Business Review – Molinari Caffe

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By Craig Smith

Rick Molinari, owner of Molinari Caffe at 828 Brown Street between Third and Second in downtown Napa, painted “Pazienza,” the Italian word for “Patience,” on a wall in his home. He ponders it every day, reminding himself that things will eventually return to normal for his business. Although Molinari Caffe sustained relatively little damage from the 2014 earthquake, his business hasn’t been the same since it hit.

Many people suffered damage from the quake and most have put their lives back in order. Molinari Caffe lost glassware and some duct work from the HVAC system was jarred loose, but otherwise they came through it unscathed, and were able to open a few hours later. But when inspectors came through and looked at the damage to the buildings next to him, which were quake-devastated, they closed the cafe for fear that a neighboring structure could topple onto them. Then they closed the street as well.

The building neighboring Molinari Caffe to the north, the Alexander Square building, may have been the most photographed building from the earthquake. It’s been surrounded by tarp-covered scaffolding since, which completely blocks the view of the Caffe from Second Street. The building to the south was also badly damaged, and tarps covering it block the view from Third Street. Brown Street was completely closed for months. It’s re-opened as more narrow, with K rail in place that blocks the entrance to the deli completely, except from the intersections seventy-five feet away. The courthouse directly across the street will be closed for years, and is completely fenced off. Molinari Caffe is the proverbial island unto itself. Still, the Caffe is open six days a week, although business is way off. Molinari looks forward to the day the construction on each side of him is finished and the street re-opened, if he can survive that long.

Molinari dreamed of opening a coffee shop twenty years ago, but as it often does, life got in the way. Several years ago, while working in San Rafael, Molinari befriended Alfred Peet understudy John Weaver, the master roaster at Peet’s Coffee for twenty years, who is now roasting his own coffees. Five years ago, Molinari lost both his father and uncle within six months of each other. That was his “life is short” wake up call, and his dream of opening a coffee shop was re-awakened. Molinari visited coffee shops all over the country, taking ideas from places he liked. Blending what he learned, and with help from
partners John and Michael Brown, Molinari Caffe became a reality.

Molinari Caffe is one of the few places where people can purchase Weaver’s full line coffee and tea in bulk, including the rare Jamaican Blue Mountain. Molinari refers to it as, “Heaven in a cup.”

Molinari is crazy about good coffee, and believes nothing should ever have to be added to a cup. He uses everything—his cold-coffee is yesterday’s blend, which he says is better with age. He also developed a Nutella coffee, his own signature drink. His food menu includes half a dozen sandwiches, including a sandwich of the day, but he’ll make anything you want.

Molinari’s food output is limited by the size of his kitchen, which led to a brilliant idea and several creative partnerships. Using Molinari’s recipes, Alexis Baking Company prepares pasta, chicken and potato salads for Molinari. Both ABC and Sweetie Pies provide baked goods, and Bui Bistro makes soups.  The Caffe features Zoe’s meats from Santa Rosa and Kohler Chocolates. Molinari Caffe is a coffee shop, but it’s also a deli with a lot to offer.

Molinari is very proud of his Molinari Private Reserve, a wine-infused coffee that’s available in regular and decaf. Molinari T.A.P. (Tastings and Pints) is a program he introduced last year. Wednesday nights from 4:30 to 8:30, Molinari features a small production local winery, paired with charcuterie and a relaxing place to kick back after a day of work. Thursday nights will focus on local beers. The program will begin with a brew from Scott Kendall of Carpe Diem and Jason Holman from Holman Cellars.

Molinari is committed to keeping the business going. “This place is home to everybody, staff and customers alike,” he said. He hears encouragement from all over the Bay Area. “I’ve had people from Corte Madera, San Francisco and Sacramento tell me they love our coffee shop, and can’t believe all we’ve had to endure.”

The coffee is good and hot, the food offerings are great, and the entertainment is fun. Visit Molinari Caffe now, and help keep the dream alive!

828 Brown Street, Napa  |  (707) 927-3623    |

Open Monday – Friday 7AM – 5PM  |  Saturday 7AM – 4PM

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   |

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

Highly Extraordinary and Exceptional – Chris Olivier

Local Twelve Year Old Makes a Difference.

