Cadet Wine & Beer Bar

cadet outside

By Craig Smith

Colleen Fleming and Aubrey Bailey, co-owners of Cadet Beer and Wine Bar, are very happy with how well their business has been received in the year and a half they’ve been open. Theirs was a concept that didn’t exist, and people love it.

“We envisioned a place to drink funky wine and beer past 9 p.m. in a fun environment with cool music,” said Fleming, who first conceived of the idea of Cadet. Bailey added, “It also has to be whole heartedly for the community.” Cadet has indeed been embraced by locals, including the wine community. “We get lots of industry people here, from
cellar rats to wine makers,” added Fleming. “There is a lot of sharing, mingling and meeting other people.”

Fleming said she is like many people, in that she wants to be her own boss. She spent years cooking in Napa restaurants such as Roux and Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, then worked for her family’s winery, Kelly Fleming Wines, selling their cult estate-Cabernets. Bailey, her roommate at the time, had an equally impressive resume, having cooked in Napa
restaurants including Redd and Julia’s Kitchen. She was a sommelier at The French Laundry, and listened as Fleming fleshed out the idea for Cadet. “When Colleen said she

needed a partner, it was serendipitous, and I thought ‘Why not?” Fleming laughs, “I lured Aubrey away from the best restaurant in the country to open a bar in an alley.”

The name Cadet implies a trainee, beginner, someone excited to learn. “That’s how it should be for our guests and for us,” said Fleming. The two women initially thought they’d be a California wine bar, but tweaked the concept based on customer feedback. “Originally, we offered mostly California beers and wines,” said Bailey, “but a lot of guests wanted an international selection. It’s probably fifty-fifty now.”  Bailey said that helps industry folks. “If somebody is working on a new Syrah project, they can come here to drink wines from Rhone.” Beer has been a bigger hit than they expected.  “It’s crazy,” said Fleming. “People like to experiment and try something new. We constantly change the menu so that it’s never stale.”  Cadet always has six beers on tap and fifty different bottled beers, as well as sixteen wines by the glass. The wine and beer list is developed with the help of the customers and what they want to discover. “We’re lucky; they have good taste,” said Bailey, with a grin.

Wednesday nights feature a wine or beer maker as guest bartender. Hardly stuffy or pedantic affairs, the evenings are fun and casual. “We let them be bartenders for a night and pour and talk,” said Fleming. “Some even bring their own music.” Matthiasson Wines was recently featured. “They got to talk to a new generation of wine drinkers in a casual, fun atmosphere,” said Bailey.

The bar bites are a big part of Cadet. “We buy salumi from Oenotri and slice it here,” said Fleming. “We also have a proscuitto plate and grilled cheese, all served as bar bites.” The outdoor patio with its marketplace lights, tucked away as Cadet is in an alleyway, offers a cozy, neighborhood feel.

Cadet is open Monday through Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to Midnight, Fridays and Saturdays until 1:30 a.m. Stop in and enjoy a completely unpretentious evening.

930 Franklin Street, Napa  |  (707) 927-3623    |  cadetbeerandwinebar.com

Open Monday – Thursday 5PM – Midnight  |  Friday & Saturday 5PM – 1:30AM

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Napa Palisades Saloon – Business Review

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By Craig Smith

Chuck Meyer, one of the four friends who teamed up to open Napa Palisades Saloon, has been in the restaurant business for over twenty years. “In this crazy business,” he said, “it’s almost shocking when the plan comes together and the business is what you wanted it to be. This is absolutely closer to what I had in mind in concept than any restaurant I’ve
ever opened.”

What he and his partners, Kevin Sprenger, John Lohman and Charlie Crebs, wanted was a modern day saloon to support their fledgling brewery. “We’re a group of local guys that live here in Napa. We built a place that our friends and neighbors would feel at home in,” said Meyer. While lots of businesses say they are for locals, these guys mean it. “We didn’t want anything pretentious. If tourists want to come here, that’s great, but we want the place to be full of locals every night.”

