Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

New Mexican restaurant to open in Antioch’s historic, downtown Rivertown

Monday, November 23rd, 2020

Humberto Madrigal owner of La Plazuela inside his San Pablo location. Screenshot of YouTube video on April 14, 2014.

In the former Southern Café and Bases Loaded location; the plan is to open Dec. 31.

By Allen Payton

A new Mexican restaurant will be opening in Antioch’s historic, downtown Rivertown, soon. In the former Southern Café and Bases Loaded Location at 400 G street, owner Humberto Madrigal will be opening La Plazuela Restaurant and Bar, the second of two locations.

According to a 2014 interview on YouTube, his first location is in San Pablo and Madrigal has owned it since 2004. He has been involved in the community of San Pablo, including serving for eight years as the head of the merchants’ association.

Madrigal grew up in Mexico and owns a home with land in San Pablo, where he has cows, chickens, goats and a stallion named “Guapo”, like he had in his home country. Madrigal started working at a Mexican restaurant in Berkeley, as well as in construction.

The restaurant offers traditional Mexican cuisine and includes a variety of seafood dishes, as well. See the menu for La Plazuela’s San Pablo location by clicking, here. At the Antioch location “the menu will be 90% the same,” Madrigal shared. “But we’ll also offer fresh tortillas and different kinds of soup.”

“We won’t have regular entertainment, just for special occasions, like Mother’s Day,” he continued. “It’s going to be a family style restaurant.”

Asked when he plans to open, Madrigal said, “Due to COVID-19 it’s kind of difficult, right now. But we’re planning to open the last day of the year to start fresh, next year.”

They’ll offer take-out orders and outdoor dining, for now.

“We have a nice patio with a stereo bar,” he added.

Terry Karp, the first owner of the building and Bases Loaded, said he sold the building a few years ago to Phillip Belle, the owner of Southern Café, who in turn sold it to Madrigal, last month.

“Can’t wait to go there,” Karp said about La Plazuela.

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Contra Costa Supervisors extend moratorium for renters, landlords, small business owners due to COVID-19 restrictions

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

Clash over $80,000 marketing outreach budget

By Daniel Borsuk

In response to the state moving Contra Costa County back into the most restrictive COVID-19 Purple Tier, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday acted to deliver financial assistance in the struggling tenant, landlord and small business sectors.

Earlier Supervisors had learned that Contra Costa’s new daily COVID-19 case rate had risen to 11.4 per 100,000 with a 3.7 percent positivity rate.  As of Tuesday, 41 counties, including Contra Costa, were in the Purple tier.

Supervisors approved an amendment to the County’s Fiscal Year 2019-2020 Community Development Block Grant Action Plan to spend  an additional $4.29 million in CDBG-Coronavirus or CV3 funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 to provide emergency rental assistance and tenant/landlord counseling and related legal services.

Supervisors allotted $3.2 million from a Federal CARES Grant for an emergency rental assistance program to Hayward-based ECHO Housing that would provide tenant-landlord counseling and related legal services to persons meeting eligible income requirements for the program.

Concord-based Shelter, Inc. will work with ECHO in providing rental assistance services in Antioch, Pittsburg, Concord, and Walnut Creek.

At one point, Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg and Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood clashed over the program’s $80,000 marketing/outreach budget that Glover supported, but Burgis preferred to cut by 50 percent. “I like to do outreach,” said Burgis, “but there is so much need and urgency out there right now.”

Despite the disagreement over the outreach money, supervisors kept intact the $80,000 for outreach.

One of the conditions to the federal program is that the county needs to spend the CARES funds by Jan. 31, 2021.

“Obviously, families are struggling to make ends meet, and some of my students have found themselves having to take some economic responsibility to make families’ ends meet,” said Luis Chacon, a West Contra Costa Unified School District teacher.

