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walnut creek 44 OF YOUR LOCAL FAVES



november december 2016

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in this issue





november / december 2016

BEST OF WALNUT CREEK As cities go, Walnut Creek is ridiculously full of places to eat, shop, get fit and beautiful. Our annual Best of Walnut Creek Reader’s Choice Awards highlights the winners in a range of categories. It’s a worthy list of 44 local favorites covering everything from food to fashion to fitness. So the next time you find yourself looking for the best brunch spot or place to picnic, refer to this issue.

november december 2016 / walnut creek


in this issue

november / december 2016

13 Entertainment The 15 performances, exhibits, and other things worth your time.

35 Shop Bargains on gems and domestic treasures at this consignment store.

19 Clean Food Trendy nutritionoriented eateries are opening downtown further expanding Walnut Creek’s healthy food movement.

36 Books New releases from Bay Area authors.

51 People Meet community leaders who work hard, play hard and make a difference.

22 On the Horizon Latest news on restaurant, retail and residential developments.

55 What’s In Season Make vegetables the star at your Thanksgiving feast with cold weather favorites: Brussel sprouts, squash, greens, and beets. Chefs share special recipes.

28 Interview Entering his fourth year as Chief of Police, Tom Chaplin talks safety, homelessness and property crime.

59 Dining Guide Great places to eat and drink in Walnut Creek and surrounding cities.

31 Commentary Suburban mom on ride along with WCPD.

67 On Stage A Bay Area guide to theatre, concerts and performances.

33 Technology Robots are expanding communication options for seniors at Heritage Downtown.

Photography by Hardy Wilson


walnut creek / november september december october 2016 2016





visit SANTA NOVEMBER 18 - DECEMBER 24 Located in his Winter Home across from the Promenade Fountain

Holiday Parade of Lights, Retailer Open House & Tree Lighting December 1

| | 6pm - 9pm

Over 50 new retailers now open, convenient parking, gift cards available and more – spend the holidays with Broadway Plaza.

Main Street & Mt. Diablo Boulevard | 925.939.7601 |

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The Insider’s Guide to Walnut Creek november / december 2016 Publisher Pam Becker Kessler Editor Lauren Kessler Art Director Carrie Wallahan website Cale Finta Photography Rachel Capil Guy Y Ben David Jessica Freels Sarah Grunder Kyle Luman Brian Murphy Scott Hein

Enjoy a wonderful day in the wine country



contributing writers Deborah Burstyn Lynn Carey Lou Fancher Sally Hogarty Sophie Johnson Fran Miller Alison Negrin Anneli Rufus Alix Wall

Kessler Communications, Inc. Walnut Creek Magazine Office 1280 Boulevard Way, Suite 108 Walnut Creek, CA 94595 (925)212-5146 Email:


No material from Walnut Creek Magazine may be reproduced without written consent from the Publisher. 19 years experience TCP 9438

walnut creek / november december 2016

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From the Publisher From a hike on the sprawling hillsides around to us to a delicious bite of a deli sandwich, Walnut Creek does not lack for things to do or eat. It would probably take us a few years to savor the tastes of all the restaurants, let alone hit every fitness class, store and beauty salon. That’s why it’s always a challenge creating categories for our annual Best of Walnut Creek. There is so much of everything here. If we missed you this time, we’ll cover your business category next time. And to the winners of our Best of 2016 Walnut Creek Magazine Reader’s Choice Awards, a BIG congratulations! This is no small feat. Turn to page 37 and find out if your local favorites got the shout-out this year. In this issue, our “Clean Food First” feature introduces you to three new eateries that opened downtown further enhancing Walnut Creek’s fast, fresh food movement. With affordable prices and delicious food, they have a recipe for success. But it doesn’t end there. In the ever changing landscape of Walnut Creek, interest in the city from entrepreneurs, retailers, restaurants and developers continues to explode. On page 22, you can read about some of the notable businesses and projects coming our way. We have other good news. Broadway Plaza delayed its paid parking program until January 2017, giving holiday shoppers a reason to celebrate and shop local—as if the amazing mix of retailers at the Plaza isn’t reason enough. Best of all, the Broadway Plaza management team listened to our community voices and expanded free parking to THREE HOURS before any fees apply. Sometimes it takes a village to get things done. Lastly, we shine a light on some of the local leaders who make our city stand-out with their hard work and loyalty. On page 51, you meet three dedicated teams who work together, play together, and make a difference together. It’s what our city is all about—people with a passion for the best of Walnut Creek. Until next time, enjoy the season of family, friends, feasts and giving.


Studios in Lafayette and Orinda! Pam Becker Kessler publisher PS We love social media! Do you follow Walnut Creek Magazine on Instagram and Facebook? It’s a great way to stay connected and get the latest scoop. And be sure to post your events on our website,


walnut creek / november december 2016



walnut creek / november december 2016

Fran Endicott Miller is a freelance travel and feature writer who enjoys exploring Northern California and sharing her finds with readers.

Lou Fancher is Bay Area writer covering technology, dance, theater, education and sports. She has authored two original children's books and illustrated over 50 picture books.

jessica freels has been taking photographs since she was eight years old. Her passion is sports photography because it gives her a chance to spend time with her son. A long time Bay Area resident, she resides in Walnut Creek.

Sophie Johnson is a Walnut Creek native who has had a diverse career in food and technology. When not writing, she is walking Bay Area streets and trails, meeting new people, in order to share their compelling stories.

deborah burstyn is a Walnut Creek-based freelance journalist who has worked as a staff writer for The Washington Post, Newsweek, the Contra Costa Times and the California wine industry.

Sally Hogarty has been in Bay Area Theater for over 30 years as an actress, producer, and publicist. She is editor of The Orinda News and writes colorful theater columns for local publications.

november december 2016 / walnut creek


Beauty & Relaxation

for you and yours this Holiday Season!

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walnut creek / november december 2016

where & when

A R T | D A N C E | M U S I C | M U S E U M S | h o l iday e v ents




The latest installment from the spectacular Cirque du Soleil—Luzia—is headed to AT&T Park. With each new performance from the travelling troupe, we want more and Cirque never disappoints. In an ode to the rich, vibrant culture of Mexico, a cast of 44 performers surprise and delight with extraordinary acrobatic fetes in mythological Aztec costumes integrating rain and water with contemporary circus acts. November 17 – January 29, under the big top at AT&T Park, SF,

november december 2016 / walnut creek


where & when

2 RINGO STARR & HIS ALL-STARR BAND Everyone’s favorite drummer from the Beatles comes to Marin for an evening of rock ‘n’ roll alongside Todd Rundgren, Gregg Rolie, Steve Lukather and Richard Page. November 19, Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium, San Rafael,



San Francisco’s beloved Victorian greenhouse in Conservatory of Flowers is transformed into an intimate cottage garden of daisies, sunflowers and zinnias aflutter with hundreds of butterflies. Expect to see a dazzling array of colorful species free-flying from flower to flower. November 17-June 30, 2017, Golden Gate Park, SF,

A WINTER CIRCUS CABARET Savor the season with something sweet and oh so good—a theatrical circus! Sweet Can Productions presents a light-hearted variety program suitable for all ages with clowning and circus feats. Be amazed and inspired by award-winning clown duo Coventry and Kaluza plus a host of aerial artists and jugglers. December 21 – 31, Dance Mission Theater, SF,

5 the nutcracker

Returning for its 26th year, Contra Costa Ballet presents a family-friendly, one-hour production of The Nutcracker. Join Clara and her beloved nutcracker-turned-prince on a magical journey among giant mice and toy soldiers into Candy Kingdom in this festive production by talented, young dancers. November 25-27, Lesher Center for the Arts, WC,


Each year Hospice of the East Bay honors the memories of loved ones with lights that shine on its holiday trees. Help fund the services and care Hospice provides to anyone who needs it by purchasing a light. November 29, Rossmoor Tree; December 7, Walnut Creek Tree at new location John Muir Medical Center,


Music and festivity fill Broadway Plaza when its magical parade welcomes Santa to town, who lights the Christmas tree and makes it snow! December 1, 7pm,


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SHOPPING. DINING. CULTURE. health. TRAVEL. AND THE LATEST BUSINESS SCOOP. WE DO IT ALL IN PRINT AND ONLINE. COMING UP . . . THE HEALTH & BEAUTY ISSUE IN JANUARY 2017 For ad rates and more information, phone (925) 212-5146 or email



walnut creek / november december 2016

november december 2016 / walnut creek


where & when


8 Photography by Bilha Sperling

Diablo Ballet's season opens with three stunning ballets performed with a 16 piece swing orchestra to highlight the choreography by Sean Kelly, Lew Christensen and Robert Dekkers. Ballet and swing converge in this energizing multi-faceted performance best described as bliss, grace and joy in a series of dance snapshots. November 11 – 13, Del Valle Theatre, WC,


Get your groove on at the city’s outdoor ice rink in the heart of downtown at Civic Park.The partially enclosed ice rink welcomes skaters of all ages and abilities to glide through the holidays. November 11January 16, 2017,



For almost six decades Frank Stella influenced modern art by exploring how paintings can seem to expand or contract, lie completely flat or suggest movement. An exhibition of his work comes to the De Young Museum with paintings of the spaces where he lived and worked, and his groundbreaking abstract use of color, shape, and volume. November 5 –February 26, 2017, Golden Gate Park, SF,

TEA FOR TWO There are endless ways to welcome the holidays but a Teddy Bear Tea warms the heart. Brings your family to the Gardens at Heather Farm for an afternoon of sweet and savory treats and stories in Bearland. December 3-4, reservations required, Now in its 33rd season, the historic Shadelands Ranch Museum hosts a Holiday Faire and Victorian Teas featuring three-course luncheons plus handcrafted gifts for purchase. November 26 - December 11, reservations required,

Frank Stella, "Jasper’s Dilemma," 1962.


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where & when

Rogan Brown’s Small Kernel, 2013, hand cut paper, box frame 54 x 42"

12 CUT UP CUT OUT The ancient art of decorative cutting takes on new dimensions at the Bedford Gallery’s winter show highlighting the endless ways paper, cloth, metal and other flat materials can be transformed into astonishing works. This exhibition is slated to travel nationally. December 18 – March 5, 2017, Bedford Gallery, WC,



Help fund Glide Memorial’s many services, including Mo’s Kitchen which serves a million free meals each year, at an evening of live music, dance, spoken word, food and drink. November 30, The Masonic, SF,


Giacomo Puccini’s heartbreaking opera set in Nagasaki Japan centers on wartime, love and betrayal. November 6-December 4, War Memorial Opera House, SF,



Smuin Ballet returns with its annual yuletide treat offering equal parts sugar and spice for the naughty and nice. In this carousel of mischief and elegance there is something for everyone from ballet, tap, and swing, to holiday dances from around the world. November 1819, Lesher Center for the Arts, WC, Photography by David Allen

november december 2016 / walnut creek


Parking Keeps Business Happening

ParkSmart keeps business happening by being an industry leader in parking innovation, technology and services.

Download the FREE Downtown Walnut Creek Parking App See available parking and rates. It's fast and easy.

