Colony Magazine #29 • November 2020

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Prsrt Std US Postage PAID Permit 19 13Stars Paso Robles CA ECRWSS

Local Postal Customer


Remember to Vote! November 3 Thanksgiving for Paso Robles


Is time running out on your deductible? Most insurance deductibles reset at the beginning of the year. Now may be the best time to have your hearing tested!

Symptoms of

Hearing Loss Requiring frequent repetition. Difficulty following conversations involving more than 2 people. Thinking that other people sound muffled or like they’re mumbling.

The end of the year marks many occasions... The end of the holiday season, the beginning of a new year and the sense of renewal that it brings, and for most people the best time to use your health insurance benefits. Deductibles typically renew on January 1st. Whether your health insurance is through a group or individual plan, the end of the year can be the best time to schedule appointments and save money on healthcare.

Have you had your hearing tested in 2020? For most Americans over age 50, a hearing test is recommended as a part of their annual healthcare routine. However, most will wait to schedule an appointment until difficulty with hearing becomes apparent. Hearing impairment is very common. In fact, today, 1 out of every 6 baby boomers (ages 53-71) has some degree of hearing loss. Luckily early detection, prevention, and treatment is better than ever with modern technology! At Hearing Aid Specialists, we’ve been helping people overcome hearing loss since 2002. While the world has changed quite a bit since then—especially with hearing aid technology—our approach has remained the same. We are still a small, family-owned business that treats its patients like it would its own family members.

Frustration and exhaustion from conversation while straining to understand speech. Difficulty hearing in noisy environments like crowded rooms, shopping malls, etc. Long term exposure to loud noises or environments. Reading lips or relying on reading lips for comprehension. Turning up the volume on the television or telephone.

Learn more about hearing health at

Call us today to schedule your hearing appointment and make the most of your healthcare benefit! Late appointments and Saturdays available. 7070 Morro Road, Suite D • Atascadero

c on ten ts November 2020 | Issue No. 29





Did you know? THE LAKE HAD SKIING!









Cover photo inspired by the 2020 Election, Centennial Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote, Honoring our Veterans and being a Proud American. Photo By Gyspy Woman Images



Atascadero 93422 • Santa Margarita 93453 • Creston 93432 Hotels • Wineries • B&Bs • Waiting Rooms • Restaurants • High-traffic Visitor Hotspots for advertising inquiries and rates email publisher @, or contact one of our advertising representatives.


Something Worth Reading Publisher’s Letter


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Round Town Chamber of Commerce: Josh Cross Appointed as New CEO NEW! Cross Talk with Josh Cross Santa Margarita: A Sad Farewell and Some Exciting News from SMVFD

Colony People Ivy Alvarado: Still Breaking Records

Taste Of Colony Sip & Savor: Paso Winemakers Reflect on Vintage 2020 Taste of Americana: Cranberry Helps ‘Shake It Up’ a Bit


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publisher, editor-in-chief

Hayley Mattson

publisher, editor-at-large

Nicholas Mattson

managing editor

Brian Williams

layout design

ad design

Michael Michaud

Denise Mclean Jen Rodman

community writer

Connor Allen

ad consultants

Dana McGraw Jamie Self

office administrator

Cami Martin |

Local Business The Natural Alternative: Here to Keep You Healthy Firestone Walker: Creating Their Own ‘Solar System’ Avery Jones: Shooting Star of the Artisan Cheese World McPhee’s: Now Open in Tin City’



PUBLICATION DELIVERY DATE Friday, November 27, 2020

Tent City Wayne Cooper Memorial Lighthouse Golf Tournament: Raises Record-Setting Amount Amidst the Pandemic San Luis Obispo County Office of Education: The Beat Goes On


* ad reservation deadline is the 10th of each month preceding the publication. for more information about advertising, upcoming issues and editorial themes, contact our advertising representatives above, or see our media kit at


Last Word Hope Project: Local Resident Spreads Hope in Atascadero Directory to our Advertisers • (805) 466-2585


5860 El Camino Real Ste G, Atascadero, Ca 93422

Colony Clipper Coupon Savings in North County


P.O. Box 6068 Atascadero, CA 93423


Annual subscriptions are available for $29.99 Subscribe online at


contributors Barbie Butz

James Brescia, Ed.D.

mira honeycutt

Camille DeVaul

Josh Cross

Simone Smith DID YOU KNOW? The Atascadero City Hall, also known as the Rotunda, is an icon of the city. Constructed in 1918, this was the founder E.G. Lewis’s vision for the Utopian community of Atascadero. In 2003, the historic building was damaged by the magnitude 6.6 San Simeon earthquake. The city took over a bowling alley for use as a temporary city hall while the building underwent extensive renovations and retrofitting. In August 2013, after 10 years of closure, the original city hall building was reopened and currently remains in service. (Source:,_California)

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Commentary reflects the views of the writers and does not necessarily reflect those of Colony Magazine. Colony Magazine is delivered free to 17,000 addresses in North San Luis Obispo County. Our costs are paid entirely by advertising revenue. Our Local Business section spotlights select advertisers. All other stories are determined solely by our editors.


Colony Magazine ©2020 is a local business owned and published by local people — Nicholas & Hayley Mattson No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form by any means without written consent from Colony Magazine.

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Colony Magazine | November 2020

Call today for Air Conditioning System Service & Maintenance

November 2020 | Colony Magazine | 7

Something Worth Reading

hanksgiving hangs in the air here, although the weather has not caught up with us yet. We took a trip to Jack Creek Farms a few weeks ago, and it just wasn’t right to pick out pumpkins in 97-degree heat. So we picked up some refreshments and headed to the coast. It’s a great time of the year as fall sets in. Our corner of the world hits with perfect evenings most days, and it is time to kick back and reflect on all we have to be grateful for. Actually, it is a tried and true method for happiness to take some gratitude time every day, it is also said to bring good fortune and success, and we can certainly attest to the correlation in our lives. We also would like to say a big thank you to our veterans! The sacrifice is real, and so many local men and women have served our country, and we extend a loud and proud thank you to them for their service. Our elected officials also serve our nation and community. As we head to the polls for the culmination of the 2020 election year, we can all agree that we can do much better and possibly agree that social media platforms can do much better as well. If 2020 offered us anything, it is an eyes-wideopen look into some real issues we should not merely stick a bandaid on top. Let’s work together on the community level to realize our local potential for greatness with an open ear. Speaking of elections and local greatness, our 8th annual Best of North SLO County Readers’

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Poll is now open! We have more than 100 categories of local businesses, organizations, events, and attractions waiting for you to cast your ballot for the Best of 2021. See the ad in this issue for the QR code or website to begin voting! Our Reader’s Poll is your chance to thank and acknowledge all those who earned it in 2020, and this was a year we watched our community go above and beyond. We have a special COVID19 section in the poll this year to recognize those businesses and organizations that made the best pivots and adjustments. Of course, none of this could be possible without the best of the best — our loyal and faithful advertisers. THANK YOU. For many of us, this was the most challenging year ever. Never had we seen mandated business closures. But we made it, and we did it together. We aren’t stopping now. It is a family here in our small towns, and as they grow and as things change, it is up to us to keep our community spirit alive through thick and thin. We hope you enjoy this month’s issue of Colony Magazine, and we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Please stay safe, share love, and be a good human. Stronger together, Hayley & Nic Mattson if thou wouldest win immortality of name, either do things worth the writing, or write things worth the reading. — Thomas Fuller, 1727

Colony Magazine | November 2020

Newly Appointed CEO of the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce


By Connor Allen

he Atascadero Chamber Of Commerce announced in August that former CEO and President Emily Reneau would be stepping down and didn’t have to go far to find her replacement. Atascadero native Josh Cross stepped into the position technically on an interim basis. Pending something unforeseen, it is expected that Cross will shed the temporary interim title and officially begin to leave his mark back in his hometown. Cross attended Atascadero High School and graduated as a Greyhound in 1996. He has spent his life since then living and working on the Central Coast. After high school Cross went to Cal Poly and eventually took a position in San Luis Obispo, working as an urban developer for RRM Design Group. Then, after 18 years of city planning, Cross moved north, where he became the Director of Economic Development for the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce, and now he is excited to be back in the town that shaped him. Trying to stimulate commerce during a national pandemic is not an easy task; however, Cross brings with him years of city planning experience along with fresh new ideas that he feels will help support the business community amidst the pandemic. “We are aware of the challenges that so many of our business members are facing, especially in the service industry,” Cross stated. “We are using this time to plan our path forward strategically. We have some great ideas to capitalize on the number of remote workers working and living in Atascadero. That number does not just include San Luis County but Silicon Valley, LA, and many others. This is one way we can certainly increase our Economic Development.” The Atascadero Chamber’s BridgeWorks program focuses on co-working spaces and capturing the underutilized market of at-home workers in the area. BridgeWork offers approximately 18 co-working spaces and follows the industry’s COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. “We are a small team at the moment; however, we have some great momentum heading into 2021,” Cross stated.

