Dinner, Fundraiser Sunday for the Golden Rule

This coming Sunday -thanks  to Redwood Progressive.)

Welcome Home Party for the historic sailing vessel Golden Rule:  www.vfpgoldenruleproject.org

Eat, meet crew members and enjoy a brief report and slide show on the Golden Rule’s maiden voyage following her restoration.  Then, enjoy the music of Kingfoot – dance if you feel so moved. 

When:  Sunday, December 6, 2015, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Where:  Redwood Coast Montessori School, 1611 Peninsula Drive, Manila, CA.

Dinner entrée:  Lasagna (traditional and vegetarian).

Cost:  $25.00 per person; Children under 12: $10.00.

Cash bar:  Wine and beer.


R.S.V.P. by December 3rd to 707-443-5180

If you cannot attend, please consider sending a tax deductible donation to:

Veterans For Peace Golden Rule Project

P. O. Box 87

Samoa, CA  95564-0087


Volunteers are needed for set-up & breakdown.  Meal cost is waived for volunteers.  Call 707-443-5180 if you can help.


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. 


News From All Over

Here are some factoids with which to tickle your brain.

TOURISM- As the HSU survey in our last post pointed out, tourism stats are down in Humboldt County.  However, our friends in Redding are feeling the same pain, according to the Searchlight -Record, no link available. Isn’t it puzzling or are tourists staying away because of the drought and fires? 

CHINA- University of California officials have made no less than 20- that’s TWENTY- trips to China so far this year to woo Chinese students with their lucrative out-of-state tuition payments. Oh, yeah, they’re smart too. And haven’t fried their brains on drugs.

APPLE- now has 2500 workers in their Elk Grove location which started as a distribution center but is now hiring folks who wouldn’t know what a forklift looks like. 89 current vacancies,  including one for “Mandarin Team Manager”.  

100 OBJECTS- The State of South Carolina, which has imho the slickest tourism of any state,  is sponsoring a promotion of “100 Objects” in Orangeburg County ranging from battlegrounds, old schools, gravestones, gardens etc.  It’s sort of like “101 Things To Do on the North Coast” combined with a historical scavenger hunt. Any community could adopt this promotion except we’d have to lose the bland word “objects”. “Prizes?” “Treasures?” OK, I can see why they settled for “objects”. Still a good gimmick for a promotion. 

SHERLOCK HOLMES- the stories by A Conan Doyle have fallen into public domain. Those of you who always thought you had a future writing screenplays, have at it.  

OBAMA- one of his biggest financial supporters is the CEO of COSTCO. 

OLIVES- due to the drought,  this year’s olive crop is going to be down 45% from last year. Martini drinkers might want to stock up bigtime. 

OYSTERS- Rumor has it that a major Marin County oyster producer will start operations in Humboldt Bay. 

That’s all, folks, for this week.  Stay safe and far away from the fires. 


“Catfish” Lessons for Redwood Coast Business, Port of Oakland big plans and HumBay Tourism Center

CATFISH-If any of you have not seen “Catfish”, either the movie or the TV series which just finished its second season on MTV, you’re missing out on a phenomenon.  I waste more time than I care to admit watching junk TV (“Pawn Stars”, anyone?) but “Catfish” is in a class by itself. The whole franchise got started when Nev Shulman, a young, good-looking and seemingly intelligent New Yorker formed an online friendship via Facebook with a young girl in the Midwest who appeared to be a phenomenal graphic artist. (I don’t usually use the word “intelligent” and “Facebook” together, but bear with me here.)  Certain things didn’t add up, so he decided to investigate the situation with the help of his filmmaker brothers and discovered that the girl’s mother had done the artwork and that he had been “catfished”, a term which has entered the language now and which normally refers to a person who has been taken in by someone who hides his/her true identity on Facebook. The motive could be money, spite, whatever but Shulman got so many emails after the film “Catfish” started being shown that it became clear there was ample material for the series, which is heading into its third season.

     It would be easy to dismiss the various victims as just plain stupid, and some of them are. However, some are quite sophisticated and wary of situations that seem too good to be true. There are infinite variations on the plot (using a model’s photo in lieu of your own, creating a fantasy identity etc) but after you watch long enough , some eternal verities emerge, some of which Redwood Coast Businesspeople should keep in mind in your marketing campaigns. Take these to the bank:

1.  People believe what they want to believe.  You know that old gag, “Who ya gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?” Most people are totally capable of ignoring reality when convenient.

2. Hope invariably trumps common sense. You didn’t show up for our long-postponed meeting because at the last minute you were carjacked? That one was actually used in one episode.