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By Linda Bausch

Some people you meet are extraordinary. I knew this was going to be true about Chris Olivier the minute he approached me at a local trade show. He seemed to have more on his mind than gathering tchotchkes or candy from vendors. I told him that I thought I recognized him, and he said it was probably because there had been some stories written about his recent volunteer effort – collecting books for victims of the devastating Valley Fire in Middletown.

The Olivier family, Rich, Leti and Chris, as many others, had lost so much in the South Napa earthquake. Chris didn’t lose his books though, and reading was a safe haven for him; providing a good way to take his mind off of the recovery challenge the tight-knit family faced after the quake.

Valley Fire victims had lost everything. Chris knew that meant their books burned too, and he was compelled to help. Thanks to his social media savvy, using Facebook to put out a call to action, Chris connected with local business owners; Sylvan, BOHO style, and Napa Bookmine, who each helped Chris’ mission in their own way. Middletown school teacher, Jacqueline Caviness, also had the same idea, collecting books and cash to help the cause. Even visiting tourists saw the posts and pitched in. Chris collected one thousand books on his own, give-or-take a few!

Chris and his parents made the trek to Middletown to deliver the books. He relished seeing the excited, happy faces of youngsters, who had lost everything in the fire, anxiously waiting their turn to peruse the stacks. He encouraged everyone to take more than one book. “Take as many books as you want. If it’s a ‘series’, take all of them so you know how the story turns out!” Most only wanted to take one or two books, concerned that if they took more, someone else might go without.

Thoughtfulness overshadowed desire.

This was not his first book-focused effort. Years back, Chris traveled his Napa neighborhood with a wagon filled with books, sharing his bounty with others. He called it the Little Rolling Library.

For a few years, Chris had wanted to build a structure to house a “Little Free Library” at their home, where others could pick up or drop off books. His parents thought this idea would pass, until one year, Chris decided Chris decided to skip a trip to the fair and use the money and time to build his library. Chris and his dad put their heads and hearts together and built a little shed that became Chris’ “Free Library,” offering a reading or donating opportunity to anyone passing by their St. Helena home. Stop by Doris Court, and get a book to read!

I soon learned the ‘book’ story was only a small fraction of what this young man has accomplished in his 12 years.

Chris is one of millions afflicted with multiple, possibly fatal, food allergies. He is allergic to many things most people eat every day. Chris must be on guard at all times. He is highly vigilant of his surroundings; where and how his food is prepared, who is eating ‘what’ in close proximity to him, and he must be in control of every food item he encounters. Imagine his fear when overhearing adults at a school he used to attend, asking each other if they knew, “Where is Chris’ Epi pen?” (An Epi pen is an auto-injector device, containing a pre-measured dose of epinephrine, which must be administered immediately upon an allergen contamination in order to reverse the life-threatening reaction.) Unfortunately, he knows all too well what it feels like to have his throat begin to swell and close off. His life depends on quick and easy access to an Epi pen.

One day, Chris overheard his mom on the phone, she was being asked to take a lead role as advocate for a grassroots Bay Area organization, advocating for those suffering from allergies. Knowing her limits, and having a very “full plate” being a mom, wife, and working, Leti thoughtfully declined the request. Chris decided to take action. He would take on the role his mother turned down.

He wrote up a “plan” and created Northern California Allergy and Asthma Advocates, or “NC-triple-A,” as Chris refers to it, and named his mother Co-Founder. Videos with important updates and vital information on the topic are easily found on their Facebook and YouTube pages.

In 2014, Chris, along with physicians and other young allergy sufferers, were invited by California Senator, Bob Huff, to testify in front of the California legislature in favor of SB1266, a bill authored by Senator Huff. SB1266 would mandate changes to existing laws on the subject of food allergy reactions and students’ safety in all school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools; as well as provide training (and legal protection) for volunteers willing to administer the medication, without delay, when needed. In light of his life experience and level of maturity, Chris Olivier was deemed a “professional witness.” Wow.

With the help of these testimonials from the physicians, and insightful young citizens like Chris, Senator’s Huff’s bill passed unanimously, and became law in January 2015.  As if that wasn’t enough, he also plans to go back to the legislature to help strengthen existing “bullying” laws.

Now in the 7th grade at Blue Oak School, Chris and his classmates helped with a shoe drive benefiting Soles4Souls, a world-wide organization, collecting and distributing shoes for those in need. Year round donations will be collected and stored by Chris.