Chef Tim Brown, whose twenty years in restaurants include everything from soup kitchens to James Beard award-winning restaurants, is on the same page. “This is a gathering place where people feel comfortable. It feels like your living room.”

While multiple TV screens covering different sporting events hang on the walls, this isn’t really a sports bar. The beer and the food are too good for that moniker.

“With all the great craft beers that are around here, there’s been a big void in the market,” said Crebs. “You can drive twenty five miles in any direction from Napa and taste some of the best beers in the country.” Palisades has thirty two of them on tap, including 101 North Golden Naked Ale, Lagunitas Czech Pils and Drake’s Hefeweizen, as well as hard to find offerings like Heretic Brewery Gramarye and Carneros Brewing Negra IPA. Another dozen taps dispense wine and ciders.

They even brew their own beer, with Napa Palisades 24/7 Session IPA and Napa Palisades 1849 Gold Rush Red currently on tap. Their beers are currently brewed off-site, but will soon be made at the Saloon. Brewing on-site will allow them to get a mixed drink license, at which time they will showcase several whiskys.

The current trend in restaurants is to brew beer as a way of being allowed to sell mixed drinks, but these guys are serious beer guys. “We are doing this so we can brew beer, not just to get the license,” said Crebs. “We’ll also have the best R&D you can get – we can make a beer and find out instantly if people like it.”

Chef Brown has created a menu that far outstrips most pub food. The eight appetizers include a soup or two of the day, Shrimp and Grits with Bacon, Mushrooms and Smoked Chili Butter, and Reuben Croquettes, with Corned Beef, Sauerkraut, Swiss and 1,000 Island. On the Between Breads menu is the Saloon Burger with White Cheddar, Stout Braised Onions, Grandma’s Brown Pickles and The Sauce. There’s also a Lamb Burger, Chicken BLT and Falafel Burger, all served with tantalizing ingredients. The six Plates & Bowls include Pot Roast, Braised Niman Ranch Tri-Tip, Potatoes, Winter Vegetables and Gold Rush Red Jus. As you would expect, the sides tie everything together.

1000 Main Street, Suite 100, Napa  |  (707) 296-1552   |  napapalisades.com

Mon. – Thurs. 11:30am to 11pm | Fri. 11:30am – Midnight | Sat. 9:30am – Midnight | Sun. 9:30am – 10pm

Don Perico Reopens in Dwight Murray Plaza Following the Quake

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By Craig Smith

Marco and Berenice Castaneda, owners of Don Perico Mexican restaurant, now in Dwight Murray Plaza at 1116 First Street, are long-time Napa residents. Like most people in Napa, they were jolted awake at 3:20 a.m., August 24, 2014, when the earthquake shook Napa to its core. “It was scary,” said Marco Castaneda. “We looked around the house to make sure everything was safe, then went to the restaurant.”

Castaneda knew things were bad as soon as he got downtown. The streets were strewn with broken glass and, in some cases, large sections of buildings that had collapsed during the shaking. Water leaks from burst pipes, some of it gushing, was evident everywhere. Shell-shocked, but busy, merchants were already helping each other make sense of it all and restore order. Castaneda opened the front door of Don Perico, and used a flashlight to look around. “It was pretty bad,” he said. Large areas of the ceiling had collapsed, and rubble was everywhere. It was obvious that, had the quake hit during dinner the night before, people would have been seriously injured, or worse. Castaneda wound his way through the mess, turned off the gas, and looked around. He realized there wasn’t much else he could do right then. Still, it never occurred to him that the restaurant was doomed at that location. “I knew the damage was bad, but figured we’d be open again in a couple of months.”

Shortly after moving from Mexico,  Castaneda started his restaurant career as a busboy in a Mexican restaurant in Bakersfield..  He worked hard, paid attention to everything about the business, and was promoted repeatedly over the next ten years. His boss wanted to open a restaurant in Napa and invited Cataneda to be his partner. At the time, Castaneda had no savings, but saw this as an opportunity to make a better life for his wife and family. He borrowed from relatives and made the plunge. Don Perico opened in Napa in January of ’94. As the years passed, Castaneda bought out his partner until he was eventually sole owner. The restaurant has been a local favorite, almost since opening. The year of the earthquake was also their twentieth anniversary.