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J h C


r s

Going into the holidays, the Chamber reminds us of how important it is to shop locally to support our small businesses, especially during this challenging time. Cross shared with us a few insights as to why it is vital to shop Atascadero this holiday season: ▷ You will strengthen our economy ▷ You will create and maintain jobs ▷ You will strengthen our community ▷ You will feel festive ▷ You’ll find unique items in unique stores ▷ You can try before you buy ▷ You will enjoy the local cuisine Starting this month, Cross will be writing a monthly column titled “Cross Talk,” where he will be sharing Chamber updates, economic development, national impact to local businesses along with ways our community can support local.  For more information on the Atascadero Chamber, visit them online at

Colony Magazine | November 2020






Atascadero’s population grew by 828 people since 2015 and is projected to grow by 491 people by 2025.

MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME: $79,610 Atascadero’s median household income is higher than Paso Robles ($61,105) and San Luis Obispo ($52,740).


1,362 firms are owned by men, 825 by women, and 338 are minority-owned.


conomic development is a passion of mine, and I know the importance it plays towards shaping a vibrant and robust community for each of us to live, work, and play. The Chamber of Commerce is committed to advocating for economic development-related programs and policies, developing partnerships, and engaging with the community to explore ways to unlock Atascadero’s future prosperity. There are several metrics that I track to benchmark economic development, and I would like to share a few of them to give you a brief state of our economy:


Of Atascadero’s population (30,037), the number of individuals qualified to work between the ages of 18 and 65 is 16,711.


From 2015 to 2020, the total number of jobs grew by 342. An additional 556 jobs are projected by 2025.


Prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic, thousands of workers commuted into and out of Atascadero, leaving a net balance of -4,978 workers.

Of the information stated here, I find the most interesting benchmark to be our high median household income as compared to Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo. This tells me that we have great potential to capture our own economy! In the months to

RETAIL SALES: $2,985,070

Atascadero’s retail sales are significantly lower than Paso Robles ($6,251,730) and San Luis Obispo ($1,390,690,000)


Atascadero’s accommodation and food service sales are lower than Paso Robles ($1,194,310) and San Luis Obispo ($2,220,943)


Government (3,168 jobs), Health Care and Social Assistance (1,613 jobs), Retail (1,485 jobs), Construction (1,344 jobs),

Accommodation and Food Service (1,228 jobs)


Finance and Insurance ($109k), Information and Computers ($106k), Utilities ($98k), Government ($91k), Oil and Gas Extraction ($81k), and Construction ($71k)


Atascadero State Hospital, Home Depot, Atascadero High School, Vons, Danish Care Ctr., Advanced Biomedical Repair, San Joaquin Valley College, Atascadero Middle School.

come, I look forward to exploring this topic further, keeping you informed of our economy, discussing opportunities to grow your business, and identifying opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to start a business. 

Sources Referenced: U.S. Census and EMSI - Special thanks to our partners at the San Luis Obispo County Economic Vitality Corporation (EVC) for providing access to EMSI data.




2020 was a tough year! Help us celebrate those local businesses that have risen to the occasion and made our community great against the odds. Now is your chance to bring some love to your favorite local businesses and attractions! Vote today for the Best of North SLO County! Vote by December 15 for your chance to win $500 to your local favorite store. See survey for details. Best of Voting ends on January 10, 2021. Scan the QR Code and go directly to the voting form.


November 2020 | Colony Magazine | 13

Santa Margarita

A Sad Farewell and Some Exciting News from SMVFD Simone Smith

Santa Margarita Volunteer Fire Department said goodbye to its yellow fire engine and hello to its red replacement. Photos courtesy of Simone Smith

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t was with great sadness that family, friends, and residents of Santa Margarita bid farewell to Vernon Stewart, who passed away at the age of 89 on August 31, with his wife Dorrie of 67 years by his side. Vern was a well known local businessman, resident, and active community member who, along with Herb Brazzi, spearheaded the efforts in 1962 to create the current Santa Margarita Volunteer Fire Department. Together, Vern and Herb saw the need for a change and were able to rally the town, establish a Fire Board to oversee the income and distribution of funds, round up volunteers, build a Fire Station (still in use), and procure the necessary fire fighting equipment, with Vern becoming elected by the community to the office of Fire Commissioner and Herb becoming the first Fire Chief. A lot has changed over the past 58 years. Businesses and residents have come and gone, surrounding areas have grown, and traffic has increased, but, limited by the surrounding Santa Margarita Ranch and the addition of few new homes, the town size has stayed relatively the same. Since its establishment in 1921 by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, the Santa Margarita Fire Protection District now remains the sole single service special district in the County. The special single service district was created to serve the properties contained in the 307 acres within the boundaries of town proper. The Santa Margarita Volunteer Fire Department relies on a small percentage of district property taxes as its primary funding source to cover its operational expenses. Besides providing vital first responder services within town,

Santa Margaritas all-volunteer fire department also has an agreement with San Luis Obispo County to provide auto-aid to a larger defined area and mutual aid further out when requested and available (as seen in their participation to fight the June 15 Avila Fire in Pismo Beach). The defined area of first responder autoaid from SMVFD consists of the stretch from the south base of Cuesta Grade on Highway 101 north to Santa Barbara road in Atascadero and from Garden Farms southeast to the bridge just before the split of Highway 58 and Pozo Road. Since the first purchase of a brand new, white, 1965 model Ford, outfitted by the Apache Fire Truck Company, the Santa Margarita Volunteer Fire Department has relied extensively on grants and donations for support equipment procurement as requirements are updated, and older equipment becomes obsolete. Having the right equipment is crucial for fire departments to carry out their responsibilities as first responders. With all the recent fire activity around the state, safety, efficiency, and the ability to respond quickly have been on many minds. Despite all the chaos of 2020, after saving up slowly over the past ten years for a large down payment, the help of some financing, and lots of research and dedication from Fire Chief Bob Murach, there’s some exciting news. Santa Margarita Volunteer Fire Department has been able to make some changes resulting in the turn over of fire apparatus with two going out and one coming in. September saw the sale of SMVFDs yellow, 1994 Chevrolet Mini Pumper known as “Rescue 1,” followed by saying goodbye to

the large, yellow, 1987, FMC Fire Engine, which has headed off for sale at 777 Auctions. The yellow FMC Fire Engine had become popular with residents over the years. In addition to its regular duties, it was seen delivering the Easter Bunny for visits with local children during the annual SMVFD Easter Egg Hunts paraded through town on the 4th of July. The biggest excitement came at 6:45 p.m. on Friday, September 18, with the arrival of the brand new, customized, 2020 HME AhrensFox, model 34, type 3 fire engine in town with sirens blaring, horn honking, and lights flashing. This new engine is very similar to the common type of apparatus used for wildland firefighting and is the department’s first type 3 engine. The new engine has 4-wheel drive and two pumps enabling pump and roll capability, making it possible for the department to have a greater ability to participate in fighting wildfires in the county. Seems like Vern would be smiling at the new developments with the Santa Margarita Volunteer Fire Department.  Current staffing for the SMVFD consists of one part-time Fire Chief, one PT Deputy Chief, one paid call Fire Captain, one PCF Lieutenant, two PC Engineers, three Probationary Firefighters (passed the academy but needing to finish up their department task books), and one New Firefighter Recruit. *The department is looking for two more recruits to join in to go through the firefighter academy. To volunteer: Come to a meeting, held every 2nd & 4th Wednesday at 7 p.m., or for more information, visit and click on the Volunteer button. Colony Magazine | November 2020


Information Resources • SLO County Official Info

• Templeton Chamber Templeton Strong page

• CDC – Center for Disease Control

• SLO County Official COVID-19 Page

• Atascadero Chamber OTHER COVID-19 RESOURCES

• WHO – World Health Organization


• California COVID-19 Response Page


• Paso Robles Chamber

• Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Tracking

Brought to you by the Paso Robles Press

November 2020 | Colony Magazine | 15

You Cou ld S k

? e k a L o i On The Atascader

By Connor Allen


Photos above have been taken of the Atascadero Lake over the past 100 years. Photos above courtesy of Rick Evans History of the Atascadero Lake.

