The ninth planet
The exit in June 2002 of the short-lived Mind Games video games spot made for a 6,000-square-foot vacancy at Second and Main streets that building owner David Halimi has had a hard time filling.
Enter Pluto’s. Co-owner Louis Kimball picked up the phone himself when I dialed the corporate office of the San Francisco-based restaurant, which he described as “an everyday kind of place.”
Kimball and the other owner, Gerry Bugas, are excited about adding a Chico Pluto’s to their five restaurants. “We love the feel of the town and the university,” he said. “We’d like to be part of the downtown.”
Nothing’s been signed yet, but Kimball said, “If that site doesn’t work out, we’ll definitely be looking at other sites.”
Also, an Alcoholic Beverage Control permit has been requested for the space at the back of the building, along Second Street, which we hear is slated to be a Thai restaurant.
Bidwell Perk is scouting out a second Chico location, after initial plans to move into Butte Community Bank’s new pad at 215 W. East Ave. fell through. December 2002 sign renderings for the space in front of Orchard Supply Hardware show the bank alongside Bidwell Perk.
Russ Wittmeier of Butte Community Bank said they “weren’t able to come to terms” on a deal with Bidwell Perk, so the bank is now open to any good-tasting coffee moving in. “It would be nice to continue to have local representation there,” Wittmeier said. The bank already tried the bank-next-door-to-coffee setup with a Starbucks in Yuba City, and “We found it’s complemented each other.”
Bidwell Perk has been running ads slamming “corporate coffee,” leading java-watchers to wonder if the bank negotiations left a bitter taste in their mouths. But Randy Barrett, a Chico man who plans to invest with the Blansheis in the hoped-for new Bidwell Perk, said it was the coffee folks who decided to take a different approach to the project and there are no hard feelings. Bidwell Perk co-owner Lance Blanshei said, “We were looking at that location, but it just didn’t work out.”
The gift shop Tomfoolery is back in business, having come full circle as its original owners, Roger and Susan Shaw, have moved in at 126 East Third St. The couple opened Tomfoolery in the North Valley Plaza mall after closing their Carousel Toys store in 1988. Tomfoolery changed hands a couple of times before going out of business in early 2001.
Roger Shaw said this time around they wanted to be downtown, with its “nostalgic charm.” “Lots of people remember the store,” Shaw said, adding that the motto is, “We’re back but we’re different.” The new Tomfoolery still has the men’s gifts and classy leather accessories it had been known for, but shoppers can also find the random gag rubber chicken or Sigmund Freud action figure.