“When we knew we couldn’t return to our original location, I started looking for a new place.” Finding a spot wasn’t easy, and Castaneda and his wife took part- time jobs in a wine-storage facility in American Canyon. One day, he was commiserating with the owner of the restaurant across the street from Don Perico.  After talking awhile, Castaneda offered to buy out the owner’s  lease. The two men agreed, and struck a deal. That turned out to be the easy part.

At the time, the building, which is also home to Kohl’s, was not locally owned. The parent company, based in Arizona, put Castaneda through the same hoops they would with a new, prospective tenant. His quick handshake with the now-former restaurant owner turned into five months of negotiations with the building’s owners.

Don Perico re-opened May 15th this year. The restaurant was scheduled to open at 5:00 p.m., but people were waiting by 4:30, so the Castanedas opened the doors early. For the first month after they reopened there was a wait to get a table for dinner almost every night.  The Castanedas are gracious, unassuming people, who are very grateful for everyone who dines with them. The support from the community has been humbling. Castaneda was recently given the American Dream Award by the Napa County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Don Perico is warm and inviting, offering good, honest, Mexican food. Take the family, and enjoy a relaxed night out.

Napa Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest peoplewpa

Sat., Sept. 19 | Noon to 6:00 | First Street in Downtown Napa

Oktoberfest has a 200 year history of celebrating beer, and Napa’s Oktoberfest will try and live up to that, with a beer garden that runs the length of the event. But it will also be a fun day of celebration and games that the whole family will enjoy.

“Laughter is a big part of Oktoberfest celebrations,” said Julie Morales, events manager for the Downtown Napa Association and the brains behind this first-ever Napa event.  “We’ll have the elements that people expect, plus some surprises to keep them smiling.”

The music line-up includes good, German music performed by the groups Edelweiss and Karl Lebherz Band, but also and unexpected twist with “Tubas at Large,” an ad hoc group of tuba players organized by local musician and music teacher Alan Parks.

“I’ve been part of organized Christmas tuba concerts for years now. They are lots of fun and I’ve wanted to do something similar, but I don’t want to do Christmas music.”  Oktoberfest is the perfect venue for Parks vision. “We’ll do some of the light classical songs you’d expect, but will also throw in a few tunes from Pirates of the Caribbean and the theme from the Andy Griffith Show. “

And his inspiration for those selections? “It appeals to my sense of humor to hear songs played on the tuba.”

Morales said there will be plenty of beer drinking with “Prosts” (German drinking toasts) throughout the day, with all beer drinkers in attendance joining in. There will also be yodeling contests, Chicken Dances, Fun Photo Booths that will be manned by the Napa 20/30 Club, Corn Hole mini-tournaments and lots of other activities, just for the kids.

Oktoberfest wouldn’t be Oktoberfest without Bratwurst, Strudel and more, and it will all be there.

Oktoberfest began as a Bavarian celebration, and still runs for over two weeks there, drawing six million visitors between mid September and the first few days of October. “We aren’t expecting quite that many people,” said Morales with a smile. “It will be a fun day though, and will grow throughout the years.”

Free parking and admission. Sponsored by Blue Moon and Heineken beers, Team Superstores, Bank of Napa, Napa Valley Marketplace, The North Bay Bohemian and KVON/KVYN.  Without their generous support, the show would not be possible.

Hundreds of Vintage Cars – Twice!

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Getting to see the cars of yesteryear, restored to pristine condition, continue to delight the thousands of Napans who attend Main Street Reunion Car Show every year. Now in its 12th year, the show has grown into two events, spread out over Friday and Saturday.

The 400, pre-1976, vintage cars that display at the Main Street Reunion Car Show come primarily from Northern California, but as the show has grown in popularity, entries have come from Southern California, Nevada, and even Arizona. A surprising number of entries are local. “I’m always impressed to see how many really great cars there are that I don’t know about, right here in Napa,” said Mike Phillips, who is organizing the show for the third year. Phillips is a member of the Napa Valley Cruisers, the car club that has hosted the show with the Downtown Napa Association (DNA) since the beginning. It’s been a great partnership, according to Craig Smith with the DNA.

