Painting a pretty picture

Butte County Business Ambassador Program launches; Cinemark gets a new rewards app; and Torrid primed for a Chico Mall opening

Butte County is a pretty great place to live. I should know—I’ve lived everywhere from Southern California to the Midwest to the Rocky Mountains to Europe. I’ve noticed recently that local government is trying to make the region more attractive to not only live but also work. That’s a great thing. The more businesses that locate here, the more good jobs are created to sustain the beauty we all love.

The latest push to market the area as business-friendly is the Butte County Business Ambassador Program, which launched this month with the release of two YouTube videos highlighting the first two ambassador businesses, Almendra Winery & Distillery in Durham and All Metals Inc., a metal distributor in Oroville.

First, I have to say that the video quality is pretty awesome. In each one, the owners—Carol and Berton Bertagna and Ed Lazzareschi, respectively—speak about their experience owning and running their businesses in Butte County. The Bertagnas highlight how welcoming and accommodating the county staff were when they opened Almendra last year, and Lazzareschi talks about the quality of schools and low cost of living in the area.

“The most refreshing thing for me is when we get people in here from out of town … They come in here not expecting very much from this little old place in Durham, but they leave very impressed and very happy that they came. And most of them come back or bring people back with them because they just can’t believe what we’ve done here,” Carol Bertagna says in the Almendra video.

I’m eager to see who is chosen next to represent Butte County. To check out the videos and learn more about the Business Ambassador Program, go to

An app for that There’s an app for everything these days. My latest download: Cinemark Connections, a new rewards program that lets you earn points for every movie ticket and soda you buy. I was already on the theater’s email list, so I’d get offers for free popcorn, etc. This promises to be even cooler, as you can choose your rewards, redeeming points for things like autographed posters, soundtrack downloads and other movie merch.

Ooh-la-la It’s not easy to find cute dresses and pants in plus sizes, especially in Chico, where clothes-shopping options are limited. So, the upcoming opening of Torrid in the Chico Mall is exciting news. Torrid, which offers clothing in sizes 10-30, is a little less alt than its sister store, Hot Topic, but the website advertises everything from “going out” attire to “cosplay dresses,” so it’s bound to be a fun addition to Chico’s clothing scene. Construction is currently underway—the store will be situated between Maurices and Justice—with a grand opening slated for Dec. 10. And they’re hiring! Go to for info on how to apply.

Signs are a-changin’ I ran into restaurateur Mohammed Shabbar (of Teller’s Grill, which he says is on hold due to construction delays) outside the old House of Bamboo (162 E. Second St.) last week and he told me to watch for Petra Cafe to open there in the next couple weeks. Can’t wait!