Thursday, June 19, 2014

Union Vote at Graton Casino Wrapping Up

Posted By on Thu, Jun 19, 2014 at 11:23 AM


By Tom Gogola

Nothing was official yet, but the vote was “going great” Wednesday afternoon at Graton Casino, where Unite Here’s Sara Norr was counting union sign-up cards from workers here that would set in motion a collective bargaining agreement for 650 casino employees.

Norr said the results would be out by week’s end.

If enough waiters and janitors, hospitality workers and cooks vote in favor of unionization, they’d enter collective bargaining talks with casino operator and their employer, Station Casinos. The casino opened in 2013 and is owned by Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.

Norr said that tribal input in any talks would be a matter of negotiations between the Las Vegas-based casino operator and the owners.

“It is between Station and the tribe how they want to divide up input or responsibility, so the tribe could send a rep to bargaining if they wanted to and Station agreed,” Norr says via email.

Workers signed the cards Tuesday and Wednesday in a casino events room rented to Unite Here’s 2850.

“As a single parent, job security is number one,” says porter and signee Christina Vega, who lives with three of her children in Santa Rosa.

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

25 Days Project: Bella Rosa Coffee Company

Posted By on Tue, Dec 3, 2013 at 1:56 PM

Each year, when I head to my parent’s for the holidays, I like to arrive at their home in Southern California with a can or two of coffee beans straight out of Sonoma County. That’s the benefit of living in a foodie capital, and anyone who has family out-of-town should exploit this fact by bringing savory, local treats to lucky relatives.

Since my parents drink coffee like there’s no tomorrow, fresh-roasted beans make the perfect gift. Last year, it was a can of my favorite Taylor Maid Coffee - a delicious Goat Rock Blend. This year, I’m going to add a can of Bella Rosa Coffee to the mix because they’ve got some darn tasty beans. Smooth, with low acidity, these are coffees for most any palate. The family-owned, Santa Rosa based company’s all organic and fair trade blends include Italian Espresso, Four Seasons, and my favorite, Roaster’s Reserve.

You can find the custom-roasted beans at stores at Oliver’s Market, Community Market, Fircrest in Sebastopol, Share Exchange, Redwood Empire Farmer’s Market, or at the Bella Rosa Café, which opened in September 2013.

The café sells canned and bulk coffees, “at a steep discount off regular in-store prices” according the company’s website. Bella Rosa Café. 5491 Skylane Boulevard, Suite 140, Santa Rosa. 707. 542. 6220.

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Monday, December 2, 2013

25 Days Project: BeerCraft

Posted By on Mon, Dec 2, 2013 at 1:42 PM

It might be tempting to get the beer enthusiast in your life one of those goofy “Beers of the World” 12 packs at Cost Plus, but here’s a way better idea; Head over to BeerCraft in Rohnert Park and let the knowledgeable staff help you put together a hand-selected case of some of the finest American craft beers in existence. Run by true blue beer lovers, the shop has a vast selection of beers from craft breweries all over the nation. They regularly carry selections from Knee Deep Brewing, Stone Brewing Co., The Bruery, Allagash, Ballast Point, Heretic, Clown Shoes, Firestone, Prairie Artisan Ales, Evil Twin, Lagunitas, Drakes, Green Flash, Caldera, Deschutes, Crooked Stave, and, well this list goes on and on. The owner’s actually travel “out of market” to find beers that aren’t available through normal distribution channels, so you’ll find stock here unavailable at Whole Foods or other stores. If you're worried about picking out the wrong beer (does that even exist?) pIck up a gift certificate and your beloved beer lover can go crazy with the amazing selection.

If you really want to make a big impression, spring for a gift membership in BeerCraft’s Craft Beer of the Month Club. For $162.95, they’ll receive, by mail, 3 bombers (22oz or 750ml) of hand-selected, high quality craft beers delivered right to their doorstep. Check out the store’s website for more information. Now that’s one thirst-quenching gift idea.

BeerCraft also hosts free tasting nights on Thursdays from 6pm-8pm.This month’s featured brewery is Speakeasy Ales and Lagers on Dec. 12. Beer Craft is located at 5704 Commerce Blvd., Rohnert Park. 707. 206. 9440.

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

The 25 Days of Shopping Local: 2013

Posted By on Sun, Dec 1, 2013 at 12:57 PM

This week's cover story on supporting local businesses kicks off a whole month of holiday shopping. We here at the Bohemian aim to inspire your shopping to happen locally, for a variety of reasons. One, it helps the local economy. Two, it sends a message to the big-box chains who think they can get away with paying employees terribly. Three, chain stores are totally boring, and shopping online is lonely.

