FitWise Pilates, Ronda Priestner’s new studio in the space adjacent to The Hivery, celebrated its Grand Opening on May 5, featuring hors d'oeuvres from French Laundry chefs, live music, tasty beverages (champagne and prickly pear bellinis) and a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony with Mayor John McCauley. Attendees received complimentary passes and demonstrations. Here's the full story on Fitwise.
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For nearly a year, Tony Tutto Pizza, the restaurant at 246 East Blithedale Ave. that has developed a cult following locally over the past eight years, has operated under a series of three-month lease options as land owner Worldco Company has worked to tweak its proposal to redevelop the more than 27,000-square-foot property on which it sits.
While Tutto hopes to land a long-term home for his show in the new development, he says the options have allowed him to continue onward despite the lack of clarity on what the future holds for him there. A long-term commitment from the property owners hasn’t materialized, as they seek to keep their options open while seeking City of Mill Valley approval for their proposed redevelopment of the property at 246-250 East Blithedale Avenue.
He might get some clarity in the coming weeks.
Worldco's project, which has been the subject of multiple study sessions before the Planning Commission and a design review hearing in March 2015 that concluded without a vote but with direction for its owners to go back to the drawing board, is on the Commission's agenda for May 24. Its proposal calls for a remodel of the 9,331-square-foot space that contained Mill Valley Services, which went out of business in September 2014, and Summerhouse, which moved its warehouse to the former Cabana Home space in June 2015. It also calls for the demolition of the 863-square-foot space Tony Tutto Pizza occupies and an expansion of a restaurant space on the property to 1,365 square feet. Tutto is the lone remaining tenant on the property.
Worldco Principal Alvin Chan says WorldCo heard loud and clear from the neighbors and the larger community that more than one food-serving business, as previously proposed, was too much for the property. With just one food-serving business on the property, his firm must wait before committing to Tutto, or any other tenants, he says.
“We want to lock in the large tenant first,” Chan says. “But Tony will be on the short list of whomever is going to go into this project. It’s not just about who is going to pay the most rent.”
In 2015, WorldCo switched to Geiszler Architects, headed by former Planning Commission Chair Steve Geiszler, to redesign the project and shepherd it through the approval process.
“Through that process, we felt that we wanted to reset and bring someone on board who had a better sense of what the neighborhood would want,” Chan says.
Chan says he wants to assure neighbors and residents that Worldco has no plans to flip the property and typically buys land, redevelops it and holds onto them “for a very long time. Because of that, we appreciate mom and pop tenants,” Chan says.
For more than 25 years, longtime Mill Valley resident Braeda Horan ran her eponymous clothing design company, presenting her collections at New York Fashion Week and selling them exclusively to stores throughout the United States, Canada, Japan and Europe.
Now Horan, a former textile board member for the de Young museum and the San Francisco Design Network, is taking her years of experience of working with color, textures and shapes to create artwork for her new collection of decorative art prints. Poet and the Bench, the lifestyle story and jewelry atelier on Locust Ave., is hosting an exhibit of a series of Horan's monoprints dubbed "Beauty and Beholden." An opening reception is set for Saturday, May 14, 4-6pm as part of Marin Open Studios.
Horan says her artistic influence is "rooted in fashion and nature; it is the interplay of textures and shapes that are transformed on paper to create a story. The narrative is a study of the relationship between man, nature, pattern and color."
Horan started her design career in London, lived in East Africa, ran a non-profit art gallery in Central London and was the Small Scale Industries Director for Save the Children, working throughout the U.S and Central and South America. She graduated with honors from Leicester College of Art and Design, in England.
The 411: Poet and/the Bench is at 10E Locust Avenue. The store is open Saturday, May 14 11am-6pm and will have extended hours on Sunday, May 15 12-4pm.
Event benefits the arts programs at Novato’s Marin School of the Arts.
On May 14, the Harbor Point Charitable Foundation, the philanthropic organization created by the Kaliski family, which owns the Club at Harbor Point in Strawberry, is co-presenting the 6th Annual Divine Wine & Food Extravaganza to benefit the the arts programs at Novato’s Marin School of the Arts.
