Hello and goodbye

Chico app grows, a beauty store is coming, and a restaurant shuts its doors

Sitting alone underneath a large green toucan statue last week, with three plates of food piled high in front of me, I felt great compassion for people who have to travel for work. I rarely travel for my day job, but last week I attended a conference in Reno with a client. The conference didn't offer dinners and my client had plans with his wife, so I ended up at the hotel buffet by myself. In between bites of pork fried rice, a loaded baked potato and seafood salad, I tried to stay engrossed in my phone to look less lonely and quickly hurried through my meal, only to be back in my room by 6:30 p.m. with nothing to do but watch old reality television episodes on Hulu.

Real road warriors must be much less pathetic than I. Or they have the HelloTel app, which in hindsight, might have helped me find a gal pal to eat ridiculous amounts of fried shrimp and soft-serve ice cream with.

HelloTel is billed as the travelers' social network, and is targeted toward business travelers looking to find out the haps in their hotel and surrounding area. You can meet up with fellow travelers, or just ask for reviews on great places to eat.

The app was founded by Chico company Sochule Inc., a parent company to a handful of Web/mobile development and technology firms, and has had some recent successes. HelloTel was approved last month for the Apple Watch, and the app has secured more than $2 million in funding since June 2014.

I don't have any travel plans in the near future, but next time I end up alone in Reno, I may just use HelloTel to find a recommendation for a restaurant that doesn't serve prime rib next to chow mein.

Comings and goings. I was sad to see that The Kitchen Table closed its doors last week. The East Avenue restaurant opened in 2013 and its menu featured local ingredients from places such as Llano Seco Rancho, Orland Farmstead Creamery and Comanche Creek Farms, among others. Chef/owner Nathan Johnson said he is moving on in the food industry, and will keep fans posted on what's next

Across town, the empty space at the front of the Costco parking lot is slated to become the future home of Ulta, a chain beauty store. There are several Ultas in the Sacramento area, but the future Chico store is unique in that it will be a standalone location, unattached to a mall or shopping center.