All through the month of December leading up to Christmas Day, we'll be posting testimonials to North Bay businesses we love in Sonoma, Napa and Marin Counties, the types of places that come immediately to mind when someone says "Name a local business you can't live without." Think of them as positive reviews by people you know you can trust—people who've lived and worked here for years.

Just as we did last year with our 25 Days of Shopping Locally project, we'll feature different businesses on our homepage every day. These are absolutely not paid advertisements; they're simply the types of places that come immediately to our writers' minds when someone says, "Name a local business you can't live without."

When small businesses thrive, we all benefit. This December, get out there and shop locally.

-Gabe Meline, Editor

Day 1: BeerCraft

Day 2: Bella Rosa Coffee Company

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Santa Rosa Councilwoman Shares Passion for Happiness Initiative

Posted By on Mon, Aug 19, 2013 at 5:05 PM


After Julie Combs successfully campaigned for Santa Rosa City Council last year, she discovered that several issues central to her campaign were important to more than just Santa Rosa residents. In fact, several tied in directly with the nine elements that make up the Happiness Index. “Elements of it meshed so well with things that I ran on,” she says, despite learning of the GHI after she took office. It’s so important to her now that she has made it one of her priority issues.

It’s not that she is pushing for citywide implementation of the Happiness Initiative, which is a real thing, by the way. But so many of parts of the initiative can and should be implemented in revolving Santa Rosa’s issues. Take, for instance, the annexation of Roseland. “Looking at happiness,” she says, “[the initiative] makes some sense here.” Particularly the idea of participation in government and inclusion in culture. Roseland residents do not vote in citywide elections and do not have the benefit of city services, even though they live in a non-annexed island of county land that’s far more central to Santa Rosa than, say, Oakmont or Wikiup.

Continue reading »

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Monday, December 24, 2012

25 Days Project: Mission Ace

Posted By on Mon, Dec 24, 2012 at 6:20 AM


When trying to support local merchants, it’s helpful to know that some stores you might think are chains are in actuality still independently owned. Such is the case with Ace Hardware stores, many of which were already small hometown operations before taking on the “Ace” name and inventory. My go-to hardware store is the family-owned Mission Ace on Hwy. 12 in Santa Rosa, which began life as a downtown Santa Rosa institution known as Levine’s Hardware, on Fourth Street. In the 1970s, when 12 square blocks of downtown were zoned for redevelopment to make way for the mall, the owners of Levine’s Hardware didn’t tear down their building. Instead, they cut it in two, put it on the back of a flatbed truck, and slowly moved it three miles down the road to its current location. Go there now and you’ll find the old wooden sidewalk transformed into a wraparound front porch, and you’ll see the old paint loft from Levine’s still intact. What also hasn’t changed is the helpful one-on-one service. I don’t know how many curveballs I’ve thrown at their employees over the years, but they always find me what I need—after all, the family has been in the hardware business since 1960. Tools, paint, electrical, plumbing, lumber—you name it, they know it, and they’ve even got an expansive Garden Loft perfect for perusing on weekends, when there are free coffee and donuts at the front door. Before you ask, yes, the beautiful old green 1947 Ford truck is still used for deliveries, but no, you can’t drive it. I’ve been asking for 12 years! 4310 Hwy. 12, Santa Rosa, 707.539.7070.

The 25 Days Project is an online series through the month of December spotlighting some of our favorite local businesses. Read more about the project here, and about our commitment to shopping locally here.

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

25 Days Project: Gardeners Aid

Posted By on Sun, Dec 23, 2012 at 11:16 AM


For the longest time, I wondered where to get my lawnmower blade sharpened. If you mow a lawn, you know how it can get. Whole swaths of thick grass “chunked” instead of cut. Patterns of swirl atop seas of green. A slow, sand-in-the-gastank-like chugging slog while heaving your clunky relic across the front yard. Sigh. A perfect lawn not being my top priority, I went about my search for a fix in the most lackadaisical manner possible. To wit, I asked someone every four months or so where I could get a lawnmower blade sharpened. All of them said Gardener’s Aid, in Roseland. It was another four months before I stopped by. They were friendly. They were funny. They had a showroom full of mowers and weed whackers and trimmers and parts and accessories thereof, along with some newspaper clippings about their family in the window and some old stuff tacked to the wall behind the counter. I asked about the blade sharpening. “Seven bucks if you bring it in off the mower,” they said, “$12.50 if you need us to pull it off.” Not only am I headed there as soon as the rain stops with a haggard, blunt blade, I’ll be checking out the rest of their inventory, too. 1050 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa, 707.545.7620.

