides itself in offering amenities that invite the whole family into the club. “We have a kids’ club that’s filled with fun, interactive activities and open all day long,” said Robertson. Additionally, In-Shape offers tennis and racquetball courts at various Bakersfield locations, and all of their clubs have steam rooms and saunas. In-Shape’s northwest location on Coffee Road offers both indoor and outdoor pools. The outdoor pool area, complete with a water slide, can be reserved by groups or

In-Shap Health e Clu


In-Shape Health Clubs do not believe its members should have to wait in line to get on a machine.





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companies for special functions. “With the pools, we try to include every group, every age,” said Robertson. “We do swimming lessons. We do aquatic classes like water aerobics, and we have kids and parent swimming times.” In-Shape also offers a large variety of group classes such as Zumba, yoga, step aerobics, Pilates, and belly dancing, at all levels of intensity. “We have a Silver Sneakers class that is a class designed for elders,” explained Robertson. The class uses resistance band training along with weights, and the exercises can be performed from a seated position. “It’s important for us to include everybody,” he stressed. In-Shape also offers the full spectrum of free weights and workout machines, as well as very large areas devoted to cardiovascular conditioning. The northwest location alone features nearly 200 treadmill, stair climber, elliptical, stationary cycle and cardio-rowing machines. “We don’t believe in waiting for a machine here,” explained Robertson. According to Robertson, another thing that sets In-Shape apart from other fitness clubs is the level of training of the staff and trainers. “We actually partnered with a company that specializes in personal training and certification,” he said. “We have a whole group Continued on page 142

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Continued from page 141

of trainers that have different backgrounds. We may have one that has a military, drill sergeant background and one with a background in sports medicine. Then we can have one specialized in exercise science. Each one will have different certifications.” Robertson explained that having trainers with such diverse backgrounds and certifications offer members an experience better tailored to the individual needs and wants of the members. “Our main thing is that we really want to have a place where anybody can workout, any lifestyle,” Robertson said. “That way we don’t leave anybody out.”

Total W Fitness oman Center twfitne s

An emphasis on group activities creates more of a social atmosphere at Total Woman.

Total Woman Fitness Centers At Total Woman Fitness Centers, fitness isn’t confined to the gym. Total Woman prides itself on building a fitness community among its members that carries on when they leave the building after their workouts. “We’re not in the business of just selling


Bakersfield Life

May 2012

something,” explained owner and trainer Leigh Pozas. “For me, it’s not just a commodity. It’s fitness and helping these ladies with their lives in some way.” For more than 25 years, locally owned 2 Baker sfield lo cations 5329 Tru xtun Av e . 325-02 08 9901 Ha g Suite 90eman Road, 0 588-82 39

Total Woman has been catering to the fitness needs of women in Bakersfield, but as Pozas explained, there’s a lot more to it than that. “It’s not just fitness. They make friends here, they become lunch buddies, and they

REPLACEMENT WINDOWS do all kinds of things,” she said. “We do hikes together, and we go on trips. It’s more than just a gym.” Last year, groups of Total Woman members traveled to the Grand Canyon and Yosemite on hiking trips and ran in the Big Sur Marathon. At Total Woman, the focus is on group fitness activities. “Obviously, we have a lot of equipment, we have everything that a big gym has,” said Pozas. “But we really excel with our programming.” Pozas explained that at Total Woman’s Truxtun Avenue location alone, they offer 55 classes a week in their aerobics room and another 15 to 20 water-based classes in their pool and spin classes. “We also have our outdoor running programs,” she said. “So a lot of what we do here involves groups.” The emphasis on group training helps forge a more social atmosphere than that found in most sports clubs, and that is something Pozas feels that women value when working out. “Men seem to want a more competitive atmosphere when they work out while women tend to want a more social experience,” she said. “We build a community, and it’s very hands-on and friendly.” Although Total Woman caters primarily to women in the gym, they do offer some coed training opportunities. “We do outdoor training, which is coed,” Pozas said. “So when we go and run the trails, that’s all coed training, along with our Volkslauf training.” The club’s Volkslauf training started around 11 years ago, with running in the river to prepare interested members for the annual Bakersfield Volkslauf mud run and obstacle course, and has since evolved into in a year-round training program. “It has morphed into its own little entity, which is really cool,” said Pozas. The fact that Total Woman is a smaller, company gives the company a level of control and flexibility in its programs that can’t be found in the larger fitness corporations, and Pozas feels that comes across as a more personal experience for its members. “They get a lot from us, a lot of bang for their buck,” she said. “We really want them to be successful. It all comes down to that.”




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Four smart and healthy things to do this month 2. Time for sugar snap peas

Sole 2 Soul owner Scott Newton checks the fit of a new pair of running shoes for Katie Kirschenmann.