Chris has volunteered at St. Helena Library since 2013, at the age of nine. He hopes to be hired for his first job there, and plans to open his own book store one day.

It’s not all work for Chris though; he loves to play guitar. One of his favorite pastimes is going to guitar shops and playing his dream instruments. He is talented, and hopes to become a musician and artist. Playing golf on a team is also something Chris is looking forward too.

Thinking of college, on his list of possibilities; MIT, Harvey Mudd or Cal Tech, he is leaning toward Harvey Mudd because “It’s a better return on our investment.”

Chris said, “My ultimate dream is to be a supercar designer. The man that influenced me with his design is Horacio Pagani. You should look him up as he has an amazing story!”

Chris hopes to take his projects world-wide, providing Books for all ages and shoe donations for disaster victims and others in need. Let’s all join Chris with his efforts. Books (for all ages) and shoe donations may be dropped off at the Olivier’s business location; TEM Performance, 1785 Tannen Street, Napa. Anyone interested in contacting Chris regarding all the great ideas and future projects he has in store, may email him (sent to his mom) at

Rich and Leti – keep it up, you are doing
something right!

John Stewart of Custom Health & Fitness


By Michelle Francis

John Stewart of Custom Health & Fitness – A Man Determined to Achieve

You know things are different the moment you pull up to Custom Health & Fitness on California Boulevard. For one thing, there’s a large sign that reads Open 24 Hours, which is certainly a rarity around town. And, in the middle of the day, I find I can’t enter the building because I don’t have a key card to grant access. That’s because safety is of great importance to proprietor John Stewart. His goal is to offer the people of Napa “high quality, convenience, cleanliness, and community involvement – all at an affordable price.” And he knows how to deliver.

Stewart is a champion Powerlifter and Bodybuilder, who earned the title of “Best Lifter” at the APA California “Raw” Powerlifting meet in 2009 – six years after sustaining an injury that was supposed to have rendered him unable to do much more than lift a toothbrush or a coffee cup. “I suffered a complete tear in my [right] pectoral muscle, and was told I’d never lift again,” Stewart said.

Undeterred, Stewart doggedly searched for a surgeon who knew how to fix his injury. And after undergoing surgery, he established his own physical therapy regimen that had him working out four hours a day, four days a week for an entire year.

It was during this period that Custom Health & Fitness began. Officially started in January 2004, Custom Health & Fitness began as a one-man, traveling-fitness operation. Stewart offered in-home fitness training to clients wherever he could find them: as a result, he would often traverse Napa, San Francisco, and Sacramento in a single day. His tenacity paid off. By 2005 he had a strong client base in Napa and was able to provide personal training by appointment-only in a small building at 520 California Boulevard. The business grew in a way that is true to the community spirit of Napa: positive word-of-mouth reviews helped the business flourish, and that growth hasn’t stopped. In 2006 Custom Health & Fitness evolved from personal training by appointment into a standard health club, and business kept steadily improving so that, come 2007, Stewart was able to expand into a second unit in the building. In order to better serve members with varying schedules, in 2008 Stewart decided to make the gym a 24-hour fitness club with key card security; he has since added two more sections, providing a total gym space of 5,000 square feet.

What seems to drive John Stewart, aside from his complete love of, and respect for, health and fitness, is a sense of purpose.

John returned to Powerlifting and Bodybuilding in 2008 to prove to himself that he could. He bulked up from his then-weight of 195 pounds, to 250 pounds, won his trophies, and returned to see his original Physical Therapist who had told him he’d never lift again. He has officially retired from the sports now, but he is able to apply those same principles of quiet dedication and fortitude for the benefit of his current clients. When I asked him to talk about his favorite success stories, he told me of clients who worked with him for multiple years to learn about healthy food, overall nutrition, and proper exercise, and who were able to lose more than one hundred pounds in the process. He also told me about clients with back pain who came to him looking for a functional version of fitness therapy; these individuals worked on stretching and strength training and, over time, transformed from clients who had difficulty sitting in their cars to clients who could perform the daily functions of life without pain. He beams with pride as he describes the stories of single clients whose success inspired entire families to pursue healthy living. But, what seems to be nearest and dearest to his heart are his connections with members of the community: with other local businesses and with individuals who began as clients that have become lifelong friends.

