Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Local Cinemas Call for Help; Sonoma Film Festival Moves Online

Posted By on Wed, Jul 29, 2020 at 12:47 PM

Rialto Cinemas in Sebastopol is one of many local movie houses that have remained empty since March due to Covid-19.
  • Rialto Cinemas in Sebastopol is one of many local movie houses that have remained empty since March due to Covid-19.

A month ago, there was hope in the North Bay that public gatherings could re-open this summer; yet things are looking bleak for many venues and businesses that rely on socializing as the summer moves into August with restrictions on hosting events still in place to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Five months into the shutdown, movie houses in Sonoma County and elsewhere in the North Bay are especially feeling the effects financially. As the film industry continues to push back opening release dates for major films like Christopher Nolan's Tenet, local theaters are joining a national movement to call upon Congress to "Save Your Cinema."

The online campaign is asking for the public's help to urge Congress to keep movie theaters alive until they can fully reopen. Specifically, the "Save Your Cinema" campaign is gathering letters from the public demanding that Congress support the RESTART Act, which will provide seven-year loans covering six months of
expenses for theaters, and to press the Treasury and the Federal Reserve to implement more relief measures for cinemas of all sizes.

"The moviegoing experience is at the heart of everything we do as we work with lawmakers and film distributors to protect, innovate, and improve the movie theater experience for audiences everywhere," the National Association of Theatre Owners, who represent theaters in all 50 states, writes on the "Save Your Cinema" website.

Local theaters participating in the campaign includes Sebastopol's popular Rialto Cinemas, which recently celebrated its 20th year of screening films in the North Bay. Located adjacent to Sebastopol's Barlow Center near downtown, Rialto Cinemas has established itself as an anchor of the community, bringing world-class films to West Sonoma County, and updating its accommodations to include a full kitchen, beer and wine service and other modern comforts.

Now, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing shelter-in-place orders in Sonoma County, Rialto Cinemas fears not only for its own survival, but for the survival of the entire industry.

In a recent release, Rialto Cinemas writes that, "We closed for the sake of public health and are abiding by strict safety restrictions and guidelines as we plan our reopening. But even when we are able to reopen, it will be very difficult to sustain our business with limited capacity. We need more relief so that we can survive this crisis."

Without the relief offered by the RESTART Act and the loans that come with it, Rialto Cinemas and other local theaters fear that they will be forced to permanently close their doors. To take action and join the letter-writing campaign, visit

Sonoma International Film Festival Opens Virtual Program

Last March, the Sonoma International Film Festival became one of the first North Bay events to cancel in the wake of a shelter-in-place order that made social gatherings impossible.

Now, the festival is turning to the Internet to turn it's globe-trotting party into an online affair for the SIFF 2.0 Virtual Film Festival, running Thursday, July 30, through Sunday, August 2.

The online event features over a hundred films streaming over the weekend, running the gamut from documentaries to short films, and representing 26 countries.

SIFF is also hoping to include socially distant offerings and plans to host up to 16 select film screenings at various outdoor venues, including local drive-ins. All in-place health orders and guidelines including social distancing, face coverings and hygiene requirements will be implemented.

Other highlights of the virtual festival include a showcase of student films from the Sonoma Valley High School media arts program, a program of short films by women filmmakers presented by the traveling Lunafest, video conversations with filmmakers, and more.

Those who purchased tickets and passes to last March's planned SIFF will have access to the virtual festival, and anyone can purchase streaming access per film, based on availability, or through a SIFF 2.0 Virtual Pass available at
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Monday, June 8, 2020

How to Find & Support Local Black-Owned Restaurants and Businesses

Posted By on Mon, Jun 8, 2020 at 3:38 PM

For two weeks, Sonoma County and the Bay Area have joined a national chorus protesting police brutality and renewing the “Black Lives Matter” movement in the wake of the death of George Floyd and other black Americans at the hands of police forces.

Now, a Santa Rosa teacher is at the head of a new endeavor to highlight North Bay businesses and restaurants owned and operated by people of color, giving residents a guide to where they can support Black lives in the community.

Kelly Cramer, who works as a teacher at Roseland University Prep in Santa Rosa, made the ever-expanding online spreadsheet of Black, Immigrant and People of Color Owned Restaurants and Businesses in Sonoma County after looking for one like it on internet search engines.

“Nothing came up specifically for Sonoma County,” she says. “I just thought that it deserved to exist.”

The online list began to take shape a week ago when Cramer started asking friends on Instagram to share information on black-owned businesses in Sonoma County.

“After much thought, I decided to also include all people of color and immigrant-run businesses because, although black-businesses need to be amplified now and always, I simply just wanted to keep this resource all in one place so people can continue to utilize it for the future, long after it's trendy,” Cramer says.

Soon after beginning to assemble the spreadsheet, Cramer connected with Elizabeth Campos through Facebook who helped organize and research. Sarah Dal Porto Designs donated her work for the graphic design, and Cramer adds that four former students of hers–Jennifer Plancarte, Joseline Moreno, Giselle Gonzalez, and Luis Angel Moya–are helping her call businesses and translate when necessary. Cramer notes she gets every business’ permission to add them to the list, which is nearing 200 entries and growing every day.

Black-owned North Bay restaurants on the list include Buster’s Original Southern BBQ in Calistoga, Bodkin Wines in Healdsburg, Big River Coffee Company in Santa Rosa, Pack Jack’s BBQ in Sebastopol and Corner 103 in Sonoma.