Photo by Sally Baker

May should bring an abundance of sugar snap peas to those who planted seeds in the fall. By April, the vines begin to offer tender young peas and should keep producing until our Bakersfield heat settles in for the summer. Harvest often and enjoy fresh and raw for optimal nutrients. Sugar snap peas supply vitamins A and C and iron and are only around 40 calories per cup. They are a delicious healthy option in salads or sandwiches or you can simply lightly steam sugar snap peas with a touch of lemon.

By Sally Baker and Katie Kirschenmann

1. New store for the runner in mind

Photo by Sally Baker

If you haven’t visited the newly opened Sole 2 Soul Sports in Bakersfield, then put it on your to-do list. Sole 2 Soul is a beautiful new running store in town, located at The Marketplace, between Mama Tosca’s and Camille’s. The owners of the store are Jill and Scott Newton. Jog over there, and check out the wonderful selection of clothing, equipment and running shoes. If you’re a runner, be sure to have your gait analyzed on the Pro-Form Gait Analysis treadmill, then watch your lower leg movement on the screen. This analysis will allow Ted Nunes, Garrett Main or one of the other running specialists who Pro-Form Gait Analysis work there to advise you toward the best pair of shoes. Mention you read about the store in this Fit & Fresh column in Bakersfield Life Magazine to receive a 10 percent discount. Student athletes receive a 20 percent discount. Sole 2 Soul, 9000 Ming Ave., Suite K-1. Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. 144

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May 2012

Here is one delicious recipe to try:

Sugar S nap Pea Pesto Sugar sn ap peas (2 cups) Garlic clo ves (1) Chopped b (1/4 cup) asil leaves Pine nuts (1/4 cup) Pinch of salt Extra virg in (2 tables olive oil poons) Lemon ju ic (2 teaspo e ons)

3. Fun runs

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Looking for a way to meet other runners or walkers and work out in a relaxed, noncompetitive environment? Then consider the Bakersfield Track Club monthly fun runs, which are free and held the second Saturday of every month. (The next one is May 12.) Plan on arriving at Yokuts Park just before 7 a.m., and you will see a small group of folks mingling around the start line over on the dirt trail as it cuts through the park, alongside the river. Everyone runs a one-mile warmup, followed by a two-, three- or five-mile run. The trail is marked heading west




















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Classes are held 7:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays; 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays; 4:30 p.m. Fridays. You can also email him at

Photo by John Harte

717 East 21st Street • (661) 322-7159 R

Joe Petersen

Open Mon. - Fri. 8a.m.-6p.m., Sat. 8a.m.-2p.m., Sun. 8a.m.-12p.m.,


Do you need to add a little cardio into your routine? Or maybe you’ve reached a plateau in your workout routine, and you need a little boost? Even those who are seeking to add some nice muscle tone to their legs and glutes would be interested in riding over to Joe Petersen’s spin class at 1919 26th St., at a cost of $5. But we recommend that you call first at 699-2854 to reserve your bike. And be sure to take water and a towel. For those new to spinning, make sure you let Joe know, and he will take care of you by fitting you to your bike and making sure your experience is a good one.


4. Spin with Joe Petersen

Serving Kern County grocery stores and restaurants for over 66 years!



on the bike path. Kids, strollers and dogs on leashes are welcome. It’s a great way to start the day.


Photo by Casey Christie

A group of runners take off at Yokuts Park.

Taste the difference and insist on Pyrenees!


Photo by Casey Christie

Talk of the Town

Thousands of spectators lined Panorama Drive to watch Peter Sagan sprint to victory in 2010’s fifth stage of the Amgen Tour of California.

Fast and furious

Compiled by Brian N. Willhite

Amgen Tour of California returns for another race through streets of Bakersfield

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his year, the Amgen Tour of California will be making its way to Bakersfield once again as the city hosts the fifth stage of the nation’s premier cycling event. The eight-stage, eight-day tour, which features some of the world’s elite athletes and cycling teams, will be competing on a worldwide stage in our own backyard. Bakersfield will host the individual trial time on Thursday, May 17. The hometown honor is made possible by the efforts of the Bakersfield Sports Foundation and the support of local sponsors, including Mercy and Memorial hospitals. These groups rallied together and Kerry Ryan raised more than a quarter of million dollars to bring the tour to town, according to Kerry Ryan, owner of Action Sports and co-founder of the Bakersfield Sports Foundation. Ryan recently spoke with Bakersfield Life about the tour and how Bakersfield came to be a part of the seventh annual cycling event.