The foundation's collaboration with Academy of Art University features "more spectacular wines for the wine lovers in the group than ever before, and an enjoyable evening in a beautiful outdoor setting with great food, good company and excellent entertainment in support of the amazing MSA students and their achievements,” says Harbor Point Foundation Director Ray Kaliski “Part of our mission is to help provide quality education for Bay Area children, and the Marin School of the Arts gives its students an immersion in creativity that propels them to success in their education and adult life."
The event features fare from Mill Valley favorites like Piazza D'Angelo and Piatti Ristorante.
Equator Coffees & Teas co-founders Helen Russell and Brooke McDonnell just returned from a Washington, D.C., ceremony, where they were honored with a trio of awards, including Small Business of the Year for the entire United States. In a nation with nearly 28 million small businesses, that’s quite a distinction.
They're certainly not resting on their laurels.
In fact, while Russell and McDonnell ran their wholesale coffee business for nearly 20 years before deciding to dive into the retail world by opening their first two cafes in Mill Valley in 2013 and 2014, they're now dramatically expanding their brand again by making a giant leap into the food business.
To do so, Equator has hired Jennifer Bushman, a renowned, James Beard Award-nominated chef, author, TV producer/star and food industry consultant to head up Equator Cater and Equator Pantry, a pair of new divisions that seek to make their mark on the food business – namely, their event catering and food programs, respectively.
And although she was only started with Equator in mid-March, Bushman has already made major strides, catering 25 events in a single month at LinkedIn’s new office in downtown San Francisco and partnering with a host of Mill Valley- and Marin-based businesses.
“Equator does coffee better than anyone,” Bushman says. “In what is the third wave of coffee culture, food has been a bit of an afterthought. We want to change that.”
Russell and McDonnell hired Bushman nearly one year after the most serendipitous of home purchases. Bushman has lived near downtown Mill Valley for three years, and though they didn’t know each other previously, Russell and McDonnell, partners in life and in business, moved in next door a year ago.
“Over the course of many, many dinner parties and discussions – it was the longest, most fun job interview I’ve ever had – we decided to make this leap together,” Bushman says. “I’ve been involved with the food community for most of my life, and this is an amazing opportunity for me to be part of a company that has built a brand that I’m honored to be a part of.”
Equator’s brand, namely its track record as a wholesaler and its burgeoning reputation for creating great cafes, is a driving force behind Bushman’s efforts to increase the food and non-coffee drink presence in Equator’s cafes. That includes the flagship at 2 Miller Ave. in downtown Mill Valley and the Tam Junction shop at Proof Lab, as well their new cafe in downtown Larkspur, which opens on Monday, May 9. It also includes their cafe in the Warfield building in the mid-Market section of downtown San Francisco, with another cafe set to open in the public space of the new LinkedIn building on Howard Street in San Francisco.
The vastly expanded food and drink program has two components: a much broader food menu at the cafes to stretch well beyond the morning cup of joe, including a wine bar and savory bites throughout the day, as well as significant “grab ‘n go” program designed to appeal to those looking for more than a pastry as they head out with their coffee for the day. For the latter, Equator is expanding on its partnerships with Mill Valley resident Neka Pasquale’s Urban Remedy, which will provide an array of grab ‘ n go salads, as well as MH Bread & Butter, which will continue to provide pastries and will add a number of sandwiches, including roasted butternut squash with fresh mozzarella and broccoli rabe pesto and roasted chicken and roasted red bell pepper.
Rustic Bakery, which opened its own commercial kitchen facility in Petaluma and thus significantly increased its output, is now making quiches for all Equator cafes and providing bread and crackers for many of its to-go items.
While Bushman is on the hunt for those strategic partnerships, she’s also overseeing Equator’s efforts to produce its own food – think to-go frittata breakfast sandwiches, hummus & cheese cups and using the kitchen in the back of the Honeymoon Ice Cream shop further down the block on Miller Avenue. The kitchen was built in 2011 when Beth’s Community Kitchen opened there before moving to Bolinas in 2015.
