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From Garage to Gastropub



Much More Than D-Day



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August 2014

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24 INSIDER TOUR Local Renovation



Letter from the Executive Editor

A Passion For Making Differences

10 Word Play

Rudy Roberts

16 Fashion


Business Profile: Smiles by Sullivan

40 Community: Local & Fresh is Always Best 50 History: When Theatre Visalia Took Center Stage



54 Literary Arts: Beth Cato was Steampunk Before It Had a Name


58 Happenings

Fishin’ for Fresh Flavor Grilled Halibut with Coconut Curry Sauce PAGE

34 T R AV E L

Much More Than D-Day Normandy, France


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ON THE COVER: Large wooden doors stand in place of the old Struble Auto Parts store’s front windows. These doors allow guests to reach the beer garden patio from inside the restaurant. PICTURED: The “Craft” sign in marquee lights is a highlight in the new Pita Kabob, displayed over the and bar with 31 beer taps.

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Bravo Farms Smokehouse DMI Agency Evolutions Fitness Center, Tulare Tazzaria Coffee & Tea The Lifestyle Center Visalia Chamber of Commerce Visalia Convention Center COUNTERTOP LOCATIONS

210 Cafe Cafe 225 California Fitness Academy Creekside Day Spa & Wellness Center Courtyard Aesthetics Details Party Rentals Exeter Chamber of Commerce Fast Frame Franey’s Design Center Hobbs-Potts Associates Holiday Inn Kaweah Delta Hospital Keller Williams Reality Pacific Treasures Pita Kabob Pro-PT Smiles by Sullivan Smile Visalia Suncrest Bank Tulare Chamber of Commerce V Medical Spa Velvet Sky Visalia Business Bank (Downtown) Visalia Harley Davidson Visalia Imaging & Open MRI Visalia Marriott Visalia Medical Clinic Wildflower Caf, Exeter Williams, Jordan, Brodersen & Pritchett, Attorneys at Law Windows Plus, Inc.


Visalia Lifestyle Magazine is published monthly and is distributed via direct mail to nearly 13,000 homes in the upper-middle and high-income neighborhoods in Visalia and Exeter. An additional 2,000 copies are distributed at various distribution points around both communities. Views expressed in columns are those of the columnist and not necessarily those of DMI Agency or its advertisers.

Circulation of this issue: 15,000 © 2014 DMI Agency


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PICTURED: The dining area connect to the bar on the inside of the new restaurant showcase bare concrete floors and high, exposed ceilings, two major renovations during the remodel.


Photo by Becca Chavez | Hair and Make-up provided by Velvet Sky

KAREN TELLALIAN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR For more information or to submit a story idea email or call (559) 739-1747 or fax (559) 738-0909.


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Normally I wait until fall or winter to take a few days of vacation, but recently we took a break from the valley heat and headed to Cambria. Although it’s about a two-hour drive, compared to a plane ride anywhere, the drive seemed inconsequential. It took me longer to search for and book a place to stay than it did to get there. I’m one of the oddballs when it comes to high temperatures, I actually prefer them to the blistering cold, but spending a few days in gorgeous high 60s weather was really a nice escape. If memory serves me correctly, it was my first time to actually stay in Cambria, as we usually just take a day trip up from Avila or Cayucos, but that doesn’t give the same perspective as spending a few days. There was less shopping there than I remember, but that wasn’t “all” bad as it allowed me more time to relax. That might be a given for some, but not at all easy for me and my Type-A personality. The staff sent photos of themselves asleep at their desks, letting me know they had it all under control. After I stopped laughing (and maybe had a glass of wine) it was time to kick off the shoes and put my feet in the sand. I’m already daydreaming about our next trip. One of my favorite things about coastal trips is the amount of readily available fresh seafood. If it’s the “catch of the day” I will probably order it. That’s why this month’s “Fishin’ for Fresh Flavor” (Grilled Halibut with Coconut Curry Sauce) on page 34 really caught my attention. Local Chef and regular Lifestyle culinary contributor, Elaine Dakessian, shares this amazing recipe along with a few other showstopping seafood specialties to rival any fancy shoreline restaurant, yet easy enough to make at home. About once a year, Lifestyle Magazine veers just a tad in order to spotlight a commercial structure with an interesting story. Many of our private home tour features are remodels, restored to keep the original floor plan, but with a new, modern interior. Remodels such as these can cost tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars, so it is no surprise homeowners take extra care in the planning process. But when an aged and empty building, once the home of an auto parts store, becomes the vision of local businessmen, there’s no telling what it can become. We were so impressed with how everything turned out, we simply had to share it with you. For the rest of this story, please turn to “From Garage to Gastropub” on page 24. The saying, “Home is where the heart is,” just about sums up the feeling of this month’s humanitarian feature, “A Passion for Making Differences.” Local resident Rudy Roberts walked away from her job in corporate America to build homes around the world for those who would not otherwise be able to do so. In the process, she discovered something much more valuable than the price of brick and mortar. Turn to page 18 to learn more about her personal journey and understanding the difference between a house and a home. For many, summer is essentially over as soon as the school year begins. If this is you and you didn’t find the time for a long summer vacation, remember our beautiful coastline is a short drive away. The California coast is one of the most spectacular scenes in all of the country and the casual atmosphere makes it an easy respite. We hope you enjoy this, and every, issue of Lifestyle. No matter if you travel or stay home, remember to use to water conservatively and continue to pray for rain.




hree foods that have a day in August are ice cream sandwiches, mustard and watermelon. For a more upscale treat than your typical vending machine ice cream sandwich, look to Coolhaus Ice Cream Book: Custom-Built Sandwiches with Crazy-Good Combos of Cookies, Ice Creams, Gelatos, and Sorbets (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May 2014) by Natasha Case, Freya Estreller and Kathleen Squires. Coolhaus Ice Cream has gone from a beatup, ex-postal van to national prominence with ice cream sandwiches named after architects – with good reason, since they are towering skyscrapers of cookies and cream. A chocolate chip cookie with dirty mint chip ice cream is a Buck-mint-ster Fuller. Recipes tell how to make frozen treats that range from acai blueberry with goji berries to fried chicken caramel. Mustard: A Book Of Recipes (Lorenz Books, June 2014) is one of the latest from Helen Sudell featuring mustard in 30 recipes. She has a series of more than a baker’s dozen of books on flavorings from berries to mushrooms to parsley. Not about the fruit, but falling somewhere between Erma Bombeck and Lucy Ricardo is If I’m Diapering a Watermelon, Then Where’ d I Leave the Baby?: Help for the Highly Distractible Mom (Emerald Books, April 2004) by Carol Barnier. The book not only helps distracted moms cope, but celebrates who they are in all of their chaos. Valley Writers Juan Luis Guzman’s poem “Onions” can be read on the jdbrecords blogspot. On [Pank] he has “Sunday Morning” and “Pantoum.” Google his name to find them. Prosecutor James A. Ardaiz was one of the first investigators at the scene of the Fran’s Market murders in rural Fresno County. His book Hands Through Stone: How Clarence Ray Allen Masterminded Murder from Behind Folsom’s Prison (Craven Street Books, 2012) tells the chilling story. If you missed Larry Hill’s “Belmont Stakes with Papa Joe” in the Fresno Bee’s “Valley Voices,” it’s still a good read in the online version. Google the title to find it. Read the Book Mood Indigo was first published in 1947, but has been reissued in paperback and Kindle format by Farrar, Straus and Giroux this June. In this classic love story by Boris Vian, a boy and girl fall in love and marry. But on their honeymoon, the girl falls ill and can only be treated by being surrounded by flowers. The book was voted by Le Monde as number ten on the list of best 100 Books of the Century. The movie stars Romain Duris and Audrey Tautou. PitchFest PitchFest is a 3 ½ hour opportunity for writers to pitch their stories to every agent they can approach during a marathon pitch