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ince the turn of the century, the Atascadero Lake Park has been known as a pleasant place to take a stroll with your family, play in the park, soak in the perfect Central Coast summer evenings while melodic tunes fill the air but did you know that it used to be a place you could bring your ski boat and shred the wake? The Atascadero Lake, which ranges approximately 30.5 acres and holds over 68 million gallons of water when full, has always been a prominent feature of the City since founder E.G. Lewis purchased the land on June 6, 1913. Lewis referred to the small lake that is filled by rain runoff as the Jewel Of Atascadero. In fact, before the town’s purchase in 1913, the lake, as well as other areas of Atascadero, were used as a military training facility for the United States Government for almost 10 years, and it was the US Army that built the original dam. Lewis dug out the lake to enlarge it, but to this day, it is only 13 feet at its the deepest point when full. Over the years, the lake has been worked on during dry periods. According to L.W. Allan’s book “Atascadero The vision of one — the work of many,” San Luis Obispo County was able to get heavy machinery into the lake bottom in 1946. It removed much of the rich topsoil that had flowed into the lake over the years. The County had another chance to work on the bottom of the lake in the 1960s. However, this time, rather than hauling the soil out of the lake, they decided to move the earth to the south end, which has created the island we see today. In the 1920s and 1930s, a scaled-down windmill and lighthouse were stationed on the lakeside before the original pavilion was built. For years, the old pavilion served as a place for dances, roller skating, exercise classes, and birthdays until 1987 when it was declared unsafe for use. The new pavilion was built in 1990 and finished in 1992. Atascadero has many fun facts but perhaps none as

delightful as the one behind a large donor toward the new pavilion. According to Allan’s text, Warner Bros. Studio donated $5,000 toward the construction costs while they were in town filming a movie with Steve Martin titled, “My Blue Heaven.” The Lake was also the setting of many Fourth of July celebrations that included speed boats, water skiing, swimming, and firework displays that brought thousands down huddled by the water’s edge at sundown. Eventually, speed boats stopped being allowed in the early 1960s, and swimming was outlawed in the 1990s when the City Council voted to end the aquatic activity due to safety concerns. The firework shows were banned shortly after the city’s incorporation in 1979. For some time in the 1990s and early 2000s, the City of Atascadero moved away from the Lake, and it faded away as the centerpiece of the City before bouncing back in recent years. In 2013, the Friends of the Atascadero Lake, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing and maintaining the lake, was founded. Their passion and zeal for the iconic, affectionately named “Mudhole” resonated with the local community and City. Eventually, they and the City acquired a piece of land in 2015 and dug the well that still feeds the lake. If you ask around Atascadero, you can still find some residents that first learned to water ski on the lake on July and August nights. If you are lucky enough to find one, ask them about their experience and watch their face come alive with warm and happy memories. While residents can no longer swim, the Atascadero Lake continues to inspire joy and positivity. Just two weeks ago, a local person started a snake of painted rocks to spread cheer and optimism to those walking the popular banks. The snake has grown and now has over 100 rocks from loving and creative community members in the days since. 

Colony Magazine | November 2020

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November 2020 | Colony Magazine | 17


vy Alvarado needs her mother’s help to walk. When she speaks, words come in bursts. Sentences trail off. There’s a strength, a quiet confidence bolstered by what she’s been through. Ivy, who is now 28, sits at a table in a lush green garden outside of Fig at Courtney’s House in Templeton. Her Plant Ivy food truck is visible over her right shoulder.

eyes will be open at some point and there will be times when they seem to be awake. By any definition, the prognosis was not good. “They didn’t even think I would wake up from my coma,” Ivy shared. “Took maybe a year or so for things to start coming back. I’m still improving. Still breaking records. They are always amazed when I do something.”

ALVARADO ‘Still Breaking Records’ By Brian Williams

She speaks openly about the day 12 years ago when she collapsed while working at Subway in her hometown of San Luis Obispo. “It was a crazy day. I was feeling really bad and I didn’t understand why,” she recalls. Her heart suddenly stopped beating and her brain was not getting oxygen. She was rushed to French Hospital and partially awoke from a coma after 10 days before going into a prolonged vegetative state for three months. “During that time, I was just out,” she said. People in a coma are completely unresponsive. They do not move, do not react to light or sound and cannot feel pain. Their eyes are closed. In a vegetative state, the person is unconscious. They have no awareness of themselves or their environment. The main difference between coma and vegetative state is that the person’s

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She did wake up, but she’d suffered a traumatic brain injury. “I didn’t even know who I was or anything,” she said. “I had to relearn everything. I couldn’t talk at first. I had to learn how to talk. I had to learn how to put words together in my mind for sentences. It all kind of came back except for the motor part of it.” She’s done shedding tears and feeling sorry for herself. And she doesn’t want others to feel sorry for her. Although the brain injury continues to be a big part of her life, she hopes people see more — a young woman, a business owner, a college graduate, and an environmentalist. “I have to be on SSI and $800 a month is not going to cut it,” she said. “I want to support myself.” There is little doubt that she was destined to educate people about the environment. “My dreams weren’t shattered the day I collapsed, but they were postponed — until now,” Ivy said.

She probably wasn’t thinking a food truck would be the vehicle she’d use to spread that message, but she’s making the unlikely combination work. “My passion has always been the environment from a young kid,” Ivy shared. And she likes food. A business professor at Cuesta College said she should follow her passions. Initially, she started Plant Ivy Catering with the motto “Better Burgers for the Planet.” With her mother Melinda’s help in 2018, they set up shop under a pop-up outside of Fig at Courtney’s House in Templeton, and at events, serving a plantbased vegetarian and vegan menu. She became known for serving a tasty variety of burgers featuring the famous meatless Impossible Burger. As word-of-mouth grew, wineries began adding her to their weekend calendars. With each burger sold, a donation is made to Alternative Neurological Solutions, a non-profit organization

that focuses on providing solutions and treatment to people who suffer from neurological issues. After a successful 2018, an anonymous donor allowed Ivy to have a food truck built in 2019 by LA Custom Food Trucks, a food truck builder and manufacturer in Southern California. With the truck ready and the 2020 calendar filling up quickly, it was shaping up to be a good year and then COVID-19 hit. All they could do was wait. Fortunately, when Fig reopened, they had a spot for the Plant Ivy Food Truck to roll in and open Friday from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., and Saturday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Melinda is proud of what her daughter has accomplished. “I still haven’t even gotten over it,” Melinda said. “She never gives up. She always has a positive attitude and she wants to get better.”  For more information on Plant Ivy, visit

Colony Magazine | November 2020







Tradition G oing


reparation for Thanksgiving for Paso Robles annual dinner usually begins with the core group meeting in August, but it started earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We usually meet in the middle of August and begin planning,” said Thanksgiving for Paso Robles Chairman David Kudija. “With everything shut down due to COVID-19, I started thinking about it in May, and we started talking about it in July. We think we have a solid plan in place.” The nonprofit group has come up with a workable plan and will be serving its 26th Annual

Thanksgiving for Paso Robles will look different this year. Instead of a sit-down dinner, it will be a drive-thru. Photos by Brian Williams

THANKSGIVING FOR PASO ROBLES Free Thanksgiving dinner for anyone with all the trimmings! WHEN: 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. Nov. 26 WHERE: St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church parking lot, 820 Creston Rd., Paso Robles MORE INFO: or call 805-239-4137 November 2020 | Colony Magazine

Thanksgiving meal from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 26. This year’s significant difference is it will be a drive-thru instead of the usual sit-down dinner, complete with tablecloths, fine China, and a home-made dinner. “It will still be a complete Thanksgiving dinner,” David shared. “People will just have to drive-thru to get it.” The other significant change is the location. The drive-thru will be held in the parking lot of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church at 820 Creston Rd. in Paso Robles. Historically it has been held inside the banquet room at Centennial Park since 1989. Mildred Wilkins started the annual event and shepherded it for the first 20 years. Two ladies, transplants from Orange County,