Other Black-owned businesses on the list include Lotus Beauty Bar in Santa Rosa, Creative Chick Consulting in Windsor, ARS Roofing Company and Epoch Education, which specializes in diversity, equity and inclusion training for corporate and nonprofit companies throughout the state.

The online list also highlights indigenous, immigrant and people of color-owned businesses such as Anchor Rose Tattoo and Avenue Tattoo in Santa Rosa, Bellacana Vineyards in Windsor, Ordaz Family Wines in Kenwood, Radical Family Farms in Sebastopol, Robledo Family Winery in Sonoma and Joe Matos Cheese Company in Santa Rosa.

People of color and immigrant-owned restaurants on the list includes more than 100 locations throughout Sonoma County, many of which are currently open during the pandemic for takeout, delivery, outdoor dining and an increasing amount of indoor dining as the North Bay attempts to return to normalcy since largely shuttering small businesses in March due to the spread of Covid-19.

“A disproportionate percentage of Black and POC-owned businesses have closed during the Covid-19 pandemic,” Cramer says. “There's even the term algorithmic bias, which draws attention to the fact that even social media leaves these businesses out. Fueling these businesses creates a cycle of growth that feeds back into the community. Supporting these places is just ultimately good for everyone in Sonoma County. Plus, so much good food and wine is on this list! A ton of places I can’t wait to try.”

Find the full list at
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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Safely Shop & Dine at These North Bay Markets

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 10:47 AM

Stay socially distant while enjoying shops and dining at the Barlow in Sebastopol.
  • Stay socially distant while enjoying shops and dining at the Barlow in Sebastopol.

As stay-at-home and social distancing restrictions are slightly relaxing in parts of the North Bay, many are looking forward to returning to the shops and restaurants they love. Yet, a recent surge in Sonoma County cases of coronavirus has shown local leaders that we are not quite ready for a full re-opening just at this moment, meaning take-out and curbside shopping is still the norm going into this weekend.

If you’re itching to get out, the best way to do so and support local businesses is to visit the shops and eateries at local outdoor markets like the Barlow in Sebastopol, Oxbow Market in Napa and Marin Country Mart in Larkspur.

The Barlow
Situated on a 12-and-a-half acre district in downtown Sebastopol, The Barlow open-air "maker's marketplace" features dozens of retail and dining spots with Sonoma County chefs, vintners and other artisans creating local products and experiences.

Since the March shelter-in-place orders closed the physical locations for these artisans, many have transitioned to online ordering with options for curbside pick-up and take-out. Recently, the Barlow announced that the marketplace’s restaurants and eateries are now open for outdoor dining.

Food and drink options in the Barlow currently includes Acre Pizza, Barrio Cocina Mexicana, Community Market, Crooked Goat Brewing, Fern Bar, Golden State Cider Pax Wines, Seismic Brewing, Spirit Works Distillery, Sushi Kosho, Taylor Lane Coffee, The Farmer’s Wife, The Nectary, Two Dog Night Creamery, WM Cofield Cheesemakers and Woodfour Brewing.

Shops in the Barlow include Barge North apparel and home goods store, California Sister floral arrangements, Elsie Green décor and gifts shop, JG Switzer textile and bedding shop, the Lori Austin Gallery, Rust Clothing Boutique and Scout West County gift and home accessories store.

Oxbow Public Market
In Napa County, where dine-in restaurants and retail are both seeing restrictions lifted in terms of social distancing, the Oxbow Public Market is reopening its spacious and recently remodeled outdoor Oxbow River Deck, which now includes retractable shade structures and lighting.

Beginning Saturday, May 30, open-air, socially distanced communal tables and seats will be available for visitors on the deck, and Oxbow merchants will continue to offer online and over-the-phone ordering and pickup options for guests. The market is soon creating a designated curbside delivery area in the parking lot east of the main market hall as a drive-thru option for those who want to dine at home.

For guests who want to shop at the Oxbow Public Market, the new deck is part of the market’s new set of health and safety protocols made in accordance with all state and Napa County health requirements. The market will continue to also track and regulate the number of customers on hand to comply with social distancing regulations.

Oxbow Public Market merchants that are open for dine-in, takeout and retail include Anette’s Chocolates, C Casa, Fatted Calf, Fieldwork Brewing Company, Five Dot Ranch, Gott’s Roadside, Hog Island Oyster Company, Hudson Greens & Goods, Kara’s Cupcakes, Kitchen Door, Live Fire Pizza, Model Bakery (re-opening May 30), Olive Press, Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant, Ritual Roasters and Whole Spice. Additional merchant re-openings will be announced soon.

Marin Country Mart
Located adjacent to the Ferry Terminal in Larkspur, Marin Country Mart’s assortment of organic eateries, boutique shops and other services are coming back online after closing down in March. The village-style shopping center’s new model, which it’s calling Dutch Door Shopping, allows for curbside and social distant services like online classes in lieu of in-person events.

Shops and services that are open for pick-up, take-out or local delivery at Marin Country Mart include Poppy Store children’s boutique, Clic women’s clothing store, Toy Crazy, George pet store, Hudson Grace décor shop, Sarah Shepard Gallery, Flora & Henri artisanal home and gift shop, Jenni Kayne wardrobe and home goods store, Hero Shop luxury women’s store and Copperfield’s Books.

To-go dining options at Marin Country Mart include Farmshop’s nightly dinner specials, Hog Island Oyster Company, Johnny Doughnuts, Pressed Juicery, Rustic Bakery, Shake Shack, Sushi Ko, the Siam and El Huarache Loco.

Visit each of these markets online first for full details.
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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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