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session at ThrillerFest, held in the Grand Hyatt in New York City in July. There could be 50 agents awaiting the hundreds of hopeful authors who have as much time as the agents are willing to give them. Editors and publishers are also available at the PitchFest. This is only one aspect of the ThrillerFest which bills itself as “The Premier Conference for Thriller Enthusiasts.” Writing Contests The 2014 National Poetry Competition in England is open to international poets. First prize is £5,000. Judges will be Roddy Lumsden, Glyn Maxwell and Zoe Skoulding. Any number of poems may be submitted. Maximum length 40 lines. First poem entry fee is £6. Subsequent entries are £3.50. Entries may be submitted online. Deadline is midnight October 31, English time. Details at: The deadline for the Writer’s Digest Short Story Competition is October 15, fee $25. Early-bird deadline is September 15, fee $20. Categories are Romance, Thriller, Young Adult, Crime, Horror and Sci-Fi. The category first prize is $500 along with a chance to win the $2,500 Popular Fiction Awards Grand Prize. The Grand Prize also includes a trip to the 2015 Writer’s Digest Conference. Details at: Writer’s Conferences The 13th Annual Florida Writers Conference will be held October 24 – 26 in Lake Mar, FL. Workshops include Great Book Titles, The Agent Gong Show, Avoiding Scams in Self-Publishing and many more. At least 46 authors, agents, publishers and other literary experts will present panels or hold other sessions. See website for multiple registration and participation deadlines. Details at: The 15th Annual San Francisco Literary Festival, Litquake, will take place October 10 – 18. It bills itself as “a nine-day literary spectacle for booklovers, complete with cutting-edge panel discussions, unique cross-media events and hundreds of readings.” The Last Word “And then writing, it was like I just found it, you know? Like you just found your favorite flavor of ice cream, all of a sudden there it is. ‘This is what I should have been doing for the last thirty years. What was I thinking?’ So I was, then I was in and then I had to just keep going with it.” – Stephenie Meyer (1973 - ).

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New dental technology solves obstructive sleep apnea, no breathing machine required. Text by Dr. John Sullivan, Smiles by Sullivan


it by a train. Do you wake up each morning feeling refreshed, or like you never went to sleep in the first place – like you were hit by a train sometime during the night? Does your spouse keep teasing you about snoring, or report that you “start” several times during the night? Or perhaps you’ve even gotten to the point of sleeping in separate rooms? Are you suffering from diabetes, dealing with too much weight or worrying about the condition of your heart? Cranky all the time? All of these symptoms and signs may mean you are in the clutches of obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is often the culprit behind that old, annoying “snore,” but is much more serious than most of us realize. It effects an estimated 44 million Americans and can target anyone – male or female, young or old – although adult men are most susceptible. Yet, it typically goes undetected and therefore untreated because of the difficulty your doctor has in diagnosing it, and because the awareness isn’t where it should be. And, all too often, once it is finally diagnosed, the traditional breathing machine is so tortuous that it simply isn’t used. How dangerous is sleep apnea? Very. Getting a bad night’s sleep for years on end is a crisis waiting to happen right there in your bedroom. According to the National Institute of Health, sleep apnea is directly associated with: • High blood pressure • Increased risk of heart failure • Increased risk of heart attack and stroke; each year an estimated 1.5 million Americans suffer a heart attack or stroke, most typically at night. 12

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• Increased chance of work-related and driving accidents; an estimated 5,000-6,000 fatal traffic accidents occur each year due to sleepiness. Other effects of sleep apnea include, but are not limited to: • Increased moodiness and depression • Reduced mental ability, including learning and retention • Weight gain and retention • Increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes • Increased risk of complications during pregnancy • Overall reduced quality of life, for both the sufferer and their loved ones It’s all a lot of (hot) air. The reason sleep apnea is so dangerous is because you’re simply not getting enough oxygen into your system. This sets you up for potentially fatal incidents like heart attacks, strokes or accidents sooner or later. Plus, the flood of stress hormones that develop in response to consistent lack of sleep have been shown to lead directly to weight gain and retention, spurring the onset of diabetes, otherwise unexplained ongoing moodiness and depression, and many other quality-of-life symptoms. As a society, we tend to minimize a bad night’s sleep, telling each other – and ourselves – to buck up and carry on. But sleep apnea could, and should, be considered an epidemic. In the end, it costs us not only thousands and thousands of lives each year but billions of dollars in immediate and ongoing healthcare costs. For many years, treatment has ranged from invasive surgery to one of those breathing machines you’ve probably heard about: the continuous positive airway pressure machine, commonly known as a c-pap machine. A c-pap machine is worn at night in order to

B BUSINESS PROFILE force air into and through otherwise obstructed airways, like turning up the pressure on a kinked garden hose to get more water through. C-pap machines almost always work, however, recent studies show that most patients do not wear their machines as instructed due to the bulkiness and noise of the unit. But now we can finally offer a viable alternative. The life you save could be your own. Or a loved one’s. My guess is that you or someone you love is an undiagnosed sufferer. Luckily, dentistry has a solution. A few years ago, I found out about a new dental appliance that was making waves throughout my profession because it instantly and effectively treats apnea for much less fuss and much less money than any other option. And, studies show that not only is the appliance immediately effective, but patients actually use it. I even use it for my own self and my most loved one. You see, as I fall into more than one of the risk categories that denote sleep apnea, and as I like to learn everything I can about a new treatment before recommending it to my patients, I went ahead and started using this new appliance myself. I have found it to be remarkably comfortable and easy to use – not only do I sleep better at night, but all around my energy has been improved. My wife, who doesn’t hold any of the typical parameters for sleep apnea, may very well have gone undiagnosed with mild sleep apnea for years, chalking her daily morning exhaustion to “life” and attempting to fix it with coffee and a good attitude, until we fitted her for one, as well. Now, she sleeps soundly through the night and wakes up rested. So, even if you think your daily exhaustion is due



to “life,” we may be able to address it – making life less exhausting and making it more energetic. I’d known that the appliance was proving effective with the patients I’ve worked with since introducing it to our practice – more than once patients have stopped by the office the very next day after being fitted with it to report the relief they felt immediately upon waking. That sort of feedback, in tandem with my own personal experience, was more than enough evidence for me. But when my own wife had the same relief – well, that makes me a full-on convert. Plus, she doesn’t snore anymore. Your insurance gets it. If you have medical insurance, they will most likely cover most of the cost of this new treatment. Unbelievably, as we’ve worked with our patients’ medical insurance companies over the years, it turns out that they actually seem to see the benefit of treating as many sufferers as possible with this simple appliance. We can only assume they have “done the math” and can see the hundreds of thousands of lives that would be saved by making this appliance easily accessible to most patients, with very little effort on anyone’s part. Not to mention the billions of dollars that won’t come out of their coffers down the road in order to treat life-threatening heart disorders or diabetes later on. It turns out this is a win-win for everyone. Only a small percentage of dentists know about and have this new dental appliance available. We are lucky to be one of them, but please ask your dentist for help if you think you may be suffering with sleep apnea. After all, the life you save could be your own. Or a loved one’s.



know, I know. You haven’t even had a chance to hit the beach this summer, much less shop for the fall months ahead. But before you know it, the kids will be back at school and next season’s clothes will be arriving at a store near you. So here’s a heads-up on what you might want to think about when refreshing your wardrobe these next few months. DO A BOLD POP OF COLOR. It’s

time to brighten up your wardrobe and get out of the black rut. Go for a tangy orange, a deep blue hue or a mean emerald green. Then, don’t be afraid to mix them all together. The more color in your wardrobe this fall, the better you’ll feel! CARRY A BIG BAG. Time to get

back to work and back to business. The newest carryalls are big on style and embellishment with prints, textures and hardware. These are the statement handbags of the season, and you’ll want to get your hands on one.

Sneak Peek Fall 2014

FASHION TRENDS Text by Sharon Mosley


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MATCH IT UP. Ensemble dressing

is back – yes, it’s time to pick out your tops and bottoms, and match them up. Designers this season offer two-piece dressing at its best with matching jackets, skirts and pants. How easy is that? SHIFT TO DRESSES. The ‘60s are

back in fashion in a big way. The favorite shift dress done in bold blocks of color or graphic designs are great to layer over tights and boots or skinny leggings. Wear them under fall’s new oversized coats and sweaters. THINK CHUNKY KNITS. Who

doesn’t love a big, fat sweater to cozy up to in the cooler weather?