By Brian Williams

Linda Stermer and Rhonda Evans oversaw it for three years together, after which Stermer continued for a total of 10 years. Originally the event was hosted at the Paso Robles Senior Center until it moved to Centennial Park’s banquet room. The event serves anyone that shows up; no one is turned away. David has been in charge of the free community staple for the past six years. Except for it being a drive-thru and moving to St. Rose, he said everything else should be the same. “It continues to be open to everyone, free of charge,” David said, who has been volunteering for 26 years. “It will be a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings — oven-roasted turkey, country ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, green beans, candied yams, cranberry sauce, green salad, rolls, house-baked pies, lemonade, tea, and coffee.” Guests are not required to sign up before Thanksgiving. They only need to show up at St. Rose between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. “Show up, and you will get fed,” David shared. For the last couple of years, Thanksgiving for Paso Robles has served on average 1,000 meals. This year they are preparing 1,500 meals. “We are expecting a greater need this year,” David shared. “This year, with the economy suffering and the way this crazy year has unfolded, we think more people are going to come out.” “If people do not have transportation, Thanksgiving for Paso Robles will bring a meal to their residence on Thanksgiving.” Thanksgiving for Paso Robles asks that people requesting delivery of a meal call (805)239-4137 by Nov. 20 to get on their schedule. David said they are always looking for volunteers and gladly accept donations. People wanting to volunteer must sign up via the website at The volunteer sign-up period runs from Oct. 20 through the week of the event. This dinner is the only event put on by the nonprofit Thanksgiving for Paso Robles. Donations can be mailed to PO Box 662, Paso Robles, CA 93447. “Thanksgiving for Paso Robles is 100 percent organized and executed by volunteers,” David said. “We expect a large turnout this year again, and your assistance is needed more than ever.”  | 19

Our Local By Camille DeVaul


orld War II ended 75 years ago on May 7, 1945, and despite how long ago some of us may think that was, there are still some veterans of WWII who remember their time in the war as it was yesterday. Harold Lowe, 101, and Henry Barba, 107, both grew up in San Luis Obispo County and later lived only a few blocks from each other in Santa Margarita. Harold and Henry are both WWII veterans, and both have impeccable memories. The two have been great friends through their many years of knowing each other. “Henry and I are great buddies because we’re the only natives in Margarita; I think that we lived here in this county all our lives,” Harold shared. Harold Lowe was born July 17, 1919, in San Luis Obispo. He grew up with Alex Madonna, who liked to play a few pranks here and there on Harold. Despite embarrassing Harold in front of the entire girls’ locker room, the two remained close friends until Madonna died in 2004. Lowe was in one of the first drafts and only 21 at the time.

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1940 - HAROLD


t-shirts because that’s all they had. “ We didn’t have anything to fight with—when we went over about all we had were our rifles and our bayonets—they HARO LD L were just starting to get O W E radios or something like DURI NG W that,” Lowe shared. WII 2013 - HAROLD & GINNY According to Lowe, all new uniforms, weapHe was always a little suspicious ons, and supplies went to of that since his ex-girlfriend was the National Guard before on the draft board, and it was passing them down to draftnot a happy breakup! But lookees. ing back, he said she was a lovely The troops arrived in girl, and he might have brought Melbourne, Australia, on April it upon himself! 9, 1944. Later they were moved Luckily though, Lowe soon to a camp outside of Seymour, met the love of his life, Virginia AUS. “Ginny” Mae Cheda of San Luis sailed for the Pacific through Lowe laughed as he described Obispo. Ginny stayed by his side the Panama Canal heading for the camp as more of a sheep field throughout the entire war, and Australia. where they pitched a tent. the two were married on July But, everything wasn’t as glamFor a while, the Ameri1, 1944, just a few days after he orous and well put together as it can and Australian troops got returned home. They’ve been is in the movies. along, but after more Austramarried 76 years and counting! “We were so unprotected, in lians were fighting overseas, the Lowe was sent to Fort Lewis, fact, we didn’t even have uniforms Aussie women were getting more Washington, for boot camp, when we went in. When I went friendly with the Americans. enlisted with the 162nd Infantry. in the army, I got the old choke Let’s say it didn’t go over very After the Pearl Harbor Attack in pick 1918 blouses with rough well with Aussie soldiers. 1941, he was deployed on March wool,” Lowe remembered. Tension grew between the two 1, 1944. That’s right. Lowe and his troops, but reality hit everyone Along with the 641st Tank regiment received old shirts when they finally shipped out Destroyer Battalion and 41st from WWI as their uniform. He and moved into New Guinea. Reconnaissance Troop, the groups remembers photos taken of them “ When we were in New left the Brooklyn Navy Yard and leaving boot camp wearing just Guinea, we were fighting two Colony Magazine | November 2020

people—We lost over 50% of our men within a couple of weeks,” Lowe recalled. Along with fighting their mutual enemy, the Japanese army, the troops battled various diseases, including malaria. Lowe contracted malaria and was eventually sent home after being overseas for 28 months. After a long trip back home and some trouble with rotten tomatoes, Howard finally made it back to his beloved Ginny. They married just a few days later. The couple had two children, Pattie and Jim, born in 1946 and 1947. Howard decided to leave the army behind him and become a carpenter for roughly 35 years. He built his own house in Santa Margarita and even helped build the infamous Madonna Inn. If you thought Howard’s memory was good, let me introduce you to his friend Henry Barba. Barba was born 107 years ago on October 19, 1913, in a home that still stands in Santa Margarita. But for the first two weeks of his life, he was known as Everett until his mother changed her mind. Barba’s parents were Mauricio Barba of San Luis Obispo and Catherine Walters of Arroyo Grande. The two married and built their home in Santa Margarita

HENRY BARBA November 2020 | Colony Magazine

on five acres in 1900. Henry Barba was one of seven surviving children. His parents buried six children, including Henry’s twin sister Henrietta who died during infancy. Like most in the area at the time, Barba grew up farming and ranching. As a young child, Barba worked on the Santa Margarita Ranch. He helped Freddy Higuera (yes, the same family as Higuera Street in SLO) put leather collars on the 10 and 20 mule teams which pulled the harvesters. In 1936, Barba, his cousin Juaquin Miller and a friend filled a large barn (also still standing) to the top with hay. That’s a successful hay season! Barba met his future wife, Jesse Hampton, when they were kids. Jesse’s family owned a large ranch near the Rinconada Mine. Being six years Jesse’s senior, Barba would joke with her brother that one day he would marry Jesse, take over the family ranch, and throw the rest of the family off it! Barba did end up marrying Jesse, but instead of taking the family ranch, they had one child together, a son Raymond Barba, born December 14, 1941. Henry Barba comes from a long line of military men, going back as early as the Civil War. Many died in action and are buried at several Central Coast Cemeteries. In 1940, it was Barba’s turn to follow in the footsteps of the men before him. Barba was drafted into the U.S. Army. When he

heard the news, it was no surprise. All he thought was, “Well,… this is it.” Barba headed to basic training at Camp McQuaid in Watsonville, CA. He was assigned to the 250th Coast Artillery Battery G, also known as the Glamour Boys, and off he went to Kodiak Island, Alaska. Despite the cold, life in Kodiak wasn’t so bad. The troops lived in tents, but coffee was always hot, and they got three square meals a day. Barba came from poverty. He was lucky to get one, sometimes two meals a day. His family didn’t take assistance or food stamps. So for someone who came from hardships like that, camp life wasn’t so bad. In 1941 it was declared that anyone ages 29 and older were to be sent back to Seattle and discharged. Barba just missed the cut being 29 years old at the time. However, it turned out that it didn’t matter anyway because, on December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was bombed. One of Barba’s duties was the spotlight. At night he would scan for enemy aircraft or their artillery. The only thing was if he did spot an enemy, all anyone had were wooden guns! The island had no cannons, just wood phone poles made to look like guns and decoy airplanes. There were only five rifles on the entire island! When the war finally ended in Europe, Barba felt happy and proud. When the war ended in the Pacific, where his brothers


and friends were stationed, he was elated. Barba and many others who were in the military at the time knew Japan was ready to fight for ten years on their homefront. According to Barba, the U.S. anticipated so many deaths in the Pacific and had so many Purple Heart medals made that they are still giving out medals from the same batch made in WWII. Henry Barba made it through WWII unscathed. But that wasn’t the case for many of his family and friends who saw the many horrors in the Pacific and Europe. One friend, Joe McKuzick, a Santa Margarita native, survived the Bataan Death March. Barba’s grandson Daniel Barba remembers hearing Joe talk about the horrors of the march. And another Santa Margarita friend, Frank Oster, made it back from Europe. But two boys from the Pozo area did not come back alive. Charles R Vaca, CPL 363 Infantry, April 19, 1923 - July 9, 1944 and David L Vaca, PFC 363 Infantry, August 10, 1923 - September 14, 1944 both died at the age of 21 in Sicily right before the end of WWII. They are buried in the Santa Margarita Cemetery, but their story still remains a mystery. No one knows who they were or how they died. It is not very often you get to speak to people like Harold Lowe and Henry Barba. They have seen the country in some of the best times and also the worst. Incredibly, they remember it all. Every date (month, day, and year mind you), they remember what it felt like and all the people that were around them during that time. It truly was a privilege to tell the stories of Lowe and Barba. Many of us take people like them for granted these days. I hope that even after Veteran’s Day, we appreciate people like Harold Lowe and Henry Barba a bit more.  A special thanks to Danny Barba and the Santa Margarita Historical Society for their help with this article. | 21