A smart partnership

The city didn’t want to bid on the tour because of layoffs and budget constraints so the nonprofit Bakersfield Sports Foundation was formed. We submitted a RFP (request for proposal) in 2009, but we were too late with the proposal, so we applied again in 2010 and were successful. Most of the time, cities fund the event and pay for the event, but in this case, we did. The foundation holds the event, and the city is instrumental in helping us. (The city) uses our convention’s

2012 Amgen Tour of California route Stage Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4 Stage 5 Stage 6 Stage 8 Stage 9

Date Sun. May 13 Mon. May 14 Tue. May 15 Wed. May 16 Thur. May 17 Fri. May 18 Sat. May 19 Sun. May 20

Start Santa Rosa San Francisco San Jose Sonora Bakersfield Palmdale Ontario Beverly Hills

Finish Santa Rosa Santa Cruz County Livermore Clovis Bakersfield Big Bear Lake Mount Baldy Los Angeles

visitor’s bureau and helps us with marketing and the day-to-day operations.

Tough climb along the Panorama bluffs

Stage 5 this year will differ from the last stage held here in 2010. Bakersfield had a finish in 2010, where they came from Visalia to finish the race. But this year, they’ll race a three-anda-half mile circuit three times and as they come to the finish line, they’ll have to go up the bluffs three times, which is nice so the spectators get to view everybody three times.

The flagship of the tour

Most cities either do a start or a finish. Solvang, historically, put the time trials on at the coast and this year, they decided it was too much money and so Amgen came straight here once Solvang said “No.” We were lucky because it’s the time trials and the penultimate event. It is truly the flagship of the entire tour. Everybody watches it and it’s suspenseful every minute.

Strong support base

We have a local organizing committee, which is the nuts and bolts of the orchestration. The amount of volunteers we need is usually near 400. They’ll be on the course to mostly do crowd control and keep people off the course and out of the racers’ way, helping with intersections and on hotspots. People can volunteer on the Amgen Tour of California website, and then we’re going to solicit for volunteers one month before the event.

Significant draw

Hordes of people follow the race from stage to stage. The people who come into town just for the stage will probably be in the neighborhood of 4,000 or 5,000. All the hotels benefit, all the restaurants benefit, and what I like about it most is that it establishes Bakersfield as a fitness town, a cycling friendly town and as a current and progressive town trying to host professional sporting events. Throughout the course, there will be spotted spectators on the bluffs, and I envision somewhere in the 20,000 to 30,000 people range. It’s going to be an amazing number of people but the venue is very spread out and is going to be very roomy, and I think people will enjoy the atmosphere. In addition, there will be a lifestyle expo where they have all the bicycle companies and all the people who travel with the tour and all the people that want to promote healthy lifestyle businesses.

Catch me, if you can

On the downhills, they’ll hit up to 60 mph. On the flats, they’ll average 30 to 32 mph, and on the hill sections, they’ll be down as low as 11 to 12 mph.


Trip Planner

Explore Sequoia But first, share your input By Lois Henry


Tree that is blocking the Trail of 100 Giants. 148

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Giant sequoias loom over a green meadow area of the Trail of 100 Giants.

Photo by Casey Christie

Photo by Lois Henry

ere’s something to put on your springtime (probably late spring) calendar: the Trail of 100 Giants in the Sequoia National Monument. It’s only an hour-and-a-half drive from Bakersfield. It’s a pretty, easy walk, and it’s very cool (in both senses of that word!). plus, one of the massive and ancient Sequoias toppled over this autumn, crashing directly onto the trail. At its base, the tree is about 17 feet in diameter. Seventeen feet! When I read about it, I had to rush up there to see it in late October before they closed the road for winter, which they did the first weekend of November. And there were tons of other geeks just like me scrambling up the sides of the mas-

Trail of 100 Giants Photo by Casey Christie

sive tree (actually two trees that had grown together at the base) to walk along its length and marvel at the absolute hugeness of it. Forest Service officials are still trying to decide what to do with the tree as it blocks a good portion of the trail. Cut through the tree? Make a bridge over it? Move the trail? They’ll be seeking public comments on the issue for a while. Call them at 559-7841500 or write to the Sequoia National Forest Supervisor at 1839 South Newcomb St., Porterville, CA. 93257. And check out the website: You can also submit comments by emailing Marianne Thomas of the Forest Service at or by calling her at 559-539-2607. Personally, I think it’d be neat to cut a tunnel through at least one part of it and mark the rings with important happenings around the world. I love nerdy stuff like that. Speaking of which, the rest of the trail with all its informative signs is just as fun to ramble along. Many of the giant trees have hollowed-out trunks, which are amazing to stand inside of. Makes you feel pretty insignificant to think how big these trees are and how long they’ve been around. And despite their outward serenity, giant sequoias are quite aggressive, as it turns out. When other trees grow too close, the sequoias slowly but surely grow over the invader until there’s nothing left but the sequoia. These big guys may move slow, but you gotta watch ’em!