For more information contact

ParkSmart, Inc. 925-933-8795 | 18

walnut creek / november december 2016


of the town


Lemonade Chef and Founder Alan Jackson with Chef Ian Olsen at the Walnut Creek grand opening party. Photography by Hardy Wilson




BY fran miller

rendy nutrition-oriented places are popping up downtown drawing health conscious diners with their creative entrees and unique philosophies. On the heels of the fast, fresh food movement driven by chains like Veggie Grill and Yalla Mediterranean, at these new eateries you’ll find the ambiance relaxed and the clientele fit and health obsessed. ➤

november december 2016 / walnut creek



A BUFFET HARD TO BEAT Imagine a long line of cafeteria delights displayed behind glass and prepared with fresh ingredients in intriguing combinations—persimmon and black kale with hazelnuts, roasted cauliflower with golden raisins and curry vinaigrette, ahi tuna and avocado poke with icicle radish––complimented by hot options like chicken chili, twelve-spice braised duck and white truffle mac & cheese. At Lemonade you can fill your tray with an array of salads, hot and cold sandwiches, plus soups, sides and desserts. This casual and affordable restaurant invites timecrunched, food savvy guests to ‘eat colorfully’ and mix-and-match; a properly assembled plate is vivid, nutritious and delicious. With multiple locations across the state, Chef Alan Jackson founded Lemonade in LA because he wanted to raise the quality bar in the fast casual industry. “Lemonade is a perfect fit for the California lifestyle,” says Jackson. Vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free diners can all find something to love at this eco-friendly spot. Want to try before you buy? Staff will happily provide a taste from the seasonal menu. And true to its name, Lemonade pours an array of refreshing flavors. Save room for a Pick Me Up—sweets like lemon meringue and chocolate mint grasshopper pie— served in glass jelly jars. 1348 Broadway,

MALL FOOD GOES HEALTH FOOD While you can still devour a big pretzel during a shopping break at Broadway Plaza, True Food Kitchen offers a healthy alternative. The brainchild of best-selling cookbook author Sam Fox and worldrenowned integrative medicine pioneer Dr. Andrew Weil, True Food Kitchen reflects the region’s local character in an upscale and sustainable environment. While the mini-chain puts nutrition first, flavor is not neglected in dishes that promote an anti-inflammatory diet. Cocktails like the Thai grapefruit martini are juice-driven, and even the desserts are crafted to promote optimum health. The menu is less about calorie counting and more about wholesome body fuel—butternut squash flatbread-


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Photography by Jessica Freels

style pizzas topped with smoked onion and dried cranberry sport real cheese, and the tacos come stuffed with steak and sour cream. Nutrient-rich ingredients are prepared in simple formats and cater to gluten-free, naturally organic, vegetarian and vegan diets—charred cauliflower, Chioggia beet bruschetta and roasted Brussels sprouts with hazelnuts; grain bowls with miso glazed sweet potato, turmeric, snow pea, grilled Portobello, avocado and hemp seed. “I guess you could say that Walnut Creek is a lot like True Food––a passionate community driven by a healthy lifestyle––and that appealed to us,” says Fox. 4 Broadway Lane,

FOOD HEALS HERE Urban Remedy takes healthy eating to another level. In its apothecary-like space, employees direct customers to foods for specific nutritional needs. Urban Remedy’s fresh, organic, non-

GMO, ready-to-eat meals, snacks and juices are packaged and ready for take-out—soba noodles are loaded with Napa cabbage, carrot and green onion are tossed with sesame almond sauce, and zucchini replaces pasta in the fettuccini pesto. Other convenient items include cold press juices, nut milks and incredibly creative and delicious meal replacement shakes. Cleanse sixpacks (a one-day supply) are pre-selected for optimal efficiency. Founder Neka Pasquale, a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and certified Chinese nutritionist based in Marin County, believes a healthy diet transforms your life. She began her business by creating her own recipes and juice blends for her patients. After witnessing the changes in their health and overall wellbeing, she launched Urban Remedy and soon caught the eye of supermodel Cindy Crawford who was so impressed with the products and Pasquale’s passion and knowledge, she became a partner and brand ambassador. “We combine the best superfoods in perfectly crafted recipes to ensure the best nutrients for your body,” says Pasquale. “And we believe that when we deepen our connection to food, we unleash its power.” 1320 Locust Street,

november december 2016 / walnut creek



On the Horizon

Happenings, announcements and things to know about R ETAIL O PENIN G S A ND D E V E L O P ME NT NE WS In the ever-changing landscape of Walnut Creek, the interest in the city from entrepreneurs, national chains and developers continues as new restaurants, stores and residential/hotel projects open. Here are a few of the notables.

BROADWAY PLAZA Brimming with new shops and a massive makeover, look for more retail openings, just in time for the holidays. She’s getting a lot of buzz and for good reason. The bubbly blonde CEO, KENDRA SCOTT, started her jewelry company with $500; today its estimated worth is $220 million. When the trendy store opens in Broadway Plaza, you’ll find natural gemstones on the mostly-under $100 pieces ranging from chunky chokers to thin layering chains and statement earrings. OLD NAVY and its style-conscious rebirth as the crown-jewel of the Gap brands comes to Broadway Plaza with a new boutique-style store complete with $10 t-shirts to pair with your $400 handbag. Going toe to toe is the Swedish fast-fashion retailer H & M moving to the shopping center and vacating its Mt. Diablo space. Its strappy dresses and sharp jackets are not only cheap, but replicate fashion on the runways. ARITZIA, the Canadian women’s fashion boutique and Spanish clothing retailer, ZARA, are also opening soon.


Boutique Property Once considered a romantic idea due to height and density restrictions, it looks like one savvy developer has found a way to bring a boutique hotel downtown. Align Real Estate plans to develop the former McDonald’s site on California Boulevard into an APARTMENT HOTEL featuring 77 apartment units and 20 fully-furnished studios to accommodate overnight or extended stay guests. On the ground floor, the plan calls for a market and restaurant, with 2 levels of underground parking. The developer expects to break ground in 2017.


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Construction continues at Ygnacio Valley’s new lifestyle center, The Orchards. Notable openings include SAFEWAY and STEIN MART with STARBUCKS, BURGER LOUNGE, PANCHEROS MEXICAN GRILL, MOD PIZZA, and rumor has it JACK’S, on the way. When completed, the project will feature over seven acres of outdoor space including a children’s park and walking trails. VIAMONTE, an upscale senior living community, is also a component of the development.

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While the boom is on at Broadway Plaza, the vacancy rate remains high in the traditional downtown. “It’s the tale of two markets,” says John Cumbelich, CEO of Cumbelich & Associates, a leading retail leasing firm in Walnut Creek. “This is due in part to the recycling of retailers to Broadway Plaza,” he says. The firm has handled local retail real estate transactions for Pottery Barn, Tiffany & Co., Z Gallerie, Gott’s Roadside, and Dunkin Donuts to name only a few. Luxury brand Restoration Hardware remerges as RH MODERN in the Gallery at Broadway Pointe, showcasing its new marketplace offering furniture, lighting, bathware, décor, baby & child products, as well as custom design services. The new bank/bistro, CAPITAL ONE CAFÉ, opening in the former Gap store, is reportedly seeking city approval to construct a public parklet on Main Street. The project will eliminate two parking spaces. Around the corner at 1250 LOCUST STREET,

real estate circles are buzzing about BH Development’s new project on the vacant Veteran’s Building lot. Word has it plans are in the works to construct a food hall modeled after Napa’s Oxbow Market. West Coast fish house, PACIFIC CATCH, is rumored to be taking space at The Agora. From its website, “the modern, comfortable restaurant combines a fine dining seafood experience with a casual California lifestyle.” Stay tuned. It looks like the new barbecue spot SAUCED is getting ready to open. No word on when renovation of MOMO'S space will be complete. Additional downtown residential and restaurant projects are in the works, look for details in 2017.

ENCINA GRANDE The city’s second WHOLE FOODS MARKET opened in Encina Grande Shopping Center at Ygnacio Valley and Oak Grove roads with a contemporary, industrial design and focus on convenience. The massive 37,500-square-foot space transforms the grocery shopping experience with an expanded carry-out food department and family-friendly bistro. A digital iPad kiosk allows customers to streamline orders for sandwiches, burritos and pizza. Nearby, a 92-seat coffee, beer and wine café has ample space for casual get-togethers. A sommelier and a cheese expert offer recommendations in the wine and cheese department. The expansive Whole Body department features a wide range of functional supplements, cosmetics and aromatherapy products. Four self-serve hot food, soups and salad bars provide convenience. Spokeswoman Beth Krauss says the new store is a holiday shoppers’ haven for finding everything from cranberries to caviar; cozy gifts to craft beers, and hyper-local California products in every category. Quick-pick-up, “Unforgettable Feasts” for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas can be pre-ordered online. – Lou Fancher 24

walnut creek / november december 2016

Michael L. Wang, MD FACS


Comprehensive Ophthalmology Cataract Surgery Clinical Professor, UC San Francisco Chief Ophthalmology Summit Medical Center

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3730 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Suite 218 Lafayette (925) 283-8400 Mon-Wed 1:00-5:00PM Your vision is our top priority. As leaders in comprehensive eye care, our physicians provide patients with state-of-the-art treatment for cataracts, glaucoma and many other eye conditions.

TREAT YOURSELF OR A LOVED ONE TO A RELAXING TREATMENT! spa packages & gift cards available R Spa is located in Renaissance ClubSport and is open to the public. Enjoy complimentary parking and use of our luxurious amenities including whirlpools, steam rooms, and saunas.

Call R Spa to book your appointment: (925) 942-6379 2805 JONES RD. WALNUT CREEK

november december 2016 / walnut creek


Rendering by Robert Becker


THORNY PIGS For the first time in decades, a prickly new creature has joined the LINDSAY WILDLIFE MUSEUM family of friends, a North American porcupine. While the name ‘porcupine’ comes from the French term ‘porc d’épine’ meaning ‘thorny pig’, there are 27 species of porcupines belonging to the family of rodents. Softer than you’d expect, only their back, sides and tail have sharp quills.


For more than 50 years, Carondelet High School student athletes had to beg, borrow and pay for access to outdoor fields and pool facilities to practice and compete in every sport other than volleyball and basketball. In December 2015, the Concord-based girls' school made a bold move to expand their female athletic facilities by entering into a purchase agreement for 6+ acres of land in Walnut Creek. If approved, the former Club Sport Valley Vista site, will become CARONDELET ATHLETICS COMPLEX complete with a soccer/lacrosse field, softball field, six tennis courts, a 10-lane pool for swimming, diving and water polo, and a 3,000-square-foot student center for fitness, training and academic support. “This state-ofthe-art facility will provide our young women with a true home field advantage. A place to practice, compete, cheer on one another and strengthen their bonds of sisterhood,” said Carondelet President Bonnie Cotter. The complex will be available for rental during the day and on weekends to surrounding neighborhoods for youth sports programs.

CAMERA MAN Since the early 1970s, iconic photographer Stephen Joseph has been capturing the landscape scenes of majestic Mt. Diablo with his camera. This island of wilderness, surrounded by 100,000 acres of connected open space, has provided Joseph with an endless canvas to explore, photograph and create works of art. For the first time, his stunning collection of Mt. Diablo photography is on display for viewing and purchase at the STEPHEN JOSEPH PHOTOGRAPHIC GALLERY at Summit Ranch in Alamo.


walnut creek / november december 2016

BEAUTY­–IT’S OUR NATURE Expert craftsmanship and well-being are part of every cut and color at Thirteen. That’s why we became an Aveda Concept Salon. Each service includes a ritual of renewal, from stress relieving scalp treatments to hand massages. Plus, we carry the entire line of Aveda products so you can continue the experience at home.


1525 Locust Street, Walnut Creek

(925) 932-2242

november december 2016 / walnut creek



Chief of Police TOM CHAPLIN

ON SAFETY, HOMELESSNESS AND PROPERTY theft BY SOPHIE JOHNSON WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO WALNUT CREEK? Entering his fourth year on the force as chief, Chaplin has created a culture of collaboration and transparency in the Walnut Creek Police Department. Recently, the Governor appointed Chaplin to serve on the CA Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training— an honor bestowed upon only a handful of individuals across the state.


I started in law enforcement when I was 20 and spent 12 years with the Sacramento Police Department, then went to the Department of Justice as a Special Agent for a few years. It was a great learning experience, but I missed municipal policing, so I joined the Citrus Heights Police Department in 2006. When the role of Police Chief in Walnut Creek opened up, it was 2013. I thought, ‘what a great job, what a great community!’

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF? During the first three months on the job, I met with every single department employee and volunteer to find out what we were doing well, what changes were needed, and where he/ she wanted to take their career. From those conversations, I designed a big picture plan

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on how we fight crime—adding officers in schools, creating specialized positions and putting more officers on the streets. Subsequently, we have a police department that is engaging, challenging and fun. We are now attracting law enforcement professionals from all over the state.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT WALNUT CREEK? The quality of life for my family doesn’t get any better than in Walnut Creek. With well-regarded schools, a vibrant arts scene, great restaurants and shopping, all surrounded by open space, there is so much to do here! Our weekends feel like vacations with day trips to the beach or Sausalito or just a walk around downtown. It’s a great place to live. ➤

november december 2016 / walnut creek


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ED ANTENUCCI Owner/Broker UC B REAL ESTATE Buying, Selling Or Investing? Let’s Talk, I’ll Listen! Real Estate Advisor with over 22 yrs. experience & over 3,700 homes sold!