Paso Winemakers Reflect on


he year 2020 will go down in history as most challenging, shrouded by the COVID-19 global pandemic, devastating fires in California, and cataclysmic hurricanes in the south. Life, as we knew, has morphed into a new normal. Despite this anxiety-riddled year, Paso vintners had plenty to be grateful for this harvest season. To get a reflection on Vintage 2020, I reached out to a few Paso winemakers around late September and early October. “We are lucky to be here compared to Napa,” said Anthony Yount in a phone conversation as the Glass Fire was ravaging the Napa and Sonoma regions. “It’s been a strange vintage, and it fits in with the year.” The winemaker for Denner Vineyards was in mid-harvest when we spoke. He noted the picking order has been out of sync, such as viognier being the first pick. “Flavors

Jade Rava helping her family with harvest at Rava Wines.

are ahead of sugar levels, which is not typical of Paso.” Yount, who also crafts wines for Sixmilebridge Vineyards planted to mostly Bordeaux varieties, was two-thirds done and satisfied with the fruit. “The acidity is high, which is a hallmark of Sixmilebridge,” he remarked. “And the native yeast seems to be happy.” Second-generation winemaker Gelert Hart was finished with harvest at his family’s Ambyth Estate, founded by his father Phillip Hart and Mary Morwood Hart. The Demeter-certified biodynamic vineyard in Templeton thrives on biodiversity. In addition to panoramic hillside vineyards planted to 11 varieties of predominantly Rhône grapes, the estate is alive with bees, livestock, chickens, olive and fruit trees, plus a flock of sheep and a family of alpacas and llamas. “The fruit looks good, and we’re happy with the acid levels,” Hart commented on the phone. “Less yield than we would like, but vines look good and no problems this year.” “I love this vintage,” expressed Goran Bjekovic, winemaker and co-proprietor of Aleksander Wine focused on Right Bankstyle Bordeaux blends. “We had nice continuous steady ripening, which is not good for high alcohol or highly extracted wines,” Bjekovic said, but ideal for his style of winemaking, which leans toward Old World elegance hovering around 13.9 percent alcohol.

“We were lucky to bring in our entire sparkling harvest prior to the hazardous air quality conditions,” said Lauren Rava in an email response. The co-founder of Rava Wines, specializing in sparkling wines, commented on lessons learned working 16 vintages alongside her husband, Chad. “No two vintages are the same, and each harvest gives us new surprises.” Steve Viera, vineyard manager for Derby Wine Estate, oversees a total of 450 acres under vine in their three vineyards — Laura’s on the east side, Derby on the west, and the coastal Derbyshire in San Simeon planted to pinot noir, syrah, and chardonnay. “It’s a phenomenal year for pinot, the best in ten years,” remarked Viera. He wasn’t sure why. “Maybe more dormancy,” he suggested. Viera was pleased with the zinfandel and petite sirah in Laura’s vineyard and mid-harvest in the 90-acre Derby vineyard planted to over a dozen varieties, including Rhône, Bordeaux, and Spanish. Like most vintners, Steve Lock’s picking decision began early September at his Ècluse Wines vineyard. “We start tasting through the vineyards picking sample clusters,” he said when I met him at the winery’s expansive 1200-square foot terrace. Syrah was already picked by mid-September and fermenting in bins, juice of which Lock strained out with a sieve and offered for a taste. Lock reflected on the unpre-

dictable season — rain in April, a cooler July, and then heat spikes. “It’s been erratic, but vines seem to be resilient,” he noted. Overall yield was lower this year, but the quality so far has been very good. “But we are a long way from being finished,” Lock added. Janell Dusi also commented on low yields this year. The founder of J. Dusi Wines was elbow deep in production but took time out to chat with me at her busy winery, where I noticed several bins filled with cabernet sauvignon, tannat, and petite sirah, fruit being processed from her 38-acre estate vineyard along Highway 46 West. The zinfandel comes predominantly from her family’s Dusi Ranch and Paper Street Vineyard. Dusi mentioned the brief yet challenging heat spike that can result in high sugar in the fruit. “This year, you really have to give a little TLC,” said the fourth-generation winemaker. What will the 2020 vintage look like? “It’s too early to tell,” said Yount. “It will be pretty good, possibly a great year.” Dusi concurred: “Grapes are tasting great, quality is there, but time will tell.” Commenting in Rabble Wine Company’s newsletter, director of winemaking Jeremy Leffert expressed, “It’s looking like an awesome vintage from a quality perspective.” Wrapping up the catastrophic year of 2020, those words sound like a blessing. 

We Love You Atascadero.

We’re getting through this together. We’ll be stronger. We’ll be braver. Together. 22 |

Colony Magazine | November 2020

Cranberry Helps 'Shake It Up' a Bit

Barbie Butz Thanksgiving with

Candied Brandied Yams • • • • • •

Ingredients: 3 large yams peeled, cooked, and mashed ¼ pound (1 stick) butter, melted ½ cup brandy, or to taste ½ teaspoon salt ½ cup dark brown sugar marshmallows

Classic Cranberry Salad • • • • • • •


hen I was growing up, Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays. It still is, but of course, it has changed through the years. Members of our family and friends who joined my parents on that day have passed. However, the memories are always with me. The menu was always the traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green beans, candied yams, relish platter, and Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce from a can. The menu ended with pumpkin pie, mincemeat pie, and pecan pie.

The meal on Thanksgiving day was absolutely delicious, as were the leftovers the next day. Of course, I think the people at the table helped make it a special day for all of us. Thanksgiving will be different this year for many families. We probably will not set our tables for as many as we have in the past due to the virus with its physical restrictions. However, our menu will undoubtedly remain the same, but I suggest we “shake it up” a bit. I researched some ways to do just that, so take a look at these recipes and “go for a change.”

Directions: Bake the yams until soft and mash. Add the melted butter, brandy, salt, and brown sugar. Spoon into a buttered casserole dish and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Take out of the oven and top with marshmallows. Bake again at 450 degrees for a few minutes until the marshmallows turn golden brown. Watch carefully as the marshmallows will burn quickly. Makes approximately 4 cups. Serves 6-8. Store the canned cranberry sauce for those leftover turkey sandwiches and whip up one of these salads instead.

Ingredients: 4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (14 oz.) ¾ cup packed light brown sugar ½ cup fresh orange juice (from 2 oranges) 1 cup peeled and chopped Bartlett pears (about 2 small pears) 1 cup chopped fresh pineapple (from 1 pineapple) ½ cup thinly sliced celery (from 2 stalks) ½ cup chopped toasted pecans

Directions: Bring cranberries, brown sugar, and orange juice to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until cranberries pop and mixture thickens, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Stir in Bartlett pears, pineapple, celery, and pecans. Transfer to serving bowl; cover and chill salad 4 to 24 hours.

Spiked Cranberry Orange Salad

Directions: Prepare recipe as directed for the Classic salad, substituting 1 cup clementine segments (from 4 clementines) for Bartlett pears and ½ chopped toasted walnuts for pecans. Stir in 2 Tbsp. Orange-flavored liqueur and 1 Tbsp. orange zest (from 1 orange) with clementines, chopped pineapple, sliced celery, and walnuts. Proceed as directed in Classic recipe.