In other action, supervisors voted 5-0 to pass an urgency ordinance to continue the temporary prohibition on evictions of certain small business commercial tenants financially impacted by COVID-19.  The protection continues through Jan. 31.

“The county must act quickly to assist residents, both tenants and landlords, who are or will be in the crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Board Chair Candace Andersen of Danville.  “Providing direct rental payments to landlords on behalf of tenants is critical, and staff will work with community organizations to reach out to those in need, particularly low-income households and neighborhoods severely impacted by economic and housing instability at this difficult time.”

Contra Costa County’s Urgency Ordinance 2020-29 provides protections pursuant to Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-80-20, which extends, through March 31, 2021, the authority of local jurisdictions to suspend the evictions of commercial tenants for the non-payment of rent if the non-payment was a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Board of Supervisors recognizes that the already struggling business environment has become even more challenging with the recent rise of COVID-19 cases,” said Board Chair Andersen. “As we follow public health orders and guidance intended to protect lives, we have to support businesses however we can.”

Supervisors voted 5-0 to impose a 45-day moratorium ordinance on industrial hemp cultivation so that the county Agriculture Commission can establish cultivation and location regulations on the crop harvested in East county.

East County resident John Cisneros, who lives nearby a hemp operation with armed guards, urged supervisors to adopt an ordinance.  “How would you like to live near a hep farm with a security force, that might turn into a cannabis operation?  Not a safe thing,” he said.  “I am not against hemp, but this is not a suitable place.”

Pittsburg Motel 6 Homeless Program Action

In a consent action, supervisors approved a lease with Azad Rahman, Riffat Rahman an Zahin Rahman, who had managed the Motel 6 at 2101 Loveridge Road, Pittsburg  that the county has agreed to buy through the state’s Homekey Program to provide housing for the homeless and social services.

The county agreed to purchase the motel for $17.4 million even though there is a question whether the county properly appraised the property that may have been over appraised by $5 million. (See related article) The county approved a lease with the Rahmans at $600 a month.


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Order your Thanksgiving Centerpiece from Paula’s Family Florist

Saturday, November 14th, 2020

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Contra Costa to close indoor dining, fitness centers, movie theater concessions Tuesday to contain spread of COVID-19

Friday, November 13th, 2020

In coordination with other Bay Ara counties

If the current restrictions don’t work “we are prepared for further restrictions” – Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa Health Officer during Friday afternoon press conference

On Thursday, California reached the unfortunate milestone of 1 million COVID cases statewide. With transmission and hospitalizations on the rise, health officers representing counties across the Bay Area are tightening local rules for high-risk indoor activities where the virus can spread more easily.

Contra Costa Health Services today issued an order to close, effective Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 8 a.m.:

  • Indoor dining
  • Indoor fitness centers
  • Concession stands at movie theaters

Dine-in restaurant and gyms reopened at reduced capacities when the county entered the state’s red tier in late September. But recent increases in COVID cases and hospitalizations make the closures necessary to help contain spread of the virus.

“Indoor interactions at restaurants, movie theaters, and indoor gyms and fitness centers are high-risk activities,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County Health Officer. “And given what we’re seeing happen across the country and the region, we must act now.”

Diners at restaurants remove their masks to eat or drink, as do movie patrons when snacking on food from concession stands. People also breathe heavily while they exercise at indoor gyms, increasing the risk of droplet and aerosol transmission of COVID-19, which can be only partially reduced by wearing a face covering.

Contra Costa recently moved from the state’s orange tier to the more restrictive red tier because of an increasing number of cases in the county. Meanwhile, hospitalizations in Contra Costa have returned to levels not seen in several weeks. On Nov. 11, 50 people with COVID were hospitalized in the county – the highest number since September.

“I’ve said this many times before, but it’s so important I can’t repeat it enough: The best way to protect against COVID-19 is to wear a face covering whenever you are near people who do not live with you, and whenever you go in a building that is not your home,” said Dr. Farnitano.