YOU’VE SAID THAT IN WALNUT CREEK, “YOU ARE SAFE, BUT YOUR STUFF IS NOT.” WHAT DO YOU MEAN? We had 8,000 more calls for service in 2015 than we did in 2014, and there’s been a slight uptick in crime this year, particularly property theft. The city is changing as we create more retail and commercial spaces which draws more visitors to the community for work or play. Keeping the city safe is my job. We have 79 authorized police officers dedicated to preventing crime. We also have a dedicated group of 25 trained volunteer Reserve Police Officers who assist the force, while also maintaining other jobs and family life.

DO WE NEED MORE POLICE OFFICERS AS OUR POPULATION GROWS? Over the next decade we need to add an officer a year, and take a look at our efficiencies so our department doesn’t impact the city’s general fund. We are mindful of our fiscal impact, and ask our community to also be aware and vigilant. Don’t leave your briefcase in a convertible!

MANY RESIDENTS BELIEVE THE WC HOMELESS POPULATION IS INCREASING. DO YOU AGREE? Walnut Creek is a great place to live and that applies to all, including the increasing transient population. Last year we averaged about 100 calls a month related to the homeless, now it’s about 150 a month. Walnut Creek is not unique, and homelessness is up overall, but it can feel disproportionate in this affluent community. Being homeless is not a crime, but calls to address homeless issues take away time from other concerns.


Since 1983, we have been feeding millions of meals to thousands of hungry people Contra Costa County. Your school, church, business, or civic group can help feed the hungry. We need volunteers and donations! Contact Us: (925) 293-4792 •




walnut creek / november december 2016

of any other profession that groups people together like law enforcement. If you have a bad meal at a restaurant, it doesn’t mean all chefs are bad cooks. But police get painted with a broad brush diminishing the great work in this profession. We have officers who are compassionate, courageous, and heroic. Do you know the disabled man who sells soap downtown? Sadly, he was a victim of fraud. A team of officers took up a collection bucket and presented him with $250.

HOW CAN OUR COMMUNITY HELP THE POLICE? As a community, there are two things you can do: engage in the complex dialog on homelessness and if you see an officer, show them you appreciate them. It’s a dangerous job and every time they go out, they don’t know if they’re going to see their families again. Every single positive interaction matters.

HOW DO YOU STAY UPBEAT? I believe in making a difference. Every person was once a little boy or girl, with hopes and dreams for their family and the world in front of them. Then something went wrong. But that doesn’t mean it’s the end. There are moments when you hope the time you invest and the danger you confront as a police officer pays off by helping someone regain honor and dignity.




a suburban mom spends morning with the wcpd commentary bY SOPHIE JOHNSON

The arrest was not part of my plan for the morning. I figured following a school drop off and before meeting my Mom for lunch, I’d squeeze in a police ride along to see Walnut Creek through the eyes of our law enforcement officials. I expected the daylight hours would be a good time to chat and if nothing else, I’d get a tour around the new Orchards and Encino Grande shopping areas. With a few restrictions, any citizen can apply to accompany a police officer on a ride along and observe a typical workday. I was assigned to a day shift with Officer Gonzales on the Ygnacio Valley Road

beat. At the station, Officer Gonzales showed me the SUV that would be our fortress. Complete with an Automatic License Plate Reader (ALPR), it reminded me of an airplane cockpit. “I can drive down Locust Street at 10 pm and the ALPR takes rapid pictures and stores them so they can be scanned for matching crime data. Those alerts show up on my computer, and I can look into them.” Clearly a police officer needs to excel at multi-tasking—driving, listening to radio operators while scanning the streets for suspicious circumstances. “We’ll probably just fly the flag this morning, essentially proactive law enforcement. Sound good?” said Officer Gonzales. That was just what I was hoping for! “We like to drive in neighborhoods and make criminals uncomfort-

able, but also assure the community we are here and they are safe.” Just then dispatch radioed to check out a residence identified as the home of a suspect with two outstanding warrants. As images of reality cop shows flooded my head, I thought, ‘Can’t we just circle the new Whole Foods parking lot and discuss the politics of homelessness?’ At the house, another officer joined us. From the outside, it looked like any other Northgate rancher. While the officers stood at the door, I tried to distract myself by reading the vehicle’s computer screen, which logged the constant stream of incoming calls from the station. (The department received over 80,000 calls in 2015.) 

november december 2016 / walnut creek


talk us. “See how every other person is looking at us? The ones who don’t are usually the ones we want,” said Officer Gonzales.

About 15 minutes later, as I mopped my soaked hands on Lululemon leggings, Officer Gonzales returned. “The suspect wouldn’t come out, and the situation was not worth entry, but the grandparents were very nice. Shall we head back to the station?” he said. ‘Yes, please!’ I said to myself. Maybe most police work was pretty routine after all. As we rolled through traffic and chatted about the positive culture of the W.C.P.D., the radio suddenly came alive spitting out rapid-fire dialog. There had been a minor theft at a gas station and the suspect was on foot heading towards Heather Farm Park in a black hoody. We turned in pursuit. As I processed our detour, a man was spotted sitting at a picnic table. He peeped over his shoulder, then looked straight ahead, with his back to

Sure enough, as we spun onto the goose poop-laden grass, every nanny and toddler was staring in our direction, while the suspect appeared to be in a trance. Again Gonzales’ colleague arrived and the two calmly approached the suspect. Conversing all the while with the dispatcher, the officers gently put on handcuffs. I could hear the details of the theft coming over the radio—mini wine bottles had been stolen but none were open. The officers appeared to be debating about bringing the man in when the background check revealed he was suspicious on other grounds. The suspect was placed in the back seat of the other police vehicle while we returned to the suddenly calming congestion on Ygnacio Valley Road. “Are you ever scared with something like that?” I asked Officer Gonzales. “No, I’m always hopeful and I’m a pretty relaxed guy by nature. You know, since moving here a year ago, there has never been a day in Walnut Creek when I haven’t been smiled at with a friendly wave. At least a dozen times since I’ve been here, I’ve gone up to pay for my lunch and an anonymous person has unknowingly already paid. That kind of thing means a lot to me.” I thought to myself, ‘Lunch is a nominal gesture compared to the roller coaster you ride every day.’

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walnut creek / november december 2016





eniors at a downtown Walnut Creek luxury living community are talking to new companions—robots—and dispelling the notion that the 70-plus set is not technology savvy. Due to a unique partnership between Home Care Assistance (HCA), a national in-home care provider, and Silicon Valley-based OhmniLabs, developers of the virtual care robots, families with seniors living independently at Heritage Downtown have a new way to communicate with them. Designed to improve the quality of life and combat isolation, the robots connect seniors to family and friends through a two-way video chat platform that includes a mobile base and display unit. The robots can be logged into and controlled from anywhere, through the internet with a computer, which gives family members the ability to “check in” on their older relatives for a daily chat or a quick reminder to take their medication. HCA Director of Operations Jesse Walters says instead of using FaceTime with his in-laws and moving a laptop from room to


room so they can track the moves of their three-year-old grandson, “With the robot, I can cook dinner and they can move the robot and watch us. It’s terrific.” The prototype robots resemble remote controlled vacuum cleaners with a long selfie-like stick holding a small screen. Lightweight for easy portability, the video bots are getting good reviews at Heritage Downtown, the senior community selected as the launch pad for a 90-day robot pilot program. Marketing Director Starr Mahoney says her residents are still getting acquainted with their new “guests” but believes adaptation will be fairly easy. “Since the Wi-Fi was upgraded here, we have people carrying laptops everywhere. When I first came here six years ago, residents would come to the desk with flip phones, asking how to use them. Now, they have smartphones and say, ‘Check this out.’ Sometimes I ask them for help. Our seniors are a pretty savvy bunch.” ➤

november december 2016 / walnut creek




t u C n r l a W••••••••••••••••e••e••k ACGfNcOP North Locust Street, Between Giamona and Lacassie

OPEN YEAR ROUND (Closed December 25th)

Market Hours: 9am-1pm



NOV. 28 & DEC. 4

GIFT WRAPPING •••••••••••••••••••••••••••• /CCCFarmersMrkts •


walnut creek / november december 2016

Heritage Downtown residents’ tech savviness led HCA CEO Lily Sarafan and Thuc Vu, OhmniLab’s CEO to select the community for the pilot program. Vu said in an interview that early demonstrations with staff proved it was one of the most progressive senior living communities they had encountered. “I was impressed with their interest in adopting new technology and bringing it to seniors. Because of that, it’s working out very well,” says Vu. “The respect for the aging population there is key.” Resident Relations Director Jenny Shively says residents and their families are connecting, and they’re loving it. A 96-year-old who used a robot said, “Oh my gosh, I can see this, I can hear my son. The phone doesn’t work with my hearing aid. I love this.”

“I’m curious to try it. It occurs to me that I’m not as steady on my feet as I used to be. This is a good way to connect but remain independent.” Vu first tested the robot on his grandmother, who lives in his homeland of Vietnam. “She didn’t like it at first, but when she saw my face on the screen, she changed her mind.” Vu and his partners have found a rare sweet spot in technology that has both social impact and economic value. Social isolation may factor into higher risks of mortality in adults age 52 and older, according to a 2012 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And 2014 data from the Department of Health and Human Services shows that nearly a third of Americans age 65 and older live alone. “We talked to users and found out there’s a huge need for this in the aging community,” says Vu. He estimates the fee to rent the robots will run $200 per month. Mary Fenelon, 82, has lived at Heritage Downtown for two years. She has distant family members, enjoys using new technology, and remembers her mother falling at age 90 and not being able to get up. “I’m curious to try it. It occurs to me that I’m not as steady on my feet as I used to be. This is a good way to connect but remain independent.” Fenelon says she doesn’t like the idea of becoming a burden. With the robot, her daughter can use her computer to check in remotely and have instant, daily contact. Mahoney recounts another touching story, “Two residents were walking with the robot, holding hands while their granddaughter was on the screen. The grandfather reached out and put his arm around the robot. It was a part of their group. He was connecting with it already.”

Photography by Jessica Freels




s you meander to the jewels in the back of this 11,000-square-foot store, look for new and antique furniture on the way—a magnificent burlwood table and chairs, Chihuly-style glass fixtures, a lime leather sofa, or an elegant silver serving tray. If you love it, you better act fast. Interior designers, home stagers, restaurateurs and shop owners frequently prowl the premises at Estates Consignments looking for new treasures. A massive carved wooden lion recently sold within five minutes of being placed on the floor. It’s destination? A restaurant entry.

Although the store is sprinkled with some show-stopping antique pieces, much of the furniture is new and comes from upscale furniture manufacturers’ overruns and close-outs. Jewelry, watches, designer purses and sunglasses come from estate and individual consignments. Tucked in the back of the massive Estates Consignments is a pre-owned jewelry and watch department that rivals most jewelry stores––and with significantly discounted prices. Dazzling diamonds, glittering gold and emerald pendants fill the cases. An independent gemologist, who comes in every Saturday, researches

and authenticates every piece. There is a large section of Tiffany (with blue boxes), David Yurman, Hearts of Fire, Bulgari, Mikimoto pearls and Piaget, Cartier, Breitling, Rolex and Patek Philippe watches. If turquoise and silver or vintage jewelry is your thing, they’ve got plenty of that too. Free verbal appraisals and repairs on watches and jewelry are also available. Owners, husband and wife team Albert Marcu and Audrey Han, come from different cultures and different career paths. Albert was an architect who worked on the designs for Blackhawk in Danville and then decided to channel his love of fine watches and gems into the jewelry business. There he met Audrey, who was in the computer software industry and visited Albert’s shop at the San Francisco Gift Center & Jewelry Mart to buy a watch. “I came in to buy myself a present and he was my present,” Audrey says with a laugh. The good-natured pair treat their staff like family—many have been with them since the store opened in 2005. They’ve even added a nursery to help young staff stay on board as they start families. Estates Consignments is a cozy place to linger in spite of its size. If you visit you might find something for your own home––or perhaps for your wrist or finger. 1500 Contra Costa Blvd, Pleasant Hill,

november december 2016 / walnut creek


good reads

Books by Bay Area Authors by lynn carey

The Bob Watson Greg Bardsley

(Harper Perennial, November) Bob Watson is a corporate legend known for mastering the art of ditching meetings. And Rick Blanco wants to follow in his footsteps, kicking it up a notch. In this hilarious novel that’s been compared to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Office Space,” Blanco creates mayhem with his ‘innocent’ meeting ditching when he misses one that results in criminal acts, bags of cash and naked people.