The Equator Pantry also seeks to transform the cafes throughout the day, offering many of the aforementioned items on the eat-in menu and much more. Starting May 9, that food will complement a vastly expanded selection of wine at the 2 Miller and Larkspur cafes in the hopes of giving people a place to grab a glass of wine on their way to dinner.
“We want to see the arc of the cafe change through the course of each day,” Bushman says.
Bushman says Equator’s event catering has been an unexpected, hugely successful rollercoaster ride. Given their work at the new LinkedIn building, they partnered with Bon Appetit Management Company, which operates more than 500 cafes across the country, including at offices for tech heavyweights like LinkedIn, Google, Adobe and Uber, among others, as well restaurants at nearly 100 universities and museums. Because Bon Appetit has been so busy running the huge restaurant/cafe on two floors at the new LinkedIn space, they called on Equator to cater myriad events in the building.
The move has put Equator Cater in the rare air of generating revenue immediately for a nascent division.
“We monetized a new division in Equator Cater that wasn’t even fully formed yet,” she says. “It evolved very quickly. The Equator name brand opens a lot of doors now.”
In doing so, Equator has called on its Mill Valley neighbors – Mill Valley Market’s catering department for its array of salads, and Prabh Indian Kitchen for its naan bread – to create parts of those event meals. “It’s incredible to be able to source products from places within eyesight,” Bushman says at the 2 Miller cafe. “We’re leveraging every partner we can find in Mill Valley.”
Bushman, who has run her own consulting business for years, written five cookbooks and was the producer and star of the Nothing To It! gourmet TV news segments. For her television work, she was nominated for the International Association of Culinary Professionals, the IACP/Julia Child Electronic Media Award and the James Beard Foundation Broadcast Media Award.
Her latest role “has already evolved multiple times in less than three months,” she says with a laugh. “It’s been so exciting. And Helen and Brooke are like family.”
“For many years, wholesale was the robust driver of the Equator business,” Bushman adds. “And the thinking with the new cafes has been that retail would then drive the wholesale growth, and that has happened. And now we hope that Equator Pantry and Equator Cater will drive that retail growth even more.”
The 411: More info on Equator Coffees & Teas.
Marin Music Chest, the 83-year old organization that doles out scholarships to Marin students studying classical music, is showcasing those recipients at a free May 15th concert at the Mt. Tamalpais United Methodist Church, in collaboration with the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society.
The 2016 Marin Music Chest scholarship recipients are chock full of Mill Valley residents, including Joseph Kim (clarinet), Joshua Selig (voice) and Benjamin Wall-Feng (piano). The group also includes Chris Boyadjiev (flute), Matthew DeFilippis (clarinet), Jacob Hershman (violin), Sara Karkal (violin), Tristan Mitchell-Boyadjiev (alto sax), Douglas Wei (violin) and Audrey Zhao (piano), all of Novato; as well as Patrick Bagot (clarinet) of San Anselmo, Benjamin Cho (piano) of San Rafael, Scott Conner (piano) of Ross, Michael Peng (piano) of Kentfield and Chloe Fung (piano) of Greenbrae.
Marin Music Chest's annual "Young Artists Concert" features performances by Benjamin Cho, Tristan Mitchell-Boyadjiev, Matthew DeFilippis, Chloe Fung and Jacob Hershman. Sponsored by the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society, the "Young Artists Concert" is 5 p.m. Sunday, May 15 at Mt. Tamalpais United Methodist Church, 410 Sycamore Avenue. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.
Through May 10, the Mill Valley Arts Commission is accepting entries from artists in the greater Bay Area for in the Arts Commission's reCYCLE Outdoor Public Art Contest.
Both cycling and the careful recycling of materials are an integral part of life in Mill Valley. Artists will create their own distinctive artistic interpretations using recycled bicycle wheels provided by the Mill Valley Arts Commission.
Applications are available online by clicking here, download by clicking here or at the Mill Valley Community Center (180 Camino Alto). Artists can pick up their recycled bicycle wheels and learn of the contest categories up to the application deadline of Tuesday, May 10 @ 5pm.
Artwork can be submitted at the Mill Valley Community Center between Monday, June 27 and Friday, July 8 on weekdays, 9am-5pm. A panel of three judges will jury artist submissions and prizes will be awarded.
