Last-chance gifts and coffee

The story behind Orland’s Walnut Avenue Ranch, plus Peet’s set to close while Tender Loving Coffee sets up shop

I recently wrote about some of my favorite shops and businesses for buying local this holiday season and asked readers to share their own. Thank you, Hendrik Feenstra, for writing in about an Orland business I had not heard of—it’s been added to my “must visit” list!

The story behind Walnut Avenue Ranch, opened by the Meyer family in 1934, is a pretty inspiring tale of entrepreneurship, so I’ll share some of it here. Helmuth Meyer was just a child when his family moved to Orland and opened a dairy. With the Great Depression came hard times, but Helmuth was a go-getter who quickly saw the potential in harvesting black walnuts. Over the years, he invented several tools and machines to maximize production. In his black walnut heyday, he owned three processing facilities in Chico.

Nowadays, after selling those processors and moving back to the family ranch, Helmuth and his son, Melvin, run the show, with the help of other family members and staff. Over the past four decades, the family has developed recipes for roasting and flavoring walnuts and almonds, along with creating candies, butters and trail mixes. The Meyer homestead is now home to a nut factory and a candy factory, in addition to a country store where the public can purchase all of their goodies.

Stop by the Walnut Avenue Ranch at 4646 County Road N in Orland (the store is open Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., plus this Saturday, Dec. 23, for those last-minute Christmas shoppers). For more info, go to

One last cup As you probably know by now, Peet’s Coffee is slated to close its downtown shop. The last day to stop in and get your Javiva fix (I enjoy the cold drinks even in winter!) will be this Sunday, Christmas Eve. Chico Coffee Co. is set to take over the Second and Main Street space early next year.

More coffee talk I just got word that yet another coffee shop will be opening downtown in the new year, this one with a roastery where customers can watch the process unfold. Tender Loving Coffee, which started in 2015 with a mission based on ethical and sustainable sourcing, will open a brick-and-mortar shop where Midtown Local used to be, at 365 E. Sixth St.

TLC is run by Naked Lounge owners Anna Ryan and Eric Fairchild, along with Heath Dewey, all of whom will be busy taking their roasting efforts to the next level with a larger-capacity San Fanciscan roaster (25 pounds per batch, versus the current 5 pounds) on site. You’ll still find the coffee cart at Saturday markets and whole-bean coffee at select local groceries. Go to for more info.

Rumor mill I’d heard rumors that Herreid Music was closing its Chico store, but customers need not fear. The rumor probably had its nexus in the “for lease” signs hanging in the windows, but I stopped in and was assured that, in response to a rent increase, the plan is to move, not to close. A new location is still in the works.