My Culinary Journey Food & Fetes of Provence Georgeanne Brennan (Yellow Pear Press, November)

Award-winning cookbook author Brennan’s latest is an extension of her memoir, “A Pig in Provence.” When she isn’t on her farm in Winters, she’s at her farmhouse in Provence, the site of her early culinary inspiration in the 1970s. In this new book, she weaves recipes together with personal anecdotes about regional festivals, and photographs of markets, landscapes and people, including her pig, Lucretia.

Moonglow Michael Chabon (Harper Collins, November)

Berkeley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Chabon visited his dying grandfather and got an earful; secrets, stories and recollections told through the haze of powerful painkillers. Chabon’s new novel centers on this deathbed confession including the origins of Chabon Scientific Co., a mail-order company selling human skeleton models, combustion engines and space rockets. It promises humor, sex, desire, love, secrets, lies, war, adventure and madness in the mid-twentieth century.

To Pixar and Beyond Lawrence Levy

(Houghton Mifflin, November) In 1994 Silicon Valley executive Levy got a surprise call from a local executive he’d never met. It was Steve Jobs. He wanted Levy’s help in getting Pixar, then a money-losing company, on track. Set in Hollywood and Silicon Valley, this memoir gives readers an up-close account of the risks Pixar took to become a multibilliondollar entertainment studio. Levy, who lives in Palo Alto, eventually left Pixar to study Eastern philosophy…and to write this memoir.


Surprising Backstage Stories of Broadway’s Most Remarkable Songs

Gerald Nachman

(Chicago Review Press, November) Witty San Francisco journalist Gerald Nachman has written about musicals for over 50 years, as a theater critic for the Oakland Tribune and the SF Chronicle. In his latest book, Nachman interviews dozens of stars, including Joel Grey, Patti LuPone, Chita Rivera, Marvin Hamlisch, Jerry Herman, and Tommy Tune, who share previously untold details and anecdotes about Broadway.

Rad Women Worldwide

Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl (Ten Speed, September) These 40 engagingly written stories delve beyond the headlines. Alameda author Schatz teams with Berkeley illustrator Stahl to go back in history to 430 BC (Hatshepsut, ruler of Egypt) to the WWII war years to current day (Poly Styrene, punk lead singer of X-Ray Spex). This is the second collaboration for the pair: their first, “Rad American Women A-Z,” was a NY Times best seller in 2015.


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As cities go, Walnut Creek is ridiculously full of places to eat, shop, get fit and beautiful. For that reason, coming up with a list of categories for the Best of 2016 was difficult, there’s so much to choose from. Once established, we turned to you, our valued Walnut Creek Magazine readers, to select your top choices in each category. It’s a worthy list of 44 local favorites ranging from food to fashion to fitness. So the next time you find yourself looking for the best brunch spot or place to picnic, refer to this issue. Its love lives on. >




Best of 2016

shop/ self FACIAL In a town that takes beauty seriously, WOODHOUSE DAY SPA is making a mark for its anti-aging Hydrafacials that leave your skin glowing for weeks. The 80-minute treatment infuses the skin with antioxidants, peptides, and hyaluronic acid for immediate results. Open just over a year, the serene vibe and attentive staff leave you pampered and relaxed. 1626 Cypress Street,

PARTY DRESS Whether it’s a wedding, a prom, or a weekend in Vegas, nothing says party like a little black dress. And no one has a better selection than NORDSTROM. With its vast designer dress collections along with brands for every budget, Walnut Creek’s destination department store is a perennial favorite. Personal stylists and savvy service also set the retailer apart. 1200 Broadway Plaza,


walnut creek / november december 2016

WEDDING RING When it comes to wedding rings, SPITZ JEWELERS has the best selection. Whether you prefer a platinum, sterling or gold setting for your diamond, there are dozens of styles to choose from at the Main Street showroom. Family owned and operated for 65 years, Spitz is the trusted local resource for value,

service, and quality. Featuring bridal and engagement rings from nearly 20 designers, Spitz has styles for every taste and budget. Don’t see the right bling in the display cases? Their skilled team of designers will create the ring of your dreams. 1333 N. Main Street,

Best of 2016 NAIL SALON First you lounge in the mesmerizing Aqua Terra room at CHANGES SALON & DAY SPA with a heated neck warmer. Then head to the airy manicure room for your hands to get pampered and polished. From there, you enter a pedicure lounge where your feet are scented, soaked, massaged, exfoliated and filed. And yes, they paint your toenails. 1475 N. Broadway,

BOTOX It’s time to face the facts: Botox is becoming as commonplace as hair dye. For anyone approaching middle age, it’s a magic fix for drooping eyelids, sagging brows and forehead wrinkles. BOTOX specialists at ENCORE MEDSPA spend their days saving face with preventive and corrective injections. There’s no fake or frozen looks here, the best treatments are the ones that are undetectable. 1501 Mt. Diablo Boulevard,

EYEWEAR Eyeglasses can be a necessity or a fashion statement. Either way they should fit your face and your personal style. BROADWAY EYEWORKS carries everything from Chanel and Face à Face to Oliver Peoples and Tom Ford. A Walnut Creek institution for more than 25 years, the boutique-like store is packed with a wide assortment of frames for seeing and sunbathing. 1389 N. Broadway,

MEN’S HAIRCUT A full service men’s salon, 18/8 has reinvented the traditional barbershop, and its popularity reveals the salon experience is not just for women. 18/8 stylists know that looking good requires more than a haircut. That’s why they offer semi-private stations for facials, scalp treatments, manicures, and more. 1576 Botelho Drive,

EYELASH EXTENSIONS Say goodbye to boring lashes and hello to Betty Davis eyes. For distinctive and envy-worthy lashes i CANDY EYE SALON wins for extensions that give you a lush, natural look. Whether you are seeking a mascara, glamour or couture look, owner Shareen Malik and her team of trained technicians fulfill the needs of every client. 7000 Sunne Lane,

november december 2016 / walnut creek


Best of 2016 FLOWERS The inspired, garden-style floral arrangements at Darwin Harrison’s FLORALI can only be described as ethereal. His passion for plants and flowers is evident in every Florali arrangement— blooms, tendrils, grasses, foliage, fruits, and pods — all play a role in the designs. The shop also carries an eclectic mix of unusual orchids, house plants and gifts. 2345 Boulevard Circle,

TOP WINNER Bonnie Waters has created a magical retreat in the heart of Walnut Creek. Her prized CHANGES SALON & DAY SPA is a Walnut Creek Magazine winner year after year. This time Changes took the prize in four categories: BEST DAY SPA, BEST MASSAGE,


BEST NAIL SALON AND BEST BODY WAXING. If you’ve never been there, it’s time to go. This is a place where clients show up early just to wait around. Treatments begin in the tranquil oasis of the Aqua Terra room where the floor to ceiling water wall calms and soothes.

walnut creek / november december 2016

Spa services run the gamut from massage, facials, waxing, and body therapy to manicures, pedicures and a full service hair salon. They also do makeup or purchase your own to do at home from their vast collection of Smashbox Cosmetics. There’s no shortage of ways to indulge here. “What really makes

Changes a special place is our team. We have dedicated, customer-driven specialists,” says Bonnie. 1475 N. Broadway,


Best of 2016

It seems a little unfair to focus only on jeans when this coveted department store has so much to offer. But whether you’re in the market for skinny, faded, torn or high-waisted, NORDSTROM has the perfect fit. An entire quadrant of the second floor is devoted to jeans, featuring dozens of brands in dozens of styles to fit every body type, the selection is unmatched. Settle-in to a dressing room, take your time, and let Nordstrom stylists help you find your jean destiny. Because when it comes to jeans, you can never have too many. 1200 Broadway Plaza,

LUXURY LINGERIE Not all panties are created equal. At VICTORIA’S SECRET silk and stretch lace can be sweet or saucy in timeless and racy styles for every shape and size. Lingerie comes in a myriad of color, from hot pink to polkadots. Playful and alluring, this iconic brand is famous for everything from boy shorts and thongs to briefs and bustiers. 1281 Broadway Plaza,

YOGA/ ATHLETIC WEAR Comfort, fashion, and motivation. What more can you ask for in a pair of yoga pants? The LULULEMON manifesto inspires, while its state-of-the-art fabrics and styles keep wearers on-trend. This big chain retailer has a cult-like following for its chic, great-fitting athletic wear. An airy new space in Broadway Plaza delivers more inventory to Lulu loyalists, and also serves as a Sunday morning yoga studio. 1210 Broadway Plaza, LOU & GREY Photography by Lisa Duncan

november december 2016 / walnut creek


Best of 2016 HOUSEWARMING GIFTS Make friends feel welcome in their new home with a gift from WISH, the whimsical, fanciful boutique tucked away on Boulevard Circle. Browse candles, succulents, glassware, pillows, and throws from the bountiful inventory in vignette-themed rooms. Mother daughter team Susie Shirokow and Sasha Varni scour shows across the country to fill every nook and cranny of their shop, where smitten first-timers quickly become regulars. 2333 Boulevard Circle,

PAINT STORE So much more than a paint store, the independently owned Benjamin Moore PROFESSIONAL PAINT CENTER delivers specialized attention and great tips for all of your home projects. With paint pros and designers on staff, plus a wide range of stellar colors, this shop gets top marks from locals for its service and selection. 2724 N. Main Street,

MEN’S WATCHES SHOE REPAIR No matter how much TLC you bestow on your prized pair of kicks, even the best shoes pass their prime. Let A-1 SHOE REPAIR, a longtime favorite for the East Bay well-heeled, work their magic on your pumps, and for a lot less than a new pair of Valentinos. 1399 N Main Street,

Next to women and cars, nothing excites men more than watches. The tightly edited collection at OC WATCH COMPANY includes an impressive selection of new and pre-owned Breitlings, Patek Phillips, Rolex, and Panerai to name only a few. Owner Kyle O’Connor makes shopping here delightfully straightforward matching your personal style with the perfect watch. 1507 Cypress Street,


MEN’S WATCHES: Nordstrom PARTY DRESSES: Neiman Marcus EYEWEAR: Site for Sore Eyes SHOE REPAIR: Dean’s PAINT STORE: Kelley Moore PAIR OF JEANS: Lucky Brand WEDDING RING: The King’s Jeweler’s NAIL SALON: Woodhouse Day Spa EYELASH EXTENSIONS: Michelle Handy at Sola Salon FLOWERS: Fringe MEN’S HAIRCUT: Clip Joynte FACIAL: Changes Salon & Day Spa MASSAGE: Woodhouse Day Spa BOTOX: SkinSpirit BODY WAXING: Wax Parlor DAY SPA: Woodhouse


walnut creek / november december 2016

Best of 2016

eat / drink

SALAD Thanks to the gourmet salads served at LETTUCE, lunch comes big, bright and delicious. Salads are made from scratch, hand-tossed and topped with house-made dressings. Customer favorites include the Big Cobb, Pink Lady, Farmers and Sonoma. Owners and long-time restauranteurs Bahmin and Laura Tehrani brought their culinary talent to Walnut Creek in 2009 creating a salad sensation that was the first of its kind in Walnut Creek. Order at the counter from a menu that boasts 16 salads, plus soup, sandwiches, pasta and a daily special. Attention to detail, execution, and focus on good food at a great value makes this restaurant a winner. 1632 Locust Street,

november december 2016 / walnut creek


Best of 2016 TAKEOUT With an eclectic menu celebrating natural goodness, VEGGIE GRILL makes vegetables taste so good, you’ll be tempted to ask for more. Hefty, but meatless cheeseburgers and Buffalo wings, along with standards like kale, tofu and cauliflower take center stage at this fast casual restaurant, where carryout is king. It’s about fireroasted carrots, char-grilled eggplant, quinoa, coconut milk and innovative ways to disguise vegetables as meat. With calorie counts posted on the menu, watch your waistline and wallet, while your taste buds dance and sing. 1320 Locust Street,

