My Favorite Businesses: Jeff W’s Lawn Service

I’d like to give a shout out to a business in which I have no financial stake at all. Jeff Wickizer has been doing my lawn for three or four years now and does a great job. He shows up when he says he will and works quickly. His cleanup is great and his suggestions are helpful.  In other words, he gets five stars.

You can reach Jeff by email to or on his cell which is 601-2090.  He’s also the General Foreman and Estimator at Professional Tree Services and you can reach him there at 839-TREE (8733). Jeff is a hardworking young guy with a family (they just had a baby a few weeks ago) and I say anyone ambitious enough to start their own company on top of a full-time job is the type of entrepreneur who deserves your support. Besides, he does good work. Give him a call and tell him I sent you. You won’t regret it. 


How To Gain Five Pounds In Two Weeks; Eating Out At Brick, Kyoto, Toni’s and the Benbow

Had a crowd of summer visitors? At least they’re a excuse for eating out. Here are some meals we enjoyed recently.

Brick & Fire- this is everyone’s favorite restaurant and if you haven’t been,  do yourself a favor and go.  Go now.   They’ve had a good run and nothing lasts forever.  Yes, it’s spendy but you could have a Wild Mushroom Cobbler ($9) which is pretty darn filling. Add a salad for $7 and you’ve got a nice meal. Add WINE  and your costs increase exponentially. If you order the brick-pressed bird, ask for it well done. ($22, enough for two meals.) The Italian Mac’n’Cheese ($15- also so rich it’s two meals) is so good I ordered it for my birthday dinner. We came back the next week and I ordered it again. We are so luck to have a bistro of this caliber I don’t even mind calling it a bistro.  Their website is HERE.

Masaki’s Kyoto- We wanted to see how the Kyoto was holding up without Eric Masaki, now with the HCSO and good for him. The answer is : just fine. We walked in on a Friday night with no reservations, ordered dinners and sushi-  lemon and Eureka rolls and something with eel. Service was quick considering  we were ordering sushi.  I’ve always loved the Kyoto but one of our group is a Shanghai native who has lived in Japan, is a damn picky eater and has an encyclopedic knowledge of Asian food. He pronounced the meal excellent and we all agreed. No website.

Toni’s 24-Hour Restaurant – is just that, a real restaurant, not a burger stand.  I didn’t take Toni’s seriously because all I ever heard about it was that it ‘s a great place to go when you’re drunk, hungry and it’s 3am. Also I could never figure out to get there. With someone else driving, and headed  for a movie in Arcata, we got there at around 7pm and found only a short line. The menu goes ‘way beyond burgers. The folks across from us were all eating chef salads and they looked good. I had a blue cheese burger on ciabatta and really liked the way they grilled the ciabatta. The onion rings, unfortunately, were cooked with oil that tasted stale,but I would try them another time. The burgers and shakes were excellent, but I would definitely think about getting the chicken-fried steak next time. Cozy atmosphere. Their website is HERE.

The Benbow Inn- Our family has always loved the Benbow and it just gets better and better. We lost a family member earlier this year 

and a reunion at the Benbow just seemed like the right thing. Actually, my parents spent the first night of their honeymoon there and I thought that perhaps the reason I love the place so much is that I was conceived there. HA! Probably not since it would have involved a two year gestation. Yes, its spendy but they’ll negotiate, especially for groups. We had nine, in three rooms and two KOA “cabins” and they gave us a rate of $175 for Terrace Rooms, which are much nicer than some of the “historic” building rooms and are located on the other side of the building. The Terrace Rooms are a lot better for anyone who wants to avoid that godawful staircase going up to the front entrance. The food was perfect as always. They were featuring a white gazpacho ($7) with grapes which was pretty wonderful and very refreshing.  (The temperature was 95 and it didn’t start cooling off till 8pm.) The salmon ($32) was great, the linguini with vegetables was a big hit ($19) and the crab cakes ($15) are good and substantial  enough for a main course.  If you drive down for lunch , which is a nice excursion, you can have sandwiches and that gazpacho. You won’t spend any more at the Benbow than you will at Jack’s and some other mediocre places in Eureka. Benbow is especially nice for lunch around the holidays, when you can eat in the lounge near a roaring fire. And you feel like a millionaire. The website is HERE.







Hazards of Landlording-here’s one you never thought of

We’ve been offline for a couple of weeks, during which we experienced a lot of what all of you have- the cellphone outage. out-of-town visitors, more visitors, family reunions, and gaining five pounds from all the eating out. We’ll catch up little by little but I wanted to tell you first about a lesson learned re: the US Postal Service.  This lesson may save you some grief.

