Short Takes and Random Thoughts

Here is a miscellany of what’s been rambling around my brain.

MURPHY’S CUTTEN gets 4 stars for customer service.  I emailed then demanding to know why they were cutting off the BBQ at 3pm when there are 15,000 Cutten residents going past their door everyday who would love to take home some burgers or chicken.  Lo and behold manager Travis emailed me back that they will be keeping it going till 6pm M-F. That’s more like it!  Their burgers are GOOD.

NIXON/TRUMP  The last few days have been bizarre for those of us old enough to have watched every minute of the Watergate hearings, 40 years ago this week. CNN had a retrospective over the weekend and the similarities between what was being said about Nixon THEN and Trump NOW are astounding. “Isolated” is just the beginning.

THE FITZGERALD-  let’s take a few moment to mourn the loss of seven young sailors who  died a horrible death aboard the Fitzgerald.  Doesn’t matter whose fault this will turn out to be.  It’s just tragic.

BOOK CLUB-  I don’t read enough  books.  Who does? But at the behest of one of our readers I went to the Humboldt County library and checked out their copy of Evicted:  Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond..   It was one of the NYT’s 10 beat books last year and it is a terrific and harrowing read. I’ll return it before the end of the month.

REST IN PEACE:  Mrs Maureen Johanneson  who was my teacher at EHS in my tenth grade.  We were in her class when JFK was shot.  She was a wonderful person and wonderful teacher. Also, Fred Mangels, (Fred’s Humboldt Blog)  who I never met and seldom agreed with, has passed.  He was incredibly consistent in his blogging and was an inspiration to those of us who just can’t get it together daily.

THE WHITE HOUSE TAPES:  Isn’t it fairly obvious that there are none? If there were, Trump and his minions have had enough time to find them and erase them. Lordy, they’re gone!

ANTHONY BOURDAIN: His current show on CNN, Parts Unknown, is the best TV he’s ever done. Maybe CNN has a bigger budget that the travel Channel?  Parts Unknown is a beautiful show, fantastic photography.  Tape it. The show on Laos was particularly memorable.  

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Henderson Center Restaurant Update: Zoë’s ready, Diver’s in the Wings and Is There A Labor Shortage??

 

The long-awaited Zoë had its soft opening by way of a party last Wednesday at which an appreciative crowd gobbled down shrimps, lemon tarts and lots of pizza. The pizza was terrific-light and flavorful- and Zoë’s homemade crackers made their debut. the lemon tarts were the hit of the evening and there were some very interesting snacks made of tiny baked potatoes. Much wine and beer was consumed and everyone had a good time. Among those present were Joel Mielke and Lynn Harvey and former Eureka City Councilperson  Mike Newman.

This week Marsa Jordan,  the proprietor, advised us she’s STILL HIRING so tell any fine-dining-experienced jobseekers you know to send their resumé  to Marsa at http://zoe2850fst@gmail.com.  No firm opening date until she’s staffed, so hurry!

Now, I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but there was an interesting Facebook post the other day (the first in history!) in which someone from the new 6th and Eatery (owned by the same folks who have the Humboldt Soup Company) reported that a couple of days before Christmas,  they had actually had to close down in the afternoon because three of their six kitchen staffers had called in sick.   I KNOW everyone’s has been sick lately and I have NO idea what labor relations are like at the 6th and Eatery but it made me start thinking .  We now have a minimum wage of $10 an hour, which is almost worth showing up to work for. I wonder what the impact of the new wage will be on absenteeism? Eight hours at the old $6.75 wage amounted to a big fat $54 less deductions; that’s a lot less than $80 less deductions. Losing $80 from your paycheck HURTS!! These increases have been tough for the employers but we’re a lot closer to  living wages than we were. I’ll be curious to see how long it takes Marsa to fill her jobs. The last thing we need in Humboldt County is a labor shortage.

Finally, Sean from the Diver Bar- just down the block from Zoë – reports that they are making progress, working on the floors etc. and occasionally post progress reports on their Facebook page.  He’s looking for an opening date NLT the end of February.  Watch this space!!

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ZOË is Hiring! AND having a party

The eagerly anticipated addition to the Henderson Center restaurant scene, the upscale bistro, Zoë, is showing signs of life after a difficult period dealing with health inspections, building inspections etc. You’ll recall that this venue was originally a drugstore, so we’re talking major remodel.  Owner Marsa Jordan tells us that she is now hiring staff for a December 28 start date.  From the Facebook announcement:

“Zoë is now accepting applications for waitstaff, cooks, managers, prep assistants and dishwashers. Please send resumes to our e-mail. zoe2850fst@gmail.com. I will be conducting phone interviews while we are in construction and will be hiring within the next month.”