3. Nobody likes to be lied to. When the truth finally sinks in,  when the gorgeous girl is finally revealed to be a hundred pounds heavier that her photo, or a different sex than what was advertised, the reactions are always the same.  ANGER! Some of the couples work it through but the vast majority, when they finally figure it out, are disgusted with themselves AND the perp and terminate all contact immediately. They’re ashamed, embarrassed etc.

     What are the implications for sales and marketing? Simply put, a little light-hearted kidding (like the Joe Isuzu campaign) can be great, but making indefensible statements or claims will always come back to haunt you. Come to think of it,  this applies to politics too.

PORT OF OAKLAND TO EXPAND- along with the Panama Canal. In this account, from the Capital Weekly, Greg Lucas does an excellent job of laying out complexities facing the eleven California harbors, including our own.  Food for thought for our local rail supporters.

HUMBOLDT BAY TOURISM CENTER- Has been open since May down at 2nd and G in Eureka and I have referred at least 18 people there just to look at the beautiful job they’ve done with the building. If it were a bar, it would be one of our most elegant. The space is in zones for taste, planning activities etc. and I’ll let their own website tell the story. It’s a beautiful facility, staffed by pleasant people, but what I had hoped for was to be able to give an account of the impact it had over the past season. It turns out that’s impossible. According to the management there they have NO DATA on how many visitors they’ve had, how many tours or activities have been booked through, how many lodging bookings- nothing. They are just now- at the nadir of the tourist season- starting to keep some records which they will certainly need when their two-year contract with the HCCVB is reviewed or renewed.

Anyway, check them out for a relaxing break from hectic Holiday shopping. They don’t have any parking, which is a hassle,  but I’ve always been able to find something within a couple of blocks. We’ll revisit them here next summer when they have a whole year under their belts. And wish them well. We need all the help we can get.

GO-Biz Forum Packs Wharfinger

        A crowd of 70 entrepreneurs, hopefuls and civic officials gathered yesterday at the ungodly hour of 8:30am to hear about Governor Jerry Brown’s GO-Biz program which was initiated in 2011 as ”a single point of contact for economic development and job creation efforts”. Their excellent website sets forth some of the success GO-Biz has already had in retaining and/or luring back businesses who were planning to move out of state. GO-Biz administers the state Innovation Hub (iHub) program which includes 12 regional innovation clusters which bring together government, academia and businesses through innovation incubators. The North Coast, it would seem,  is a logical place for such an incubator.

       The  speakers included Louis Stewart, who spends his time on the road promoting the program, and  Professor Steve Karp, who heads HSU’s Sponsored Programs Foundation.  This foundation runs as many as 300 projects, grants and contracts concurrently ranging from studies on bats and bees, hydrogen -fueled cars, and the discovery of 100 new species of fungi in Guyana. They employ around 300 students and 500 staff and faculty in cutting-edge research.  Third was Sergio  Herrera from the Humboldt Bay Tourism Center, which we’ll be examining in detail in a future post.

      Then there were the entrepreneurs themselves, first Milia Lando and Rosa Dixon, the founders of Natural Decadence, a gluten, nut, and dairy-free bakery.  (They didn’t give samples but the pictures of the chocolate pies had people drooling). After only two years in business they have recently inked a deal with Whole Foods which will give them distribution in 130 stores on the West Coast and In Hawaii. They have been using the commercial kitchen at Redwood Acres but are on their way to the national Anaheim Food Show and a national launch. They have a great story too, the business having its roots in their struggle to cope with food allergies, theirs and their children’s. Their future is so bright they should have been wearing shades, but that would have detracted from their excellent and heartfelt presentation.

      Last on the program was Greg Dale, Southwest ops Manager for Coast Seafood, a frequent and enthusiastic advocate for our shellfish industry. They used to say of Maria Tallchief, the ballerina, that she could make you feel that there was nothing as worthwhile as being a dancer.  Greg can make you feel that there’s no higher calling than wrangling oysters. He reports that the permitting process- which involves seven agencies- is still onerous and efforts are being made to fashion a Model Permit Process involving  pre-permitting, in conjunction with Morro Bay and Tomales Bay. Much luck to them.  He reports that the demand for shellfish is so great that there is a $200M shortfall.  How great to have a product that is sold before you take it out of the Bay. We need more of those.

      GO-Biz is an important program and the civic leaders who attended included Eureka Mayor Frank Jager and the entire City Council, and Supervisor Mark Lovelace, who came by before the BOS meeting, as well as many others. You will doubtless be hearing more about an iHub for the North Coast. Pay attention. This could be a great step toward strengthening and diversifying our one-crop economy.