HAPPY HOUR If you’re looking for a happy hour with tasty bites and cheap cocktails, head to VANESSA’S BISTRO where prices drop in the afternoon to $7 for most tapas and drinks. Favorites include salt and pepper fried calamari, Vietnamese green papaya salad with poached prawns and crispy Saigon chicken rolls with spicy lime dipping sauce. Everything here tastes good too. 1512 Locust Street,


BREAKFAST Chances are you’ve eaten at SUNRISE BISTRO, a Walnut Creek Magazine reader favorite year after year. What you order probably depends on your mood. At this busy bistro, fresh pastries and breads emerge accompanied by fruit, giant breakfast burritos are topped with house-made salsa, and poached eggs cover sweet potato hash. But the real show stoppers are the signature yogurt pancakes covered in berry compote, served plump and piping hot. 1559 Botelho Drive,


walnut creek / november december 2016

What more can be said about the Berkeley coffee sensation founded in 1966? Before there was Starbucks, there was PEET’S. And to its legions of die-hard fans, it still endures. Hand-roasted sustainable coffees from all over the world transform a simple cup into a revelation. Its downtown Walnut Creek location is a beloved local hangout. 1343 Locust Street.,

Best of 2016 PIZZA Photos of daredevil rock climbers and radical snowboarders cover the walls at EXTREME PIZZA where adventurous carnivores and vegetarians dive into delicious pies. At this popular downtown hangout, great tasting pizzas come with extreme names like the Wham, Bam Thank you Mammoth covered in Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, parmesan, tomato sauce and mozzarella. Or Peace in the Middle East topped with homemade hummus, vine ripe tomatoes, black olives, feta, fresh basil, pepperoncini and mozzarella. 1630 Cypress Street,

CHINESE FOOD Szechwan and Cantonese cuisines are a winning combination at OI-C BOWL where the menu feautures everything from Peking duck buns to Singapore rice noodles and Kung Pao combos. From the spacious dining room, it’s

easy to watch Chinese chefs preparing fresh dim sum and potato baskets to hold garlic prawns and vegetables. Lunchtime is especially popular for Bento Box specials and big bowls of hot and sour soup. 1616 N. Main Street,

SUSHI With special attention to fresh, SASA wins again and again. Walnut Creek’s fashionable fish lovers converge at this dynamic restaurant and sushi bar where killer rolls and

succulent sushi are the star attraction. The izakaya also serves unique small plates, ribs, chops and skewers to complement your sushi. 1432 Main Street,

november december 2016 / walnut creek


Best of 2016 BURGER It’s the burger era. Fat, fresh and delicious. To satisfy their cravings, locals head to THE COUNTER where its plump patties explode with flavor and taste. Garnishes run the gamut from twelve kinds of cheese to fresh grilled pineapple and shredded carrots to fried onions topped with an egg. Not a fan of beef? Order a chicken, turkey, fish or veggie burger. 1699 N. California Boulevard,

ICE CREAM SAN FRANCISCO CREAMERY is making mountains of sweet magic. This popular ice cream parlor takes a cue from the past and dishes it up the old-fashioned way—big scoops made from scratch. Long lines form out the door for cones, sundaes and sodas. But its real

claim to fame is the “Kitchen Sink,” a gigantic eight flavor sundae for six (or one if you dare) topped with mounds and mounds of whipped cream, perfect for birthday celebrations. 1370 Locust Street,

DELI SANDWICH This deli may be Italian, but it attracts all kinds of tastes and cultures. Around for decades, MORRUCI’S is aging well. Lines form out the door early for Reuben’s that can rival any New York deli, juicy, flavorful and just greasy enough to slide down easy. Other stand-outs at this Saranap sweetheart include the 6 ¾ sandwich on ciabatta piled high with turkey, fresh pesto and mozzarella. 1218 Boulevard Way,

BEST RESTAURANT AND BEST SEAFOOD Another year, another win for WALNUT CREEK YACHT CLUB. This time they won for both best seafood and best restaurant. There’s something to be said for a seasonally shifting menu that features sustainable fresh fish and excellent cocktails. Opened in 1997 by Chef Kevin Weinberg and Ellen McCarty, this popular bistro is famous for its clam chowder, beerbattered fish and chips, seafood Louies, cioppino and garlic fries. From the bar comes a long list of wines and libations with a nod to the past when making cocktails was a performance art. Joyful simplicity, great ingredients and an unwavering focus on freshness sets Walnut Creek Yacht Club apart. 1555 Bonanza Street,


walnut creek / november december 2016

Best of 2016



The feather-weight strands of pasta in the Sandwiches are legendary at A Fettucine Alla Viareggina at MONTECATINI Sweet Affair Bakery – fresh RISTORANTE cause you abandon all rechicken salad or turkey with cranstraint and dive into this house specialty berry sauce—but ultimately, it’s all covered in scallops, prawns, shrimp, and about the fresh baked goods here. a rich tomato cream sauce. Chef Ermes A Walnut Creek mainstay for over Paulin has cooked for many international 30 years, a huge variety of pastries, dignitaries, but for the past 27 years, cookies, cakes and cinnamon rolls he’s been pleasing Walnut Creek patrons pack the display cases and leftovers with his delicious, freshly prepared pastas are served to customers for samples. and other Italian dishes 1. 528 Civic Drive, 1815 Ygnacio Valley Road, sequoia high sierra camp



A time honored tradition of Mexico, grilled, stuffed, and tortilla wrapped tacos are a three bite delight. MARIA MARIA wins for balancing spice and sweetness in pineapple carnitas tacos topped with onion, radish, and cotija cheese and grilled shrimp tacos smothered in pico de gallo, avocado and a heavenly chipotle cream sauce. Or simply order the chicken or steak street tacos and wash them down with a margarita on the creekside patio. 1470 N. Broadway,

The name says it all. ROOFTOP delivers star-filled nights and sunset vistas atop a stunning brick building in the middle of Walnut Creek’s burgeoning shopping district. Snag a seat at the bar to sip the restaurant’s hand-crafted cocktails and curated wines. A retractable roof, plus heating and cooling systems, keep you comfortable rain or shine. Come here for the energy and ambiance, there’s no place else like it in town. 1500 Mt. Diablo Blvd.,

Runners up: BREAKFAST: Katy's Kreek TACOS: Cinco de Mayo PIZZA: Rocco’s BURGERS: Broderick SEAFOOD: Scott’s BAR: Sunol Ridge SALAD: Tender Greens DELI SANDWICH: Genova Delicatessen CHINESE FOOD: Dragon Pond ICE CREAM: Lotties BAKERY: 54 Mint RESTAURANT: Va de Vi PASTA: Salvatore’s SUSHI: Andy’s HAPPY HOUR: Fleming’s COFFEE: The Coffee Shop TAKE-OUT: Whole Foods Market

november december 2016 / walnut creek


Best of 2016

fun / fitness



With a large playground, sprawling lawns and a downtown location, in the heart of the city, it’s no surprise that CIVIC PARK is the top choice for a place to picnic. Add to that a multitude of restaurants and delis in close proximity for carry-out and Whole Foods Market nearby for gourmet delights, and you have the perfect place to spread out a blank, kick back and relax. Corner of Civic Drive and Broadway.

Want to be part of your dog’s exercise regime? Experts say most dogs need 35-40 minutes of exercise each day. And for some breeds that number is higher. The top spot for locals and their canine companions to get fit is on the 3000 acres of OPEN SPACE that surrounds Walnut Creek in the Shell Ridge, Lime Ridge, Sugarloaf, and Acalanes Ridge land areas. Considered one of the best


walnut creek / november december 2016

kept secrets in the Bay Area, Fido is more than welcome, but bring a leash please. Maps and details at

HIKING TRAIL Your heart will fill with hometown pride when you take in the sweeping vistas and meandering trails on SHELL RIDGE. Featuring 31 miles of trail within a wildlife-abundant

1420 acres, Shell Ridge extends from downtown Walnut Creek to the hillsides of Mount Diablo. It’s also home to historic Borges Ranch and Howe Homestead Park, and a communal gathering spot for grateful hikers, as well as bikers and horseback riders. This beautiful land was preserved and protected from development decades ago. Castle Rock Road, past Northgate High School,

Best of 2016 KIDS BIRTHDAY PARTY Where else can you entertain kids with big raptors and reptiles? At the LINDSAY WILDLIFE MUSEUM, birthday parties are engaging and fun complete with live animals, fun facts and an exhibit hall tour. Learn the difference between a wild animal and a pet, view animals munch their meals, watch a rat get a health check and spy on rats as they scamper through clear tubes. Then celebrate with ice cream and cake! 1931 First Avenue,

YOGA STUDIO Who needs a step machine when classes at YOGAWORKS burn calories, inches and stress so efficiently? At this simple yet stunning studio—with sweeping views of Mt. Diablo—thousands of yogis bend over backwards in classes here. But don’t be fooled by all this “Zen.” The workouts bend your mind and body enhancing power and grace. 1131 Locust Street,

HEALTH CLUB You join a gym to keep your body in shape but at Walnut Creek’s chic favorite RENAISSANCE CLUB SPORT the workout experience is transcended with top notch trainers, hi tech equipment and array of classes. Add to that Pilates and yoga studios, indoor basketball and racquet ball courts, an outdoor lap pool plus an 85,000-square-foot fitness center, and Renaissance Club Sport comes out on top year after year. 2805 Jones Road,

november december 2016 / walnut creek


Best of 2016

COMMUNITY EVENT Every June since 1981, the East Bay welcomes summer on the grassy acres of Heather Farm Park at the ART & WINE FESTIVAL sponsored by the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce. It’s a local tradition like none other. Crowds gather to dance to live music, sip premium wine, taste delicious food and explore works by over 200 artists. During its two-day run, the festival attracts over 100,000 people who celebrate the season with local and regional vendors in beautiful Walnut Creek. Runners up: PICNIC SPOT: Civic Park DOG WALK: Ironhorse Trail YOGA STUDIO: Be Yoga KIDS BIRTHDAY PARTY: Rebel Art Studio HIKING TRAIL: Briones HEALTH CLUB: Forma COMMUNITY EVENT: Walnut Festival VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: Bedford Gallery


walnut creek / november december 2016

Cream crop

Y of the Y

With our attention focused on the Best of Walnut Creek, it seemed like the perfect time to shine a light on a few of the leaders in our community who have helped shape the city's social and business landscape. Here you will meet teams that work together, play together and make a difference together. It's what our city is all about — dedicated, devoted people with a passion for the Best of Walnut Creek.


november december 2016 / walnut creek




hese three are setting records. Not only have they happily and successfully worked together for the last seventeen years, but they have also rolled with the myriad of changes at Walnut Creek’s destination shopping center, Broadway Plaza. Working together gracefully and professionally for this long in the retail world is incredible. Even more so when your bosses are in a distant city. Add to that a multimillion dollar renovation, and the day to day challenges of dealing with shoppers, retailers and the surrounding community, and the challenges multiply exponentially. Yet the team of Senior Property Manager Shelly Dress, Senior Marketing Manager Tracy Dietlein and Assistant Property Manager Greg Aguirre remain a triumphant triumvirate. Like an aging celebrity, Walnut Creek’s 64-year-old shopping center recently underwent a major facelift. After months of construction, it has emerged with taller buildings, wider pedestrian walkways and a bigger, brighter parking garage. There are new eateries like True Food Kitchen, a SoulCycle workout studio, and many new stores, along with revamped and relocated versions of older ones. But Shelly, Tracy and Greg never rest on their laurels, which may be part of the secret to their success. “There’s no text book for what we’re doing here. Every day something new comes up and it’s like how are we going to manage this one?” says Shelly. “We’ve never had public restrooms and now we have six to manage,” says Greg. “We have new outdoor furniture, new


A triumphant trio THE TEAM BEHIND THE SCENES AT BROADWAY PLAZA by Deborah Burstyn

landscaping. How will all that hold up through the rains in the winter?” Shelly chimes in, “Will we get all the spaces leased? How well will the new tenants do? Do we have the right mix of stores? These are all things we constantly think about.” Of course, they have each other on speed dial. “Our jobs are completely intense. I could not do my job without these two,” Shelly says.

walnut creek / november december 2016

Tracy adds, “It takes a village and then some.” And that includes lots of extra hours. These are not 9-to-5 jobs. The team is on call 24/7. And like master puppeteers, their work must be done behind the scenes. Shelly says, “We’re here to impart the best possible customer experience without being seen or heard.” All work and no play might

make for dreary teamwork. So the three musketeers of Broadway Plaza make a point of getting together for good times too. Wine tasting is a team-building favorite. They also play active roles in the business, civic and arts communities contributing substantial time and energy as volunteers to the future of Walnut Creek. 