The new sweaters make a great fashion statement all on their own in ribbed knits, cable stitches or detailed with zippers. Perfect to team with your favorite leather skirt for work or jeans for the weekend. FOLLOW THE FRINGE. Take a

walk on the wild side this fall and let your skirts flow with fringe. The kicky trim is turning up on designer runways everywhere, and now is the time to let it all hang out. COOL IT WITH CULOTTES. These flared pants are back this fall and stepping out in great style. Top them off with some of those great knit sweaters and coats. Check them out in leather or suede. They may become your new favorite goto pants to wear with everything. MAKE IT OVERSIZED. If you need

to update your coat this year, then you’ll want to consider wrapping up a la bathrobe style. The newest coats are big and comfy, great for wearing day or night over just about anything in your closet. MANLY SHOES. From lace-up

menswear oxfords to stacked lugsoled boots, the masculine-inspired look in footwear is stepping out for fall. Pair these looks with dainty anklet socks, frilly skirts and lace dresses for maximum impact and a modern edge. GO MAD FOR PLAID. It’s long

been a traditional fall favorite, but this year, plaid has grown up from its preppy roots and gets all ladylike in midi-skirts, sheath dresses and silk blouses. Celebrate a new season with an old classic revamped for a new fashion year ahead.





LEFT: Rudy Roberts holding a happy little 2 1/2 year old boy, Evans. TOP RIGHT: Pictured is Anna in her school uniform. RIGHT: Tom Rogers, a supporter and advocate of BULA, holding Anna’s sister, Pauline.


A PASSION FOR MAKING DIFFERENCES Text by Jordan Venema | Photos provided by Rudy Roberts


sk Rudy Roberts about her home and you might not get the answer you’d expect. Her home, that physical building where she keeps her things and parks her car, is here in Visalia, but then there are her other homes. “Fiji always feels like going home to me, and Kenya – very much,” stresses Roberts. The fact that Roberts even feels she has multiple homes might seem unusual, until you consider her profession. She’s the founder and president of BULA Ministries, a Christian nonprofit that facilitates all-ages mission trips around the world. About four times a year, and for as long as three weeks each trip, Roberts travels to some of the more remote corners of the globe: Kenya, Thailand, Fiji and Ecuador. So, where does Roberts feel most at home? “Well, let me put it this way,” she says, “I’m never where I don’t miss somebody.” In the five years since Roberts founded BULA Ministries, she’s traveled to a remarkable number of countries and had her passport

stamped cover to cover. She first traveled to England at sixteen as part of a youth mission trip, and as an adult she continued to travel through mission trips during her sixteen-year tenure as a youth pastor. Even when Roberts took a part-time position with San Joaquin Valley College in Visalia in 2004 , she continued to lead mission trips through Neighborhood Church. Only after she accepted the position as dean of SJVC did Roberts, for the first time in her life, find that her work schedule conflicted with her passion for travel and missions. In the summer of 2009, Roberts found time to lead another trip to Fiji. That mission, says Roberts, was transformational. “When I was there, I remembered how much I loved doing missions,” she says. “There was just a deep joy in my spirit, and I knew I needed to be back in missions.” Roberts felt strongly enough that when she returned from Fiji, she immediately put in her notice at work. “I didn’t have a plan, I didn’t have a job, I wasn’t even L I FE S T Y L E | AU G US T 2014



thinking about starting my own mission organization,” says Roberts. “I needed a solid month of just praying and being quiet.” It was during that month that Roberts had the idea for BULA Ministries. “BULA” is a Fijian word that means “life,” which can be used as a greeting, a blessing and a way to say “good life to you.” BULA seemed like a perfect description for the purpose of the organization Roberts wanted to lead. As a youth pastor, Roberts saw a profound change in the lives of the kids who went on these trips. They were less materialistic, more open to crossing cultural boundaries – there was a fire in their eyes. And that fire translated into their lives when they came home. “When people get out of their comfort zone,” says Roberts, “they realize that first world problems aren’t really problems. It opens their eyes to things they could do here.” In the five years since BULA Ministires began, they’ve taken their namesake to heart. They’ve built houses in Honduras and run camps for children of missionaries in Thailand. In Fiji, they’ve worked with a ministry that helps young women get out of the sex trade. This year, they’ve already made two trips

to Nakuru, Kenya, where they stay in mud huts while helping at an orphanage. Roberts’ last trip to Kenya was her sixth, a kind of feat since she never desired going to Africa. “I had a lot of people ask me if I would ever consider taking a team to Africa,” says Roberts. “Not really,” she laughs. But Kenya kept falling in her path, and now Roberts can hardly stay away. “The biggest pull on my heart is Kenya,” she says. “It is the hardest place for me to leave. The people there are amazing, the children so incredibly happy, and with so very little.” While in Kenya, the teams do the kind of work you might expect: they play with kids, help with afterschool activities, read stories, and help with laundry and food prep. But the real service and blessing of BULA Ministries doesn’t always end there. “I’ve got a guy in Fresno who went to Kenya with me once, and he came back and got his church to support a [Kenyan] pastor.” The church, explains Roberts, raised enough money to pay the Kenyan pastor’s yearly salary, about a hundred dollars a month. This is the kind of work that goes beyond the “mission” itself, and which comes from building real relationships.

TOP LEFT: Rudy’s daughter, Mikayla, holding Jemma. TOP RIGHT: Gloria is hugging her friend Moses. BOTTOM LEFT: Sarah, age 4, is one of four girl siblings.




“They change, we change,” explains Roberts. “It’s a relationship, but it’s not just sending money. Money doesn’t solve things. Building relationships, building a cultural understanding, that builds bridges that money can’t.” Roberts hopes that more people, like the man from Fresno, will continue to make those connections even outside the parameters of their three-week trip through BULA Ministries. Mission work is Roberts’ passion, and to see that passion in somebody else excites her. “I just had a guy on a Honduras trip who’s never done anything like this before, and now he’s chomping at the bit; he can’t wait to go again. To hear him say, ‘Wow, this is life changing!’ and to see that fire, oh, that made my week. Plus, we got to build a house for a family, so that was cool.” Ultimately, it seems a passion for missions and traveling can translate to a passion for relationships. Roberts does believe that those who travel halfway across the world to help a stranger will also be more likely to help somebody close to home. If that’s true, then all those weeks that Roberts spends away from Visalia – at an orphanage in Kenya, building houses in Honduras, running a children’s camp in Thailand – they are really helping her to be more present when she’s home, and preparing her to tell somebody in passing, “good life to you.”



TOP: Four girls attending the local school that provides education for the 100 kids in the 2 homes BULA Ministries works with. There are also kids from the community attending. BOTTOM: Pictured is an Australian couple working with BULA Ministries to install in a water tank for a widow in the community. Typically, people have to walk miles for water they have to carry from the river. This provides a much more convenient and sanitary water source for the recipients.


FROM GARAGE TO GASTR Text by Jordan Venema



Photo by Taylor Johnson


PICTURED: The bar and alternate seating area showcases the modern features implemented during the Pita Kabob remodel.


Photo by Juan Verduzco





photo by taylor johnson


L I FE S T Y L E | AU G US T 2014

n the corner of Oak and Court, just two blocks north of Main Street, stands a building just on the periphery of downtown Visalia. In the ‘40s, the building housed a Safeway and later, in the ‘60s, Struble Auto Parts opened a garage. Since the auto shop closed down, the building has had other occupants – the old Rescued Treasures, a cross fit gym – but otherwise the lot seemed destined for demolition, waiting to pave the way for additional downtown parking. That was the plan, anyway, when Martin & Martin Properties, LLC bought the lot in 2008. But then, in one of those moments where the course of fate is turned by something as simple as a bat of a butterfly wing, an event was set into motion when one ordinary day in 2008, William Martin, partner and managing member of Martin & Martin, stopped to get a falafel at Pita Kabob. While it might not actually have been a falafel, the important thing to take away is that William Martin liked Pita Kabob, a family-owned restaurant serving Mediterranean food. He liked it enough – and its owners, brothers Chafic and Kareem Dada – that he started a conversation with them that would eventually bring the Dada brothers downtown to that little bit of property on the corner of Oak and Court. Once Chafic and Kareem Dada accepted Martin’s proposal to open a Pita Kabob at the Court and Oak property, the plan to turn the building into a parking lot was scrapped. A major renovation to transform the former garage into an industrial modern gastro pub began. Fortunately, certain elements of Struble Auto Parts lent themselves to the remodel, such as the bare concrete floor, which was stained during the remodel. Near the stainless steel bar, the outline of the old auto pits are still visible where concrete was used to fill in the holes and create a level surface. Much of the interior remodel, the addition of a brick façade, the high and exposed ceiling and the wide interior, keeps fidelity with the former auto shop, while lending itself to the industrial modern look that Martin and the Dadas wanted to create. Pita Kabob had its soft opening on the 15th of June, and by the look of business, they won’t be needing a grand opening any time soon. Martin had faith in the brothers’ eventual success at the location, but they have all been a little surprised by how rapidly the restaurant took root and established its clientele. Then again, this isn’t exactly the Dadas’ first walk around the block. “We started out as a small little deli and restaurant,” says Chafic, which they called Mediterranean Market and Deli. In 2004, the brothers opened their first Pita Kabob on Mooney, and in 2008, they added a second location on Akers. In the last decade, the brothers, who are first generation American with Lebanese parents, have so successfully branded their restaurant that they have brought a ready-made clientele with them downtown. But beside their loyal customers, the Dadas have seen a new and different clientele as a result of the location – business traffic during lunch and, after five, more couples for dates on weekends, and more families. Sure, the location is one thing, but the newly renovated building and 31 beer taps doesn’t seem to hurt, either.