It’s not surprising, then, that when I asked him where he sees his business in five years, he readily responds that he hopes to expand from 5,000 square feet to 7,500 and increase his interactions with the community.

In order to maintain the community feeling and positive word of mouth, Stewart takes his commitment to his cliental very seriously. Cleanliness is of utmost importance, as is continuing to upgrade his machines and equipment. Custom Health & Fitness replaced every single piece of equipment in 2013, and hasn’t raised fees since then. Stewart happily explains that improvement is always a goal, and that he is “introducing all new Life Fitness and Hammer Strength machines, as well as top-of-the-line Power Step mills, treadmills, cross-trainers and elliptical machines, as well as Hammer Strength-designed weight equipment.”

It’s a testament to the something-for-everyone feel of his business that Stewart keeps his Powerlifting and Bodybuilding trophies upstairs in his office. He is there, his wealth of knowledge is there, and he seems ready to share with anybody who comes through the door in search of such information. But, if you’re beginning a health club membership for more modest reasons, those professional lifting mementos won’t be staring you in the face as you begin your healthcare regimen. Custom Health & Fitness boasts a six-person staff of easy-to-approach professionals; and, just in case you’re still a bit shy about approaching someone, there’s even a suggestion box open to all members.

Stewart takes great pride in the fact that he is able to offer versatile membership plans at affordable prices. In order to help honor your holiday fitness goals, Custom Health & Fitness has a special Napa Valley Marketplace promotion: from December 1st-21st, 2015, Napa residents can join for free with enrollment in any membership plan.  Whether you want to work on serious strength training or simply lose a little weight, Stewart makes it clear that “Custom Health & Fitness [is] Napa’s premiere local fitness destination.”

Napa Valley Residents Join for free

December 1-21 with enrollment in any membership plan

520 California Blvd. Suite 12, Napa  |  (707) 224-2300   |

Carpe Diem “Seizes the Day” with Great Food and Wine… Better than Ever Recovering from the Earthquake!

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By John & Dorothy Salmon

Our original Carpe Diem review was written for the September 2014 issue, but as we all know, August 24, 2014 drastically changed everything in downtown Napa. When Mother Nature put them out of business until repair crews could prop them back up, Carpe Diem opened a pop up in the Oxbow Market. Thanks to Mike Di Simone and so many others, Carpe Diem is back open in their beautifully updated location and doing well. We love these guys and know you do too!

Chef/owner Scott Kendall and Chef de Cuisine Andrew Martin are remarkable guys and smart enough to hire Jim Foster as their general manager. Jim was beloved at Tarla when it first opened and now he is on hand to delight diners at Carpe Diem. Mother Nature offered Carpe Diem a new opportunity to create two separate dining areas and a third room offers an inviting space for overflow crowds, cocktail lounge, or private parties. If you are a “look on the bright side” kind of person, that’s good news.

We had been told by many friends who are 10 to 30 years younger than us that we would love Carpe Diem and, of course, we did. Originally, we decided to stop by after a movie for a light, easy dinner and we were instantly impressed with the friendly atmosphere of the place. We decided to sit at the bar and talk to Jim, because we love him.

As we enjoyed our dinners we recalled a couple of previous restaurant incarnations that we used to visit at this location. There was PJ’s in the 90’s, with the very best BLT’s in the world, followed by La Gondola. Carpe Diem found the perfect combination of cool décor, great lighting, friendly qualified staff, GREAT food and a pretty darn good wine list that changes often. Jim Foster really knows his stuff when you ask wine questions and everyone loves talking to him.   

Carpe Diem seats 55, with 36 in the dining room and the bar. It is best known for its fabulous “Happy Hour” with half off for wine and appetizers from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Andrew Martin was in the kitchen cooking up a storm as we got to bask in Carpe Diem’s resurrection and feel grateful that once again, we can all enjoy their unique food at reasonable prices in small plates that you can easily share. Most of the people sitting with us at the bar were doing just that.

Carpe Diem’s executive Chef Scott Kendall has been in the kitchen since he was a teenager and went on to major in business management in college. Scott runs a tight ship and he is a fabulous chef who also makes a mean batch of beer.