Cranberry-Apple-Ginger Salad

Directions: Omit Bartlett pears and pecans. Prepare recipe as directed, substituting ½ cup apple cider for fresh orange juice and stirring 1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger (from one 1/2-inch piece of ginger) and 1 tsp. black pepper into cranberry mixture before cooling. Stir in 1 peeled and chopped Fuji apple (about 9 oz.) with pineapple and celery. Proceed as directed in Classic recipe. Note: The cranberry salads can be made three days in advance. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Salads can easily serve 12 and look beautiful in a glass pedestal dish. To liven-up, the mashed potatoes consider topping them with bacon and crispy ‘Wish I had more room to continue with our menu, but I will end with this scallions or add in some cream cheese with herbs, shredded Parmesan cheese, and message: Give thanks for your family and friends and for this great country! top with chopped fresh chives. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you here in our wonderful North County. Cheers!  November 2020 | Colony Magazine | 23

Business Spotlight —







The Natural Alternative

trengthening our immune system has been at the forefront of many minds these days. COVID-19 has started a health movement for many, leading them to wholesome diets and a cleaner, natural way of living. The Natural Alternative in Paso Robles is dedicated to carrying only the highest quality of products and educating their customers on their health. Bobbi Conner opened The Natural Alternative Nutrition Center in 1995. Bobbi is a Master Herbalist and Certified Nutrition Consultant, graduate of Trinity College of Natural Health, the American Academy of Nutrition, and Board Certified CNC with American Assoc. Of Nutritional Consultants as well as an Applied Clinical Nutrition. Part of what makes the Natural Alternative unique is its caring, diverse, and experienced team. Victoria, the Store Manager, is a Certified Health Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Nick, a Certified Health Coach, is also a Cardiac Technician. Moriah is a Doula with years of natural health experience, and Megan, a Yoga Instructor and Life Coach is always informative and would love to see you on Saturdays! Here, you will find expert care and the highest quality nutritional

products only available through natural healthcare practitioners’ offices, including Standard Process, Designs for Health, Metagenics, Neuroscience, Pure Encapsulations, and many more. You will also find a wide selection of local products, everything CBD, organic snacks and drinks, natural hair and skin care products, medicinal mushroom formulas, high-quality supplements, and a wide variety

of herbs. Customers can always find the safest products free of synthetic preservatives, parabens, and fragrances. Bobbi offers Nutritional Consultations by appointment in addition to Functional Testing. Tests include Hair Mineral Analysis, Salivary Hormone Tests, Adrenal Testing, and Lab Analysis. Bobbi’s Weight Loss and Detoxification Programs are extremely popular and effective. One of the most popular being her 21-Day Purification Program with weight loss ranging from an average 10-15 pounds. Additional benefits seen

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By Camille DeVaul are renewed energy, mental clar- flammatory diet, and getting great ity, and a foundation for overall sleep are all important! The Natural healthier eating habits. Alternative has a great selection of Many customers have seen a immune-supporting supplements. dramatic difference in their health, Throughout the pandemic and thanks to The Natural Alternative: ongoing, the team at Natural “Your wisdom and guidance have Alternative offers shipping as well helped to encourage me and keep as curbside pickup. The team can me on track as well (with diet and also offer advice on keeping your lifestyle changes). It’s also assisted immune system strong along with me to gain knowledge about my suggestions to help with reducown health journey so that I feel ing stress and improving diet, two empowered to take control of my foundations for a healthy mind and personal health and wellness. Your body.

The team of The Natural Alternative in Paso Robles from left to right, Megan McGeary, Sandy Walton, Moriah Walter, owner Bobbi Conner, Victoria Judge, Nick Barkemeyer, and Monika Binder. Photos courtesy of The Natural Alternative.

whole team is amazing...they are kind and thoughtful. I love coming into your store, and always leave feeling uplifted...because all of you clearly care about little old me and my well being.” - Happy Customer With the ongoing fear of COVID and the upcoming flu season, the team at Natural Alternative is educating customers on the importance of eating well and proper immune support. Blood sugar control, eating an anti-in-

At The Natural Alternative, customers don’t just purchase supplements; they get an educational experience. Their message is this, “change your diet, exercise daily, practice disease prevention,” that is, The Natural Alternative. Visit the “store that is so much more” and find out “what better feels like!” Check them out the website at and “like” them on Facebook and Instagram! 

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Hwy 41 & 101 Exit 219 24 |

Atascadero, CA 93422 Colony Magazine | November 2020

ucked behind Firestone Walker Brewing Company is what co-founder David Walker playfully calls the “solar system” — a 2.1-megawatt array that will offset a majority of the brewery’s energy usage. “That is a pretty grand word for it, isn’t it, solar system,” he says with a hearty laugh before lowering his voice and saying, “Welcome to our solar system.” He is obviously having a bit of fun, but make no mistake, David and co-founder Adam Firestone take sustainable brewing very seriously. “Whenever we can reduce our carbon footprint, we are going to do so, and using sunshine to fuel our brewery is a simple way for us to participate,” David says. “Brewers have sought to conserve energy for centuries, and we want to continue that tradition here on the Central Coast.” The solar project is another in the long list of commitments Firestone Walker has made to the environment since brewing began here on the Central Coast in 1996. “A no-brainer really,” David shared, adding that they feel it is a fitting

milestone on the eve of the brewery’s 25th anniversary. The 9.7-acre solar array is located on Firestone Walker land adjacent to the brewery and was built in collaboration with REC Solar. It features ground-mounted single-axis trackers that maximize solar energy capture. It is projected to generate 4,570 MWh (megawatt hours) of electricity each year. A second, smaller 277-kilowatt solar installation will occupy a parking shade structure spanning 14,000 square feet just south of the brewery. Construction of the solar project began in April and included utility substation upgrades that will make it easier for other local companies to tap into solar energy power. For the better part of the past decade, Firestone Walker has ramped up its sustainability efforts in what it calls its “Brewing for Tomorrow” initiative. “Reuse, repurpose and recycle” has been one of the brewery’s mantras since its earliest days when it began brewing with recycled equipment from the Firestone family winery. The brewery’s “boneyard” is one great example. Retired tanks and other equipment go into the boneyard

David Walker and Adam Firestone walk amidst their 9.7-acre solar array, which was built as part of their "Brewing for Tomorrow" initiative.




By Brian Williams

where they are repurposed for use elsewhere, such as booths for Taproom seating. Other Firestone Walker Brewing for Tomorrow examples include: • Advanced recover y systems now allow kettle steam to be captured and reused for heating wort, further reducing natural gas and electricity usage. • Brewery process water is treated on-site and returned to the local aquifer. • Firestone Walker also uses specialized equipment, looped systems, and engineering strategies to conserve and reuse water. • LED lighting located throughout the brewery campus increases energy efficiency by 75 percent. • Firestone Walker’s new warehouse is energy efficient thanks to a highly reflective roof design, leading-edge insulation; electric forklifts; and efforts to ship by rail when possible. • Spent grains from the brewing process are converted into feed for local livestock. Giving back and being good neighbors is ingrained in the Firestone Walker Brewing Company. It goes beyond the environment. This Spring, Firestone Walker did beer drops for frontline medical workers and community volunteers as a way of saying thank you for helping the community during the COVID19 pandemic. Firestone Walker participated in the local Coats for Kids drive last December, with staff donating coats and the brewery bought coats from



‘S O L A R S


local stores, totaling more than 150 donated. They are planning similar activities again this December. Even their signature events benefit the community in significant ways. The Firestone Walker “Invitational Beer Fest” has greatly supported the nonprofit Paso Robles Pioneer Day over the years. All proceeds from the fest go to Pioneer Day, helping preserve this beloved local tradition. The brewery’s annual “From The Barrel” event benefits Woods Humane Society, an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to the humane care of homeless dogs and cats in San Luis Obispo County. Firestone Walker has long donated beer to Paso Robles Concerts in The Park. All beer purchased by concert patrons is donated by Firestone Walker, with proceeds benefiting the Recreation Enhances Community (REC) Foundation. David says doing all of this is the right thing to do. “California’s Central Coast has been our home for a few generations — we have an affection for this place and feel an obligation to treat it as well as we possibly can.” 

