A look back at the grand openings of 2018
As is tradition this last week of the old year, I take some time to look back and try to encapsulate the biggest moments. What milestones did we reach? What new businesses opened up, and which ones shut down? Obviously, the Camp Fire has made waves, but I’ll touch on those in the new year.
But before we say sayonara to 2018, let’s take a quick look back at what it meant to the local business landscape.
Hello: The Lab Bar and Grill opened where The End Zone used to be, and the Beverage District (or whatever we’re calling it these days) added to its ranks: The Commons and Nor Cal Brewing. In other bar-related news, Bill’s Towne Lounge opened up on Main Street. Owner Will Brady tells me he plans to put a pool table on the patio—some of the best news I’ve heard this month! Also, Casino Chico opened inside Quackers Fire Grill and Bar.
In caffeinated news, Chico Coffee Co. launched downtown, as did Tender Loving Coffee. Brave Coffee opened on Mangrove Avenue, a few blocks down from Bottoms Up Espresso. In sweets land, La Flor de Michoacan Paletería y Nevería opened a third store and Shubert’s Ice Cream & Candy opened a second space in the Chico Mall. We had a poke explosion, with two new spots—I Fish Poke Bar Thai Kitchen and LemonShark Poke.
Hempful Farms opened, the first hemp and CBD store in town.
Nord Avenue experienced a fun flurry of new businesses, all food-related, (almost) all international: Taj Indian Restaurant, I Fish, Chicago’s Pizza With a Twist, Coco’s Ramen, Taste of Hmong and Midnite Munchies.
Goodbye: Toys ‘R Us was probably the biggest loss of 2018, but there were others, including Aaron Brothers Art & Framing. Herreid Music closed its Chico location in January. The silver lining here is that it opened the door to the Winchester Goose getting a bigger space. It plans to move—all the way across the street—in 2019. In Durham, the iconic Empire Club closed, with no sign of reopening anytime soon.
Reopened/adapted: The El Rey Theater reopened with a bang and kept making wonderful noise all year. The Fork in the Road food truck rally moved to DeGarmo Park after getting a rent increase at Manzanita Place. OM Foods moved from the Safeway shack to Broadway. Nearby, LaSalles reopened after 2 1/2 years of remodeling. Two Twenty closed and quickly reopened as Diamond Steakhouse, with new owners and a new chef. Lulus opened up The Outlet store on Broadway, selling clothes at a deep discount. The Watchman moved out of the mall and into downtown. Christian & Johnson Flowers and Gifts moved from its longtime digs on Big Chico Creek to East First Avenue.
Other news: Local retailers teamed up with the Chico Chamber of Commerce and the Chico Police Department to fight the growing problem of shoplifting. The effort seems to be making a difference. La Hacienda celebrated its 70th birthday this year as the oldest restaurant in Chico. La Comida celebrated 50 years here and, shortly thereafter, closed its Paradise location.