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Diablo Dish — April '08

Word has once again surfaced that the Cheesecake Factory may open a location in Walnut Creek's Plaza Escuela.


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Word has once again surfaced that the Cheesecake Factory may open a location in Walnut Creek's Plaza Escuela.

The lease isn’t signed, but the chain, which has more than 120 locations nationwide, has filed a design review application with the city. The plans indicate that the former Andronico’s space would be divided into six units, with one becoming the Cheesecake Factory. “We’re very excited that the Cheesecake Factory is interested in moving into Walnut Creek,” says city planner Jeremy Lochiro.

Walnut Creek is getting yet more Middle Eastern flavor. Hudson Barbosa, owner of The Mediterranean in Concord, is now serving falafel and shawarma at the recently opened Babalou’s on Bonanza Street.

Walnut Creek Coffee Company has hit the Newell Street caffeine scene. It’s practically a stone’s throw from Pacific Bay Coffee Co., but husband-and-wife owners Javier Avalos and Heidy Leiva say their business is unique. They’ve imported their head barista from Italy and are offering food such as panini.

A gourmet coffeehouse is scheduled to open in the former Lisa B’s Bistro. Husband-and-wife-team Erin and Ford Andrews said they hoped to open Sideboard Neighborhood Coffeehouse and Kitchen in late March. The café will offer locally sourced, sustainable, and organic fare such as coffee from the excellent local roaster Blue Bottle and sandwiches on Acme bread with fillings such as fried Hoffman Farm chicken and braised Prather Ranch beef short ribs.

As Lafayette’s new Yankee Pier settles in on Mt. Diablo Boulevard, diners aren’t the only ones clamoring for a taste of fresh seafood. An enterprising feline snuck into the storeroom and got trapped between the walls. In response to mysterious meowing, the restaurant tore a hole in the wall so rescuers from the local Community Concern 4 Cats could lure him out. The team named him Yankee.

Family favorite Pasta Pomodoro, which has locations in San Ramon, Pleasant Hill, and Oakland, is introducing a new name and new menu items. The 25 Bay Area locations of this Italian eatery will now go by, simply, Pomodoro. The menu now features Fra’ Mani artisan salumi, organic salads, and whole wheat fusilli.

As development of the new market at Jack London Square continues, so do plans for new restaurants. Cocina Poblano, serving Mexican cuisine and a long list of tequilas, is already up and running in the former location of Pizzeria SFO. Joey Altman, host of KRON-4’s Bay Cafe, is working on a restaurant to replace Jack’s Bistro in the Waterfront Plaza Hotel, which is under renovation.

Tanya Holland, the host of Food Network’s Melting Pot: Soul Kitchen, opened Brown Sugar Kitchen earlier this year in West Oakland. Holland is serving dishes such as pecan-crusted French toast and cornmeal waffles for breakfast, and ribs, chicken, and sweet potato gratin for lunch.

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