Grappa and goodbyes

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Aside from one visit to the Empire Club a few years back and a few stops at the taco truck, I've rarely had an excuse to get out of my car in Durham. About the only reason I stop in the town is because I'm forced to at the four-way stop on the Midway. I love Durham—and have some great friends who come from the small town—but as far as commerce, not much has called me there. At least until now.

Berton and Carol Bertagna of Bertagna Son Kissed Vineyards are in the process of opening a distillery and tasting room where the old Holiday Market once was. The signs are already up for Almendra Winery and Distillery at 9275 Midway and the business is in the process of taking all the necessary steps to open (hopefully) soon.

The Bertagnas plan to use the space both as a distillery—with spirits like grappa, vodka and gin being made on-site—as well as a tasting room for local wines.

The business is certain to be a great boost for the town and I can guarantee a lot more people are going to be hopping out of their cars in downtown Durham with Almendra on the block.

Goodbyes. My boss at my day job is a frozen yogurt fiend. I'm convinced the only reason he attends weekly Chico Rotary meetings is because there's a frozen yogurt shop in his path that he hits on his way back to the office. The man has a fro-yo stamp card for shops 45 miles outside of Chico and we rarely make any business trip without a stop somewhere along the highway for dessert.

A few weeks ago, he called me with the most dejected tone in his voice. He was standing outside of Brain Freeze, on The Esplanade, watching a frozen yogurt machine being loaded into a moving truck. The shop was closed.

I swung by the next day and sure enough, the signs were off the building and a phone call to the number listed for the business couldn't connect. Brain Freeze had been around since 2010—and I know one very loyal customer who is sad to see it go.

I was also bummed to see that The Fashion Lounge is closing its doors, too. The juniors and women's retail clothing store, located in the Safeway shopping center on Mangrove, will close this month. The store was formerly downtown, in the old Lulu's space on Main Street, but moved last year to Mangrove.