PICTURED: Digital menu boards and reclaimed wood furniture made by Appendage and Bough are a few of the modern and retrofitted features in the new building.


Photos by Juan Verduzco

PICTURED: Panoramas of the many stages of construction to transform an old auto parts store into an industrial, modern restaurant.


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Photo by Juan Verduzco

So while it is probably a combination of location and allure, it can’t be denied that Pita Kabob has brought something altogether unique to an already thriving downtown – and that’s saying something since Visalia possesses one of the best small-town food scenes around. When you walk into Pita Kabob, there’s an overwhelming feeling that you’re not in Kansas anymore. “I don’t know if it’s a compliment,” laughs Chafic, “but people say they don’t feel like they’re in Visalia when they’re here.” But if they don’t feel like they’re in Visalia, then where? If you have any mental associations with Mediterranean cuisine, you can go ahead and throw that out the window right now. Pita Kabob isn’t some narrow-walled building with a bead curtain hanging over the doorway, and don’t expect a large shawarma machine slowly turning a spit of lamb next to the register. Walk inside Pita Kabob and you will find a completely retrofitted, modern, industrial restaurant with digital menu boards, stainless steel counters and custom furniture made from reclaimed wood. Toto, where in the world are we? “Well most people,” says Chafic, “say they feel like they’re in the Bay.” The identity of Pita Kabob is what makes this new location so spectacular. It’s a restaurant with a Mediterranean-fusion menu, which serves mostly American-style IPAs, and has a large Germanstyle beer garden, the whole of which is decorated and designed

by local stylists and artisans. In the end, the restaurant reflects its owners. “Everything here is a reflection of our personalities,” says Chafic. “We were born and raised here in Visalia. We grew up in a Lebanese household, so we grew up with our culture, but we were also exposed to our environment.” Which is why you’ll find a cilantro-jalapeño hummus on their menu. Not exactly authentic Mediterranean cuisine, per se, but definitely a reflection of the Dadas’ personal melting pot. And, adds Chafic, “Visalia itself is starting to become a melting pot, too.” Which is why they relied on using local artisans to design their restaurant, to help reflect Visalia’s growing diversity and creativity. They commissioned Monica Fatica, of Embellish and Restore, along with Kareem’s wife, Kelly, to help style and design the interior and garden, and used reclaimed wood furniture made by Appendage and Bough. Even local leather goods nonprofit, Standard Goods, contributed to the final product, which, according to Kareem, “is definitely different than anything else you’ll see in Visalia” – and yet somehow it still manages to reflect the very essence and makeup of our city. Martin echoes Kareem’s statement. “The idea,” says Martin, “is to have something different [downtown],” something that will help build its identity. With that goal in mind, Martin & Martin already rents its properties to four other restaurants downtown: Tazzaria, Rio Grill, The Lunch Box and El Tarasco.

PICTURED: High, exposed ceilings with stainless steel lighting compliment the other features inside of Pita Kabob.


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PICTURED: The beer garden and patio style and design is unlike any other restaurant seen in Visalia. Local businesses and family members contributed their services and products to create a modern feel throughout.

Photos by Taylor Johnson




Photos by Juan Verduzco

TOP LEFT: The outdoor seating area with built-in shade is perfect for sipping on one of the 31 beer selections, while enjoying a unique, Mediterranean-style meal. TOP RIGHT: The outdoor area facing Oak street before the wooden patio was built.

Photos by Juan Verduzco

But enhancing the downtown palate wasn’t Martin’s only motive for bringing Pita Kabob to the lot on Oak and Court. Martin is also a proponent of historic preservation and antisprawl, and by partnering with Pita Kabob he achieved both those goals – he prevents the demolition of a building with historic significance to Visalia, while helping delineate the parameters of a pedestrian friendly downtown. “I call this my secular ministry,” explains Martin, “because it’s a break-even project for me.” With the amount of money put into renovations at the Pita Kabob property, it’s easy to see what Martin means. But even if the property doesn’t pay dividends personally, he expects it will pay off for the community. For Martin, placing a restaurant at the Oak and Court location is a single piece in the downtown puzzle – the missing piece, really. “My long-term goal is to see downtown expand north, and this was the missing link.” Martin believes that the progress of downtown has to move north, and that Oak is the next street in the downtown grid. “The only way to go is north. A 20-block Main Street

isn’t viable for pedestrians.” Martin points out that Jack and Charlie’s and The Depot lie east of Court, while Bravo Farms, Davorns and Keothip lie to the west. “But there was a dead spot right in the middle,” says Martin. By introducing another restaurant into that “dead spot,” Martin hopes to introduce the next step in the growth of downtown. And with that growth will come better pedestrian safety and ultimately better business for all of downtown. He calls it critical mass, or more simply put, people. Another restaurant creates another motive for Visalians to come downtown, which creates more traffic, which in itself creates more allure. Everybody wins. For most of the customers at Pita Kabob, they’re not thinking about critical mass or the next phase in the growth of downtown, even if they’re unconsciously contributing to it. For them, the real allure is simple, tangible and immediate: a restaurant that’s right on the edge of downtown but feels a world away, with a gorgeous environment and a great menu, and the only place in town with 31 beers on tap.

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FISHIN’ for fresh flavor

Recipes by Elaine Dakessian, TrĂŠs Bien | Photos by Taylor Johnson


ight, fresh ingredients make for a great summer dish. Incorporate the three Cs: crisp, color and crunch to make your summer meals complete. For the local flare, be sure to stop by the Visalia Farmers Market and load up on fresh ingredients to jump-start your summer meal. Check out page 40 for a few tips on how to pick the right produce. L I FE S T Y L E | AU G US T 2014



Grilled Halibut with Coconut Curry Sauce Serves 4




2 lbs. fresh halibut 4 T vegetable or canola oil 1 onion, diced 2-3 T curry powder 3 C chicken or vegetable stock 2 C coconut milk 4 ears of corn Butter to smear on the reserved ear of corn Salt and pepper Cilantro to garnish

Heat the oil over medium high heat and sweat the onions. Add the curry powder and continue stirring for a couple of minutes. Add the chicken/vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Continue to simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Add the coconut milk and the corn kernels from three ears. Let the broth cook for an additional 20 minutes to thicken. Use a blender or emersion hand blender and puree the contents. The corn will also help to thicken the sauce. Char one ear of corn for garnish on a BBQ or grill pan. Cut off the cob and reserve. Add salt and pepper to taste. Prepare the halibut by rubbing oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill about 4 minutes per side. You can also sautÊ the fish. Finish in a 350°F oven for about 8 minutes to cook all the way through. Plate the fish in a pasta style dish to hold the broth, ladle the sauce over and garnish with charred corn and cilantro.

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w w w. Tay lorJoh n s on P ho


Halibut Tacos with Avocado Crema Makes 4-6 tacos ingredients

8 oz. piece of fresh halibut, cut into slices Marinade (see below) 4-6 corn tortillas Slaw (see right) 1 avocado Fresh jalapeños

Marinade 2 limes ¼ C cilantro 2 T olive oil Salt

Marinate fish for at least one hour.


¼ C mayonnaise ½ C sour cream 1½ avocados, relatively soft to mash in processor (½ for garnish) Juice of one lime ¼ C cilantro Salt and pepper to taste 1 C mixed cabbages thinly sliced, including julienne carrots (packaged works perfectly) In a food processor, combine the first 5 above ingredients until smooth. Toss in cabbages and mix throughout.


