Coffee talk

I remember a couple of years ago when drive-through coffee kiosks seemed to be popping up all over Chico. I even did a little “trend” story on it. Now, upon learning of plans for a second Java Detour location here, my immediate thought is, “Well, what took so long?” (A Dutch Bros. Coffee kiosk is going in on East Park Avenue, too.)

Mike Binninger, who started the first Chico Java Detour with his brother, Steve, in August 2000, applied to the city to build a kiosk at the southwest corner of The Esplanade and East Avenue. The brothers hail from Davis and own several Java Detours in the Northstate. “We’re two brothers. We’re not a corporate giant,” Mike Binninger said at the time. (But now, when you call the Mangrove kiosk, they say they’re not allowed to give out the Binningers’ number. Conveniently, it’s listed on the Architectural Review Board agenda. But they didn’t call back right away.)

The kiosk will look a lot like the one on East First and Mangrove avenues, with drive-through windows on each side of the 220-square-foot building. The property, incidentally, is owned by Gasamat Oil Corp. of Colorado.

Freeze frame

The reason the lot at The Esplanade and East Avenue is vacant in the first place is that Gary Lewis, who owns the Arco AMPM diagonally across the intersection, closed his Beacon gas station there amid crummy market conditions for fuel retailers.

He hinted at the time that he would be exploring other ventures, and here’s what they are: an ice cream shop and a restaurant at the North Valley Plaza mall. The annoyingly non-communicative owners of the mall have followed through on their promise to develop pads around the main mall and make it more of a regional center. Lewis is taking one of the corner pieces and putting in a La Salsa Fresh Mexican Grill and a Ben & Jerry’s.

He decided to go into the restaurant business because “It sounds more fun.” I asked Lewis if he had ever run a restaurant before, and he said no, but he’d done food service and this “is just a franchise.” He hesitated to guess when they will open because construction hasn’t even started yet.

Lewis registered the ice cream shop with the county under the name “Frozen Assets.” During the extensive research I do for this column (a team of 12 interns assists me, as if I’m Herb Caen) I learned that there is another nearby business named Frozen Assets. But it’s in Redding and deals in the artificial insemination of dairy goats. I doubt there will be much confusion.

Moo-ve on down to Ag Day

If you’re picking up this paper on Thursday, March 13, hurry on over to Chico State University’s Free Speech Area, where Ag Day is already underway. The 11th-annual event is hosted by the Students for Responsible Agriculture and is always a big draw for local schoolchildren.

The goal of the event, which runs from 8 a.m. to noon, is to get people to realize where their food comes from by way of fun activities. There will even be “rancher Olympics,” but university President Manuel Esteban is out of town and won’t be milking a cow this year. “I enjoyed it a lot when I first and last did it, but I will not quit my job to become a professional milker,” he said.