And their work isn’t done. There is more construction to come, more spaces to lease. Plus, paid parking at the Plaza comes online in January. “Broadway Plaza is our baby,” says Tracy.


he’s been here much longer than I have––and she’s much older,” kids Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jay Hoyer. Marcie Hochhauser, the Chamber’s Executive Vice President, laughs. His joke is partly true. Marcie has been with the Chamber for 36 years and Jay for 26 years. Combined that’s over 50 years of teamwork uniting Walnut Creek’s business community and moving the city forward. Each of them brings experience and expertise to projects which allows them to work separately while also collaborating on the process. “It’s very unusual in Chamber history to have a long-term working relationship like this. A lot of it is about vision and creativity,” says Jay. “We are very much in synch that way. We tend to have large visions of things we want to accomplish and work together on how to achieve those goals.” Marcie says,” Our relationship is built on mutual respect and admiration. Jay is so impressive, he has such great ideas. If Jay is doing something, I know it is going to be great. We don’t micromanage each other.” Jay adds, “We’re a nonprofit so we can’t get something done by buying it. We have to do the hard work

DYNAMIC DUO Marcie Hochhauser and Jay Hoyer are married, but not to each other. They share a rare and successful professional partnership rooted in respect, hard work and lots of laughs. by Deborah Burstyn

ourselves. We’re like the swans you see gracefully swimming around the pond, but you don’t see paddling like mad underneath.” While each one gives the other credit for being the visionary, as a team Marcie and Jay have made things happen, spearheading an impressive roster of Chamber-sponsored programs and events—the Art & Wine Festival, Leadership Contra Costa and the East Bay Women’s Conference to name only a few. With an eye to the future they worked with the hotel community and city

officials to create the Walnut Creek Convention & Visitors Bureau designed to bring more businesses to Walnut Creek. “We always look ahead to what we can and should do next. We keep up with what is important and keep each other updated on what we perceive that is going to be,” says Marcie. Right now the Chamber team says the need to generate more high-paying jobs in Walnut Creek is a front-burner issue. “We have a lot of families with kids going off to college in our community,” says Jay.

“We want those kids to come back after college and get jobs here. Walnut Creek has a lot of retail and service jobs but we need more high paying jobs. Someone needs to think about that and that someone is us.” Along this vein, one of their recent endeavors included working with the city to rezone Shadelands Business Park and attract a host of new businesses to town.“It’s a lot of juggling,” says Marcie. “We try never to put all our eggs in any one basket.” 

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people rewarding. Because my family’s involved, it’s easier. I’m married both to Kerri and to the Lesher Center.” Kerri and Scott met in a class at Diablo Valley College. She noticed his brilliant blue eyes. He admired her good looks and kindness. But she was in “the upper echelons” as an actor and he was “a mere mortal,” so Scott refrained from asking her on a date. Sometime later, crossing paths in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire, Denison leapt across the footlights. “He asked me out,” recalls Kerri. “Our first date was January 12, he asked me to marry him May 1, and we married in September.”

Culture Stars Her gaze is grounded. He looks beyond the horizon. Together, dancer, actor and theater arts educator Kerri Shawn and Lesher Center for the Arts General Manager Scott Denison sing like songbirds. by lou fancher


ringing harmony to their work is second nature for a couple who for the last forty years have influenced the East Bay arts community in significant, generation-bridging ways. Celebrating their 41st wedding anniversary in September, the 64-year-olds have three daughters, two grandchildren and an untold number of actors, singers,


costumers, designers, and directors who consider them family. Kerri Shawn most often works her magic onstage, performing with Center REPertory Company and Fantasy Forum Actors Ensemble. Behind the scenes, she is a trusted teacher and Co-Education Director for Center REP’s professional and youth training divisions. Scott Denison

walnut creek / november december 2016

literally towers like a basketball player and spreads his energy cross court, producing six shows annually as Managing Director of Center REP, directing Fantasy Forum productions and masterminding the annual Shellie Awards, which he founded in 1979 to honor arts achievement in Contra Costa County. “In my job,” says Scott, “I jokingly say I work any day that ends with ‘Y.’ Running an arts organization of this size and fitting into a city system is challenging, but

Of course, to keep a relationship humming, contrast is essential. Kerri says her husband is forward-thinking and has a sense of humor that most people miss because of his get-itdone efficiency. “Scott gets people onboard. He helps them take a breath when they’re in a tough spot. When he’s directing me in a show, I want to do my best for him. If there’s struggle, it’s in not being able to get where he wants me to go.” Scott recognizes the gifts their permanency has returned to them; “We look at the lives we’ve affected positively. People who’ve gone on to become good citizens, husbands and wives, professionals, actors. We didn’t need New York; our life work in Walnut Creek has been our reward.” Satisfaction doesn’t mean complacency and expectedly, the couple share dreams. “Just like in 1977 when the first group at the Nut House (the downtown theater that preceded the Lesher) said, ‘Hey we’re outgrowing this walnut warehouse, we need to start building for the future,’ I think those conversations are beginning now,” says Scott. Perhaps this means building a giant concert hall to bring in touring shows and to host conventions. The Lesher will remain, but on the horizon, he hopes the city will develop a larger venue. “If you remain stagnant, like a plant in a pot, you die. You have to keep growing.”


in season

As the Bay Area heads into the winter season, local farmers' markets are filling up with gorgeous citrus, squash and apples. Other cold weather produce includes broccoli, beets, Brussel sprouts and fennel. Check with local farmers at the weekly markets for tips on the best quality, value and variety. Pair seasonal produce with local meat, poultry and fish, and then enjoy your creations with matched wine pairings. Make vegetables a star at your Thanksgiving feast and remember to thank goodness for local farmers. 

november december 2016 / walnut creek




INGREDIENTS Whole Butternut Squash, cut into 2-3 inch chunks 1/2 white or yellow onion, cut into quarters 1/2 stalk celery, diced 3 carrots, diced

By Chef Alison Negrin INGREDIENTS 1 lb assorted beets, red and golden ½ cup whole garlic cloves, unpeeled 1 cup olive oil ¼ cup kosher salt Handful of fresh thyme sprigs 1 T fresh ground black pepper 2 T whole fennel seeds 1 lb Peeled baby carrots 1 lb Russian kale 1 tsp olive oil Salt and pepper 1 tsp balsamic vinegar DIRECTIONS Wash beets and cut off greens, but do not peel. Mix in a large bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper, fennel seeds and garlic. Place in a shallow pan and cover with foil. Roast at 400 degrees until cooked through, but not soft. Peel beets by rubbing so as not to alter the shape. Taste for seasoning. Cut beets in wedges and set aside. Steam carrots for one minute, then shock in ice water so they do not lose crunch. Set aside. Mix kale with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Roast in hot oven for a couple of minutes to wilt. Arrange the vegetables on a platter and serve.

SHAVED BRUSSELS SPROUT SALAD BY Contra Costa Certified Farmers’ Market INGREDIENTS 12 Brussels sprouts sliced thin ¾ cup shredded mozzarella ½ cup almond meal ½ cup panko bread crumbs 2 T parmesan cheese 2 T sunflower seeds ½ cup pistachios chopped fine DIRECTIONS Place ingredients in a bowl & mix well. Drizzle with your favorite dressing


DIRECTIONS Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over squash. Sprinkle with salt. Roast in oven at 400 degrees for 40 minutes (or until soft). Set aside. Sauté onions, celery, carrots, and squash until they are brown. Reduce heat and mash mixture. Put vegetables in a food processor. Pour mixture back into pan. Add 2 cups chicken broth. Add salt and pepper to taste. combinations: Cesar & olive oil, Italian, balsamic. Mix to taste for quick delicious salad or side dish.

ROASTED ACORN SQUASH WITH CHILE VINAIGRETTE INGREDIENTS 2 (1 1/2 - to 1 3/4-lb) acorn squash 1/2 tsp black pepper 1 tsp salt 6 T olive oil 1 garlic clove, minced 1 1/2 T fresh lime juice, or to taste 1 to 2 tsps finely chopped fresh hot red chili, including seeds 2 T chopped fresh cilantro DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 450F. Place oven rack on lowest position. Halve squash lengthwise, cut off stem ends. Scoop out seeds and cut squash lengthwise into 3/4-inch-wide wedges. Toss squash with black pepper, salt, and 2 T olive oil in a bowl. Arrange, cut sides down, in 2 large shallow baking pans. Roast squash, until tender and undersides are golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes. Vinaigrette: In a small bowl combine garlic with lime juice, chili (to taste), cilantro, and remaining 1/4 cup oil. Whisk until combined. Transfer squash, browned sides up, to a platter. Drizzle with vinaigrette.

walnut creek / november december 2016

MASHED SWEET POTATOES INGREDIENTS 8 sweet potatoes or large yams 3 T kosher salt, plus additional as needed 1 banana, with a 2-inch slit cut into the peel 8 T unsalted butter 2 cups heavy cream 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar 1 tsp black pepper, plus additional as needed DIRECTIONS Wash potatoes, poke holes into them with a fork, rub each with about 1 teaspoon of salt, and wrap with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place in oven on 350 and bake for 50 minutes or until tender. At same time, cook banana in the peel until blackened, about 15 minutes. Carefully take potatoes out of foil and scoop out flesh into a large bowl. Cover with foil. Scoop flesh out of banana into a separate bowl. In a small roasting pan, add butter, place in oven and let melt. Remove and add cream, cinnamon stick, brown sugar, potatoes, banana, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Using a potato masher, mash potatoes and banana, stir to combine. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper as needed.

november december 2016 / walnut creek


Local Flavor Chef Debbie Shavar who owns Butter Grill & Bar with her husband David, delighted shoppers at Diablo Valley Farmers’ Market this fall with a morning pie demo. Here she shares the recipe.