Considered an easy onemile walk with loop options through Long Meadow Grove, which covers more than 340 acres. Some of the giant sequoias are estimated to be up to 1,500 years old. Amenities: Nearby campground (Redwood Meadow Campground), picnic area, restrooms and, of course, parking. Cost: $5 parking fee

Directions: From Bakersfield, take Highway 65 north to Avenue 56. Turn east to Ducor and Fountain Springs. At Fountain Springs, continue straight on county road M56 through California Hot Springs. Pass the Hot Springs Ranger Station and continue up the mountain, stopping at the intersection of 107, approximately one mile beyond Parker Pass. Turn left (north) on 107 and drive two and a half miles. Source: USDA Forest Service


Get Out of Town Enlarged Area

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Head to downtown Pismo or ride around the pier on a beach cruiser or a surrey that seats up to four people, which you can rent at Wheel Fun Rentals 1 , 150 Hinds Ave.; 805-7730197; Go horseback riding on the dunes and beach in a guided 90-minute tour. You can select the horse that seems the best fit for you at Pacific Dunes Ranch 2 , located three miles south of Pismo. (1205 Silver Spur Place, Oceano; 805-489-7787; pacificdunesranch. info). Spend some quality time with family and friends while tasting the handcrafted award-winning wines at Pismo Beach Winery 3 , (271B Five Cities Drive; 805-773-9463; For those seeking thrills and adventures, Skydive Pismo Beach 4 is the place to go! Experience free-falling over the Pacific Ocean


. St ss re


Bakersfield Life




hen looking for a fun place to escape the Bakersfield heat, Pismo Beach is a prime destination. Within a two-hour drive, you can experience a nice coastal weekend getaway or a simple day trip. Relax on the beach while soaking up the sun or enjoying the ocean breeze. Or explore the different activities available. As Bakersfield’s homed n e k e Best Weway away-from-home, Geta Pismo offers plenty of peaceful and adverturous time to family and friends.

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at 120 mph, and safely land on Pismo Beach. (201 W. Grand Ave.; 805-481-5867; Explore the Central Coast waters with Central Coast Kayaks 5 , where you can rent, take classes or sign up for kayaking tours. (1879 Shell Beach Road; Shell Beach; 805-773-3500;

Dine Not only is Rosa’s Ristorante Italiano 6 known for its traditional Italian food, it also has consistently won awards for some of the best clam chowder in town. (491 Price St.; 805-7730551; At the Cracked Crab 7 , freshly

caught shellfish are dropped at your table by the bucket full, along with a mallet and other tools to eat your meal, so a mess is to be expected! For the non-seafood lovers, they also offer steak and chicken dishes. (751 Price St.; 805-773-2722; Mo’s Smokehouse BBQ 8 is a great place for those who are looking for other options besides seafood. They have a vast variety of barbecue sauces for the spicy or mild eater. (221 Pomeroy Ave.; 805-773-6193; Stop by The Splash Cafe 9 and order an award-winning bread bowl of clam chowder, which they serve more than 20,000 gallons of a year. This is a great surfer destination. (197 Pomeroy Ave.; 805-773-4653;

Shop You can find anything from fresh fruits and delicious food to handmade souvenirs at the Pismo Beach Farmers Market 10 , which only occurs on Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m. on the Pismo Beach Pier. (805-773-4382; asp). For a one-stop shopping opportunity where you can find anything from stores like Coach and Guess to Zumies and Pacsun, The Pismo Beach Premium Outlets 11 is the perfect place to visit for a variety of shopping. (333 Five Cities Drive, Suite 100; 805-773-4661; Known for its friendly environment, Pancho’s Surf Shop 12 is a store you must visit to experience some of Pismo’s surfer atmosphere. (181 Pomeroy Ave.; 805-773-7100). Tomasko’s Salt Water Taffy 13 has an array of delicious sweets like chocolate, taffies, caramel apples as well as a variety of coffees and lattes. (711 Dolliver St.; 805-7731115;

This is your home. IT’S OURS TOO. For almost 60 years, KDG has offered an unrivaled track record, depth of knowledge, and experience unique to the southern San Joaquin Valley. Nobody knows you like a neighbor, and nobody can meet your legal needs and achieve successful, cost-effective results like KDG. With more than 50 highly skilled attorneys, KDG provides advanced legal services for matters ranging from business and commercial litigation to business counseling, entity formation, and corporate and real estate transactions, as well as estate planning and employment law issues.