More info and guidelines.
Bay Area writer Leonard Koren reads from his new book Wabi-Sabi: Further Thoughts at O’Hanlon Center for the Arts on Friday, May 13 in the gallery.
Wabi-Sabi: Further Thoughts is Koren's follow-up to Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers, "the seminal volume on the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
"It's an important book for thoughtful creators," says Koren, who trained as an artist and architect.
Wabi-Sabi represents Japanese aesthetics and a Japanese world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete".as s a leading design and aesthetics theorist. Among his books are Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers.
After the reading, Mr. Koren will take questions. O’Hanlon Center hosts a wabi-sabi exhibit in their gallery every June. Artists interested in submitting to the show will find inspiration and clarification at this evenings talk. Copies of his books will be available for purchase and signing. Space is limited so register early.
For Equator Coffees & Teas, the awards keep rolling in – and they're getting bigger each time they do.
Less than six weeks after Mill Valley residents and Equator co-founders Helen Russell and Brooke McDonnell were named the 2016 Small Business Persons of the Year for California, and after Equator was named SBA San Francisco District Office’s Small Business of the Year for 2016, the fast-growing company was named Small Business of the Year in the United States.
Just as with the California honor, it is the first time in the U.S. Small Business Administration's 63-year history that it has selected lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) business owners, and an LGBT-owned business, as its honorees.
It’s an award given out by the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the win is special for another reason: Equator is the first LGBT company ever to get the award.
Russell and McDonnell, “partners in life and in business," were honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Monday, May 2, by Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
"As an entrepreneur, a women-owned business, and a LGBT-certified business, I am proud to say that the SBA has been there for Equator at all stages of our growth over the last 21 years,” Russell said. "The SBA knows that small businesses like Equator are creating quality jobs and driving our economy. The SBA has had our back at important milestones in our evolution. We celebrate this achievement with our employees, our partners and our collective communities."
“These amazing women have not only created a successful, socially responsible business, they have also helped to influence the overall trajectory of the coffee industry through their early support of the Fair Trade movement," said Jacklyn Jordan, President and CEO, Capital Access Group, who originally nominated us for the California SBA Award. "They are eminently deserving of this award, and we are honored to have played a role in the success of their business.”
As previously reported, Russell and McDonnell are hosting a celebration with officials from the SBA, the Golden Gate Business Association and Capital Access Group. The event, set for May 20 from 5:30-8pm at Equator's Tam Junction shop at 244 Shoreline Hwy., is open to Equator customers.
The Redwoods honored the following at its 'Celebration of Service' awards ceremony on April 29: Front row: Ella Hagele, Brendan King, Jude Anderson, Cate Dresner, Soren Alamin Back row: Evan Lloyd, Angelica Zuber, Kate Fisher, Sadie Munter, Nichole Rozakos, Phyllis Sachs, Katherine Kellman, Graham Davis, Daniel Marsh Honorees not pictured: Jen Dolen, Verena Christen, Shaun McCracken. Photo by Doug Berenson.
The Redwoods’ 22nd annual Celebration of Service Awards event on April 29 honored 17 adults and students for their community service and to honor excellence in teaching and public safety. Awardees were nominated by The Redwoods, the schools, and the Public Safety Department of the City of Mill Valley.
“The Redwoods is part of the fabric of Mill Valley, with many of our own residents involved with giving back to our community and hundreds of outside volunteers supporting our seniors,” said Barbara Solomon, CEO of The Redwoods.
“We hold this event to give back to the community that has supported us for over 44 years. It is a great way to publicly honor members of the broader community for the extraordinary services they perform and the difference they make in the lives of others,” Solomon said.
The 2016 awards, which are given in five categories, were presented to the following individuals:
Seven public school students were honored with Student Community Service Awards. Selected by their respective school principals and student surveys, the students are from Mill Valley elementary, middle and high schools.
Friday’s event, which was founded by Bob Canepa, included entertainment by the Mill Valley School District 5th grade drummers and The Redwoods’ resident drummers. It was emceed by Mill Valley Mayor John McCauley. The event has been supported by in-kind donations from Anne Stearns.