I have a 3 BR/2 BA house and for several years I have rented out the extra bedroom and bath.  On the same day that we had visitors from New Jersey,  one tenant moved out and another moved in.  Meanwhile my friend from LA , with whom I was planning a road trip to British Columbia, also showed up and realized he’d left his passport in LA. He got a friend to fetch his passport and mail it to my place using certified mail.  I use a PO box for 90% of my mail so I didn’t notice we weren’t getting any mail in the mailbox.

After a few days his passport hadn’t shown up so he accosted the mail carrier, who told him that he hadn’t delivered any mail to us for a few days because the house was vacant. Vacant!  Never mind the cars in the driveway and parked in front! Never mind the well-tended and watered planter box next to the mail box! Never mind that there were three adults and a dog living here the week this happened! Never mind that the house has not been vacant for even a day since I bought it in 1993! He thought the house was vacant.

Why?  Because he saw the forwarding order from the tenant who moved out and concluded that the house was empty. He apologized profusely for his error but by that time the passport had been sent to some kind of postal clearing house in Sacramento. We called the post office on Clark and they advised us to wait a few days. We did and nothing happened. To make a long story short, we went down there twice and enlisted the help of a supervisor named Eley,  The passport finally showed up this past Saturday, after being lost in the bowels of the USPS for almost three weeks. The stress on both of us was extreme.

The USPS is like any other organization- only as strong as its weakest link. Every supervisor we talked to at the USPS said the carrier “needed to be talked to”. How ’bout he should be retrained??  The lesson learned is that certified mail, which costs $3 and change, is useless.  If you have something valuable to send, send it REGISTERED which costs $12 but at least they can locate it. Registered mail is signed for at each stage of its journey, much tighter tracking.  I notice that Fed Ex has a small package option for $8.  I suspect that when Fed Ex loses something, they find it pretty quickly. Again, they have a signature for each transfer.

Next time, Fed Ex for sure. And folks, don’t bother with certified.  It’s not worth the paper it’s written on.  If you have any stories about lost mail and the USPS we’d love to hear them.


It’s NOT All Right, Jack, It’s Just OK. (Jack’s Seafood Restaurant)

(I couldn’t help myself. One of the great movies of my childhood was the goofy 1959 Peter Sellers comedy, I’m All right Jack.  It’s a comedy about unions and corruption and several other things and if you’ve never seen it, you should. It’s timely.)

Jack’s Seafood Restaurant, which opened August 14th, in the Fishermans’ Terminal building, has been avidly anticipated and  heavily subsidized. As you may recall, the City put out an RFP for restaurant  operators back in 2013 and received around a dozen applicants but-mysteriously- NONE of these folks were deemed qualified and we mere peasants and taxpayers are not privy to the reasons. The contract was awarded to Jack Wu, a crony of former Councilman Chet Albin. Mr Wu has operated the nearby Bayfront restaurant for four years. For Jack’s Seafood, the CIty spent $550K on the building, another $240K on fixtures installed at City expense and will collect NO RENT for the first nine months, after which Mr Wu will pay $4500/month.

Now the Bayfront has not exactly been an unqualified success. Their Yelp reviews have run about 50/50 with positive reviews for the scenery, sushi  and teppanyaki,  negatives for the rest, especially  the service.  Mr Wu has had years now to solve his service problems, so how does Jack’s measure up?

First of all, the space is beautiful. The waterfront views are great and the bar, which looked like they were still setting it up, is nicely appointed. 

I guess we should start with the chowder, which should be the hallmark of a waterfront joint.  The chowder has a nice flavor, but a thin consistency, off-putting to folks like me who like a traditional chowder such as that available at Gill’s or the Seascape.  It’s not terrible, but, as one of our party said, it was “not yummy”.  Both people finished theirs  but no one was licking the bowl. Our third person had a salad instead, which was large and very fresh.

In fact, the ingredients overall are fresh and presented nicely.  I had the fish sandwich made with rock cod.  I thought it might come on a bun or roll but it was served on toast made of sandwich bread, which was different, with a huge mound of romaine and some sliced heirloom tomatoes.  The fish part was fine.  I ended up eating it with a knife and fork. The other two had the fish and chips, also with rock cod, and the halibut and chips. The remark was made that the halibut could have been tastier. The “chips” are quarter-sized slices of potato, fried. Again they were “not yummy”, but okay. The coleslaw was served dry and definitely needed dressing.