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1111 Las Tablas Rd, Suite R Templeton, CA 93465 November 2020 | Colony Magazine

805-434-4848 | 25


Artisan Cheese World By Brian Williams


ixteen-year-old She started Shooting Star Creamery when she was 15. Avery Jones is Avery did not wake up one morning, thinking she wanted to start a creamkind of a big thing ery. It’s also not a far-flung notion, considering her dad, Reggie Jones, has in the artisan cheese been making cheese for 30 years and with his wife started Central Coast world. Creamery in 2008. Avery, who was 15 at Central Coast Creamery was started in Oakdale and moved to Paso Robles the time and a Temple- in 2013 after it outgrew the facility in the foothills east of Modesto. The plan ton High School all along was to move CCC to Paso Robles. Reggie has photos of Avery student, started Shoot- packaging cheese when she was 8 years old. ing Star Creamery in CCC is no slouch in the artisan cheese community. In the nearly 10,000 2019. The first cheese she square foot facility, they manufacture between 4,000 and 5,000 pounds of produced, Aries, took third cheese a week, using cow, goat, and sheep milk. The cheese is distributed place Best of Show at the pres- in the Western US, Chicago, and New York — 99 percent goes outside tigious American Cheese Society the county. (ACS) competition in 2019. There “Here at this facility, we have won more national and international awards were 1,742 cheeses entered. She was the than any cheese company in the country over the last five years,” Reggie youngest cheesemaker ever to place that high at the ACS. said. “We keep saying that some of the best cheese in the world is being Overnight, Aries became a must-have for cheese lovers around the world. made right here, and nobody knows about it.” The meteoric success allows Avery to do things she did not think she would Shooting Star was an avenue for Reggie to get back to the basics and be doing as a teenager. work alongside his daughter, teaching her not only cheesemaking skills “We know a lot of people want to get their hands on it,” Avery said. “There’s but business and life skills, too. Any money that came from it would go a waiting list. Every time we have a batch ready, they are already sold and toward college for Avery. have been sold for three months.” The company and its cheese labels — Aries, Leo and Scorpio — are a In September, Avery donated $2,200 to AmpSurf of Pismo Beach, big nod to Avery’s enjoyment of stargazing. Leo is a blooming-rind sheep’s check, and all. She raised the money by setting aside a portion of the proceeds milk cheese and Scorpio is a washed-rind sheep’s milk cheese. from the cheese sales at Shooting Star. “We started Shooting Star almost as a hobby at first,” Avery said. “I “I didn’t think I would be able to give $2,200 to a charity when I was 16,” wanted to make cheese, and my dad wanted to show me how to make Avery said. “It felt incredible. I just didn’t expect to be able to do that at this cheese. We decided to start a little company for myself to experiment with point in my life.” a few different recipes.” Avery is proud of her family’s military background and settled on AmpSurf Around the dinner table one night, Aries’ recipe came together — a sheep because of its work with veterans and their families. Her great-great-grandfa- milk Alpine cheese aged for nine months. It was important that it not just ther fought in World War I and her great-grandfather fought in World War II. be another gourmet cheddar or gouda. “We looked around for any local charities that we could give to help local They entered Aries in the ACS competition with some CCC cheeses, veterans,” Avery said. “We found AmpSurf. Basically, they give surfing lessons hoping to get some constructive feedback from judges, never thinking it to veteran amputees.” would do what it did. AmpSurf (Association of Amputee Surfers) is a nonprofit organiza“Dad was mad at me for a little while after,” Avery said jokingly. tion dedicated to teaching adaptive surfing Avery is planning to go off to college in the to promote, inspire, educate and rehabilitate Fall of 2021 — Stanford University and the people with disabilities. It was started in 2003. University of South California are at the top of The group’s motto is PIER, which stands for her list. She has not decided on a major. When promote, inspire, educate and rehabilitate. she is away at college, the plan is to keep ShootDue to the COVID-19 pandemic, nonprofing Star going. After all, it’s making money and its like AmpSurf have seen donations slow to making people smile. a trickle. “The thing I like most about it is that it is “They were really happy that we could help,” making people happy,” Avery said. “I like to Avery said. “We are going to keep doing it and provide happiness for people.”  stick with AmpSurf.” Central Coast Creamery and Shooting Star Creamery Templeton High School senior Avery Jones, left holding the big Add owning a business to the list of things check, donated $2,200 from her company Shooting Star Creamery located at 3850 Ramada Dr., C-3, Paso Robles, and online Avery did not expect to be doing as a teenager. to AmpSurf. Photo courtesy of Shooting Star Creamery at and

26 |

Colony Magazine | November 2020


cPhee’s in Tin City? Seriously, why hasn’t anybody thought of this sooner? McPhee’s Canteen and Quality Meats is now open at 3070 Limestone Way in Tin City, the evolving industrial makers market, south of Paso Robles, next-door neighbors with Etto Pastificio. The new eatery is the brainchild of McPhee’s Grill owner-chef Ian McPhee and son Max McPhee. The space has sleek, industrial lines with a roll-up front door, a spacious open kitchen, two large wood-fired pizza ovens, and a large patio with a dramatic rock waterfall. “It’s got success written all over it,” said Ian as they were hashing out the menu that will feature some items from McPhee’s Grill down the road in Templeton. McPhee’s Canteen will be more casual than McPhee’s Grill’s fine-dining experience but still feature the same high quality, locally sourced produce and meats that the Grill prides itself on. “Before they (Tin Canteen) did table service,” Ian said. “Ours is going to be counter service. The whole thing

November 2020 | Colony Magazine

McPhee’s Canteen Opening in Tin Ci ty By Brian Williams

is designed to be pretty fast. “Not fast food, but pretty fast food,” Max added. “Yeah, fast prepared but the quality of the food is going to definitely be McPhee’s as far as the products we are using,” Ian explained. The restaurant portion of McPhee’s Canteen will open first, followed by a meat counter.

“Probably not right at the start, but after we get things running pretty smooth, we are going to develop a meat counter where people can come and buy McPhee’s Grill steaks, pork chops, and jambalaya packages, all that kind of stuff,” Ian shared. Ian and Max generated a strong buzz about the new venture by serving barbecue tri-tip and fried chicken

sandwiches and black bean burgers at the new location over the last couple of weekends. Talks of opening McPhee’s Canteen began months ago with somebody calling someone, and one thing lead to another, and here they are. But honestly, Ian knew it was something he and Max were going to do when he first peeked inside of what was formerly Tin Canteen. “I saw the facility and said oh, we got to work this out,” Ian explained. “All of the wineries, the breweries, the guy that owns all these buildings is saying we gotta get something open.” McPhee’s Grill fans will be happy to learn it will be reopening soon, probably in time for the holidays. Max will be running McPhee’s Canteen, and Ian will be leading the Grill. McPhee’s Canteen will be open — 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. “It’s going to be the Max McPhee show,” Ian said. “I’m excited. I’m stoked he’s giving me the opportunity to do my thing here,” Max shared with excitement!  | 27

t c e j o r P t n Resilie Adam Welch

at the intersection of street art & fashion By Connor Allen


iving through the pandemic has profoundly impacted our lives and has affected different people in different ways. Some have spent the past eight months scared of the uncertainty, some have spent it angry due to the business closures, while others were inspired. In May, Atascadero fashion designer Farron Elizabeth and artist Adam Welch teamed up to collaborate on what they are calling the “Resilient Project.” Inspired by the strong, resolute women in North County, the pair developed a clothing line and series of painted portraits portraying the community’s strength. Adam began his journey as an artist in Merrimack County, N.H., in the small town of Epsom. He came into his own without any formal training and, through his experiences, has blazed a unique trail that has led him to over 40 countries, including Guatemala, Cambodia, Ghana, Australia, Peru, Lebanon, and Nepal, to name a few. In 2015, Adam set up his first art studio in San Diego, and in 2018 he held his first major solo art exhibition, “Urban Archaic” in downtown Paso Robles, which sold out in a single evening. Though the popular artist has not been on the Central Coast long, his art has more than likely already made its way into your life. Adam painted all of the art at Bristols Cider House in Atascadero and has had his work featured on wine bottles and admired in magazines. “I still see myself as a street artist. I have no formal training at all. I have never been to art school,” he said. “The painting from most of what I have done is just spray painting in the streets and running from cops. Pulling things out of dumpsters and painting on garbage. You look at other artists in the Paso Robles area, and they are classically trained. I think that is why Farron gravitated towards me because I am this crazy street artist, but there is an intersection now, which is really fascinating.” The artist’s newest project has him trying his hand at something new, women’s fashion. Together, with Farron, the two have created a line of apparel that prominently features the word “resilience” in a unique Old English gothic font

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that Adam created. Farron took the clothing they made and featured the pieces on local women that inspired them to stand strong in a photoshoot. Adam took those images and put his own flair on them, focusing on the grace and beauty that is juxtaposed with their courage and bravery. Great art is meant to tell a story and convey emotions through the eyes, which the artist has captured repeatedly. “I like contradiction, polarity, contrast, not just in my style but in the subjects themselves,” Adam shared. “There is so much power in the gaze of a woman when their eyes tell a story and make you feel vulnerable like they see right through all of your crap. That is what I want these paintings for the Resilient Project to possess — an immediacy that is fleeting but anchored to a set of eyes that are forged from iron. I want there to be a balance of silk and steel — chaos and control. That contradiction can be found in all of my favorite wines, music, and food. It is the ultimate goal of my art, to possess strength and elegance.” After years of nearly nomadic living, it appears Adam’s art has found a home on the Central Coast as Farron Elizabeth will act as his exclusive art dealer. While the thought of buying art can be intimidating to some because of the price, Adam and Farron have created this campaign to be accessible and affordable. The duo has also decided to give back to the community with this project and donate a portion of the proceeds from the project to a local charity. 