Carpe Diem shifts its menu on the last Friday of the month to keep their guests coming back to see what’s new. Executive Chef Scott Kendall and Sous Chef Andrew Martin work together creating really wonderful dishes in the kitchen in the back of the restaurant at the front door as you enter Carpe Diem. Dishes like baked Quack ‘n Cheese are favorites along with Shredded BBQ Chicken Flat Bread, Prosciutto and Melon Flatbread. They make great salads, especially an amazing house-made Burrata with Heirloom tomatoes, caramelized onions, jam, cabernet sea salt, basil and crystals all served on grilled bread ($14). The folks sitting next to us went on and on and on about the Burrata. Next time, we will try that. Carpe Diem always offers at least 6 beers on draft including Lagunitas Fusion, 90 Minute Dogfish Head IPA and the Russian River collaboration with Sierra Nevada, Brux, and Monkey Fist IPA by the bottle.

Dorothy started with a glass of Presquill Rose’ ($11) and John took the beer route with a glass of Lagunitas Fusion ($7). For dinner, Dorothy ordered the Thai Curry Prawns with Jasmine, Kaffir lime rice and scallions, and sweet chili ($18), which was great. John ordered the Crispy Buttermilk Chicken with collard greens, grilled stone fruit, sweet potato smash and mustard seed gravy ($18). We remembered our trip this year to Charleston SC, so John was still on his collard greens kick with sweet potatoes and chicken cooked “Southern style” and he concluded that Carpe Diem did a better job on those items that the folks in South Carolina!

Carpe Diem’s menu includes great starters like Ahi Tuna Tartar ($13); Diver Scallop Carpaccio with picked rhubarb, strawberry and micro greens ($14); Artisanal Cheeses, like Delice De Bourgogne, The Tickler, Five Year Aged Gouda, Drunken Goat and Blu De Moncenisio and Charcuterie plates of 12 month aged Prosciutto, Loukanika, Ghost Pepper Salami, Housmade Pork Tillette and Wild Boar Salami. Pick one for $6, three for $13, or five for $19. Such a deal! The Small Plates include Filet Mignon Steak Skewers ($16); Crab Stuffed Squash Blossoms ($15); Cabernet Braised Short Rib Tamales ($14); and for $3.50 you can add an organic duck egg, crispy pancetta, roasted chicken or do it “Carpe Diem Style” and add a duck egg and crispy pancetta for ($5). Carpe Diem also serves delicious flat breads and Ostrich Burgers with creamy brie cheese, cranberry caramelized onion and cabernet reduction sauce on toasted brioche bun ($19). Want Truffle Fries? You can have those too with your Ostrich Burger! Carpe Diem has a pretty impressive Wine Book with over 250 selections from which to choose, a variety of flights to try, and an impressive reserve list and, of course, their beer list with over 35 of the best beers from all over the world!

We skipped dessert, but for $8 you can order their house made Twix Bar which we were told is INCREDIBLE. Also to tempt you is their White Chocolate Bread Pudding or Pot De Crème; Lattes and Mochas are $4 and Espressos and Cappuccinos are $3.

Carpe Diem’s wine list includes over forty wines by the glass and a number of great local and imported wines that are really unique. Jim will entice customers to try a wine they have not tried before, and trust us; he knows what he is talking about! Carpe Diem offers special dinner/wine pairing events once a month. During these events, guests are treated to a five-course menu designed with a specific winery’s inventory in mind. If you are interested in bringing a group of friends with you for these special dinners, contact Carpe Diem now offers a new wonderful private dining space located adjacent to the restaurant that can host 40 seated diners or up to 50 guests for passed appetizers and drinks. If you are thinking of hosting a bigger party at Carpe Diem, you can do that too for up to 100 guests and you get the entire restaurant mid week only.

We left Carpe Diem very impressed and our total meal came to $58.32. Now, that’s a bargain for a great perfectly sized meal, a great glass of wine and a great beer. We passed on their Twix Bar for dessert, but next time, we are going back for it!

