Under the radar

Changes, sans fanfare, at the El Rey Theatre, Baskin-Robbins, Trucker and Two Twenty Restaurant

Sometimes businesses open and close with fanfare—a grand-opening celebration, a farewell soiree. Then there are the under-the-radar launches, the middle-of-the-night departures, the construction projects that go unnoticed till they’re complete. We’ve had a few of the latter recently that required some good, old-fashioned sleuthing.

I recently noticed two work permits and a couple of alcohol-license notices posted in the windows at the El Rey Theatre. It also appeared that work was underway inside. Here’s what I learned:

First, the alcohol license for the building, registered to The Majestic (the former name of the El Rey—is there a change-back in our future?), is for a general on-sale permit for an eatery. It’s been transferred from Nick’s Night Club to Kyle and Hal Billingsley, restaurateurs out of San Luis Obispo. They originally obtained the license to change the El Rey into a Firestone Grill—their small, highly successful chain of eateries—but that plan seems to have been abandoned.

As for the work permits, there’s one for demolition (!) and another for a commercial remodel. Do not fear, fellow Chicoans. I stopped into the city’s Building Division office to look at the plans. It appears they’re ripping out the center section of seating in front of the stage and building platforms for standing. A general-admission section? We shall see ….

#2 I’m a sucker for milkshakes. When I lived around the corner from Shubert’s Ice Cream & Candy, I probably gained 10 pounds—regardless of the fact that I walked there. But, I also enjoy a good Baskin-Robbins shake. The location on Mangrove Avenue, in the Safeway parking lot, was particularly convenient. Not anymore …. Sometime over the weekend, that Baskin-Robbins not only closed up shop, it ripped every fixture off of every wall and got the hell out. There’s already a for-lease sign on the window.

#3 Trucker, once Chico’s go-to spot for men’s clothing, up and disappeared sometime over the past month. A note in the window says the artwork and fixtures are for sale. The door alone is worth saving—stop by 232 Broadway and check it out, plus peer through the glass at other cool stuff. There’s contact information in the window.

#4 I got a tip that Michael Iles, longtime local chef (Sierra Nevada Taproom & Restaurant and, most recently, Two Twenty Restaurant inside the Hotel Diamond), had left town. A little Internet snooping led me to his LinkedIn profile, which indeed indicates that he’s no longer at the helm of Two Twenty, as of July 2017. Iles’ new blog answers further questions—in a post dated Sept. 12, he writes that he’s headed to Portland, Ore. And his bio reads, “in 2015 I opened Two Twenty Restaurant with an absentee owner and the added responsibilities of General Manager. The owner is now on site and my job is done.” Best of luck, Chef Michael! Chico’s loss is Portland’s gain.