“The Cruisers wanted to do a car show for years, but had trouble navigating through the red tape to pull it off,” said Smith. “When they first approached our organization, they challenged me to help get it off the ground. Later, I got a ribbing for being in charge of securing the Three P’s: permits, police and porta-potties.”

The crowds that come out to see the cars get bigger every year, but it’s never too crowded. “The show covers eight blocks and four parking lots, which spreads things out nicely,” said Smith.

Three years ago, Dennis Gage, host of Speed TV’s “My Classic Car,” visited Main Street Reunion, and made the car show the subject of an episode.  “I know Main Street is a beautiful show,” said Phillips, “but seeing it on TV made me appreciate it in a whole new way.”  Hoteliers say they are now booking rooms from people visiting specifically to see the car show.

For the third year, the weekend begins with a Friday night Show & Shine, to be held at the Copia parking lot, next to the Oxbow Public Market. “A Show & Shine event the night before the car show gives everybody another chance to see the cars in more of a party atmosphere,” said Tammy Robinette, president of the Cruisers, and the brains behind Show & Shine. “People can check out all the great cars, enjoy something to eat and drink, plus listen to good music. How great is that?”   

Show & Shine features live music performed by the Evan Thomas Blues Band which will definitely have people dancing. Enjoy the food from the Oxbow Public Market or any downtown restaurant before, or during, and you’ve got a great Friday Night.

Trophies are a part of every show. Two will be awarded at Show & Shine, and more than forty will be given at Saturday’s Main Street Reunion. The cost to register a car for Main Street Reunion is $35 ($40 after August 8th). Show & Shine is limited to 150 cars, and pre-registration is required. A portion of registration fees will be donated to the Pathway Home. Applications are available at DoNapa.com, or by calling 257-0322.

Sponsored by Blue Moon and Heineken beers, Team Superstores, Bank of Napa, Napa Valley Marketplace, The North Bay Bohemian, and KVON/KVYN. Without their generous support, the show would not be possible. Visit DoNapa.com for full details.

Show & Shine Car Show Preview

August 14th – 5 to 8:30pm

Main Street Reunion Car Show

August 15th – 10am to 3pm

Fun things to Do Downtown for the Holidays

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By Craig Smith

While it is hard to believe that another year has gone by, the good news is that it’s almost Christmas.  Who doesn’t love the return of Santa Claus?

There are lots of ways to enjoy time with the family during the month of December.  This year, include checking out all the decorated windows in Downtown Napa.  In fact, cast your vote for what you think is the best of the best.  Most stores will have ballots on-hand for you to fill out.  It’s simple – write down the store name of the window you like the most, and put it in the ballot box.  Winners will be selected on December 15th and will be posted on DoNapa.com by the 20th.  Even if you don’t make it down in time to vote, you can still stroll the streets and enjoy the sites.

Here are some other Holiday activities
to enjoy. Merry Christmas!

Carriage Rides

Bring the family for  free horse drawn carriage rides through downtown Napa. It’s one of the best ways to enjoy the Holiday lights on all the buildings, see what the Christmas windows look like in the stores, and just snuggle with the family.  One carriage leaves the Historic Napa Mill on each of the scheduled nights, a second one departs from Coombs Plaza at First and Coombs Street during the same time.  Ride either or both – there are two separate routes, with each route lasting about twenty minutes.  Spend the time between rides shopping and dining in beautiful downtown Napa.  If you enjoy it, come back the following week with your neighbors.  Thursdays, December 4th, 11th and 18th, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Holiday Trolley

Thanks in part to Beau Tours, who helped make the Holiday Wine Trolley available, everyone will be able to enjoy a free Trolley ride downtown.  Bring the family, friends or anybody else you’d like. The Christmas decorated trolley will be playing music of the season as it travels between five regular stops – at the Oxbow Public Market, Historic Napa Mill, Coombs Street at Second, First near Randolph, and at Main & Pearl Streets.  Signage will show you exactly where to get off and on.  Enjoy the whole loop at one time, or get on and off as you wish.  The trolley runs on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from December 5th through the 21st, from 3 to 6 p.m.