1001 Second Street, Napa  |  (707) 224-0800   |

Open Sun-Thurs 4-9 & Fri-Sat 4-10



Heritage Eats – unique and healthy food in a family-friendly environment


By John & Dorothy Salmon

We recently had the pleasure of dining at Heritage Eats with our pal, Tom Fuller. Heritage Eats screams “Dorothy!” It has the kind of food she loves and that John finds interesting and reminds him a little of the food he ate as a kid in Chicago! Once we found out that the owners (two, very cool, smart and nice guys) wrote their business plan in Goa, India, where our Monk friends from the Gyumed Monastery are located. We had an instantaneous bond and adopted the two owners, Benedict Koenig IV and Jason Kupper.

If you lived in Napa in 2000, you might remember that Dorothy and Diane Agaiki brought six Tibetan Monks from the Gyumed Monastery to Napa for the annual Town and Country Fair. With them came wonder, some controversy and amazingly beautiful sand mandalas, butter sculptures and genuine love and kindness. Heritage Eats felt like that when we walked in.

Heritage Eats is not your normal fast-food place. In fact, it’s nothing like that. When you drive through the Bel Aire Plaza in Napa, you can’t miss Heritage Eats with their huge celadon green signage across from Whole Foods and Copperfields book store and in between Yo Belle Yogurt and Sift.

Owners, Ben and Jason, are committed to incorporating global inspirations and philanthropy into all aspects of their business. An avid traveler, Ben spent a considerable portion of 2014 backpacking through the Middle East and Asia, tasting healthy and unique foods that inspired him to create the Heritage Eats brand. As so many young, outside-the-box thinkers, Ben has experience in the hospitality design with concept- firm AvroKO, serving as Assistant General Manager at The Thomas Restaurant in Napa. Prior to that, he worked at Goldman Sachs in New York City. A native of New Jersey, Koenig graduated with a degree in Economics from New York University.

Heritage Eats Co-Founder, Jason Kupper, is an advocate for small farms, blending local ingredients with global flavors in an approachable street-food style. Ben and Jason met when Jason was Chef de Cuisine at The Thomas in Napa where he gained experience working with heritage-bred animals. Jason is a fine-restaurant veteran, having worked at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Yountville, Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, and the Charlie Palmer at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas.

Ben and Jason have created an out-of-the-box experience with fabulous, fresh, inventive, healthy food that is reasonably priced. Their signage is bold, easy to read, simple and direct, just like their food. We felt right away that they had a winner and it is very exciting to see two young entrepreneurs make it on their first try with this unique concept. Heritage Eats is expansive, upbeat, and friendly, and you can see what you are creating for lunch or dinner by watching or co-creating your meal with Heritage Eats friendly chefs. All food is locally-sourced and fresh and these guys really care about our local farmers and ranchers. Partnership IS their mantra and they have something on their menu for everyone!

We had so much fun talking with both Ben and Jason that we almost forgot that we came to try the food!  So, we finally ordered our lunch. Dorothy ordered the Crispy Falafel Pita made with fresh pita bread, with crispy, chickpea falafel, crunchy cabbage slaw, hummus and lemon tahini sauce ($8.75) with a Thai iced tea ($3.75). John ordered the Jamaican Bao made with Jamaican jerk chicken on two steamed bao buns, with crunchy cabbage slaw, Asian pickle and pineapple habanero sauce ($9.95). The bao buns are amazing and made daily in house as are all their baked products except for a few other other breads that are sourced from local area bakeries.

We also ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala Wrap so that we had one more entrée that we could write about. The Chicken Tikka Masala Wrap is made with slow-cooked chicken in a sauce of tomato, coriander, yogurt and spices, in a warm, flour tortilla, stuffed with fire-grilled veggies, steamed rice and local greens ($9.95). To top off our tasting, we ordered the waffle fries ($3.75) and the sweet potato fries ($3.75) and came home with a lot of food. The waffle fries and the sweet potato fries are fabulous, as was all of the food that we tried.

Dorothy wanted to try the Vietnamese iced coffee with tapioca pearls ($5.50) because she thought it looked exotic. She loved it! That said, if you talk with her two boys, they would tell you that when they were growing up and went out to dinner at any restaurant, they would find the weirdest thing on the menu and bet that their Mom would order that!