4550 California Avenue, 2nd Floor, Bakersfield, CA 93309 t 661.395.1000 | 5260 N. Palm Avenue, Suite 201, Fresno, CA 93704 t 559.438.4374


Business Profile

ESI Electrical Systems and Instrumentation Inc Address: 6906 Downing Ave. Phone: 587-9322 Website:

What types of services does ESI offer and how do they differentiate from other industrial electrical contractors? ESI Inc is part of a family of companies that covers the full spectrum of industrial automation services. ESI’s expertise includes electrical power, control systems, instrumentation and process control. We work within many sectors, including oil and gas, the food and beverage industry, refining and mining. Along with our sister companies — which include PLCs Plus International Inc; Field Vision Inc and Advanced Combustion and Process Control LLC — our customers, both big and small, get turnkey power and control system solutions. No one else in the industry can offer that type of coverage.

ESI operates under the principles of “safety, quality and value.” Why are those concepts so important to your company?

Safety, quality and value are the pillars under which our company is built and the reason we are as successful as we are. We put a great deal of emphasis on safety at ESI Inc, and 152

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May 2012

we are very proud to say that our employees always make it the top priority in every situation. We have four years without an OSHA recordable injury, which is a terrific accomplishment in our field. Quality and value represent what we give to each and every one of our customers. Our technicians go through rigorous training and are highly skilled professionals who produce superior results. In terms of value, we incorporate lean process concepts, which means that everything we do is to create a value for our customers. If the customer doesn’t see value in what we are doing, we won’t do it. It’s just that simple.

What would you say is your greatest asset? Our employees, hands down! The employees are the heart and soul of ESI. We hire people who are highly skilled and who take our mission and values very seriously. We have found throughout our history that if you put the employees first, then the business will take care of itself. We continue to be amazed at the caliber of people we have in the ESI family, and we can’t say enough about how proud we are of the work they do.

ESI Inc has been on the Inc 5,000 list of America’s Fastest-Growing Companies for two years in a row. What does this honor mean to your company?

We have worked very hard to build a company that is based on trust and positive relationships, both with our customers and our employees, and we attribute our growth and success to those ideas. Despite the economic situation, we have continued to thrive. Through our growth, we have continued to build a family of quality employees who are the backbone of our success.

Business Profile

Goodwill Industries of South Central California 10 locations Phone: 837-0595 Website:

Many people think of Goodwill as a place to buy secondhand clothes or household goods, but it is actually much more than that. What does Goodwill do for the community?

Goodwill provides job training and job placement services to people in our community who have barriers to employment, such as disabilities or special needs. We believe that everyone in our community should have the opportunity to achieve their full potential through the power of work. The proceeds from our 10 retail stores go directly toward Ken Beurmann, VP of business development


Bakersfield Life

May 2012

funding Goodwill’s mission services such as our transitional employment program. All of Goodwill’s services and programs are funded 100 percent through community donations. We receive no federal, state or grant money. That is why we are very happy to be known as a great place to find quality secondhand goods. Those donations go quite a long way!

What types of employment programs does Goodwill offer?

Through Goodwill’s transitional employment program, people receive on-the-job training, job support services and intense job development services designed to help them find jobs and continue to be active parts of our community. Our motto is “Hire, promote up, promote out,” and we live by it. We believe that the best way that someone can learn to work is by being given the opportunity to work.

How has the economy affected Goodwill in Kern County?

Goodwill, like every other organization, has been affected by our economy. But we are so thankful that even though some people are going through hard times, they are still willing to support our organization. We could not help people the way we do if it weren’t for the generous donations from our community.

What’s in store for Goodwill?

Currently, we are in the middle of a very aggressive strategic plan. That plan calls for the opening of two new stores by the end of 2013 and bringing our total store count to 12. Every time we open a new store, we are creating new job opportunities for local individuals with barriers to employment. Our goal then is to help those employees transition out of Goodwill and into gainful employment in the community.

Business Profile

HealthSouth Bakersfield Rehabilitation Hospital Address: 5001 Commerce Drive Phone: 323-5000 Website:

What exactly is rehab? Sometimes that term makes people think of alcohol and drug rehabilitation. Is that what HealthSouth does?

I agree, that term is confusing. The type of rehabilitation that HealthSouth specializes in is physical rehabilitation. The core of rehabilitation is the multi-disciSandra Hegland, CEO plined team that plans and delivers the care: physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, rehabilitation nurses, case managers, dietitians and rehabilitation physicians. The goal of therapy is to help patients get back home.

What do occupational therapists do?

Physical therapists focus on walking, climbing stairs and


Bakersfield Life

May 2012

increasing strength and endurance (legs); occupational therapists focus more on the upper body strength (arms and hands). Occupational therapists help patients relearn how to complete daily tasks such as dressing, grooming and toileting. Speech therapists retrain patients how to swallow, speak and improve thinking skills.

Where does physical rehabilitation take place?