To see Adam’s art or purchase a piece from the Resilient Project, visit Farron Elizabeth at 5955 Entrada Ave, Atascadero, or online at

Colony Magazine | November 2020


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Record-Setting Fundraiser Amidst the Pandemic

By Connor Allen


he annual Wayne Cooper Memorial Lighthouse Golf Tournament at Chalk Mountain Golf Course held on October 10 had a record-setting day by raising over $20,000, more than double the amount the event has raised in any of the previous years. The Lighthouse, which has worked in partnership with the Atascadero Unified School District and the Greyhound Foundation since 2012, is dedicated to and provides programs for overcoming addiction through awareness, prevention, intervention, and education and is funded through donations for local community members as a nonprofit organization. The event, which was composed of 145 golfers, featured many ways for participants to win money and prizes with closest-to-the-pin challenges, long-drive competitions, and a special new feature this year that awarded one lucky winner, Josh Meyer, $1,000 in the ball drop. The Lighthouse tournament was divided into two flights for the competition, which resulted in two winning teams. The winners of flight one were the

four-person team of Fred Smith, Alex Stephenson, Taylor Brard, and Scott Tomlin. The winners of flight two were Mike Fredrick, Leonard Sutherland, Scott Pippin, and Jack Delore. “We are so fortunate to live in the community that we do,” Atascadero Greyhound Foundation board member DJ Pittenger said. “People have open hearts and open wallets, and they care a lot about this cause. I think everybody has been touched by it in some way or another.” Over the years, the fundraiser has brought in an average amount of around $4,000. This year, thanks to over 100 individuals and businesses who sponsored the event, ball drop, carts, gift bags, and closest to the pin, the Lighthouse was able to have a record-breaking event.  To donate or for more information about the Atascadero Greyhound Foundation, visit

Local community members enjoy a day on Chalk Mountain Golf Course as they raise money for the Lighthouse Foundation. Photos by Rick Evans and Connor Allen

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Colony Magazine | November 2020

THE BEAT GOES ON... Dr. James J. Brescia, Ed.D.



s I reviewed the plethora of articles on distance learning, one story about how high school choirs are improvising in the age of COVID-19 caught my attention. The positive attitude and actions of these students, their teachers, their families, and the community reminded me of the many blessings in which we should give thanks. Even though concerts, performances, practices, productions, and exhibitions have been postponed or canceled since March, innovative, hopeful, and creative groups of artists continue to celebrate the arts. Classes across San Luis Obispo County use different software programs to put videos together, interact online, and create arts programming. One of the packages allows the students and teachers to line up the videos in the correct order, synchronize the choir’s parts, adjust

November 2020 | Colony Magazine

Improvising in the A' ge of COVID'

start timing, align sound, and align districts, charter schools, private, and video, so the class is singing in unison. parochial schools. Similar to the choir Local students and teachers practice students in the article I reviewed, San together online and create virtual Luis Obispo County is innovating in performances. service to the community. All of the noise bombarding our We must continue our commitsenses from the political arena, our ment to engaging everyone in daily lives, and society can get in the meaningful conversations about our way of recalling the many positive challenges and opportunities. To things we still enjoy. We have so many that end, we must continue supportreasons to have hope for tomorrow and ing each other and joining together remember how what we do will posi- as one community. During times of tively influence the world. Please join stress, it is very easy to allow negame in congratulating all those nomi- tive thoughts and feelings to creep nated and selected as “Employees of into our heads because of COVIDthe Year” and thank19. Mental health ing our employees for experts remind us their positive contri- Today you are you! that focusing on the butions to society. positive in our lives That is truer than We should give can help filter out true! There is no one some of the constant thanks to all those who have contin- alive who is you-er barrages of discourued to do their part than YOU! aging news. ~ Dr. Suess during COVID-19 Promoting a posiand those who have let us know tive mindset will go a long way in how we can improve our service. providing a support system to make By coming together, we support the the best of each day. work of our students, families, teachSupport systems are more than ers, staff, the community, local school simple “do-it-yourself ” projects. Our

family, friends, and the community all represent pieces of a support network. Winston Churchill was quoted during World War II as saying, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” When we look for opportunities during difficulty, we can improve our situation and that of others. American artistic gymnast and Olympian, Laurie Hernandez’s statement that “All I can control is myself and just keep having a positive attitude,” reminds us that we have control over our attitudes. We are all very proud of our students, their families, our teachers, support staff, and the community as everyone continues to adapt and innovate. Distance learning, small cohorts, physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and continual vigilance is tiring, but we are stepping up to the challenge. So just like the 1960s, Sonny and Cher song lyric or Solomon’s musings in the Book of Ecclesiastes, “The Beat Goes On.” I consider it an honor to serve as your county superintendent of schools.  | 31

local resident spreading Hope in Atascad ero By Connor Allen


ne of the county's first confirmed cases of COVID-19 was Atascadero local Carmen Ybarra. After the fight of her life, she has committed to bringing hope to her neighbors in the community, one beautiful sign at a time. Through the "Hope Project," Carmen provides custom-built and painted signs that display the word "Hope" somewhere in the design for local businesses to exhibit for free. Her only agenda is to spread hope and positivity to those that might be stuck in the dark, searching for a light to lead them out. "It got to a point to where I had given up, and I just felt like I couldn't fight this virus anymore," Carmen shared. "I had every symptom on the list, I am going to be 68 years old, and I have underlying health issues. My husband was my caretaker, and he was the one that told me — convinced me — not to give

up hope. So that word resonated with me through everything." In the early stages of her recovery after a long and traumatic bout with the coronavirus, Carmen found herself grateful and passionate in giving back to the community and started looking for ways to help. "I was elated, and I just made a promise to myself and to my faith that I would give back to the community," she said. "I want to pay it forward. The first thing I did was create a group of sewers to make masks to give to the community, most to elderly homes, but to whoever needed

them." The local group made up of five ladies called themselves the "Sewing Angels." So far, they have donated over 600 masks to the community, including retirement communities and the El Camino Homeless Organization. Once healthy enough to get up and move around, Carmen painted a big colorful "Hope" sign and displayed it proudly in her front yard for months until it one day disappeared. "I shared that story with Farron Elizabeth, and she asked me to create a Hope sign for her, and that sparked the vision of having

the Hope signs everywhere," Carmen proclaimed. Carmen has begun finding local artists as well as residents that just want to inspire others. Each of the signs donated to local businesses is wholly unique and up to the artist's interpretation of what hope means to them. "Hope means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. My message is hope for our community and for all communities and for prosperity," Carmen explained. "Hope for strong living, hope for getting through this very challenging year. Lighting the torch of hope here in our little quaint town." Each of the signs are free for not only the businesses but also for the artists. Carmen's husband builds the signs himself with a kickstand in the back so they can stand alone out front or even in the window. The Hope Project is currently displayed in front of nine local businesses in the art district and on Entrada. Those wanting to check out the signs can drive by Atascadero Sewing & Vacuum Center, Scissor Clothing, Central Coast Distillery, Book Odyssey, RoCoco Luxe Resale Boutique, Dark Nectar, Farron Elizabeth, Edward Jones, and Bee's Blossoms. If interested in painting a sign or getting one out front of your store, email Carmen at 

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Colony Magazine | November 2020

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Colony Magazine | November 2020

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