Season of change

The El Rey’s in flux, Phoenix Building plays musical chairs and Oroville’s Broken Plate shuts its doors

Things don’t stay the same. Sad as that might be in some cases, it can create some grand opportunities in others. I’ve been thinking about the El Rey Theatre a lot lately in this regard. Of course, it’s beautiful and a local landmark. I’ve seen some amazing shows there, too—if it’s turned into something other than a performance venue, it’d be a damn shame. But we’ve been down this road before. And the last time around, turning the old El Rey into a shell for mixed-use tenants just wasn’t viable.

The El Rey Theater Alliance folks didn’t make their goal of raising enough money to buy the place. Can’t say I’m completely surprised—a million-plus is a lot to get together in a few days. But the group is still working to save the venue. As of press time, they’d raised $5,000.

Speaking of change For longer than I’ve been in Chico (10 years now!), Lois and Jon Morehead’s Phoenix Building Gift Shop has occupied the front window space in that iconic downtown building, which they also own. Not for much longer. I stopped in recently and chatted with Lois after noticing “going out of business” banners outside.

Here’s the skinny: She’s ready to retire! After 18 years owning the shop—after 23 years as a teacher in Chico Unified School District—it’s time to turn to other things. Everything sort of gelled after Alex D’Angelo, owner of Spin Again Records—which occupies a small rear shop in the building—asked Lois one day about the window space. The time was just right, she says.

So, the gift shop’s last day will be this Sunday, Sept. 18. Spin Again will move into the bigger spot soon thereafter—at least by Nov. 1, Lois said. That’s when Paradise Jewelers, owned by locally renowned jeweler Jack Massie, will be moving into the old Spin Again shop. Just browsing some of Massie’s creations via Facebook, Chico is getting a real gem. (Ba-dum-ch.)

So sad OK, I said sometimes change is good, sometimes it’s sad. News that my favorite Oroville eatery, The Broken Plate, was closing made me very sad indeed. The spaghetti and the gyros are now regular cravings. Run by award-winning pizza-maker Michael Athanasopoulos, this was Greek food worth raving about. The restaurant’s Facebook page cites family reasons for closing. The silver lining? Athanasopoulos’ food truck, The Lamb & The Wolf, is still up and running. You can find it at the old restaurant 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Mondays, starting Sept. 19 (1836 Feather River Blvd.) and at 5836 Clark Road in Paradise 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tues.-Fri.

Little green thumbs I got word this week from Tractor Supply Co. that it’s offering grants for elementary schools to help start school gardens. The store launched the program, called Dig It, last spring in Tennessee and New York and had great success, according to a press release. This year, it’s expanding to California and wants to provide one grant for each store location. So, Chico schools, start applying! Go to to apply. Deadline is Oct. 15.