Health officials are especially worried about people gathering indoors with the holidays coming up and may consider other closures in the days and weeks ahead. Contra Costa County, which is now in the red tier, could move into the state’s most restrictive tier, the purple tier, within the coming weeks. If the county moves into the purple tier, schools that haven’t reopened will have to remain closed until the county moves back into the red tier or until they receive a waiver from the state.

“Our hope is that this new health order will slow down the spread of COVID so schools will have a better chance to reopen,” Dr. Farnitano said.

Screenshot of Dr. Chris Farnitano during press conference on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020.

Dr. Farnitano Press Conference

During a Zoom press conference Friday afternoon Farnitano was asked by the Herald, “Is this decision based on what’s actually happening in our county, or what’s happening in other Bay Area counties and elsewhere?” he responded, “We’re really looking at all of it.”

Where people are getting COVID, “many if not most cannot pinpoint any specific locations,” Farnitano explained. “But where we can identify, restaurants, gyms we are imposing restrictions.”

“Why can’t we just protect the vulnerable and allow the rest of us get back to living our lives?” the Herald asked.

“That would be an ideal strategy if it can work. But it can’t. The vulnerable can’t live in a bubble,” Farnitano stated. “We see it in our nursing homes. Those who work there go home, go shopping, and are with their families where they can be exposed.”

“To protect the most vulnerable in our society we need to keep the overall transmission to a minimum,” he added.

“What is the basis for closing indoor fitness centers and not other indoor activities,” he was asked.

“We have seen looking across the country and across the state there have been outbreaks in gyms and fitness centers,” Farnitano said during a press conference Friday afternoon. “People can exercise outside or at home. Outdoor fitness operations are still allowed. This current order doesn’t have an endpoint. When our hospital case rates come down…then we can reconsider these orders.

“Masks does not provide the same level of protection when youre around someone breathing heavily and exercising,” he added.

The actions are “due to the rapidly rising of rates in our community,” Farnitano explained.

One person asked about the county “moving the goal posts instead of enforcing existing rules”.

“The enforcement efforts have not proven sufficient,” Farnitano responded. “The more we can wear our masks and stay away from others outside of our households the sooner we can get past this upsurge.”

“Our case rate in the past seven days are already in the Purple Tier. We are testing at higher levels than state averages. Our adjusted case rate is even in the Purple Tier,” he said. “We have seen the case rate increase in the last several days in our hospitals.”

The county is issuing these orders, now so, “We can hope to blunt that wave, blunt that surge…to get us through a winter surge quicker and with less harm to the community as far as illness and death,” Farnitano explained.

“Are church services impacted further,” he was asked.

“Not at this point,” Farnitano responded. “We implemented restrictions on churches last week for the Red Tier. We are prepared to add additional restrictions in the future if our hospitalizations rise, in advance of state restrictions.”

“We are looking at all of our health care systems and how we can get through the latest wave,” he explained.

“Will it be enough? I am not sure. We will have to watch the data and see,” said Farnitano. “We all have to do our part, wear our masks, six feet of social distancing.

“But if it doesn’t we are prepared for further restrictions,” Farnitano added. “The state could move us into Purple the day after Thanksgiving.”

“Why don’t you believe in herd immunity,” he was asked.

“Herd immunity would take an enormous toll on the community and lead to enormous deaths, more than we’ve seen,” Farnitano responded. “We would need 70 to 80% levels of herd immunity. It would take uncontrollable disease for months and months and months and that would be too high of a toll for the community.”

Allen Payton contributed to this report.



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Rick Fuller Team honors Rick, thanks community for recognition as 2019 Small Business of the Year

Monday, November 9th, 2020

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Annual Antioch Awards: Business of the Year – Rick Fuller Team and Travis Credit Union

Saturday, November 7th, 2020

Jennifer and Rick Fuller and The Rick Fuller Team, 2019 Antioch Small Business of the Year. Photo courtesy of Rick Fuller.