Lightly fry the corn tortillas in vegetable oil to slightly crisp and fold over. Place the slaw in the prepared tortillas, top with fish, the remaining slices of avocado and sliced jalapeños or your favorite salsa. Salsa verde works well with this combination of flavors.

Ceviché with Ahi Tuna and Halibut Makes a cocktail portion for 12 ingredients


1 lb. fresh halibut 1 lb. fresh ahi tuna 1 mango 2 jalapeños 1 red onion 1 slightly firm avocado (not mushy) ½ C cilantro, chopped Zest of one lemon Juice of one lemon 2-3 T of quality olive oil Salt and pepper to taste

Dice all of the above ingredients into very small pieces with each item similar in size. Mix the first 5 ingredients and the cilantro. Add the avocado last with the lemon juice, zest and olive oil and mix carefully so that the avocado does not get mushy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on Asian spoons or with chips.

This is a very simple dish to make but is also a showstopper for your guests. The key is the freshness of the ingredients. If you are unsure about the quality of the fish, be sure to go to a reputable meat and fish market. The fish for this dish is from Quality Meats and came from Hawaii the same day this dish was made.


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is always best Text and photos by Shannon Smith


e’ve all heard those trendy sayings such as “farmto-table” and “eat local,” but not many of us actually know what they mean or how they are most beneficial to us. Sure, we like the thought of purchasing from our local farmers and neighbors and, of course the idea of minimally-processed foods is appealing, but did you know there are actually health benefits associated with shopping at the local farmers market? One of the biggest advantages of buying produce at a local farmers market is that the products are going to be fresher, which means they are also higher in nutrients. As produce ages, the nutrients and the flavor slowly break down. Produce that is sold to stores and distributed across the country can be sitting for weeks between being picked and consumed. On the other hand, vendors at farmers markets usually harvest the same day as the market, giving shoppers the freshest produce 40

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possible. Local farmer Jim Van Foeken of Cottage Grove Fruit in Ivanhoe has a motto of “fresh is best.” It’s a motto that most of the other vendors at the Visalia Farmers Market live by, as well. There are also other health benefits to local products. For example, consuming honey that is locally sourced helps to reduce allergies by exposing your immune system to small doses of what you’re allergic to. Bees consume the pollens and then produce a honey that is unique to the area. You can even get specific with types of honey (i.e. from orange blossoms or plum trees) to target what you’re allergic to. All in all, farmers markets are the place to get the freshest, highest quality, local, and oftentimes organic, produce around. There’s also the added benefit of meeting the farmers and picking their brains for tips and tricks on what’s in season, picking out the best produce and even how to prepare dishes.


You’re in charge of many things. Including your future. You know your life and your future are really up to you. And no matter how busy you are day-to-day, you have to build your wealth, plan for your retirement and manage your investments for the future. As your Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor, I can help you keep control of your financial picture. Working together, we can evaluate your current portfolio and your goals, and adjust your investments. Meet with me to learn more. Let’s keep you in charge of tomorrow. Brucinda Myers Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor Vice President Financial Advisor 520 W Main St, Visalia, CA 93291 +1 559 636-5652 © 2013 Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. Member SIPC.

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We all know to feel for firmness in avocados, but there’s an easier way to determine ripeness. Tear off the little stem on the end of the fruit and look at the inside color. If it’s green, you’re good to go; if it’s brown, the fruit is over-ripened. WATERMELON

Have you ever been told to knock on a watermelon to pick the right one? It’s a great tip, but some people have a hard time with this method. Instead, look for melons with big yellow spots – this means they’ve been sitting on the ground for a while, giving them the chance to ripen and get nice and juicy inside.

SPECIAL THANKS TO: Cottage Grove Fruit of Ivanhoe, Aguilar Produce of Kingsburg, Safe Haven Heirloom Farm of Orosi, Cornett Farms of Dinuba and the Visalia Farmers Market for sharing their tips.

Here are a few tips from the vendors at the Downtown Visalia Farmers Market. PEPPERS

If you like your peppers especially hot, look for the ones with yellow/brown growth marks – this means they’ve spent more time on the vine to develop a stronger heat factor. PEACHES

Most people try to determine freshness by squeezing the fruit, but with peaches, this isn’t always the best method. Instead, look at the color: the richer the color, the sweeter the fruit. BEANS

Beans that grow in pods, like green beans and red noodle beans, are all about the size. Look closely at how the beans fit inside the pods. You want the bean pods to be full but not too fat. Pods that are too thin aren’t ripe enough and pods that are too large stayed on the vine too long. Channel your inner Goldilocks and pick the one that’s just right. TOMATOES

It’s hard to pick a bad tomato, but to get the absolute best, the squeeze test is usually the key. Pick tomatoes that are firm but bouncy. Squishy ones are over ripe and while they may taste good, they are a lot harder to cut and work with. 42

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NORMANDY – MUCH MORE THAN D-DAY Text by Cheryl Levitan


s one of 22 regions in France, Normandy is often synonymous with D-Day, particularly after this summer’s media coverage of the 70th anniversary. And despite the years, WWII can seem like recent history to an old country, especially where physical reminders remain. But to travel to Normandy only to visit the invasion beaches and museums would be a mistake since there is so much more to experience. Rivaling the kingdom of France in power during the Middle Ages, Normandy’s proximity and history actually give it much in common with the south of England. In fact, a quick glance at the rolling hills, hedge bordered fields and architecture might make tourists wonder if they took a wrong turn on their way to France. As common ports-of-call for cruise ships, Normandy’s cities of Le Havre and Honfleur are the closest harbors to access the region,


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WWII sites and Paris. Because this area deserves to be savored, look for trips with multiple days of docking or book a land-based trip to Normandy or Paris with time set aside to see both areas. Hotel concierges are the best source for maps as well as tours that often begin right at your doorstep. Language aside, renting a car is another option since the roads are well marked, the region is compact and the French drive on the right side of the road. So where to start? The choice is up to you. The recent anniversary has peaked interest in WWII sites. Self-guided and group tours of the D-Day area usually include a visit to the Memorial de Caen (a unique museum of 20th century history from WWII to the fall of the Berlin Wall) and stops at key battleground spots. The drive takes you through lovely seaside towns and lush countryside filled with crops and cattle. The stark


Text by Marsha Roberts

contrast of bucolic scenery to the remains of German guns and bunkers is striking, but the countless rows of perfectly aligned white crosses overlooking the beach are completely overwhelming. Although not always known for their warmth to tourists, the French welcome visitors here. Here’s my list of “top picks” for other areas to visit in Normandy. CAEN: Normandy may be known for D-Day, but there’s a historical figure for which the region is equally famous – William the Conqueror. As the most prominent Duke of Normandy, his reign connected two nations on opposite sides of the Channel. As the illegitimate child of the reigning Duke, William became Duke at age 8 after his father’s untimely death. With help from the King of France, William survived childhood despite the plotting of numerous feudal barons. The childless King of England (whose

mother was sister to William’s grandfather) promised William succession to the throne. But upon his death, the King’s brother-inlaw claimed the throne despite an oath to support William. Angered by the betrayal, William invaded England. His victory (and brotherin-law’s death) at the Battle of Hastings ensured William the throne. Mathilda, William’s queen, was a pious French princess horrified by her forced marriage to an uncouth illegitimate man. The two grew to love each other, however, and together ruled Normandy and England. Illiterate in any language and unable to speak English, William was King of England for 20 years until he died after falling off his horse. Much of medieval Caen was destroyed during the Normandy invasion, however, the huge abbeys founded by William and Matilda remained relatively intact. The Abbey of St. Etienne L I FE S T Y L E | AU G US T 2014



BOTTOM RIGHT: Mont Saint Michel is a small granite island 1/3rd mile from shore, making it readily accessible on low tide to the many pilgrims to its abbey. The only way around Mont Saint Michel is on foot, and there are two gates into the walled city.


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Photo by Cheryl Levitan

TOP RIGHT: A photo taken from the abbey of groups of barefoot people being guided across the sandy marsh to the tiny island next to Mont Saint Michel.

