The year winds down

We say farewell to a few longtime Chico favorites, while some Paradise businesses get back to work

This time of year, business owners tend to take a hard look at their situation and there are always a few shocking closures. Last year, for instance, Peet’s Coffee announced its impending closure, and in December 2016, we said farewell to downtown’s Bulldog Taqueria.

It appears, the tail end of 2018 is no different. In the past several weeks, Chico has lost a handful of businesses, some of them mainstays. Pluto’s was the first to go, after 15 years downtown. Then there was Uncle Skinny’s BBQ, which hinted at going mobile on its Facebook page but I’ve since heard it might be moving out of the area (at least one of the owners lived in Paradise).

Dec. 2 marked the last day of business for Tacos Tijuana, located on Park Avenue. The business had been open 15 years, and somehow I never made it in.

The day after Christmas Preview, Dec. 3, Urban Fresh Fuel in downtown closed its doors. I heard from an employee they were given no notice (always a crappy way to go). A quick Google search revealed their other restaurant, Planet Fresh Gourmet Burritos in Santa Cruz, also closed recently.

Another victim of the Camp Fire is Pop’s Pizza, which, like so many others, jumped in shortly after the fire broke out to serve first responders. According to Instagram, however, owner Andy Shepherd lost his home. On Dec. 8, the business closed its doors.

Outlook uncertain I walked over to Chico Coffee Co. downtown the other day and was surprised to see it closed early. A sign on the window says the cafe will be closing at 2 p.m. daily through the holidays, as opposed to 5 p.m. I went back the next day and an employee told me the reason is they’re short-staffed.

I understand the owners, Jennifer Silva and Shawn Hamilton, recently opened the Garden Villa Cafe in the old Wild Oak Cafe spot off of Cohasset Road, so perhaps they’re overly busy. (Side note: Garden Villa Cafe doesn’t have a Yelp page. I wonder why not?) In any event, I certainly hope downtown’s newest coffee shop isn’t destined for closure; it took over the Peet’s space almost a year ago to the day (Jan. 1).

Open for business Not everything is doom and gloom. The town of Paradise happily announced Tuesday (Dec. 18) on Facebook that businesses on the Ridge are starting to reopen. The post included photos of a mini mart, a couple of auto parts stores and Paradise Bikes.

I’ve also been told that food trucks are making it up the hill, to feed not just those who have returned to their homes but also all of the workers. For instance, Sexy Panda owner Frank Hilscher tells me he’s put up an outdoor kitchen in the parking lot of Magalia Community Church and he plans to be there long-term.

Shop local! If you’re like me and haven’t done a lick of shopping yet for the impending holiday, I’ll urge you one last time in 2018 to spend your dollars locally. Supporting one another will spread more cheer than any gift you buy at a big box.