WINTER FARMERS’ MARKETS ALAMO Alamo Plaza Every Sunday, 9am-2pm MORAGA Moraga Shopping Center Every Sunday 9am-1pm ORINDA Orinda Village Saturday 9am-1pm Market closes November 19 WALNUT CREEK North Locust Street Sunday 9am-1pm DIABLO VALLEY Shadelands Business Park Saturday 9am-1pm DANVILLE Railroad and Prospect Avenues Saturday 9am-1pm

UPSIDE DOWN APPLE PIE By Chef Debbie Shavar Buttercup Grill & Bar INGREDIENTS 2 pre-made pie crusts (Pillsbury makes one that are already rolled out and ready to go) Apple Filling: 5 large Granny Smith apples 3/4 cup granulated sugar 3 tablespoons flour 2 teaspoons cinnamon Praline: 4 tablespoons butter 3/4 cup chopped walnuts 3/4 cup light brown sugar DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9-inch metal pie pan with a 14 x 14 inch piece of wax paper and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. To make apple filling: Peel, quarter and core apples. Cut into 3/4 inch slices. Place in a large bowl and add sugar, flour and cinnamon. Toss well to coat and set aside. To make praline: Melt butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan over moderate heat. Cook, stirring until melted about 3 minutes. Stir in walnuts and remove from heat. To assemble: Spread praline over the bottom of wax paper in the pie tin. Top with a pie crust. Pour apple filling with its juices into the crust, mounding in the center. Press down firmly. Place the top crust over the apples. Trim edges leaving a 3/4 inch border. Fold top and bottom crusts together and flute. Cut a 1 inch circle in the center of the pie. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees, then lower temperature to 325 degrees. Bake for 1 more hour. Remove from oven and cool. Refrigerate overnight. To serve: Heat a large skillet over moderately high heat for 2 minutes. Place pie in the skillet and heat for a few minutes. Invert pie on a plate and peel off wax paper.Serve with vanilla ice cream.


walnut creek / november december 2016

walnut creek M








Dining Guide where to eat now Edited by Anneli Rufus

These listings include advertisers and non-advertisers at the discretion of Walnut Creek Magazine. We suggest that you phone the restaurants ahead for reservations, current hours, and days of operation. All listings are in the (925) area code, unless noted otherwise. We welcome your comments and suggestions. Please write to us: Dine, Walnut Creek Magazine PO Box 5550, Walnut Creek, CA 94596 or email us at



LETTUCE: A salad emporium that loads farm-fresh produce into generously sized classics and creative new inventions. 1632 Locust St., 933-5600,

BACK FORTY TEXAS BARBECUE: Meat is king here - from steak and sliced brisket to chicken and ribs, much of it cooked according to Austin-style family recipes.100 Coggins Dr., Pleasant Hill, 935-1440,

MOOYAH: It’s a franchise with a load of personality. Take your kids

BUCKHORN GRILL: When it comes to big salads, Buckhorn is a star. Casual and comfortable, the downtown eatery serves fresh veggies and grilled meats in satisfying combinations.1171 Locust St., 945-7676,

RUTH’S CHRIS STEAKHOUSE: New Yorks, rib eyes and filets are

BUTTERCUP: At this family- run restaurant, it’s all about

to this colorful burger joint and let them build their own burger and eat it with a side of fries. 1815 Ygnacio Valley Rd., 280-5555,

served on sizzling 500-degree plates cooked to perfection. Round out the meal with spinach au gratin and potatoes Lyonnaise at this swanky steakhouse. 1553 Olympic Blvd., 977-3477,

savory homemade meals. Besides big breakfasts, Buttercup dishes up lunch and dinner. And on Fridays, they serve Matzo Ball soup. 660 Ygnacio Valley Rd., 932-2763,

STANFORD’S: Happy hour is hot here with steak bites, flatbreads, and burgers on the menu. This is the place to take a shopping break and sip a signature cocktail. 1330 S. Main St., 944-0895,

DENICA’S: There’s a lot to love at this north Walnut Creek

STADIUM PUB: Around for decades, the place is covered in sports

restaurant starting with the mouthwatering pastries lining the bakery’s shelves. Other show stoppers include Benedict four ways and big salads. 2280 Oak Grove Rd., 945-6200,

KATY'S KREEK: With 12 kinds of Eggs Benedict, a full bar and

brunch served every day, this is the place to satisfy your cravings. If your taste buds prefer the sweet, Katy's is famous for its blintzes and Swedish pancakes. 1680 Locust St., 946-0949,

LARK CREEK: This upscale restaurant specializes in fresh sea-

sonal comfort food. Popular dishes Include roasted chicken, tamale pancake and Steelhead salmon. 1360 Locust St., 256-1234,

memorabilia and wall to wall TVs. The menu is stuffed with BLTs, hot dogs, burgers and fish tacos. 1420 Lincoln Ave., 256-7302,

CORNERS TAVERN: Upscale comfort food served in a spirited

atmosphere. Get communal around the 30-seat bar or hang out in the lounge alcoves with mussels, sliders or garlicky shrimp. Great collection of craft beers. 1342 Broadway Plaza, 948-8711,

HOME OF CHICKEN AND WAFFLES: Classic fried chicken is served moist and tender. Eat it with waffles or something savory like the house grits, biscuits and collard greens. Open until 4am on weekends. 1653 Mt. Diablo, 280-1653,

november december 2016 / walnut creek


AMERICAN SUNRISE BISTRO: The emphasis here is on fresh, healthy food. For breakfast try the sweet potato hash or yogurt pancakes. At lunch, you can’t go wrong with a chicken salad sandwich or big salad. 1559 Botelho Dr., 930-0122, THE COUNTER: Upscale burger joint where they make it the way you want it, from exotic to classic, and top it with your favorites. Plump patties range from beef, bison, turkey and ahi tuna. 1699 N. California Blvd., 935-3795, THE ORIGINAL HICK’RY PIT: This diner is known for its honest American food served all day with a heaping side of hospitality. House specialties are barbecue ribs and homemade pies. 1495 S. Main St., 935-7450,


CHINESE / VIETNAMESE / JAPANESE / THAI DRAGON POND: Executive Chef Xiao creates Hunan and Mandarin delicacies. House favorites include Mango Chicken, Honey Walnut Prawns and Salt & Pepper Calamari. 1353 Locust St., 926-0278, LE CHEVAL: Renowned for its classic Vietnamese cuisine; vermicelli MDine-in MCarry-out MCatering MBanquets MSaloon

salad, ginger crab and lemongrass chicken. 1375 N. Broadway, 9382288,

KACHA THAI BISTRO: An extensive Thai menu goes beyond the basics with dishes like coconut-milk-roasted duck served in a half-pineapple. A chic setting glamorizes the satay, plar, and larb. 1665 Mt. Diablo Blvd., 988-9877,

LEGENDARY TEX The way it was meant to be.

MIXED GRAIN: Authentic Korean comfort food. Try the bibimbap, a big bowl of fluffy rice, colorful vegetables and creamy egg. Nine condiments accompany every meal, including spicy cucumber and seaweed salad. 1546 Bonanza St., 938-5959, NAMA SUSHI: This casual sushi spot in a north WC strip mall is

always packed with raw fish fanatics craving the chef’s creative rolls, ocean fresh fish and Japanese fare. 1502 Sunnyvale Avenue, 932-9540.

OI-C BOWL: Delicious Chinese food served in a spacious setting with outdoor patio. Spicy Szechuan cuisine, big noodle bowls and Bento Box lunch specials. 1616 N. Main St., 287-8118,


100 Coggins Dr., Pleasant Hill


walnut creek / november december 2016

PF CHANG’S CHINA BISTRO: This large Chinese restaurant manages to feel intimate with an interesting menu that draws on multiple Asian cooking styles. Try the lettuce wraps and Dan Dan noodles. 1205 Broadway Plaza, 979-9070,

SASA: Upscale Japanese izakaya with dazzling décor and decadently fresh fish. Melt-in-your-mouth sashimi is served with an array of sake.1432 N. Main St., 210-0188,

VANESSA'S BISTRO: During happy hour, prices at this popular Viet-

namese spot drop to $6 for most small plates and cocktails including green papaya prawn salad, petrale sole fish tacos and crispy Saigon rolls. 1512 Locust St., 891-4790,

YAN’S CHINA BISTRO: This spicy-food haven makes its pot stickers to order and vegetables crisp. Bestsellers include Singapore noodles, salt & pepper pork chops and Mongolian beef. 3162 Danville Blvd., Alamo, 837-8298,


PASTA / FISH / ORGANIC PRODUCE A’TRIO: Lively restaurant-lounge inside the Walnut Creek Marriott turns out delicious California cuisine with a Mediterranean flare. Flatbreads, salads, tasty burgers and salmon. Live music on weekends. 2355 N. Main St., 934-2000,

1515 RESTAURANT LOUNGE: Always bustling for cocktails, flavorful pastas and fresh fish, the heated outdoor patio is a good place to people watch. 1515 N. Main Street, 939-1515, CITRUS: This hip restaurant inside Renaissance Club Sport, fea-

tures Pacific Rim dishes and California classics. Sunday brunch is a weekend ritual with Bloody Mary’s on the patio. 2805 N. Jones Rd., 938-8700,

CHOW: Always packed with locals, the menu offers plenty of comfortable choices from sandwiches to brunch fare. An adjoining market sells organic greens, and fresh meats. 53 Lafayette Circle, Lafayette, 962-2469,

MAIN STREET KITCHEN: Farm-fresh ingredients grace the menu here. Standouts include fish and chips with house cabbage slaw. Burgers are made from grass-fed beef and fried green pickles come with a lemon aioli. 1358 N. Main St., 933-1001, METRO: In a seriously chic space with a huge outdoor patio, the kitchen turns out international fare from diverse organic ingredients. 3524 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, 284-4422, THE PEASANT'S COURTYARD: A casual spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner served in a charming outdoor courtyard. Pancakes, ribs, burgers and calamari. 3195 Danville Blvd, Alamo, 362-0088, VA DE VI BISTRO: With its sophisticated vibe and al fresco dining under an old oak tree, the restaurant's sips are accompanied by a sampling of small plates--bite size burgers, pasta, risotto, and seafood. 1511 Mt. Diablo Blvd., 979-0100,

november december 2016 / walnut creek



ITALIAN / pizza IL FORNAIO: Italian food so innovative, you’ll forget it’s a chain. Lovely dining room with outdoor seating in the heart of downtown shopping. 1430 Mount Diablo Blvd., 296-0100, MONTECATINI RISTORANTE: An Italian restaurant with staying

authentic MEXICAN FOOD ✶ nfl sunday ticket ✶ FOOD AND DRINK SPECIALS DAILY

power; it opened the day of the big earthquake in 1989. The traditional menu features excellent seafood, pastas and veal. 1528 Civic Drive, 943-6608,

POSTINO: In a romantic, fireplace-studded, brick building, executive chef Stewart Beatty and his team create elegant dishes from fresh seasonal ingredients. 3565 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, 299-8700,

happy hour Mon-Sat, 2-6pm

PRIMA: Everything’s made fresh on the premises at Chef Peter

Chastain’s acclaimed contemporary Italian restaurant. His flavorful risottos and light gnocchi will have you coming back for more. 1522 N. Main St., 935-7780,

1359 Locust Street, Walnut Creek (925) 891-4023

ROCCO’S: This is the place for pizza aficionados. The meaty Dominator and vegetarian Dante’s Inferno are house specialties, along with heaping pastas and salads. 2909 Ygnacio Valley Rd., 947-6105, SKIPOLINI’S: Fans flock here for the family vibe and can't- miss pies. The Martinelli, white sauce topped with red peppers, cayenne chicken and fresh spinach, is a house favorite. Legend has it the Prego pizza brings on labor quicker than you can say "more pepperoni, please." 1535 Giammona Dr., 280-1100, PINKY’S: Perfect for birthday parties and post-game feasts, Pinky’s is a Walnut Creek tradition. Simple, affordable and comfortable, the pizzeria has remained true to its vision since opening in the 1960’s. 2085 N. Broadway, 939-5000,




HOME COOKING Serving Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Daily • Full Bar 660 YGNACIO VALLEY ROAD WALNUT CREEK

(925) 932-2763 62

walnut creek / november december 2016

EL CHARRO: A Lafayette favorite, the margaritas are magic accompanied with chips, salsa and “cheese dip.” From fish tacos to burritos, this restaurant has served generations of locals. 3339 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, 283-2345, MARIA MARIA: This beautiful Mexican restaurant is known for its creative dishes like creamy duck tacos, mole short ribs and spicy sweet chile rellenos. Start your meal with guacamole and margaritas. 1470 N. Broadway, 946-1010, MI CASA: The owners are from Honduras and the menu may fool you. Mildly spiced cuisine mixes tastes of Mexico and Central America. Weekly specials include $2 Taco Tuesday. 2195 N. Broadway, 937-8800,

