Everybody’s business

Photo By Tom Angel

From soup to chops
Since mid-June, the sign outside Shadetree, Chico’s vegetarian restaurant, has read “closed today for cleaning and repairation. See you soon.” But all indications are that the business at 817 Main St. is being sold.

If the deal goes through, Jeff Page hopes to open a “fish and chops” restaurant in that location. Page owned restaurants in Seattle before moving to Chico two years ago to be near his daughter.

“The food will be quite nice,” Page said, featuring lamb and other meats—a definite switch from vegetarian fare and a first for Chico.

The demise of Shadetree came as a disappointment to Karen Goodwin, who started the restaurant as Café Sandino in 1988 and sold it to her then-manager in 1999 (who herself later sold) to focus on her Today’s Traditions tamales business.

“I understand how hard it is to run a restaurant, especially in this economy, so I don’t fault them,” Goodwin said. “Hopefully, something will spring up to fill the void.”

Butte Creek Brewing Co. is back in production after a few weeks in which beer was not brewed and half of the six employees were put out of work.

“We’re just rockin’,” said Tom Atmore, one of the brewery’s owners, who had been reluctant to talk about the business’ financial footing. “I knew something was going to happen. I just didn’t know what. [Now] we’re in the process of finalizing a deal with new partners.” The investors are from Northern California and no one we’d recognize, Atmore said.

“The whole problem really came about when our organic ales grew faster than the capital we had,” Atmore said. “We couldn’t keep up with the demand.” The investment will allow Butte Creek to expand its West Second Street facility and distribution area.

“We are going into hiring mode,” Atmore said, adding that the business hasn’t suffered from the down time. “I think it’s just created more demand,” he said. “Sales are actually up. They’re hungry for beer.”

Butte Creek, which began brewing in spring 1996, is the second-largest organic brewery in the nation.

Comcast confab
The folks at Comcast cable invited me down to learn about their plans for the Chico market and what they say is a much more customer-centered philosophy than that of AT&T Wireless, from whom they bought the business in November 2002.

Paul Fisher, the area vice president who’s based in Sacramento, said they’re in the midst of upgrading the cable system—one phase alone is a $2 million investment—that will provide the infrastructure for 19 additional channels on “preferred basic” cable and at least 50 new digital cable channels, along with high-speed Internet access by the end of the year.

“The rates will change a lot because we’ll have different packages available,” Fisher said, but he’s not sure how much they will be.

Communications Director Susan Gonzales said Comcast is also looking for local nonprofits that need free airtime or small monetary donations. “We are going to be a good corporate citizen,” she said.