Photo by Cheryl Levitan

(Men’s Abbey), is one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy and the burial site of William. Its counterpart, the Abbey of St. Trinité (Women’s Abbey, a Benedictine convent) is where Mathilda is buried. Their castle, Château de Caen is situated on a rocky outcrop providing excellent views of the city. Don’t miss the Musee Des Beaux Arts, one of France’s finest art museums with an extremely rich collection of 16th to 20th century paintings, engravings, and sculptures. BAYEAUX: With a long and tumultuous history including capture, pillage and besiegement, Bayeaux was occupied by the Germans in 1940. The first town liberated on D-Day, it’s close to the WWII beaches. At the town’s center is the magnificent Gothic cathedral of Notre Dame de Bayeux, home to the Bayeaux Tapestry. A world famous masterpiece, the tapestry tells the story of William the Conqueror. This seamless 230’ piece of embroidered linen is 950 years old with 72 scenes chronicling events before and during William’s invasion of England. Beautiful in workmanship, it offers a wealth of information about life in medieval France – as does the town since it is one of the few places to have survived WWII practically unscathed. Walking its winding cobblestone lanes crammed with 10th-12th century stone buildings and 13th-15th century half-timbered houses is like stepping back in time. MONT SAINT MICHEL: The towers and turrets of Mont Saint Michel are a classic image of northern France. Rising from flat, muddy sands, this Benedictine abbey sits atop a small 260’ high granite island connected to the mainland by a causeway. More than a religious destination, this UNESCO World Heritage site is a preserved medieval city complete with walls and defenses. Its steep and winding cobbled streets are the 2nd most visited attraction in France after the Eiffel Tower. Named for the archangel St Michel, construction on the barren rock took 500 years from 1017 to 1521. Prone to swift and unpredictable tides, it’s not uncommon to hear announcements warning car owners to quickly move their vehicles. Before the announcement ends, drivers are running back down the narrow streets against the “tide” of tourists climbing up (picture salmon swimming upstream) calling out”‘excuse me” in multiple languages. During summer’s highest 50’ tides, the Mont is completely surrounded by water. During low tides, the sandy marsh provides food for the world’s


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TOP LFET: Honfleur is a town of 9,000 people with many buildings that have walls and roofs covered with slate tiles, flowers and café awnings to add spots of color.

Photo by Cheryl Levitan

only sheep that eat saltwater plants and tourists venture across the wet sand. Fairly safe (albeit cold) in winter, you risk joining those cars underwater without an experienced guide during the summer. The city has full-time inhabitants (and a mayor) who run the restaurants and shops, and the abbey is home to monks who hold Latin mass daily. Located at the furthest SE corner of Normandy, the Mont is still only 2 ½ hours from the furthest NE site, Etratat. Note: this small, enclosed city reaches tourist saturation point easily. ETRATAT: Offering stunning white cliffs carved by the sea, this tiny beach resort also has golf, beaches and historic chateaus. ROUEN: One of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe, Rouen is still a thriving commercial center with an old city that’s retained its medieval and Renaissance architecture and cobblestones. Don’t miss one of Monet’s favorite subjects, the Gothic Cathedral of Notre-Dame with the highest spire in France. The city’s emblem, a golden clock, is next to the market square where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. It’s an excellent day trip combined with Giverny. HONFLEUR: Considered the birthplace of impressionist painting, this charming harbor village dates back to the 11th century. It has always attracted artists, among them Monet. Largely unchanged in the last 400 years, Honfleur sits where the Seine River flows into the English Channel. The central church, Saint Catherine, could easily be mistaken for a town hall since its double spires sit 80’ away to safeguard the church from fires following lightening strikes. Clearly a smart move since this 15th century wooden church is the largest one left in France. The harbor’s buildings (many with walls


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TOP RIGHT: In Giverny, visit the Monet family gardens that have been preserved in their original state.

and roofs of slate) are adorned with colorful awnings from outdoor cafes and boutiques. GIVERNY: The home and gardens where Monet lived with his family for 36 years are preserved in their original state. The flower garden is a dazzling palette of color with the pond, water lilies and Japanese bridge memorialized by Monet’s water lily series. The Normandy experience is not complete without sampling its signature food and drink – the three Cs: Camembert, cider and Calvados. Looking like Brie, Camembert cheese is smellier and has a stronger flavor. Apple orchards abound as do apple flavored sweets and sorbets. Also made into cider, don’t mistake this four percent alcoholic drink for what you drink after apple picking with the family. (Guess that really shouldn’t come as a surprise in a country famous for turning fruit into alcohol.) Further aging transforms that cider into Calvados brandy. A frequent after-dinner drink, a shot of Calvados with apple ice cream is also a traditional way to cleanse the palate between courses of rich Norman food. Pack antacids! A quick note about shopping – browsing in France, or “faire du leche-vitrines” translates to mean “licking the windows.” We do it; they don’t like it. Remember that a hello (Bonjour) plus their title (Madame, Mademoiselle or Monsieur) and a good-bye (Au revoir, Madame, Mademoiselle or Monsieur) soothes clerks who believe they are doing people a favor by waiting on them. Shoppers also should not handle clothing without asking (except in department stores) and returns or exchanges are never part of the deal. Finally, don’t feel compelled to buy simply because you were treated nicely. My husband will confirm that maneuver worked on me. 



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Text by Terry L. Ommen


ow it’s just a boring parking lot, but in its heyday, this downtown parcel was the entertainment and cultural center of Visalia. Over the years it hosted suffragette Susan B. Anthony, poet James Whitcomb Riley, comedian Bill Nye and many other entertainers and politicians. It started as Armory Hall, then became Theatre Visalia and was the place to be. This entertainment hotspot held a place of honor on the northeast corner of Court and Acequia for over 40 years. During its lifetime, it was anything but boring. The beginning of the popular entertainment venue was, at least partially, in response to a community problem. Traveling entertainment troupes would frequently bypass Visalia as they toured California, and the ones that stopped were often critical of the playhouse in which they performed. Centennial Hall, built in 1876, was used the most. It was not well-built and one entertainer remarked that the theater looked like it was built in 1776 instead of 1876. PICTURED: The Armory building shortly after it was built with guardsmen in formation in the foreground, circa 1890.


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For several years, the community pondered the construction of a new building. A number of attempts were made to build one, but each time something stopped it. That all changed in 1888 when the hometown military unit called the Visalia Guards took up the challenge. They formed the Armory Hall Association in March of that year and sold shares of stock to raise the money. They purchased the site on the northeast corner of Acequia and Court from S.C. Brown for $2,500. After the Association had building plans drawn, bids went out for a contractor. Unfortunately, all came in over budget. The plans were scaled back and S.T. French of Visalia won the contract to build the smaller hall. In November, workmen dismantled the old brick building on the site that once housed the Wells, Fargo and Co. office. Rain, material shortage and accidents caused construction delays, but by the end of December the brick walls were six feet high and the ground floor window frames were in place. The roof was finished in February 1889, and 600 opera chairs arrived the following month. On April 20, 1889, the building was finished and turned over to the Armory Hall Association. The grand opening was April 24th and 400 people attended, the largest crowd ever to attend a single event in Visalia up to that time. The Tulare Cornet Band and the Pawnee Indian Medicine Co. entertained. Alfred Daggett gave the keynote speech dedicating the new hall by saying, “May all that we see exhibited upon this stage exemplify that which is grand in human nature, and make hideous that which is base.” Not long after Armory Hall was finished, concerns about the building began to surface. The gas lighting inside was inadequate, so in 1890, electric lights were added. A couple of years later, the building’s heating system came under scrutiny. People complained that it was “an exceedingly cold place to sit for an hour on a cold winter’s night.” The fire department wasn’t happy either, calling for additional fire prevention measures. The audience’s view of the stage was a big complaint and the placement of the musicians in the orchestra section added more obstruction. In 1910, the floor of the hall was raised and a sunken orchestra pit was built. The lack of theater space was also a concern, so the rooms designated for the National Guard were eliminated making more room for the audience. Even with on-going remodeling and repairs, by 1912 a call was heard for a new entertainment hall. In 1914, three chief stockholders in the Armory Hall Association, Susman Mitchell,

