Zöe, we hardly knew you.

Zöe, the upscale cafe in Henderson Center, is up for sale after barely a year in business.

The reviews all along were mixed. I only ate there once but I thought they had the  food down pretty well. There were a lot of complaints about the service. The owner has posted on the Zöe Facebook page that the closure is due to illness Damn shame,  and we  wish all the  best to her.  Ironically,  both Zöe AND The Diver had wood-fire pizza ovens so HC will be supplied for good pizza no matter who takes over Zöe.

Let’s hope that happens soon.  There is already an unhealthy amount of empty storefront space in everyone’s favorite neighborhood.  The patrons of The Diver are using the former Robert’s (“Henderson Center Marketplace”) parking lot and thank God it’s open because parking can definitely be tight.  I hate to see any business close.  Let’s hope someone can make that space work.

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The Diver IS A Winner

That long-anticipated Diver Bar & Grill is open in Henderson Center, and doing well, from what we saw on Friday.  Contrary to what you would think from the name, it  is neither a dive bar nor a seafood restaurant. It’s a killer pizza place in a town that is probably over-supplied with pizza.  But The Diver rules.

We showed up at 1pm and the place was half-full. Service was cheery and prompt.  Besides pizza, they have a GOOD chowder,  along with salads and burgers,  They have mussels! which are not that common on Eureka menus.  But the pizza is the thing.  It’s wood-fired and light as a feather.  Putting that pizza oven in must have been a real project but worth the wait. I haven’t had pizza this good since we got takeout from Blaze in Chicago, back in October.

I had the bacon and spinach.  I took most of it home since I’d already had the chowder.  It heated up well.  I would order it again. My friend had the Buffalo chicken pizza.  She wanted to send it back because it was “burned”.  I explained that “wood-fired” is not going to look like Papa Murphy’s and after she tried it, she liked it.

Sean, the owner, circulated among the tables.  They have a good selection of beers and I had a decent iced tea.  The pizzas run about $14, the chowder was $6.  The dinner menu, only available after 5pm,  includes a rib eye for $24  and they have seafood items du jour.

The place was almost full again  when we left.  We will be back. The Diver is here to stay. When you go,  be sure to check out  the ceiling!

The Diver is at 2824 F Street,  phone is 798-6184.

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Old Town in Henderson Center? You Betcha!

We were pleasantly surprised to discover that the Corner Bakery in Henderson Center (the former Vellutini’s at the corner of F and Henderson) has been taken over by Old Town Coffee and Chocolates. Relax- they will still make those wonderful sandwiches on FRESH bread and will be introducing their full range of coffee drinks and also their wraps and waffles. 

Great news for the neighborhood! The new sign will be erected any day now.

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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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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!

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