Settings include inside a patient’s home (home health services), an outpatient clinic several times a week, a nursing home (sometimes called a “rehab center”) and in an acute rehabilitation hospital. Any of these settings may be appropriate; however, an inpatient rehabilitation hospital provides the greatest amount of therapy (three hours a day, five days a week), specialized rehab nursing with each nurse only having five patients and physician visits almost daily.

Is this type of rehabilitation paid for by insurance, Medicare or Medi-Cal?

In most circumstances, health plans cover acute inpatient rehabilitation. Sometimes an insurance company may want to send a patient to a nursing home for rehab instead of a rehabilitation hospital. Patients and family members can appeal that decision and request a review so that they can go to HealthSouth.

Why wouldn’t a person just go where the insurance company said?

HealthSouth provides more rehabilitation, and with the team approach, patients return home quicker (average of 12 days) and do not get re-admitted to the acute hospital as often as patients who go to a nursing home for rehabilitation. Patients are able to do more and return to their lives more often after intensive rehabilitation in a rehab hospital.

Business Profile

Photos by Casey Christie

Heise Media Group

Address: 1400 Easton Drive, Suite 148 Phone: 323-8594 Website:

Who is Heise Media Group?

We are a full-service marketing, advertising and communications company. Since opening in 1999, our industry has changed, and we are proud to have kept up with the changes. We are experts in integrating new media, such as Facebook/e-media/e-blasts and Web design, improving traditional forms like print, television, billboard and radio advertising, and creating successful multimedia campaigns. We have a reputation for responsiveness, creativity, quality, integrity. We put the client’s interests first. We work so closely with our clients that their business becomes our business. Our projects complement their brand, create an image, provide a creative edge and achieve measurable results. Making clients successful is our ultimate goal!

What types of clients do you serve?

Our abilities lend to us partnering with growing companies and industries. Currently, we have clients, both local and regional and in industries ranging from industrial, health care, dry cleaning, pest control and nonprofit organizations.

Why does a business owner need an advertising and marketing company?

All businesses need a good business plan to be successful. However, a strategic marketing plan is essential to expand a business. Anyone can have a good product, but if no one knows about it or doesn’t understand it, then the product will fail. How many times have you heard, “My product is just as good as so-and-so’s, but their sales are higher.” That’s because so-and-so has a great marketing plan and executes it professionally. 158

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May 2012

This is where marketing expertise is so valuable. At HMG, we’re not just marketers, we’re business-building partners. Our goal is to make the client the most successful with creative, unique and masterfully executed marketing and advertising to have the greatest impression on their target audience. Coupling my sales background with my team’s skills, we are able to create campaigns that present and sell a client’s brand. Anyone can create pretty Marlene Heise, owner pieces and drop images onto a page; however, we know how to make a client’s cash register ring, which is the goal. We have proven that we can increase our client’s bottom lines and our clients trust us.

You were recently honored with 10 ADDY Awards from the American Advertising Federation. Tell us what that honor means to you?

We realize that it isn’t what we say about ourselves. It’s what others say about us that matters, so this honor really means a lot to us. Recognition for our creative achievements by independent judges from Southern California really blew us away. Recognition from our local community is great but transcendence into a larger market shows us that we are on the cutting edge. As a company, we are always evolving to meet our clients’ needs while creating breakout campaigns that push the envelope. We have to give credit to our clients because we can only be as creative as they will allow. Our working relationships with our clients make us able to be creative while achieving return on investment for them.

Prime Finds 1. 1. Treat your pet


All treats in Biscuit Boutique are all made in the U.S.A. Large selection of treats for small and large dogs. Visit Biscuit Boutique & Doggy Spa for all your dog’s needs at 1617 19th St., 321-9602.

Biscuit Boutique & Doggy Spa

2. Yummy yogurt

Sixteen flavors to choose from daily with a total of 40 different flavors. More than 45 toppings to choose from, including fresh fruit. No sugar added is also available. 8200 Stockdale Highway, 396-8000.

Tutti Frutti

3. Mother’s Day!

On May 13 show the mother in your life she’s the queen on Mother’s Day! Call us at 588-7997 or visit us online at 9500 Brimhall Road.

Uniquely Chic

4. Mouth-watering toffee

Fine handmade English toffee made by Aunt Mae’s Sweet Tooth. Available at Luigi’s, Olcotts, Sweet Surrender, Cafe Med, Flourishing Art and Sullivan Petroleum stores. Call 725-5200 or visit

Aunt Mae’s Sweet Tooth

5. A special treasure

Beautiful, burnished blue vase handcrafted by Mexican artist Elena Felipe Felix! A one-of-a-kind treasure sure to please that special person in your life. Only at Kuka’s, 1609 19th St., 325-0000.

