Best of the East Bay 2011 - Shops and Services
Pick up a little something or go all out: these are the best shops and services in the East Bay.
When East Bay residents want to know why Ygnacio Valley Road is at a standstill or what’s the source of some smoke billowing on the horizon, they turn to hyperlocal news blog Claycord. Its anonymous full-time editor, “the mayor,” a thirtysomething lifelong Concord resident, combines reader tips, original reporting, and lighthearted local trivia to offer informative and interesting coverage of Clayton, Concord, and beyond.
Diablo: Is your identity the best-kept or the worst-kept secret?
Mayor of Claycord: Honestly, it’s not a huge secret; a lot of people know who I am. I’m just a normal guy with an interest in where I live and what happens around me. I’m not in it for fame or recognition. Claycord is more of a community effort, and although I’m somewhat the leader of the community, without my readers and contributors, there would be no Claycord.
Why mayor? Why not president or czar or king?
I view Claycord as more of a community, and I’m the leader of the community. Presidents, czars, and kings don’t lead communities, mayors do!
What is the biggest story Claycord has broken?
The Jaycee Dugard kidnapping case. Locally, we were the first to report on her discovery in Concord, and we were the first in the world to show the suspect, Phillip Garrido, and report on the fact that he was a sex offender and fathered children with Dugard.
What is your personal favorite?
Any story that makes a difference in a person’s life. Whether it helped them find a missing pet or raise money for a certain cause, those are my favorites.
The sweet smell of kettle corn and acoustic Beatles melodies carried on the breeze as I roamed the Danville Farmers Market in late spring. Old friends hugged as they crossed paths, the mayor chatted about town growth with a curious group, and kids munched on freshly fried mini donuts—cinnamon and sugar dusting their faces—before racing off to explore a historic train car.
This small year-round market, established in 1990, has become more than just a destination for produce. It’s a community gathering place, where families young and old convene between Lunardi’s and the Museum of the San Ramon Valley—often on bikes or in wagons from the adjacent Iron Horse Trail—to soak up the pleasures of small-town life while also filling totes with farm-fresh fruits and veggies, artisan breads and meats, flowers, dried fruit and nuts, and even homemade doggie treats.
Grown on farms from within an average of 100 miles, the produce shines. Piles of fava beans sit atop an American flag–covered folding table, vendors offer strawberries on toothpicks and cups of raw pomegranate juice for sampling, and customers guess the names of oddly shaped squash. I brought home a basket of sweet cherries (plus an extra handful, generously scooped into my bag) from Hamlow Ranches, perfect mini tomatoes on the vine from Houweling Farm, lusciously fragrant soap from Cache Creek Lavender, and late-season organic asparagus from San Ramon’s L&J Farms, which I roasted that evening with garlic olive oil from Berkeley’s Stonehouse California Olive Oil. It was divine, and I’m already dreaming of next week’s bounty.
Saturdays, 9 a.m.–1 p.m., Railroad and Prospect avenues, Danville, pcfma.com.
What makes tales wag year after year for ShamPooches? Dogs get just the right ’do from seven friendly groomers, who are experts in all breeds. Or DIY-it with ShamPooches’ expansive elevated tub, where you can pamper your pet with tear-free shampoo and a blow-dry. Make an appointment to have your cat bathed, too, if you dare. 3151-1 Crow Canyon Pl., San Ramon, (925) 806-0647, shampooches.us.
Whether Rocky has a hankering for some new outfits, a fancy treat, or even a holistic diet, you’ll find something exceptional at Murphy’s Paw. Make sure your world champion is ready for the season, with the store’s selection of the latest Giants’ wear, and don’t miss the monthly Wag & Walk and Bark & Brew events. 410 Main St., Pleasanton, (925) 600-8925, murphyspaw.com.
Pet care doesn’t get more state of the art than at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center and Urgent Care, which features the latest in digital radiology and ultrasound, in addition to boarding, training, and even behavioral counseling. The center is open late (10 p.m. weekdays, 8 p.m. weekends) for emergencies, so when Bijou eats half your slipper as you get ready for bed, you’re covered. Reptiles welcome. 2000 Bishop Dr., San Ramon, (925) 866-8387, webvets.com.