Our friends with little kids tell us that their kids love Heritage Eats. Introducing kids to healthy, fresh, and interesting food from all over the world is a great thing to do early on. All kid meals are only $4.00. If you bring little kids to Heritage Eats, you can order a PBJ on a Dutch Crunch Roll, made with organic peanut butter and jelly! Their Grilled Cheese is also on a Dutch Crunch Roll, or kids can choose a choice of meat, toppings, and sauce or a single taco, bao bun, salad or rice bowl. For $1.00 more, you can add a fruit cup, yogurt or fries, and an apple juice or 2% milk. For a night out with kids, your friends’ kids, your grandkids, or any combination of the above; this place is reasonable and fun. Of course, if it’s not enough, there is also Yo Belle Frozen Yogurt and Sift for pies and cupcakes on either side of Heritage Eats!

We love Heritage Eats and the two, wonderful, young guys who created it. They are committed to the Napa community and to raising $25,000 for “No Kid Hungry.”

Here’s to Napa’s entrepreneurs in the restaurant business who come up with creative, unique, affordable, healthy food. Try it! You can’t miss the big green sign, and inside you will find a wonderful place with healthy food and a great atmosphere!


Potato & Pea Samosas with Cilantro-Mint Chutney

Jason Kupper  |  Chef and Co-Founder of Heritage Eats

Samosa Dough:


8 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (Substitute Vegetable Oil for Vegan Friendly)

3 Cups All Purpose Flour

½ Teaspoon Salt

12 Tablespoons Warm Water

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the butter and work into the flour until it resembles granola or little pea size breadcrumbs. Next, add the water and mix together until the dough starts to take shape. Remove from bowl and knead it by hand until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of one hour in the refrigerator. I often make mine ahead of time and let it chill overnight.

When ready to use the dough; lightly flour the table and shape it into small balls. It’s important to cover them with a damp towel or plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out.  Roll the balls into a 6” round and then cut them in half. Pull the straight sides of the half round together to form a cone shape. Add a touch of water to the seam to help seal the cone and add the potato and pea filling (See Recipe Below). Add a touch of water to the top of the cone and fold it over to close it up entirely. At this point you can either leave it the way it is or fold the edges of the dough over into uniform pleats.

Potato & Pea Filling


8 ea Waxy Potatoes

1 Cup Fresh or Frozen Peas (Fresh in the Spring / Frozen in the Winter)

2 Tablespoons Minced Garlic

3 Tablespoons Ginger (Peeled and Finley Chopped)

1 Teaspoon Jeera Powder*

2 Tablespoons Garam Masala**

1 Teaspoon Amchur **

1 Tablespoon Ground Turmeric

1/8 Teaspoon Cayenne Chili Pepper

1 cup Finely Chopped Cilantro

1 Tablespoon Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

2 Each Red Jalapeno

2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil

Sea Salt to Taste As Needed

Boil potatoes in salted water until slightly soft but still firm in the center. Peel and chill in the refrigerator. Cut the potatoes into ¼ inch cubes and reserve. In a large sauté pan sweat the onion with the vegetable oil until soft and translucent. Add the ginger, garlic, jalapeno and spices. Continue to cook over low heat for 10 minutes stirring frequently. Add the potatoes, peas, and lemon juice. Continue to cook for 5 minutes or until the potatoes are heated through. Finish with the fresh chopped cilantro, cool and reserve.

Cilantro-Mint Chutney


¾ Cup Plain Yogurt

2 Cup Finely Chopped Garden Mint

2 Cups Finely Chopped Cilantro

2 ½ Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice

½ Teaspoon Jeera Powder*

1 Pinch Black Salt To Taste****

1 Each Green Jalapeno

TIPS: *Jeera Powder is found in Indian markets and specialty ethnic shops. It is a blend of powdered cumin seed and coriander seed. If you can’t find it then mix the 2 spices together in equal parts.

**Garam Masala – Garam “hot” and Masala “a mixture of spices” is a blend of spice common in North Indian cusine. It should be easy to find but if not you can always mix together coriander, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, caraway, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg.

***Amchur is unripe or green mango fruits which have been sliced and sundried. It is sometimes seasoned with turmeric. For this recipe you’ll want to use the ground version.

*Black salt is also known as Kala Namak and is usually found in Indian markets. It starts out as Himalayan Pink salt which is heated to extremely high temperatures and mixed with Indian herbs and spices. If you can’t find it then use a good quality sea salt in its place.

On the Graveyard Patrol

9.  Deputy Sheriff JamesBaumgartnerwp

By Laird Durham

The 800 square miles of Napa County are divided up in many ways, depending on who is doing the dividing.