Kuka’s Folk Art

6. Dad, be a hero this year!

Start with a simple sponged background, then the kids can add their handprints and thumbprints to complete the design guaranteed to make Mom’s heart melt on Mother’s Day! Everyone’s an artist at Color Me Mine at The Marketplace, 9000 Ming Ave., 664-7366.

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A Bakersfield tradition for 58 years!







O ’ C H O IC E P


















5. DE

O R S’ C H O I C E P

Basque Restaurant

Overall Restaurant

Place To Take Out-Of-Town Guests


620 East Nineteenth Street Closed Sundays

Wool Growers Restaurant &



The Kern County Sheriff Search and Rescue Appreciation Banquet March 24 Held at Hodel’s Restaurant Photos by Brian N. Willhite View these photos and more online at

Joyce Podratz, Robin Jackson and Pat Kline

Gabe Artega and Tori, Lindy and Ken Smith

Cindy Meyers, Sheila Rockwell and Ellen Hinman

Ericka and Judith Buckreis

Ray and Linda Henderson and Betty Nakashige

Devan Perez, Leonard Perez, Brittany Richardson, “T” Harrington, John Segerstrom, Darlene Kalan, Laura and Doug Ely and Dhana Nikkel

Standing: Stephanie and David Irvine, Wilson Rose, Misty Rex and Elizabeth Barnhart. Seated: Ken and Dori Stachowicz, Jessica Cox, Brad Stout and Stuart Rex

(855) 393-2840

Andrae Gonzales 30th birthday party fundraiser

Bill McDougle and Cris Reep

Manuel and Lila Perez and Bernice Bonillas

Erica Gonzales, Ana Contreras and Marc Gonzales

Joel Galyan and Sam Hernandez

Ramona and Gilbert Gia, Kristie and Bob Coons and Andrae Gonzales

March 30 Held at The Nile Photos by Tanya X. Leonzo View these photos and more online at

Mary Helen Barro and Jana Hunstad-Saruer

Lety Pineda, Sarah Rich, Lauren Sedlak and Nathan Perez

Around the World of Wine March 25 Held at Stars Dinner Theater Photos by Carla Rivas View these photos and more online at Don Murfin and Joanne and Stan Godecke

Jim Fillbrandt and Bill Bruce

Kristy and Mike Allen and Sherrie McMurtrey

Leo and Carolyn Hinds

Larry Reider, Bill and Carol Hatcher

Jan Minot, Frank Zarzana and Denise Segrest

Barbara and Jerry Natalia

Frank Sierra and Bethany Rowlee

Thank You to all our loyal customers for voting Luigi’s… BUSINESS LUNCH OVERALL RESTAURANT

725 EAST 19TH STREET 322-0926 Everything served in Luigi’s Restaurant Can be purchased in our delicatessen



Bakersfield Life

May 2012


Jeff and Shel Schultz and Ronetta and Chris Krauter

Weill Child Guidance Foundation Wine Tasting March 23 Held at The Guild House Photos by Carla Rivas View these photos and more online at Karen and Jeff Simpson

Eddie and Sudy Pruett

Cindy Chow and Kim Clerou

David Camara and Katina Chan

Ira and Carole Cohen

Toni Ross and Tamara Tilley

Jim and Brenda Lencioni and Terri and Jay Bobbitt

Ron and Cheryl Hilzer

- Rosemary Abarca Attorney at Law

Specializing in Social Security Disability Law (661) 322-1761 901 Tower Way Suite #202 Bakersfield CA 93309


Bakersfield Christian High School The Key Event March 24 Held at Seven Oaks Country Club Photos by Greg Nichols View these photos and more online at

Jeff and Michelle Huckaby

Nancy and Stephen Dinger

Debbie Camp, Karen Dierks and Carolyn Pandol

Paul and Ashley Pavletich and Dave Spalinger

Dylan Wilson, Andrea Bauer and Hunter Mitchell


Gary and Susan Hemme and Don Camp






All New Robby’s Nursery & Calico Gardens


Bob, Pam, Austin and Anna Smith

Robby’s Nursery & Calico Gardens



Bakersfield Life


May 2012

Judge Charles Brehmer, Harley Pinson and Chela Brehmer

(855) 393-2840

Sigma Alpha Sorority Relay for Life bunco party April 1 Held at the home of Jenna and Reza Ramzeian Photos by Greg Nichols View these photos and more online at Bryan Reyes and Sue Neal

Doris Honey and Crys O’Kane

Pat Taylor and Nora Gold

Sabra Cesmat, Jacquie Richardson and Denise Crenshaw

Andrea and Matt Delanty, Sara Knudtson, Natalie Barrick and Dot Henry

Donna Hicks, Levonne Delanty and Jenna Ramzeian

Brenda Patterson, Emma Kearney, Nancy Skellenger, Bonnie Wall and Carol Bolinger

Thank You For Voting us Favorite Tuxedo Rental 2409 Brundage Lane • 661 -322-2306


