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Diablo Dish — January '08


On his North American concert tour, rock legend Bruce Springsteen is creating fundraising opportunities for local food charities.

During his visit to Oakland this fall, The Boss donated concert tickets for the People’s Grocery to auction off and invited the organization to collect donations at the concert. “He talked about our organization’s work onstage during the encore,’’ says People’s Grocery executive director Brahm Ahmadi.

The $11,000 that was raised will help fund two of People’s Grocery’s newest initiatives: the SOUL Box, a box of seasonal, organic, unrefined, and local fruits and vegetables harvested from the organization’s Sunol farm, and delivered to low-income families; and a multimedia nutrition education initiative.

After an extended legal dispute over unpaid rent, the city of Walnut Creek and Gerry Blake, owner of Blake’s restaurant at Boundary Oak Golf Course, have reached a settlement. Blake was due to vacate the space December 31, a year before his original lease ended. Sunrise Catering, led by Diablo 2007 Woman to Watch Cindy Gershen, will take over operation of the banquet facility and golfer’s grill for the next 18 months.

British-owned grocer Fresh and Easy is preparing to throw down in the East Bay’s ongoing grocery store wars. The chain, which has an emphasis on fresh prepared foods without added trans fat and preservatives, is rumored to be considering such locations as Walnut Creek’s Ygnacio Plaza, Concord’s Clayton Valley Shopping Center, as well as sites in Pleasanton, Dublin, and Oakland. Spokesman Brendan Wonnacott says the search is still in its preliminary phase, but stores will likely open over the next year or two.

Adnan Abusharkh, owner of the Pride of the Mediterranean restaurants in San Francisco and Danville, was slated to open a grocery store of the same name in downtown Danville last month. The store will specialize in Middle Eastern dry goods, halal meats, and produce. Abusharkh says he will import some products from the Middle East while produce like cucumbers, eggplant, and zucchini will come from farms in California’s Central Valley. “You cannot go in Safeway and find this kind of cucumber,” Abusharkh says.

Developers have broken ground on Oakland’s Jack London Market—a retail, restaurant, and office space expected to open in early 2009. The marketplace’s developers say it will rival San Francisco’s Ferry Building, with a weekend farmers market, artisan foods, local produce, fine dining, and a professional kitchen.

After four years in Pleasant Hill, Sweet Sisters Café has closed. Former owner Deborah Quenneville-Clairmont was sick for almost a year before being diagnosed last summer with celiac disease, a severe gluten intolerance. She’s taking a year off in her hometown in Ontario, Canada, to rest, write a book about surviving celiac disease, and test gluten-free recipes. But she says she and her kids will definitely come back to the Bay Area. “I will absolutely, 100 percent open another restaurant,” she says.

Got dish? E-mail us at dish@maildiablo.com.


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