Sebastopol businesses are deep into the summer shopping season.
The downtown business association on Main Street just celebrated its 58th Sidewalk Faire. Merchants put their wares out on tables on the sidewalk, and there was music, food and dancing downtown over the weekend.
A few blocks to the east, The Barlow was also busy and, despite February’s flood, continues to be Sebastopol’s strongest business magnet, boasting a host of new and newly reopened businesses.
“We have had a surge of new tenants signing leases — Acre Pizza, Red Bird Bakery, Rust women’s boutique — as well as new openings, including the Seismic Brewery taproom, Golden State Cider taproom and a Japanese farmhouse restaurant called Kosho,” Barlow managing partner Barney Aldridge said.
“The Barlow is back better than ever,” he said. “Our intention is to be the No. 1 choice for people in Sonoma County to enjoy food, art, wine, beer and time together, gathered at any one of our many passionately focused businesses and community spaces.”
Long awaited taprooms open at The Barlow
Seismic Brewing opened its taproom at the end of June in one of The Barlow’s flagship buildings, a steel, glass and wood concoction on the corner of Highway 12 and Morris Street.
Beer lovers can expect to find year-round favorites on tap, as well as beers like Alluvium Pilsner, Tremor Lager, Shatter Cone IPA and Namazu Oat Pale Ale. There will also be small batch and barrel-aged offerings that will only be available at the taproom.
“We couldn’t be more excited to be a part of The Barlow craft beverage community and to bring Seismic full circle by pouring beer in a sustainable way that honors our home,” said Chris Jackson, president of Seismic Brewing Company.
Jackson, the son of Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke of Jackson Family Wines, is striking out on his own with this venture.
How did the scion of one the county’s biggest wine families develop a taste for beer?
“Chris started to gain an appreciation for craft beer while traveling with his father in Germany, where he was better able to learn about the tradition and history of beer,” said Patrick Delves, Seismic’s director of marketing.
“Chris and I were roommates during our undergrad years at Santa Clara University, where I fell in love with craft beer. While living together, he would show me incredible wines, and I’d introduce him to high quality craft beer, and we built up our palates and appreciation together for the two beverages.”
Seismic’s Barlow location is simply a taproom. The beer is made in a state-of-the-art, ecologically correct brewery in Santa Rosa.
“Sustainability is mission-critical to everything we do at Seismic,” Delves said. “Our approach to sustainability adheres to the triple bottom line — people, planet and prosperity — or in other words, the impact we have on our community, the environment and our economy. We believe that business can be a force for good in our communities, while still turning a profit — the two do not have to be mutually exclusive.”
Golden State Cider, founded by second generation apple farmer Jolie Devoto and her husband Hunter Wade, uses sustainably grown fruits from Oregon, Washington and California in four core ciders: Bay Brut Cider, Gingergrass Cider, Mighty Hops Cider and Mighty Dry Cider, a champagne-style off-dry cider. They also produce limited releases from the Devoto Orchard in Sebastopol, including a harvest release called Save The Gravenstein.
Golden State Cider, which had expected to open this winter in The Barlow, was forced to delay its opening by the flooding. But they will be opening any day now, and, according to the owners, are looking forward to hosting some events for Sonoma County Cider Week, Aug. 17 to 25.
Rust moves uptown
Alice Briggs is looking forward to moving her women’s clothing store, Rust, to its new location in The Barlow. Rust, which started out in a south Sebastopol location on Gravenstein Highway, offers women’s clothing, shoes, handbags and jewelry.
“I thought the foot traffic would be helpful to my business,” Briggs said. “And there’s not another clothing store there right now.”
She’s right about that. The Barlow’s original clothing store, Tamarind, was severely damaged in February’s flood, and owner Andrea Kenner opted not to reopen, deciding to concentrate on her Healdsburg location instead.
Briggs said the mission of Rust is to empower women and be very open to all kinds of women — with different lifestyles and different body types.
“It’s about making women feel accepted and not judged,” she said.
“I love Sebastopol and Sonoma County,” Briggs said. “I’m grateful of how supportive this community is of local businesses, and I look forward to continuing to be a part of this community in my new space in The Barlow.”
She expects to make the move in the first or second week of August. For more details, check out her website, rustboutique.com, which also features fun “What’s new this week?” videos.
Our daily bread: new food choices in The Barlow and beyond
Village Bakery owners Patrick Lum and Teresa Gentile announced in mid-June that they would be closing their flood-damaged bakery in The Barlow.
“Pat and I feel that it is in the best interest of our business, and our family life, to move on,” said Gentile, who suffered a heart attack in the aftermath of the flooding. “Needless to say we will miss our amazing community in west county.”
They are working to open a branch of Village Bakery in Montgomery Village.
Their former 3,500-square-foot bakery site in The Barlow will be taken over by Red Bird Bakery and Acre Pizza. Acre Pizza is the newest venture from the owners of Acre Coffee, which opened a new branch in Sebastopol in the old Starbucks location on South Gravenstein in April.
Right next door in The Barlow, the Japanese restaurant Kosho, under chef Jake Rand, is re-opening at last after undergoing massive post-flood renovation.
Back in downtown, lovers of downhome cooking will appreciate the unpretentiousness of the Sebastopol Sunshine Café, owned by Esmerelda Pinal and Efren Aguilar, which just opened on South Main Street in the space that used to be Hip Chicks, right across the street from K&L Bistro.
“It’s a diner,” said Pinal. “It’s not a fancy place. We serve classic American food and breakfast all day.”
Pinal said they’re open at 7 a.m. seven days a week.
It is the couple’s first business venture together.
“It’s an adventure,” Pinal said with a laugh.
Finally, lovers of Thai and mouth-watering curries will be excited to discover Jam’s Joy Bungalow, in the tiny, hole-in-the-wall location on Sebastopol’s downtown plaza, which used to be Friendly Joe’s.
Owner Jamilah Nixon-Mathis isn’t a newcomer to the plaza; she used to run the Asian side of the old Forschetta Bastoni, where Ramen Gaijin is now located.
Nixon-Mathis also owns the Joy Bungalow food truck, which has a wide and enthusiastic following that has been counting the days until Jam’s Joy Bungalow brick and mortar location opened. The new location had its official opening on Sunday, July 21, drawing an eager and curious crowd from the Sebastopol Farmers Market.