Marsa has announced that she is planning a party on Wednesday, December 30 from 6pm to 9pm, featuring appetizers and artisan pizza.  This is invitation and reservations must be made.  Beer and wine will be extra.

Art is on the way.   Marsa has commissioned Kathryn Stotler to do collages, and other artist will be featured for display and sale.  Window treatments are going up on Monday.  

Zoë is coming!!

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The Turkeys Are Lurking In Eureka

 

I don’t like cornbread stuffing. I don’t like cranberry sauce. I don’t like wheat bread. I don’t even like turkey much. But around this time last year I concluded that the Turkey Lurkey sandwich made with the foregoing ingredients by the then-Vellutini’s Bakery in Henderson Center, is one of the best I have ever had.

Vellutini’s has become a commercial bakery operating on Broadway near Marie Callender’s. Scott and Stephanie Phelps are now operating The Corner Bakery and Cafe at the Henderson and “F” location. (They also have Babe’s Pizza and Pasta, so they’re a busy pair.)  Stephanie shared that their intent, especially with regard to the Turkey Lurkeys, is to carry on exactly as before.  I agree. Why mess with perfection?

The origin of the Turkey Lurkey is shrouded in the mists of the past.  I think the reason they’re so darn good is the FRESHNESS of the ingredients, not just the bread, which you’d expect, but all of it. This season a Turkey Lurkey goes for $7.65 for a whole sandwich (they’re pretty big- I eat them in halves) and a half -sandwich is $5.25, both before tax. You have a choice of chips or potato salad. Get the potato salad.

I had a Turkey Lurkey  the other day and it was amazing.  Definitely puts you in a holiday mood, plus if you come in October you can check out the Hallowe’en goodies.

So welcome the Corner Bakery and Cafe to Henderson Center. Sometimes it’s nice when things don’t change.

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Eureka Restaurants Update

Marsa Jordan reports that her Zöe restaurant at 2850 F Street in Henderson Center, should be open sometime in the first two weeks of November, and we know a lot of folks are eager for the opening. She’s working with Carson Park Design on the website.

Just down the block on the other side of the bank, the Diver Bar and Grille is busy with their remodel and has moved in a wood-fired brick pizza oven that looks a lot like the one at Brick and Fire.  Yum! 

And the Cutten Inn remodel goes on and on and on…and on….

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EUREKA NEEDS MORE PARKING!!

It didn’t make any of the local papers but Eureka businessman Don Davenport stood up at the July 21 meeting of the Eureka City Council and made an impassioned plea for more parking in Henderson Center.  Mr Davenport and I have had our differences in the past, but on this subject he’s absolutely right.  Last Monday I tried to meet a  friend who volunteers at the Cancer Society and drove around for fifteen minutes trying to find parking.  I finally resorted to the Rite-Aid lot, where I squeezed into a space that was already occupied by a scooter. Pathetic!

I asked everyone I could buttonhole what the problem was and no one knew. Here’s a wild guess: there’s not enough parking in Henderson Center!!  And with two new restaurants (Zöe and Diver Bar& Grill)  slated to open in the next few weeks, the situation in Henderson Center is only going to get worse.

It’s no better downtown. I routinely drive around Old Town looking for parking and go elsewhere when I can’t find it.  And I have a disabled placard! That means I’m not just looking for marked disabled parking, but ANY parking because I can use the placard in any marked space. I still end up driving elsewhere because there’s not enough parking.

What are our city officials doing about this problem? Making it worse!  Mr. Rob Holmlund, the city’s Community Development Director, has drawn a bead on the few available spaces and would like to see some of them set aside for “parklets”. Thank God the current proposal is only for four such spaces and we’ll all be curious to see if the property owners and merchants in Old Town really benefit from clearing space in front of their businesses. Considering the large population of homeless and poorly-housed folks within a block or two of the proposed “parklets”,  will it really be shoppers who fill the spaces?  We’ll see.

I believe Mr Holmlund’s well-intentioned proposal would be more suitable for Los Altos than for Eureka. 