Ice Skating

Now through  January 11th, children of all ages and those young at heart will be able to ice skate in
downtown Napa. The 6300 sq ft outdoor rink has
stainless steel railings, a quality ice surface, a real Zamboni, hot chocolate, and your favorite Christmas music. Situated in the parking lot at the north east
corner of Coombs and Second streets, the rink will be open until 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and until 8 p.m. on Sundays. It opens at 12 noon when school is out, 2 p.m. when students are in class. Skating is
only $12 per person, which includes skate rentals.
More information is available at Napaonice.com.

Christmas is
a magic time of year.  Join your family and friends in Downtown Napa to shop, dine and enjoy the season.

DoNapa.com

Main Street Reunion Car Show

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by Craig Smith

The 400, pre-1976, vintage cars that display at the Main Street Reunion Car Show come primarily from northern California. But, as the show has grown in popularity, entries have come from Southern  Cal., Nevada and even Arizona.  A surprising number of entries are local. “I’m always impressed to see how many really great cars there are that I don’t know about, right here in Napa,” said Mike Phillips, who is organizing the show for the second year. Phillips is a member of the Napa Valley Cruisers;, the car club that has hosted the show with the Downtown Napa Association (DNA) for a dozen years.  It’s been a great partnership, according to Craig Smith with the DNA.

“The Cruisers wanted to do a car show for years, but had trouble navigating through the red tape to pull it off,” said Smith. “When they first approached our organization, they challenged me to help get it off the ground. Later, I got a ribbing for being in charge of securing the Three P’s: 
permits, police and porta-potties.”

The crowds that come out to see the cars get bigger every year, but it’s never too crowded. “The show covers eight blocks and four parking lots, which spreads things out nicely,” said Smith.

Two years ago, Dennis Gage, host of Speed TV’s, “My Classic Car,” visited Main Street Reunion, and made the car show the subject of an episode. “I know Main Street is a beautiful show,” said Phillips, “but seeing it on TV made me appreciate it in a whole new way.”  Hoteliers say they are now booking rooms for people visiting specifically to see the car show.

For the second year of what is now a two-day event, the weekend  begins with a Friday night, Show & Shine, to be held at the Copia parking lot next to the Oxbow Public Market. Last year, organizers thought they would be lucky if fifty cars showed up.  There were 150. “A Show & Shine event the night before the car show gives everybody another chance to see the cars in more of a party atmosphere,” said Tammy Robinette, president of the Cruisers and the brains behind Show & Shine. “People can check out all the great cars, enjoy something to eat and drink, plus listen to good music too. How great is that?”   

Show & Shine features live music performed by Juke Joint Band a band that will have people dancing.  Enjoy the food from the Oxbow Public Market or any downtown restaurant before or during, and you’ve got a great Friday Night.

Trophies are a part of every show, but the Cruisers can rightfully claim to offer forty of the best looking awards out there. “One guy somehow left the show without his award two years ago,” said Phillips. “We sent him a picture of what he had missed, and he and his wife drove here from Fresno the next weekend just to pick it up.”

The cost to register a car for Main Street Reunion is $35, $40 after August 9th, a portion of which will be donated to the Pathway Home.  Applications are available at DoNapa.com, or by calling 257-0322.

The event is only open to 400 cars and closes when that number is reached. Registration for Show & Shine is $5, all of which will be donated to a
local charity.   

Sponsored by Blue Moon and Heineken beers, Team Superstores, Mechanics Bank, Kaiser Permanente, Napa Valley Marketplace, The North Bay Bohemian and KVON/KVYN.  Without their generous support, the show would not be possible.  Visit DoNapa.com for full details.

Show & Shine Car Show Preview   August 15th, 5 to 8:30pm

Main Street Reunion Car Show   August 16th, 10am to 3pm