William R. Spalding and A. Levis, had a plan for an impressive new building, and they had the financial resources to make it happen. The plan called for keeping the exterior walls of Armory Hall, gutting everything inside and creating an entirely new theater with stage box seats, steam heat, cooling system, “retiring rooms” for women and men, dressing rooms, sub-level orchestra pit and a much larger stage. Hoskins & Schwartz of Fresno was the design company and they promised it would be comparable to the houses of San Francisco and Los Angeles. In August 1914, work began and four months and $45,000 later, Theatre Visalia was finished. The evening of December 17, 1914, was the gala grand opening. Joseph Santley, actor and dancer, with a cast of 50 opened the new playhouse with the musical comedy “When Dreams Come True.” The 795 seat theater was packed and many had to be turned away. The production was superb. Santley endorsed it saying, “Not only is your house elegantly furnished and appointed, but care has been taken of the stage and dressing rooms.” Soon the popular new theater was being called a “mecca” for theater goers from all over Tulare County. For nearly 20 years, comedians, orators, politicians, actors and vaudeville performers stood on stage and captivated audiences. Silent movies with organ accompaniment also mesmerized theater goers. In the mid 1920s, Theatre Visalia was turned over to the entertainment giant Golden State Theatre Corporation, and by 1928, West Coast Theatres had taken over ownership. Then, the Fox Film Corporation merged with West Coast creating Fox West Coast Theatres. Theatre Visalia became a Fox theater. The William Fox organization had big plans for Visalia, but the old playhouse wasn’t included. The company soon purchased the property on the northwest corner of Main and Encina streets that had been vacated by the Ford agency. The building was demolished, the parcel cleared, and in April 1929, ground was broken. Doors opened at the new Fox Theatre on February 27, 1930. The old landmark building was vacated and sat unoccupied for the next several years. In 1936, the decision was made to tear down the historic but neglected structure and spare it the indignity of further deterioration. It was demolished and the Visalia TimesDelta eulogized the old timer calling it at one time” one of the most important buildings in town.”

TOP LEFT: The Visalia Fire Department posing in front of the Theatre Visalia, circa 1915.

TOP RIGHT: The site of Theatre Visalia is now a parking lot on the northeast corner of Court and Acequia.


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Was Steampunk Before It Had a Name Text By Diane Slocum




hen Beth Cato was growing up in Hanford, she watched bad science fiction movies and the corny 1980s “Flash Gordon.” She loved “Final Fantasy VI.” Though they weren’t called it then, what appealed to her had elements that came to be known as steampunk. For a quick definition, Cato says, think of Jules Verne, often considered the first steampunk author. H.G. Welles is another classic author of the genre. The 1960s TV show, “The Wild Wild West” could qualify. “What it really is, is Victorian or Edwardian science fiction,” Cato said. “That clothing, that etiquette. Then adding in new technology like airships and ray guns.” defines steampunk as “a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy featuring advanced machines and other technology based on steam power of the 19th century and taking place in a recognizable historical period or a fantasy world.” Science fiction author K.W. Jeter originated the term in the late 1980s while describing what he and some other authors were writing. Cato has joined their ranks with her debut novel, The Clockwork Dagger, which will be released in September by Harper Voyager, but she has had a long list of publications prior to this, many in the steampunk genre, but also many that are not. “I was the odd four-year-old who loved books and knew I wanted to grow up to be an author,” she said. “It was either that or I wanted to be Popeye.” With the dedication of memorable teachers, she continued to show promise as she went through school. When her fourth and fifth grade teacher at Lee Richmond Elementary, Mrs. Quist, assigned one story a week, she would write five. It was Mr. Quist at Woodrow Wilson Junior High who taught and encouraged her as co-editor of the newspaper for two years. In 1998, when she was 20 and had graduated from West Hills College, she married her Navy sweetheart, Jason, and left Hanford for tours in South Carolina and Washington State. She was home with their son, Nicholas, while her husband was on his ship. “I realized my brain was rotting,” she said. “I needed to do something to really keep myself busy and I decided I always wanted to grow up to be a writer, so why not take it seriously? So when [our son] was a toddler, I started writing.” At about the time she gathered the gumption to submit her stories, her husband was discharged from the Navy and they moved to Buckeye, AZ, where they live now. One of her first sales was a nonfiction story in The Ultimate Cat Lover, published in 2008. “Home Is Where the Kitties Are,” is in the “Feline Love” section. Not long after, she sold her first Chicken Soup for the Soul story. “The Emperor’s Blessing” is in What I Learned from the Cat (published 2009) in the section on “Learning to Let Go.”


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A more recent Chicken Soup story is in Just Us Girls, published last November. Her story is “Strength in Numbers.” Until this year, she had published a dozen stories in as many issues of the Chicken Soup series, but now she has two stories in one book – Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?: 101 Amazing Stories of Magical Moments, Miracles and …Mischief which just published this month. Then there is her science fiction and fantasy. Most of her stories and poems fall into this category. Her website lists 65 published fictional stories and 50 poems in almost as many publications. Some publications in which she has had multiple stories are Every Day Fiction, Daily Science Fiction, Stupefying Stories Showcase, Niteblade Fantasy and Horror Magazine and Apollo’s Lyre. “Stitched Wings” in Beneath Ceaseless Skies is one of her favorites. This published last December and can be read on the magazine’s website in issue #137. It’s a steampunk story of a young girl with synesthesia, her mad scientist mother determined to resurrect her dead husband and a fairy named Rowan. The Clockwork Dagger will be Cato’s first published novel, but it is not her first to gain a success many would-be novelists wish they could achieve. After completing the earlier novel, which she describes as urban fantasy, she took months to work up courage to send it to agents. “The agent querying process is terrifying,” she said. “It’s the ultimate nightmare for any writer to go through. You work on the book for months or even years and then you send it out and you’re repeatedly turned down.” However, her book was one of the lucky ones. After only two months, two agents wanted to represent her. She chose Rebecca Strauss of DeFiore and Company. “It is literally a dream come true feeling,” she said. “You get the offer on the phone. You act very cool and professional. You hang up the phone and then you run screaming through the house. It’s really winning the lottery. The only thing that tops that is getting the book deal offer.” As it turned out, that book didn’t sell, but her agent liked her



idea for a second novel, The Clockwork Dagger. “My mom raised me on Agatha Christie mysteries,” she said. “And I had the idea of doing Murder on the Orient Express on an airship. I knew I wanted a healer for the main character. That was the grain of the story. I wanted to have a healer and people were trying to kill her and I needed to find out why.” To find out, she worked through an outline, but only up to the climax. “Then I get surprised along with everyone else,” she said. She worked extensively with her agent on revisions, especially on the process of world building. To create her world, she studied Europe during and after World War I. She needed to understand the mood of the time period to build a kingdom that has been at war for 50 years. “People think that in writing science fiction you can just make everything up,” she said. “But it’s really hard because you’re building a world from scratch.” She wound up getting three offers on The Clockwork Dagger and went with Harper Voyager. It is scheduled to release on Sept. 16, three years almost to the day from when she started the rough draft. Cato has already started experiencing the life of a published novelist. Besides granting interviews, she was a featured guest at the Phoenix Comic-Con in June. “I’ve been attending several years as a fan,” she said. “It was amazing to be sitting on the other side of the table, actually be a participant on panels and having that badge where I can walk down the back hallway and there’s Adam West and Julie Newmar.” She will also be a panelist at the World Fantasy Convention in Washington, DC in November. Cato has completed her sequel The Clockwork Crown and is awaiting her revision letter from the editor. She also has written the first book in another steampunk series that she hopes to sell, the short stories and poems keep coming and she still sends out Chicken Soup stories. “I think my husband would like it sometime if I could just relax,” she said. “This is our vacation week and I’ve still been up at 5 o’clock every morning so I can do some writing.”




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FRAMPTON’S GUITAR CIRCUS Don’t miss an amazing night of Rhythm-and-Blues! Grammy award winning guitarist, Peter Frampton, and Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Buddy Guy, set the night on fire with indelibly searing performances. Special guest, Randy Bachman, will also take the stage. Tickets are $60.