The most famous divisions are its 16 viticultural areas. The least-known divisions, perhaps, are the six “beats” patrolled by 50 Napa County Deputy Sheriffs, almost half of the Sheriff’s sworn force of 106.  The deputies roam the valley in their high-tech patrol cars, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They respond to nearly 100 calls per day from residents about burglaries, robberies, assaults, domestic disputes, rapes, vehicle thefts, suspected bombs, stalkers, downed trees or cables, drive-by shootings, escaped criminals, drug deals, drunks, delinquents, vandals, drownings, requests for search and rescue, mental health issues, reckless driving, and dozens of other crimes, misdemeanors, and misfortunes that a population of  150,000 people can come up with  – even murders (last year there were four).

The deputies’ patrol in 12-hour shifts, running from 6 to 6 – daytime or night time, the night-time split is known as the “graveyard” shift.

James Baumgartner has been a deputy sheriff for 18 years; his father, John, now retired, was a deputy for 35 years.  Most of James’ years as a deputy were in the K9 program.  He worked two dogs, both trained and acquired from famous schools in Europe, one in Holland and one in Belgium. One of his dogs is a local hero for capturing
an escaping suspect by chasing him up a tree.

For the past two years James has been a lead deputy
on the graveyard shift, filling in from time to time as
acting Sergeant.

James may be assigned to patrol any one of the six “beats,” in constant contract with Napa Central Dispatch,  both through his radio and his on-board computer. The display screen in his car shows him all calls for help made to three services — the Sheriff’s Department, the Napa Police Department, and the Napa Fire Department –
and the actions being taken in response.   

Although James has enough seniority to qualify for day-time duty, he chooses to work the graveyard shift because he likes to think he is performing a bigger service to the community he has lived in since he was born.

“The day shift is a ‘paper shift,’ ” James says. “The deputies on day shift patrol spend most of their time responding to calls and writing reports of actions taken.  On the graveyard shift we receive fewer calls, so I have
an opportunity to be proactive – to monitor potential trouble spots and try to prevent them from becoming

serious situations or actual crimes.”

From experience, James knows that certain neighborhoods are often scenes of criminal activity, so he drives through them looking for people behaving in odd ways or
hanging out in the small hours. Of course that activity can be completely innocent, maybe romantic couples, insomniacs, or people with nighttime jobs like his.

“On the other hand, you have to wonder why a person is out there at that time. Why would you be riding a bike or walking alone at 3 am?  I stop to say hello and ask if they need help. I look for responses from the persons that tells me something is not right:  perhaps the person is evasive or has  health problems and those responses might lead to more questions about what are they doing. They might be using
or dealing drugs or engaged
in a variety of mischiefs. Most of the time, the persons turn out to be friendly, and to appreciate my stopping to check on them. But, not always.”

James’ stops have led to the recovery of stolen property and interventions in sexual assault.

“Sometimes, cars are parked in dangerous locations, where they can be the cause of an automobile accident,” James points out, “or they may be involved in using or dealing drugs, or underage drinking.”

James checks on industrial parks, commercial developments, and electric power substations for signs of trouble, such as open doors, broken windows, or torn fencing. Lately, some of the large pipes and valves loping above ground at industrial buildings that prevent dangerous back-flows have been damaged at night by thieves seeking copper or valuable components, so he looks for that.    

James says his goal is to keep the Valley safe. He believes his presence on patrol deters criminal activity and allows him to respond fast to trouble.

When the night seems peaceful and calm, James sometimes parks along highway 29 in 55 mph zones with a laser speed measuring instrument call LIDAR to catch speeders.  Although most drivers comply with posted speed limits, some hit speeds in excess of 70 mph. James pulls those vehicles over.

Known to his fellow deputies as a tireless workhorse, James gets by on five hours of sleep in 24. He also patrols the Napa River and Lake Berryessa in one of the Sheriff’s patrol boats a day or two per week. He recently ordered a misdemeanor trespassing fisherman off the Brazos railroad bridge in South Napa where someone fell and drowned a few years ago. 
On his time off, he gives talks and demonstrations for school students, sometimes getting into a highly-padded “attack suit” to show how deputies work with K9 dogs to catch criminals or find drugs.