Saying goodbye

Downtown loses two Mediterranean spots, plus the Chico Children’s Museum picks up fundraising efforts, including one in the name of Jenette Vanella

I’m always sad to see a good thing go, especially after only a few short months. Did not enough people come in and support the business? And if not, why not? Was it for lack of advertising, inconvenient parking, or poor signage? Any one of those things can do a good business in. Beyond the visibly obvious reasons for a business’ failure are equipment repairs, food costs and all that overhead. Then there are outside factors like health issues and family drama. Then again, others thrive despite their flaws.

So, there are yet more closures to report downtown. First is Arabica Cafe, the cute little coffee shop next to Coldstone Creamery on Broadway, which quietly put up a “closed for remodeling” sign a few weeks ago that this week turned into a “for lease” sign. I’d been in a few times and was always happy with the service. Was the food too ethnic for Chico’s tastes? Or perhaps just not advertised as such? I ordered the beef panini special one day and, while it was delicious, it wasn’t at all what I’d expected. Turns out, the spiced ground beef and cheese flatbread sandwich is a Jordanian street food staple—but who knew? I wonder if people just didn’t realize the gems hiding inside this place. That Turkish coffee was to-die-for.

The other recent closure, coincidentally, also specialized in Mediterranean flavors. Sultan’s Bistro, as reinvigorated by new ownership just this past summer, put up a “temporarily closed” sign a few months ago. The space inside the Phoenix Building is now for lease. The new owner had gone to the trouble of tracking down the original Sultan’s owners, getting permission to use their recipes and bringing back those craveable flavors. My suspicion is that Sultan’s suffered from that all-to-familiar double-edged sword of reopening a restaurant with the same name. Old Yelp reviews suggested mediocre offerings and there was no Facebook presence in order to let hungry Chicoans know it was under new management.

Children’s Museum gears up It feels like forever since a splash of yellow paint transformed the eastside block of Main Street between Third and Fourth. The Chico Children’s Museum is still in the works and is back in the spotlight with a big event this weekend. The fundraiser this Saturday, Nov. 11, at Nantucket Home (603 Broadway) is titled Fly Away to London and promises to transport guests to the 1900s “Bustle Era” with good food (prepared by chef Ann Leon of Leon Bistro), drinks and live music (by renowned violinist and harpist Carlos Reyes). Tickets are $135 and can be purchased at

Speaking of the Children’s Museum, I noticed a Facebook post about the recent passing of local ag leader Jenette Vanella, whose name is perhaps most familiar because her family owns the Vanella Farm Store in Durham. She was a friend of the museum and, as such, her family has chosen to direct donations in her memory to it through The Big Harvest fundraising drive, which offers matching funds through the Butte Agriculture Foundation. All money donated in Vanella’s name will go toward an agriculture-themed exhibit at the museum in her memory. Go to for more information and to donate.