Changing faces

Some businesses take forever to open, except for a new discount grocery store; plus, the El Rey reopens

It’s crazy to notice, sometimes, how quickly things can change while others seem to take forever. For instance, work started on Tellers Bar and Grill downtown and Galaxies in the North Valley Plaza literally years ago. I’m not sure we’ll see either come to fruition.

Then there are others, like Bill’s Towne Lounge on Main Street, that’s been in the works for at least a year, and also Chico Coffee Co. and OM Foods, both of which announced plans to open earlier this year and both of which are yet to open up their new locations downtown (Chico Coffee Co. where Peet’s used to be and OM in the space previously occupied by Arabica Cafe). Finally, there’s the transformation of LaSalle’s, which is coming along quite nicely—have you seen the new green façade?—but from the looks of it could take another year to complete. I’m confident they’ll all make strong contributions to downtown eventually, but the wait is painful at times!

And finally, I’m shocked when I see a business I didn’t even know existed has popped up seemingly overnight on a corner I pass every single day. I’m talking about the corner of Sixth and Walnut streets, where HAL Thrift Shop used to be. If I’m completely honest, I didn’t realize that store had shut down (months ago, I just learned) until I noticed the wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube man out front the other day. The sign in the door: Better Buy Discount Grocery.

I was intrigued, so I walked in. There, I met Taryn Hughey, one of the owners. She explained that the store has a sister location in Oroville, which has been operating for several years. Basically, she and her husband, Dave Metroka, and their partners buy pallets of food, candy and other items discarded by other stores. Could be they were damaged; could be they just didn’t sell. Either way, the stuff in the store was insanely cheap. I walked out with five different bags of chips, some sesame oil and a piece of candy for less than $2.

Inventory is random, but if you’re patient and on a budget, you can find some decent buys, like bread for $1 and Cup Noodles for a quarter. Better Buy Discount Grocery is at 611 Walnut St. Hours, for now, are 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun. Hughey says they expect to start accepting EBT in a few weeks, at which point their hours could be extended.

Renovation time Last weekend, my boyfriend, Chuck, and I went to the grand reopening of the El Rey Theatre. Wow—what a transformation! While I’d seen the schematics for what they had planned, to remove the seating in the center area in front of the stage, I hadn’t anticipated just how big a difference it would make. Standing there, on the dance floor, made the room feel massively larger. And, as we bopped along to Northern Traditionz and Mystic Roots, the sound coming through the speakers seemed also to have been improved. Bonus: The theater raised $15,000 that night from ticket sales alone, all to go toward renovation of the fairy paintings on the walls.