Toy poodles and other diminutives play on one side, while Labs and Retrievers oversee their own space on the other, at this much-loved Canine Corral at Hap Magee. Pup parents can rest on shaded benches while their prized ones race around large grassy spaces and challenge new doggie friends to a ballgame. And water stations keep canine athletes properly hydrated. 1025 La Gonda Way, Danville, (925) 314-3400.
As you sun and fun at Club Med, Club K-9 treats your pups to their own vacation, with 14 outdoor areas to roam at their leisure. Dogs are grouped by size, energy level, and disposition, then cavort with friends outdoors from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. At night, Fifi will dine and relax in a temperature-controlled private room. Dogs only. 10671 Crow Canyon Rd., Castro Valley, (510) 247-9600, clubk9inc.com.
Steps away from Chez Panisse, Twig & Fig handles stationery the way the Gourmet Ghetto approaches food. Fine paper meets old-world technique in the letterpress studio, where an antique 1890 press stamps out business cards and invitations. Watch the masters at work through large windows from the shady patio while munching on a cupcake from next-door neighbor Love at First Bite. Or meander through the paperie, where you’ll find leather journals, fountain pens, and unique greeting cards—including Twig & Fig’s foil-stamped or laser-cut designs. If you’d like couture invitations for your daughter’s sweet sixteen, chat with an artist in the design loft.
2110 Vine St., Berkeley, (510) 848-5599, twigandfig.com.
When Domus closed in 2008, Tri-Valley residents mourned. They had fallen in love with the eclectic selection of gift items, kitchen gadgets, and home accents, and the empty storefront was a constant reminder of its absence. So, when Domus owner Margaret Smith recently announced that her Los Gatos store would relocate to Pleasanton—in the same space the old store had vacated—we rejoiced. Domus reopens this summer, just in time for the holidays.
652 Main St., Pleasanton, (925) 485-0501, domusonline.com.
Personalize your next gift with Spell-It-Out Photos. Eagle-eye Moraga moms Sue Tenerowicz and Lynn McAuliffe take photographs around the Bay Area of objects that resemble letters—eucalyptus branches that make a W, or Golden Gate Bridge supports forming an H. Customers view online photo galleries to spell out names and words of their choice—printed in color, black and white, or sepia tone, and framed ready to hang.
Hen House, 20 Lafayette Cir., Lafayette, (925) 962-1776, vintagehenhouse.com.
Hank and Frank Bicycles, 3377 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 283-2453; 6030 College Ave., Oakland, (510) 654-2453, hankandfrankbicycles.com.
Rakestraw Books, 522 Hartz Ave., Danville, (925) 837-7337, rakestrawbooks.com.
Lafayette Car Wash and Detail Center, 3319 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 283-1190, lafayettecarwash.com.
Richard’s, 225-A Alamo Plaza, Alamo, (925) 820-4731; 4502 Las Positas Rd., Livermore, (925) 447-0471, richardsartsandcrafts.com.
Florali, 2345 Boulevard Cir., Walnut Creek, (925) 934-6877, florali.com.
*Home Accessories Store
Elegant Clutter, 702 Sycamore Valley Rd. W., Danville, (925) 837-1001, elegantclutter.com.
*One-of-a-Kind Gift Shop
Kitchen Table, 1373 Locust St., Walnut Creek, (925) 937-8888.
Orchard Nursery and Florist, 4010 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 284-4474, orchardnursery.com.
Nick’s Boot and Shoe Repair, 3104 Crow Canyon Pl., Ste. E, San Ramon, (925) 866-0774, nicksbootandshoerepair.com.
Diablo Foods, 3615 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 283-0737.
Danville Chocolates, 175 E. Prospect Ave., Ste. 150, Danville, (925) 314-0001, danvillechocolates.com.
Hospice of the East Bay Thrift Shoppes, locations in Alamo, Antioch, Concord, Danville, Dublin, Pleasant Hill, and Walnut Creek, hospiceeastbay.org.
Barbara Llewellyn Catering & EventPlanning, 434 25th St., Oakland, (510) 832-1967, barbarallewellyn.com.