This is a second in a series of articles on the annual awards presented Friday night, Sept. 24 by the Antioch Chamber of Commerce during its Gala Dinner. It was held virtually, this year and honored the city’s most outstanding residents and organizations with their annual awards.

Business of the Year

The Business of the Year is chosen based on the way the company gives back to community outside its normal business practice. Recipients usually support multiple groups in our community and realize that a strong local economy is based on a strong community. This category has been divided into Large/Corporate and Small Business Categories.

Rick Fuller speaks as his wife and business partner Jennifer looks on thanking the Chamber for the honor. Photo courtesy of the Chamber.

Small Business – Rick Fuller Team

Rick Fuller grew up in Antioch and graduated from Antioch High School in 1994.  Rick and his wife Jennifer have three amazing daughters: April, Autumn & Summer.  Rick serves the City of Antioch on the Economic Development Commission.

The Rick Fuller Team is dedicated to providing the kind of service their clients would be happy to tell a friend about. With passion and hard work, the Rick Fuller Team had the privilege of serving over 250 families in 2019 and have received nearly 1,000 five-star reviews online.

The Rick Fuller Team has raised over $1.25 Million and served over 2100 local homeless and foster children through the nonprofit Royal Family Kids since 2001.  Royal Family Kids provides camps, clubs and mentoring for homeless and foster children.  In 2019, With community support, they also raised $100,000 in 12 weeks for a young lady named Malysa (Melissa) who desperately needed a second heart transplant.

Travis Credit Union Antioch Branch Manager Marivel Branco and Assistant Vice President & Regional Manager Jennifer Victor receive the plaque and honors from Mayor Sean Wright, COO of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce. Photo courtesy of the Chamber.

Large Business – Travis Credit Union

Travis Credit Union works every day to make a difference in the lives of the people they serve. As a secure and trusted financial institution, they advocate for the financial education and wellbeing of each of their members, assist the underserved, and invest in our communities. Travis Credit Union has offered free financial education seminars for over a decade, which has resulted in many community members of all ages educated and financially literate. Monthly financial education seminars provided in partnership with the Antioch Public Library cover topics such as Building Budgets, Understanding Credit, ID Theft and Prevention, Organizing Financial Records, and many more.

As part of their efforts in educating the communities we serve, Travis Credit Union focuses on the underserved population of young adults. Travis Credit Union has offered Mad City Money to over 10,000 young adults, which include residents of Antioch. Building skills that will last a lifetime, participants in Mad City Money learn how handling adult finances doesn’t have to be difficult. The 3Y,-hour simulation allows young adults to make decisions about budgeting, spending, borrowing, and saving in an assigned-life scenario. Financial education is not part of the school curriculum, and it is our responsibility as a community to ensure young adults are walking into adulthood with the tools necessary to be financially healthy.

Travis Credit Union is passionate about changing lives and lifting communities through financial well ness. What sets Travis Credit Union apart from the rest is its commitment and dedication toward building authentic community impact through its “Awesome Cause”- Financial Education, Financial Literacy, and Financial Advocacy. Through the Awesome Cause, Travis Credit Union has established partnerships with many non-profit organizations such as; Opportunity Junction, The Lighthouse Mentoring Center, Courageous and Emerging Leadership Academy (CELA), Antioch Parks and Recreation, and Antioch Public Library to name a few.

Further demonstrating their commitment to the Antioch community, the local branch staff engages in community events such as the Antioch 4th of July Parade, Chamber Mixers, and many fundraising events.

Travis Credit Union has established many local partnerships, including the city of Antioch, to be able to offer Mad City Money to young adults between the ages of 14-24. Each participant receives a temporary identity, including occupation, salary, debt, marital status, children to give participants a sense of adulthood, and paying bills. Participants visit “merchants” in Mad City to choose housing, transportation, necessities and wants. The goal is ultimately to simulate the realities of approaching financial responsibilities and teach the tools to make better financial decisions. The Antioch Chamber of Commerce has participated for many years providing volunteers to become merchants at Mad City Money. Having the business community involved and allowing the youth to see their local merchants is positive community engagement. Mad City Money is more than just financial education. It is an opportunity for the entire community to come together and support the new generation.