Ditto for his similarly well-intentioned desire to preserve the neighborhood markets of yesteryear. Yes, neighborhood markets are a great convenience but most of them are just getting by. I miss Songer’s and Cannam’s too but nostalgia won’t pay the bills.  I wish Handee Market and the others all the best,  and hope they survive but if they survive it won’t be because of city planning.  It will be because they’re filling a need. And they have nearby parking.

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ZOE Coming to Henderson Center.

“Gonna be a Chinese restaurant!” said the beefy security guard in front of the BofA on F Street in Henderson Center. 
I was squinting at the chalked message on the window of the former Safeway Pharmacy and wondering how another Chinese restaurant would fit in, considering the Hunan is well established a block away.

When I caught up with the owner, Marsa Jordan, she explained that “Zoe” is actually the Greek word for ‘Life”. She also explained that the restaurant will not be Chinese and will be more upscale than anything currently in Henderson Center. “Casual sophistication” is the byword, and she will be offering organic, vegetarian and vegan choices as well as catering services.

Marsa, who’s originally from Fortuna, is also emphasizing original touches such as homemade hand-made crackers. Do fresh-baked oyster crackers sound good? With one of at least two homemade soups daily? I thought so. She’s still waiting for her permit but Zoe should be serving beer and wine by the time it opens, and seating 65 customers.

Marsa has shared her DRAFT menu and opening night menu with us.  Since the restaurant is still settling equipment issues, there will be changes before the opening,  but this is a chance to see the direction she’s going in.  Sadly, I couldn’t get the link to work and so I’ll have to leave you with “Appetizers: Caramelized onion with Gruyere in pastry, Cream puffs filled with Salmon and dill mousse, Baked brie with fruit compote, served with our house made crackers..” as a hint of what is to come.

Turning a retail location into a restaurant is a mighty undertaking so we’re not looking at an opening sooner than September. A sign in the window is already announcing that resumes for servers and other staff may be forwarded to Marsa at :  zoe2850fst@gmail.com. 

The advent of an upscale place is an exciting development in Henderson Center, where the long-anticipated “Henderson Center Marketplace”, which was supposed to go into the Robert’s space, is apparently wrecked on the shoals of we-couldn’t-get-financing although none of the principals have seen fit to answer my phone calls. On the same block, work is continuing on The Diver, a bar with an excellent logo that is already visible from the streetside. (Their menu was printed in the recent NCJ Menu of Menus but it’s awfully hard to read.) Lots going on in Henderson Center and the guard at the bank will keep you informed. I hope somebody’s already told him Zoe is not going to be a Chinese restaurant. I don’t want to be the one to break it to him.

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Henderson Center is Hoppin’

…and we don’t just mean celebrating Easter. Here’s a summary of recent events in my favorite part of town.

Little Japan, which used to be on 4th Street across from where Liu’s used to be, is open for business at their new home on F Street next to the BofA. Harvey says they are yet to have a full-on grand opening but they’e already had the Chamber ribbon cutting and a cash mob. The new store is gorgeous and well-stocked.   I bought some miso and realized how much I had missed this store as I tucked into my soup with the March winds blowing outside. No website, but they do have a Facebook page.

Next door, in the old pharmacy are signs indicating a Eureka Planning Commission hearing concerning four parking places in the adjacent lot. The parking is for a Chinese restaurant named Zoe,  which will  be a welcome addition to the neighborhood.  Converting  a drugstore to a restaurant is expensive so this is a massive investment for someone. 

Another massive investment is contemplated for the space now occupied by Glow, a facial and nails salon that has taken its operation to an appointment-only model. A gentleman from Fortuna has advertised his intention to open the Diver Bar and Grille in the Glow space but the fictitious business name statement was filed back in December and it doesn’t look like much is happening.  Stay tuned. And if you figure out the difference between a ‘grille’ and a ‘grill”,  kindly inform me. 

Lastly, the space vacated by the short-lived Caribbean Picnic operation is now occupied by Nourish Bistro and Catering  which has a website up although it’s awfully heard to read. They will have their grand opening tomorrow,  Friday,  at 10am, and according to the Times they will be serving beverages and appetizers so there’s a chance to sample their wares.  Wish I could make it. 

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The McKenny’s and Shafer’s Moves

After conversing  with staff from both companies,  we have established the following: 

1) The Arcata McKinney’s has indeed closed and is transferring its stock to the Eureka store on Hubbard.  Pay no attention to the TV ads which still show the Arcata store open. 

2) Shafer’s will continue to operate in Henderson Center AND will open a new store at the Old Safeway location on Harris near Harrison.  No word on an opening date.