First Friday April 6 Held at Metro Galleries Photos by Jan St. Pierre View these photos and more online at

Carl and Mary Moreland

Joe and Mimi Audelo

Zoe Saba, Andy and Kamala Kruszka

Janada and Phil Shepard

Nina Landgraff and Leonid Koff

Judy and Radon Fortenberry, Maria Polite and Tony Murer

Linda and Vince Rojas and Larry and Sandy Reider

Thank you for nominating us in the 2012 Best of Kern County Readers’ Choice Poll. We are honored that you have entrusted us to care for your pets’ health care needs for over 60 years. Congratulations to our doctors and support staff for making this award possible. SOUTHWEST 2905 Brundage Lane • 661.327.5719 STIERN 17 Monterey Street • 661.327.5571


Bakersfield Life

May 2012

Don and Annette Londquist, Don Bonnar and Karen DeWalt

(855) 393-2840

Jim Burke Ford Foundation Dream Builder Awards April 12 Held at Bakersfield Museum of Art Photos by Jan St. Pierre View these photos and more online at Arlana and Frank St. Clair

Joe Schoenstein and Mikie Hay

Betty and Danny Valencia

Justin Salters and Emily and Teddi Pierce

Debbie Hull and Bernie Herman

Renee Massey and Michael Gutierrez

Jay, Monique and Brittni Miller

Cory and Clayton Camp


Push your body. Find your beat.

Located inside the

BAKERSFIELD RACQUET CLUB Scout Ocampo, Scott Riccomini, Danny Munoz and Austin Donovan

New Location is: 1660 Pine Street Bakersfield

661-589-8950 • 800-FIT-IS-IT





The total Flooring solution for commercial and all types of homes, apartments and government facilities! HARDWOOD


$2.99 SQ. FT.


HAS NEVER BEEN MORE AFFORDABLE. Carpet | Laminate | Area Rugs

499 $ 699 $

up to 180 sq/ft (12’x15 room) ** Hardwood Flooring

up to 180 sq/ft

(12’x15 room) **

APRIL 1 - MAY 11, 2012



24-Month Financing Available.

Subject to credit approval. See store for details. **Any Room One Price shown above is available on a room size up to 180 sq/ft (12’x15’ room) on qualifying styles. Material only excluding, carpet pad, trim, underlayment and installation. Limited styles available. Final sales prices determined by retailer. For details, contact your local HGTV HOME Flooring by Shaw retailer. ©2012 Shaw. HGTV HOME is a trademark of Scripps Networks, LLC used under license to Shaw Industries, Inc.

Carpet I Area Rugs I Hardwood I Lami n ate I





W NL Inst /B Y al AC $ led KS 2 PL ,59 AS 9 H




$1.59 SQ. FT.


*Call for details




YOUR DESTINATION FOR SELECTION AND SAVINGS! 6500 District Blvd. (Corner of District & Ashe Rd.)Bakersfield, CA • Total Flooring Solution LIC# 874947


2012 Accord - Car & Driver’s 10 Best for a Record 26 Times. From Car & Driver, January 2012


Big Inventory & Real Deals on all New 2012 Accords 2012 Accord LX Sedan Lease CP2F3CEW 5Spd AT



Closed end lease for 2012 Accord Sedan 5 Speed Automatic LX available from March 7, 2012 through April 30, 2012, to well-qualified lessees approved by Honda Financial Services. Not all lessees will qualify. Higher lease rates apply for lessees with lower credit ratings. MSRP $22,950.00 (includes destination, excludes tax, license, title, registration, documentation fees, options, insurance and the like). Actual net capitalized cost $19,483.31. Net capitalized cost includes $595 acquisition fee. Dealer contribution may vary and could affect actual lease payment. Total monthly payments $6,965.00. Option to purchase at lease end $13,081.50. Must take new retail delivery on vehicle from dealer stock by April 30, 2012. Includes down payment with no security deposit. Excludes tax, titles and dealer fees. For well qualified lessees through Honda Financial Services.





‰ Š‹ŒŽ‘� ’“ on all New 2012 –– —

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€ ‹Ž‘Â?Â’“”‚ •–—Â? Â’ Â? ­˜Â’Â?Â?­‡Â? ƒ    Â? Â? 

Financed through Honda Financial Services on select models

4500 Wible Road

at the Entrance to the

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834-6632 Se Habla EspaĂąol

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Years of Serving Kern County

Bakersfield Life Magazine May 2012  

Bakersfield Life Magazine May 2012