When: Aug. 29, 6p Where: Oval Park, 808 N. Court St., Visalia Contact: 627-OVAL (6825) or visit


AUG 23


Come celebrate with Visalia Fox Theatre as they restore their marquee to it’s original look. Enjoy the sounds from Leaving Austin, Motel Drive and Richfield while supporting the historic theatre. Tickets are $13. When: Aug. 23, 7p Where: Visalia Fox Theatre, 300 W. Main St., Visalia Contact: 625-1369


At the height of the Great Depression, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow went from two small-town nobodies in west Texas to America’s most renowned folk hero’s and the Texas law enforcement’s worst nightmare. The 1930s inspired Rockabilly, Country and Gospel music will leave you humming. When: Aug. 22-24, Fri. & Sat. @ 7:30p, Sun. @ 2p Where: Ice House Theatre, 410 E. Race Ave., Visalia Contact: 734-3375




Enjoy great blues, brews (or soft drinks) and BBQ in a comfortable and safe environment without having to pay for gas and traveling out of town. Every Blues, Brews & BBQ’s concert is FREE! Bring money only if you want to enjoy savory BBQ’d meals and thirst-quenching drinks. Featuring Andrew J Magnuson. When: Sep. 5, 6p Where: Garden Street Plaza, Visalia Contact: 732-7737

L I FE S T Y L E | AU G US T 2014

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A one-man show based on the life of Mike Tyson will be shown here in the Central Valley. Tyson’s “Undisputed Truth” played on Broadway in 2013, was recorded and released on HBOFilms and spawned a book. The show is now touring and you don’t want to miss a chance to hear about the icon. When: Sep. 11, 7:30p Where: Tachi Palace, 17225 Jersey Ave., Lemoore Contact: 924-7751 The High Sierra Jazz Band will perform nostalgic music as it was played in the mid-1900s at the Three Rivers Club. Tickets are $10 for non-members and free for members. When: Sep. 13, 7p Where: Three Rivers Club Contact: 561-4549


This collection of art that captures the multitude of experiences, people and locations of Visalia, including Main Street, the Downtown Trolley, an old drive-in theatre and scenic views. Many local artists contributed their collections to chronicle, and will be displayed at the Brandon-Mitchell Gallery. When: Through Aug. 31 Where: Brandon-Mitchell Gallery in the Spiritual Awarenss Center, 117 S. Locust St., Visalia Contact: 625-2441





Come out and experience this growing, multi-sensory entertainment crawl in downtown Visalia. This community event is free for all to enjoy. See local artists, musicians, performers, photographers, poets and sculptors along with vendors and shop owners who come together for a night of art. When: Sep. 5 Where: Downtown Visalia Contact:


Food, fun and fabulous art. Every first Saturday of the month, the artists, restaurants and merchants of Three Rivers open their doors and invite you to join in a town-wide celebration. You can pick up a map and schedule at Anne Lang’s Emporium or the Historical Museum – art to see, locations and times for special events. When: Sep. 6, 10a-5p Where: Anne Lang’s Emporium, 41651 Sierra Dr. (CA 198), Three Rivers Contact: Nadi Spencer, 561-4373 or



Come celebrate the work of artists of the Central California region who are known for their three-dimensional or sculptural creations. This annual exhibition serves as a vital survey of the works of such artists from this area, providing an exciting and enjoyable exhibition for visitors. Opening Janitorial Service reception is Sept. 5, 6:00p.m. When: Sept. 3-26 For dependable commercial cleaning service Where: Arts Visalia, 214 E. Oak Ave., Visalia ServiceMaster Clean can help. Contact: 739-0905 daily, weekly, or monthly janitorial service

SEP 27


Medical & professional Office system cleaning Two photographers are represented in office cleaning this photography exhibit. David Meyer Window washing

Aggregate floor cleaning from Kingsburg,Nearly andany Richard Harrison from other cleaning

Fresno will be showing Tile & grout cleaning you want their photography for all exhibitors to see.

Carpet cleaning When: Through Sept. 27 using various processes

Where: Tulare Historical Museum, 444 W. Tulare Ave., Tulare Contact: 686-2074

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L I FE S T Y L E | AU G US T 2014



VISALIA HOME EXPO Head over to the largest fall home show in Tulare & Kings counties. This show features everything for the home including home improvement, decorating, design, home office, technology and more. This is the go-to place to find all the products, services and ideas you’ll need to spruce up, renew, restore, renovate or build your dream home! Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and free for children under 12.

When: Sep. 20, 10a-6p; Sept. 21, 10a-5p Where: Visalia Convention Center, 303 E. Acequia Ave., Visalia Contact: (800) 700-7469


Please join GateWay Church at its women’s conference. Along with featured author Sheila Walsh, there will be a vendor fair with over 30 vendors on Saturday. The vendor fair will be open before the conference, during lunch and after the conference. Tickets are $35 and $10 for lunch. When: Aug. 29, 7-9p; Aug. 30, 9a-3p. Where: GateWay Church, 1100 S. Sowell, Visalia Contact: 732-4787


Join the show that offers something for every outdoor adventurer, gun enthusiast and hunter. Purchase medical and firstaid kids, gun safes, ammo, hunting gear and more! Tickets are $11. When: Sep. 6, 9a-6p; Sep. 7, 9a-5:30p Where: Visalia Convention Center, 303 E. Acequia Ave., Visalia Contact: 801-589-0975




Students can discover the possibilities that await them after high school. Meet representatives from 90 colleges, universities and specialty schools and attend informational seminars on college and university admissions, financial aid, scholarship opportunities and more. When: Sep. 9, 6-8p Where: Visalia Convention Center, 303 E. Acequia Ave., Visalia Contact: 651-3042

L I FE S T Y L E | AU G US T 2014


Celebrate the bounty of the county with farms, food, family and fun. With many events going on daily, there is something for everyone in the family to enjoy. For more information on dates, times and events, head on over to When: Sep. 10-14 Where: 215 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., Tulare Contact: 686-4707


Weekly event open to the public featuring free live music, kids’ activities, cooking demonstrations and local, fresh produce available for purchase. The market also accepts EBT and WIC. When: Thursdays, 5-8p; Saturdays, 8-11:30a Where: Thursdays, Downtown Visalia; Saturdays, Sears parking lot Contact: 967-6722 or


Weekly event open to the public featuring free live music, kids’ activities, cooking demonstrations and local, fresh produce available for purchase. The market also accepts EBT and WIC. When: Tuesdays; 5-8p Where: 1407 Retherford Street, Tulare Contact: 967-6722 or


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SEP 13


The Tulare-Kings Right to Life Organization invites Rick Santorum to the annual Making a Difference for Life banquet. Hear about his passion for restoring foundational values, including respect for life issues, to our nation. Sign up at Tickets for individuals are $75. When: Sep. 4, 7p Where: Visalia Convention Center, 303 E. Acequia, Visalia Contact: 732-5000 or visit

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Join the Valley Oak SPCA for a spectacular evening of wine and food tasting, live and silent auction and entertainment under the stars. All proceeds from this event support Valley Oak SPCA’s efforts to raise funds for the new Adoption and Education Center. Tickets are $50/person. When: Sep. 13, 6:30p Where: Private Residence; call for more information. Contact: 713-4694 or visit


Join the Woodlake Rotary Club at its annual charity dinner and auction. Enjoy live music, an auction, raffle drawing, jewelry raffle drawing and reverse drawing, as well as a happy hour and dinner. All proceeds will benefit Polio, plus youth rotary and community projects. When: Sep. 13, 4:30p Where: Woodlake Memorial Building, 355 N. Acacia, Woodlake Contact: Patty Decker, 901-0758 or Jesse Decker, 901-0842

Join the Green Acres Little Theatre Foundation as they continue to support musical theatre educational opportunities for the students at Green Acres Middle School. Wine tasting will be hosted by The Cellar Door with hors d’oeuvres served from Fugazzis, The Vintage Press, Tazzaria and others. The evening includes a silent auction, 5050 drawing and a drawing for jewelry donated by Quality Jewelers. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door. When: Sep. 14, 4-7p Where: 2205 Hyde Way, Visalia Contact: 300-2880 or

Enjoy a fun evening to taste and celebrate local agricultural products, wineries and restaurants. When: Sep. 20, 5-8p Where: Historic Seven Sycamores Ranch, 32985 Road 164, Ivanhoe Contact: 732-8301 or Join the Tulare County Historical Society for a night of great food and entertainment for a great cause. Hear the sounds from Earl McKee and the Three Riversmen of the High Sierra Jazz Band while enjoying a delicious tri-tip and chicken dinner cooked by Happy Cookers. All proceeds will benefit the Main Street exhibit currently undergoing renovation. Tickets are $45. When: Sep. 21, 4:30-7:30p Where: Tulare County Museum at Mooney Grove Park, S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia Contact: Lari Ommen, 732-5829 or Jill Brown, 626-4988


Independent Film Series (Aug. 26 @ 6:00p) First Tuesday Book Club (Sep. 2 @ 6:30p) Mystery Readers (Sep. 17 @ 6:30p) Where: Tulare County Library, 200 W. Oak Ave., Visalia Contact: 713-2700


L I FE S T Y L E | AU G US T 2014

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August 2014  

Style, Art, Culture and Events of the South Valley

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