Summer breeds creativity

Downtown restaurants offer special menus for 10-day celebration; so long to Mamma Celeste’s, Has Beans downtown and Fred Meyer Jewelers.

Summertime in Chico. It’s one of those tumultuous times, when the students are gone and businesses struggle. I have to sympathize—sure, available parking and short wait times at my favorite spots are great and all, but in truth, I’d rather see local businesses thriving than merely surviving the summer.

So, these hot months offer opportunities for creativity. Enter Downtown Chico Restaurant Week, actually 10 days (July 6-16) celebrating locally made foods in our city center. Organized by the Downtown Chico Business Association, the event promises to bring a lot of locals out from the shade of trees and into air-conditioned eateries.

I make no secret of the fact that I love food. So, I’m particularly excited. I perused the official list of participating restaurants on the DCBA website, along with the special deals they’ll be offering ( While all of the special menus weren’t posted as of CN&R press time, of those that were, I’m most intrigued by the dinner-for-two menus at Aonami Sustainable Sushi, the “Taste of Petra” at Petra Cafe, half-off appetizers at Broadway Heights, and the $20 three-course dinner at Two Twenty Restaurant (that eatery’s chef, Michael Iles, will be kicking off the week at Thursday Night Market’s Chef in the Market demo). Maybe I’ll see you there.

More goodbyes It pains me to see so many good businesses that have created a space of their own here in the Chico community shut their doors. It feels like I’ve said goodbye to too many of my favorites in this space lately, and this week, I have a few more to add to the list.

Mamma Celeste’s Stone Baked Pizzeria, my favorite pizza joint since it opened in Chico five years ago, closed its doors at the end of June. This makes me very, very sad indeed. The cracker crust! The square slices! That chicken cordon bleu pie! Owner Jim Flanagan announced on the shop’s Facebook page that he’s newly engaged (congrats!) and decided to leave his spot in the Safeway shopping center on Nord Avenue. The silver lining? He’s got a 30-year lease on a new space in Paradise—watch out for a grand opening in four to six months.

Over at the Chico Mall, Fred Meyer Jewelers closed up shop at the end of June as well. The company is still around, however, with the closest store now in Sacramento.

In downtown Chico, longtime caffeine-slinging/open-mic hotspot Has Beans Coffee & Tea Co. is closing (remember when it was also an Internet cafe? Yeah, it’s been in its spot at Fifth and Main streets that long—19 years to be exact). It’s final day downtown is July 8—so, get on over there and show the love. The owners announced via Facebook that they lost their downtown lease but are actively looking for a new downtown location. In the meantime, if you’re craving that local flavor, head over to the Has Beans Creekside Cafe (1080 Humboldt Ave.).