MID-TO-FAR-EAST Gyros / Greek Salads / Kabobs

BABALOU'S: Great food at great prices. The Middle Eastern menu is seductive for vegetarians and carnivores alike—with aromatic meats and a tempting display of salads served in a brightly muraled room. 1645 Bonanza St., 930-8000,

JACK’S: This restaurant has a warm vibe and big bar. Souvlaki and spanakopita honor the owners' Greek heritage; an eclectic international menu featuring pasta, steak and breakfasts. 60 Crescent Dr., Pleasant Hill, 849-6195, SILK ROAD: Good food served in a sunny patio setting. House

favorites are kabobs, gyros and falafels, but save room, you can make a meal from the appetizer plate served with piping hot pita bread. 1440 N. Main St., 932-9090,

sweet Savory salty spicy

the johnny cash burger

SEAFOOD SCOTT'S: Elegant surroundings, attentive service and good food. They also do a lavish Sunday brunch, catering and social events. 1333 N California Blvd., 934-1300,

WALNUT CREEK YACHT CLUB: For over 15 years, WCYC has been

cultivating customers with its lobster and crab feasts, fresh oysters, and fresh fish. The restaurant’s specialties — killer cocktails and phenomenal fish —attract barflies and foodies alike. 1555 Bonanza St., 944-3474,


1548 Bonanza Street, Walnut Creek, (925) 945-6960 BRODERICKROADHOUSE.COM

YANKEE PIER: Bustling seafood house has an East Coast vibe and a

menu featuring fresh-shucked oysters, an array of grilled fish, popcorn shrimp, and beer-battered clams. House-made desserts and full bar. 3593 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, 283-4100,

SOUTH AMERICAN Peru / Chile / Spain PARADA: While the menu offers a diverse selection, the ceviche is a must. Fresh fish is marinated in lemon juice and chilies and served with toasted corn nuts and spiced sweet potato. Rotisserie chickens are also a big seller, along with mac n cheese. 7001 Sunne Lane, 448-8118, SABORES DEL SUR: Chilean cuisine reigns at this north Walnut Creek eatery. You can't go wrong the robust empanadas stuffed with meat or vegetarian fillings inside fresh, flaky pastry dough. 3003 Oak Rd., 954-8300, TELEFERIC BARCELONA: Walnut Creek's newest Spanish hot spot serves tasty bites known as pinxtos, ahi tuna swabbed in wasabi sauce, along with fresh paella and steak in a stunning atmosphere. 1500 Mt. Diablo Blvd., 451-9576,

november december 2016 / walnut creek


DELIs / cafĂŠs

salads / soups / sandwiches CREPES OOH LA LA: Thin pancakes made the Parisian way, poured on a hot griddle and spread to thinness. Range of toppings for sweet and savory palates. 1548 Locust St., 944-5790.

GENOVA: Italian meats, fresh ravioli and sauces. Take a number;

fans line-up for the fresh sandwiches at lunch. Two WC locations: 1105 S. California Blvd., 939-3838 and 2064 Treat Blvd., 938-2888.

KINDER'S MEATS: Specialties at this family-run favorite include marinated ball tip, tequila-lime ribs, and barbecue chicken doused in signature sauce. 1831 Ygnacio Valley Road and 1293 Parkside Drive, MORUCCI'S: Fans travel from several towns away for these savory sandwiches. Try the 6 3/4: turkey, tomato and fresh mozzarella on ciabatta, pastrami or the popular chicken Caesar sandwich. 1218 Boulevard Way, 939-2426. MR. PICKLES: This little sandwich shop serves up flavor-packed sandwiches at great prices. Big enough to split, bread is baked fresh and packed with your favorite fillings. 1991 N. Broadway, 280-5510,

sweets, treaTs and bakeries 54 MINT FORNI: Italian bakery features pizza, focaccia and pastries created from authentic Roman recipes. A flaky croissant filled with rich pastry cream, is intoxicating.1686 Locust St., 476-5844,

CREAM: The winning combination of ice cream sandwiched between two warm cookies can't be beat. Neither can its superfriendly price of $3 or creative combos like double chocolate chip with peanut butter. 1372 N Main St., 891-4041, LOTTIE'S CREAMERY: Scoops are packed with fresh ingredients at this ice cream parlor, where everything, including the cones, is made in-house. 1414 Main Street, 472-0723, NOAH'S BAGELS: Neighborhood deli serves fresh-baked bagels, sandwiches and home-style soups. Two Walnut Creek locations: 1930 Mt. Diablo Boulevard and 730 Bancroft Road,


Reservations: 925/938-8700 2805 Jones Road Walnut Creek, CA 94597 *EXPIRES 12/31/16


walnut creek / november december 2016

SAN FRANCISCO CREAMERY: Perfect for birthdays and celebrations, serving up ice cream and toppings the old fashioned way. 1370 Locust St., 926-0228, SWEET AFFAIR BAKERY: Sandwiches are legendary here, so are

the morning buns, cream cheese croissants and array of muffins, cakes and cookies that make this a mainstay for over 30 years. 1815 Ygnacio Valley Rd., 944-1910,

MAKE IT A NEW RITUAL Join us for exceptional food and hospitality in the lobby lounge or restaurant


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november december 2016 / walnut creek



walnut creek / november december 2016

on stage bay area t h eater | c o ncerts | perf o rmances

by Sally Hogarty


Take a cozy little trip down memory lane as SHN presents Irvin Berlin’s White Christmas. A picture-perfect Vermont inn sets the scene for two showbiz buddies to perform. Through the course of their stay, they find much more than an appreciative audience. They also find their perfect mates! Full of dancing, romance, laughter, and some of the greatest songs ever written, this production promises a merry and bright experience for the entire family. DETAILS: December 14 – 24, SHN Golden Gate Theatre, San Francisco,


In Berkeley Repertory’s production of The Last Tiger in Haiti the power of storytelling figures prominently as five kids in modern-day Haiti huddle in a tent on “Mister’s” land and spin spellbinding folktales. The boundary between reality and fiction vanishes as they reveal a haunting past in this gripping narrative on friendship and survival. DETAILS: Through November 27, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Berkeley,


Shotgun Players presents the classic, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, made famous by the movie starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, about two couples who drink too much and reveal even more. Director Mark Jackson characterizes his production “a kind of American jazz opera packed in a Beckettian pressure cooker filled with bourbon.” DETAILS: Through January 30, Ashby Stage, Berkeley,


Disney’s eagerly awaited The Lion King roars into San Francisco with award-winning scores by Elton John and music by Tim Rice. Now in its 19th year, this latest reincarnation blends popular Western music with the distinctive rhythms of Africa while popular characters Scar, Mufasa, Rafiki, and Simba fill the theatre with their joyous sounds. DETAILS: November 2 – December 31, SHN Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco.

november december 2016 / walnut creek


on stage my s t e ry

Get your deerstalker cap on - the plays afoot! Comedic genius Ken Ludwig transforms Arthur Conan Doyle's classic The Hound of the Baskervilles into a murderously funny adventure. Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery has Holmes and Dr. Watson trying to escape a confounding web of clues, silly accents, disguises and deceit. Five talented actors deftly portray more than 40 characters. DETAILS: Through November 19, Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek,


Check your “humbugs” at the door for Center Rep’s annual production of A Christmas Carol. Brimming with music and dance, love and laughter, and special effects, it's no wonder East Bay audiences call it their favorite holiday tradition. Don’t miss a festive party at the Fezziwigs, chainclanking spooky ghosts and a music-infused production that will put even the crankiest Scrooge in a jolly mood. DETAILS: December 8 – 18, Lesher Center for the Parts, Walnut Creek,


Experience the exotic allure of Bangkok in the 1800s when a tempestuous relationship between the King of Siam and a British schoolteacher unfolds. The King and I features Rodgers and Hammerstein songs at their best: “Getting to Know You,” “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” and “Shall We Dance.” Exquisite costumes, elaborate sets and fabulous choreography make this a must-see for the holidays. DETAILS: November 15 – December 11, SHN Golden Gate Theatre, San Francisco,

co m e dy

Take a hilarious road trip through the triple M’s—middleage, menopause and motherhood—with performer and NPR personality Sandra Tsing Loh in The Madwoman in the Volvo. The show starts with a trip to Burning Man before morphing into one wild ride filled with Loh’s special brand of witty sociological commentary. Noted actors Caroline Aaron and Shannon Holt, portray everyone from Loh’s BFFs to her ex-husband, lover and therapist. DETAILS: December 13 – January 15, Berkeley Repertory Theatre,


Lerner and Loewe’s classic musical My Fair Lady popular musical has been enthralling crowds since it debuted in 1956. Filled with colorful characters, rousing dance numbers, and fabulous songs like the “The Rain in Spain” and “I Could Have Danced All Night,” expect a night of top entertainment. DETAILS: November 5 – 20, Firehouse Arts Center, Pleasanton,


walnut creek / november december 2016


A tender new tale by Berkeley Rep uncovers the secrets behind World War II’s D-Day landings. In The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, Lily, her family and her fiercely independent cat Tips, live in an idyllic seaside village untouched by war, until American soldiers occupy their house and land. With swinging music, enchanting puppetry and signature sorcery, playwright Emma Rice conjures a story of love, war and prejudice that crosses geographical and generational borders. DETAILS: December 2 – January 15, Berkeley.

event scene


PHOTOGRAPHY BY jessica freels


1 Almost 10,000 people partied on Locust Street welcoming fall the German way, with plenty of beer-drinking and merrymaking.





4 5 6

7 1. Dashing gentlemen in Lederhosen 2. Liara and her mother Martina Diri 3. Massimo’s Max Wolfe & Massimo employee 4. A little Bavarian oompah music 5. Andrea & Natalie Baldacci with CJ 6. Anthony Kessler & Chris Gardner 7. WCEF pumpkin patch

november december 2016 / walnut creek


event scene

Wine & Whiskers PHOTOGRAPHY BY Ashley thiry




ARF welcomed more than 400 guests to its 13th annual Wine & Whiskers fundraiser, where the crowd sampled bites and beverages and met new furry friends.

4 5


4 5


7 1. Devon LaRussa & Greg McCoy 3. Elaine LaRussa, David Victor and his wife Tamra Bedford 5. Dana & Travis Brennion 7. Oakland A’s pitcher Liam Hendriks with his wife Kristi & Oakland A’s pitcher Ross Detwiler


walnut creek / november december 2016

event scene

Walnut creek marriot


PHOTOGRAPHY BY rachel capil







7 1. Ice sculpture seafood display 2. Rocco Biale and Vida Blue 3. Signature salmon, water melon and feta salad 4. Scott Slocum and Bonnie Waters 5. Party in the hotel lobby 6. Ribbon Cutting Ceremony 7. Hotel General Manager Edward Adair with his wife Shareen Malik and Director of Sales Sean Peach

november december 2016 / walnut creek


A last look

A Walnut Creek History Tour After two decades of ranching and farming, commerce came to the Ygnacio Valley in 1874 when Dr. Rowan built a hotel and spa on Ygnacio Valley Road called Bareges Sulphur Springs named after a resort in France. It offered patrons treatments and cures for gout and rheumatism. Dr. Rowan charged $12 per week for room and board and use of the baths. Fire destroyed the hotel and baths in late 1875, and although the baths were rebuilt, the hotel was not. Today the subterranean spring remains below ground at the entrance to St. John Vianny Catholic Church. Passerbys often smell its pungent aroma. The need for new hotel in Walnut Creek drew William Rogers to the village where the former police officer opened the Rogers Hotel in 1879 on the northeast corner of Main and Duncan Streets (known today as Mechanics Bank) Equipped with a dining room, bar and sleeping rooms upstairs, the hotel became a stage-line stop for travelers on their way to Concord, Danville and Lafayette. But business was also brisk from San Francisco and Oakland, so Rogers converted the dance hall into additional boarding rooms. The hotel’s success sparked other new businesses to open in Walnut Creek. SOURCE: Walnut Creek, An Illustrated History by Brad Rovanpera and the Walnut Creek Historical Society.


walnut creek / november december 2016

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best of 2016

walnut creek magazine

Walnut Creek Magazine novdec16  
Walnut Creek Magazine novdec16