The 25 Days Project is an online series through the month of December spotlighting some of our favorite local businesses. Read more about the project here, and about our commitment to shopping locally here.

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

25 Days Project: Wee Three Children's Store

Posted By on Sat, Dec 22, 2012 at 11:14 AM


The last thing a new parent wants is to be is overwhelmed. You think staying up all night and dealing with crying for hours is calming? You are either a Zen master, or don’t have a kid. That’s why, once, I stood in the aisles of some huge impersonal store full of baby stuff, unable to find anything I needed, unable to find any help, and walked out and drove straight to Wee Three Children’s Store. Finally, a simple, manageable shop with plenty of kids’ clothes and shoes and toys, with an inventory that wasn’t cookie-cutter but instead hand-selected by someone who obviously knows kids. There was even a used section, which, if I were President, every children’s store would be required to have. With the help of the person behind the counter, I found a perfect little pair of shoes that instantly attracted compliments. In short (no pun intended), a good little place that I wound up telling all my fellow parents about—and they, with bleary eyes and slurred speech, thanked me. 1007 West College Ave., Santa Rosa, 707.525.9333.

The 25 Days Project is an online series through the month of December spotlighting some of our favorite local businesses. Read more about the project here, and about our commitment to shopping locally here.

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Friday, December 21, 2012

25 Days Project: County Regional Parks Pass

Posted By on Fri, Dec 21, 2012 at 5:40 AM


We had our Christmas early this year, and my mom gave me the best present—a Sonoma County Regional Parks Pass gift card that I can redeem anytime during 2013 for a full year of access to the 55 parks in our brilliant, widespread regional parks system. Some of my favorite spots make the list: Helen Putnam in Petaluma, Riverfront outside of Healdsburg, Spring Lake, Doran (with a long stretch of sandy beach, it's perfect for dogs and kids), Crane Creek (Frisbee Golf!), Hood Mountain (Hobbit-land), Ragle Ranch and so much more. It’s the perfect present for nature lovers, people with dogs (unlike state parks, most regional parks allow dogs on leash), and people who like to meander through trees rather than do death marches up mountains. With a baby on the way in January, the park will give us access to a summer of easy hikes with babe in tow, and across the greater North Bay. The pass costs $69—a bargain when you think about all of the adventures in store during a full year of use. Gift cards are the way to go because then the recipient can choose to register for the pass whenever they want. I’m waiting until March, when the whether starts to clear up and the hills and valleys begin to beckon. Gift cards can be purchased online, or locally at Oliver’s Markets in Santa Rosa and Cotati, Sebastopol Hardware Center, Frizelle Enos Feeds or Sonoma Outfitters. 145 Third Street, Santa Rosa. 707.528.1920.

The 25 Days Project is an online series through the month of December spotlighting some of our favorite local businesses. Read more about the project here, and about our commitment to shopping locally here.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

25 Days Project: Corrick's

Posted By on Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 5:32 AM


Dear Lord, please do not ever let Corrick’s close. My house is redolent with its inventory: Pilot G2 pens, envelopes, Sharpies, legal forms, a stuffed Snuffleupagus puppet, maps, cards, Little Golden books, paper clips, tape, padded manila envelopes, picture hangers. I still remember the first thing I ever bought there—a ribbon for my Olympia typewriter. (I still buy the same ribbon there for my Royal.) I pine for the days of buying rub-on lettering there. I will never forget the saleslady’s sympathetic look one Christmas when she told me they were sold out of sweater lint shavers. One night, I got to talking with a fellow customer about this ‘n’ that, and soon we were talking about Santa Rosa, and next thing I knew it turned out she went to high school with my dad; it’s that type of place. I love that no one ever quits, and that their back room has one of those great old bank safe doors, and that they’re coming up on their 100th anniversary. And like a lot of other Santa Rosans, I always walk in and think to myself, “Maybe someday I’ll buy something from the front half of the store.” 637 Fourth St., Santa Rosa, 707.546.2424.

The 25 Days Project is an online series through the month of December spotlighting some of our favorite local businesses. Read more about the project here, and about our commitment to shopping locally here.

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