What about that old bugaboo, service? The staff are young and eager but the service was awkward.  We waited quite a while and then our server brought our chowders and salad at the same time she brought our mains. She explained that they had run out of chowder (at 1pm on a Tuesday, with the place only half full) and had had to make more.  I kind of think we should have been ASKED if we wanted everything dumped on the table at once but I guess I’m an old grouch.

Now, let’s talk prices.  One would expect a “view” restaurant to charge a dollar or two more than a place in McKinleyville, and the $15 fish and chips does include soup or salad.  It’s not a rip but it’s not a good deal, either. 

Bottom Line:  Has YOUR money been well-spent?  As I said, it’s a beautiful space.  Of the three of us, not one was eager to return, at least for food. The bar, however, has real possibilities. The food is okay, “not yummy”.  The service is cheerful but raggedy. Jack’s has a captive audience of tourists just from its location,  which is about thee feet from where the Madaket boards. Will it develop a local following?  I really hope so. But they definitely have work to do. If you get down there, let us know what you think. 



Our wonderful, iconic hotel on the Bay is for sale for $2,850,000.  I’ve always enjoyed sending out-of-town visitors here. Whether they complain (because it’s not pristine like new construction) or appreciate it for the great, quirky property it is, is a great test of character.  Details HERE.

You’ll notice they reference a 25% vacancy factor. I don’t think the Eagle House has ever had full-time proactive management, but if they did I’m sure they could fill more rooms.

Here, courtesy of LoopNet, are some other properties For Sale In Humboldt:

The Ritz Building, 240 F Street, Eureka , former site of the Ritz restaurant, going for $3,300,000.

The Little Jalisco building at the foot of Humboldt Hill, for only $230,000.

The former Pierce Mortuary at 707 H Street, Eureka, going for $775, 000.



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.




Tidbits and Gossip 8/5/15

The Cutten Inn reno that was supposed to be completed in July has obviously not been completed.  From the look of things it could be many months.

The Cutten Murphy’s s having their annual summer BBQ season in front of the store M-F until at least the end of August. Easy to grab on your way home! Grass-fed cheeseburgers $5.99 and the half-chickens at $4.99 are a real deal.  Support your local grocer!

CNBC’s new series The West Texas Investors Club is kind of a Shark Tank meets Hee-Haw and the shark/investors don’t have the cred of the originals but after you watch it for half an hour or so it all starts to make a loony kind of sense.  One of the sharks is Matthew McConaghy’s uglier brother.  Tuesday nights on CNBC (Ch 51 on Suddenlink).  Let us know how you like it.  Coming up on August 12 is their latest,  Make Me a Millionaire Inventor  which has to be the worst title ever but let’s hope for the best. 


We Finally Check Out The Oaxaca Grill

Those of you who are familiar with this fine Henderson Center establishment- and I guess that’s most of you- can skip reading the rest of this. I am ashamed-ASHAMED- that I never ate there until Monday.  I have been missing out, clearly.

The Oaxaca ( 508 Henderson, near F Street, 445-9702) doesn’t have a website. It’s a family-run cafe with surprisingly sophisticated Mexican food.  The personable server is the paterfamilias.  The menu looks spendy until you figure in that most of the choices include soup or salad. I tried the Cream of Jalapeno and it was really different, smooth and richly flavorful.  I had the fish tacos and the fish appeared to be filet of sole.  The small pieces were tucked into thin corn tortillas that were a little too delicate to hold a taco together, especially with the mound of mango salsa that was piled on.  I used a knife and fork. It was great. 

My friend ordered a chimichanga and pronounced it good, although there was some debate over whether the chimi should have come with lettuce, guac etc on top as it does at Rita’s.  At the Oaxaca, it won’t, so take that into your considerations. Although we came into this situation knowing that the Oaxaca is renowned for its mole,  we left without trying it.

Shucks, I guess we’ll have to go back!


Humboldt Soup Company Is Hiring!

Here’s the announcement, from their Facebook page.
“Humboldt Soup Company is looking for a part time customer service/counter person.
Want to work in a fast paced environment?
Have a passion for customer service?
Love food and all the goodness that it shares?
Are you able to smile through the pressure?
We want to meet you!
Experience not required but it helps.
Smiley faces move to the front of the line.
No drops ‘ins or phone calls please.
For consideration please submit resume or letter of interest to:
Good Luck!”

HSC has become one of my favorite places and Christine, the owner, is hardworking and sincere in her effort to provide fresh and local produce. If you get hired, you’ll see me frequently. Good luck!