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G St. Mercantile now Willow Park Mercantile to celebrate 5th anniversary and new name Nov. 7 & 8

Sunday, November 1st, 2020

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Contra Costa advances in COVID-19 Reopening Plan – churches, indoor dining now at 50% capacity

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

Indoor swimming pools can reopen; bars can reopen outdoors; live entertainment for up to 50 people (requires pre-approval), more

By Contra Costa Health Services

More businesses and community activities can reopen beginning today in Contra Costa after the county’s data indicators for COVID-19 transmission showed improvement in October.

California today reassigned Contra Costa to the less-restrictive orange tier of its Blueprint for a Safer Economy, allowing for larger local gatherings for indoor worship services and dining, and the reopening of indoor pools, bars and bowling alleys.

But health officials caution that it is now more important than ever to follow the state health guidance for physical distancing and use of face coverings, to keep everyone safe and healthy during the holiday season and to avoid a return to the red tier.

Contra Costa’s adjusted per-capita case rate – the average daily number of new COVID-19 cases identified in the county per 100,000 population – stood at 3.7 on Tuesday, just qualifying the county to move into the orange tier.

The average daily percentage of COVID-19 tests that return positive in the county is 1.9%, with 4.9% or lower qualifying for the orange tier. That number for census tracts identified by the state’s health equity metric was 3.9% today, with 5.2% required for the orange tier.

Counties in the orange tier can allow:

  • Worship services and other cultural activities indoors at 50% occupancy or 200 people, whichever is fewer;
  • Indoor dining at 50% occupancy or 200 people, whichever is fewer;
  • Indoor swimming pools;
  • Bars and other businesses that sell alcohol without meals to open for outdoor operation;
  • Family entertainment centers to open indoors for “naturally distanced” activities, such as bowling alleys, escape rooms and climbing-wall gyms, at 25% occupancy;
  • Cardrooms to open indoors at 25% occupancy;
  • Small amusement parks to open at 25% of occupancy or 500 people, whichever is fewer;
  • Professional sports venues to open at 20% occupancy;
  • Live entertainment to open with no more than 50 people, if approved by the Health Officer.

The county will remain in the orange tier for at least two weeks. The state could move Contra Costa into the less-restrictive yellow tier, or the more restrictive red tier, if its metrics qualify for one of those tiers for two consecutive weeks. The state updates the official numbers every Tuesday.

To reduce the spread of the virus in Contra Costa County, and to continue its progress toward reopening, county leaders urge the public to get tested for COVID-19 regularly, including people who have no symptoms of illness.

Contra Costa would not have qualified for the orange tier this week had it not tested more residents than the state average. California adjusts the case rates of high-testing counties downward to reflect their work controlling the virus. Without that adjustment, Contra Costa’s per-capita case rate this week would have been 4.1, which would not qualify for the orange tier.

Following the heath guidance for physical distancing and face coverings, practicing good hand hygiene and staying home when you feel sick are also key to continuing Contra Costa’s progress against the pandemic.

About 3,500 people get tested every day for COVID-19 in Contra Costa. By ramping up to test at least 4,500 daily, the county can more quickly notify those infected – particularly people with the virus who do not have symptoms – to prevent outbreaks and better protect community members at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19 because of their age or health.

Contra Costa recommends that workers in jobs that bring them in frequent contact with the public, including all essential workers, consider a COVID-19 test every 30 days. Anyone who has symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing should also consider a test.

Call 1-844-421-0804 to schedule a fast, free COVID-19 test in Contra Costa, or visit to schedule online.


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