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Diablo Dish—February 2011

Food Network's Guy Fieri aims for Dublin opening; Rudy's Can't Fail going into Fox Theater; Bing Crosby's closes; a wave of East Bay Fresh & Easy stores to open; all in this month's Dish!


The Tri-Valley will boost its star power, with Guy Fieri targeting Dublin for the fifth location of his Johnny Garlic’s, replacing the shuttered Fuzio’s next to Regal Cinemas. The popular host of the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and NBC’s Minute to Win It is known for his spiked, bleach-blond hair and infatuation with classic American diner fare. The Dublin joint plans to incorporate Johnny Garlic’s newly revamped menu of giant salads, wood-fired pizzas, pastas, Kobe beef burgers, and steaks. The restaurant is tentatively set to open in April or May, and the Santa Rosa–bred star says he is thrilled: “As a native of NorCal, it’s a dream come true to expand to the East Bay,” Fieri says.

Speaking of star power, Oakland’s Fox Theater will fill its long-vacant corner space with the second location of Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café, co-owned by Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt. Rudy’s managing partner Douglas Smith says the popular Emeryville restaurant’s casual, eclectic atmosphere and budget-friendly comfort food should gel nicely with the Fox’s alt-rock clientele. Expect a similar vibe, menu, and hours (breakfast through late-night dinner) in Oakland, plus a possible full bar and eye-popping design touches, says Smith, who offered mid–2011 as the projected opening date.

Bing Crosby’s, the retro, swing era–themed restaurant that opened to much fanfare in 2004, closed on January 1. Rumored to be in trouble for months, the Walnut Creek location was the final of restaurateur Jeff Dudum‘s three Bing restaurants (also in San Diego and Rancho Mirage) to shut down over the last year. No word as of press time on what would replace the Broadway Plaza location.

Blackhawk Plaza has signed on Berkeley artisan chocolate-maker Christopher Blue to open his fourth Chocolatier Blue in the shopping center. Blue, whose modern chocolates feature eclectic flavors such as pear with bay leaf, grapefruit with rosemary, and sage honey, says he’ll debut a new line of chocolate bar creations to coincide with the new store’s opening. He hopes to open in time for Valentine’s Day.

Edward Westmoreland closed the Livermore branch of his Eddie Papa’s American Hangout. He cited wanting to spend more time with his young family as the reason for consolidating back to the original Pleasanton location—although he does hope to open another restaurant in the Lafayette/Walnut Creek area in the next year or so. Taking Eddie Papa’s place on First Street will be Clay Oven Restaurant and Bar. Owner Norman Singh, who has been in the restaurant industry for more than 30 years and runs eight other Northern Indian eateries in San Francisco and San Mateo, says he hopes to open the first week of February in time for—you guessed it—Valentine’s Day. Nearby, longtime Livermore farmers market fixtures Benjamin Jafari and Howell Johnson have brought their vegetarian-friendly Mediterranean/Middle Eastern fare to First Street full-time with Casbah Café. And over in Rockridge, a little more than a year after breaking up their original Garibalids into two smaller eateries, owners Justin Hafen and John Hurley have made the hybrid space whole again with Hudson, a “modern American brasserie” with Italian influences.

Finally, the first of a wave of new Fresh & Easy stores in the East Bay will debut in Danville on March 2. The budget grocery chain will follow with stores opening in Concord (March 16), Walnut Creek (March 23), and Pleasanton (April 13).

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