Mark’s the Spot – Everything you need for a great party!


By John & Dorothy Salmon

A few months ago we had the opportunity to plan a joint Birthday Party for John and his only daughter, Shawn, who share a birthday.  In the interest of maintaining a bit of family privacy, we are happy to report that the birthdays being celebrated represented a total of 119 years of life. As a further clue, one of them was celebrating a birthday with a zero at the end!

As we started to prepare the guest list, the numbers quickly grew to more than 90 people. With just our kids and grandkids, we start with a pretty large number. We had a hard time paring down the list of invitees and were not able to invite many friends. To those of you who are reading this article who we were not able to invite, we hope you understand.

We decided to have a Sunday-afternoon party, rented a location, and then had to determine how to provide food and beverage for our guests. Normally we would just call our good friend Melissa Teaff, at Melissa Teaff Catering, who always knows exactly what we want and need and takes care of things without a second thought. Unfortunately, Melissa was already fully committed to others on the day of our party, so we had to do some research.

Melissa recommended Mark Raymond, Chef and Owner of Mark’s the Spot Fine Food. We had honestly not considered a food truck for our needs, but we are delighted to report that Mark’s the Spot Fine Food was available and came to our rescue with its fully-equipped food truck. To begin, John left a message on their website and quickly received a return phone call from Laura Reese, their Event Planner. Laura worked with us from start to finish, attending to every detail to prepare for the event and managing the serving staff that Mark’s the Spot supplied to the party. Laura lives up to her description on their website, that she has an “obsessive attention to details and timelines.” With her decade of hospitality, corporate staffing and event-planning experience, she is just the person you want around to ensure that your event goes off without a hitch.

Delighted with Laura and the initial proposal she gave us, we asked them to hold the date and we began to do some research. All of the comments we got from others who had worked with Mark’s the Spot were excellent. Chef Mark Raymond honed his cooking skills around the world, having worked in kitchens in New Zealand, Australia, London, Spain and Sonoma, and he started Mark’s the Spot Fine Food in 2010.

Working with Laura, we planned the party. Since three of our kids are in the wine business, we decided that we would provide all of the beverages; but, we asked Laura to get a bartender for us … no problem and the bartender who came was wonderful!  For food, Laura gave us a number of items to select from, all of which would be served in easy-to-handle formats so that folks could eat them sitting at a table, standing up or sitting with the plate in their lap. We knew that we would not be able to seat everyone all at once.  The menu we finally selected included:

Three choices of sliders:

  Ooh Girl Fried Chicken
(Buttermilk–fried-chicken thigh with black pepper aioli and slaw)

  Little Bubba Burger
(Niman Ranch ground-beef patty with onions, blue cheese and slaw)

  B Good (Bacon, basil and brie, with house-made chutney or vegetarian available upon request)

A selection of sides:

  Coleslaw (Hand cut and not
too sweet)

  French Fries (Fried to perfection in California rice-oil and lightly salted

• And, a dessert of Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding, served with caramel sauce and crème anglaise.

We also bought a ceremonial birthday-cake to hold the candles… although not much of the cake was eaten since everyone was well satisfied from the offerings by Mark’s the Spot.

In addition to the food, Mark’s the Spot provided buffet serving tables, table linens for the buffet table, chafing dishes, serving utensils, compostable plates, forks, buffet cards, with stands, printed menus, napkins, beverage dispensers for water and lemonade, plastic cups and ice. In addition to the bartender, Laura also brought a server to help her to both serve the buffet and clean up after the party. Of course, Mark was busy cooking in the truck, so we did not see him much at all and we kept him plenty busy!

Without question, every one of the guests went back for seconds and raved about the quality of the food. When all of the guests were gone and the party over, Laura and her crew cleaned up the party site to the pristine condition that existed before the party began!

So, when you are planning a party and looking for caterers, we suggest that you give Mark’s the Spot a try.  We have not disclosed what we paid for our party because each party is a little different. If you want to get an idea of prices, the Mark’s the Spot website has a number of Sample Menus and Pricing that will help you to decide whether this is a good solution for you. If you think that it is, there is an Event Planning Form on the website that you can fill out, e-mail to Mark’s, and begin the process to plan your event.

As Laura has posted on their website, “You are a delight to do business with and we will be sure to recommend you.” – John Salmon

… so that is what we are doing here!

The Exclusive Napa County Locals’ Top Ten

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By Lisa Adams Walter

Napa County address provides both front row seats for, as well as behind-the-scenes peeks at, a vast array of activities and events that can be found “only in Napa.” Locals have the rare benefit of experiencing Napa County unlike others. Year round there are a myriad of ways to become involved either as a supporter, participant,
spectator or volunteer.

As a local, I am continuously on the hunt for the best way to experience our region. Check back each month for some of the top “only in Napa Valley” opportunities in which to indulge, contribute, or become a part.


Yountville Town Wide Yard Sale – Saturday, May 7

Hundreds of homes in Yountville bust out the excess for a massive town-wide yard sale only once per year. Typically this event is the first Saturday each May, and this year the date is Saturday, May 7. Roll into town, or roll out of bed and walk around if you live there, as nearly every street is dotted with yard / garage / tag sales filled with thousands of treasures. As with any such sale, the best stuff can be found early so grab a cup of java and hit the streets. It’s a fun event to park and stroll.

Grad Nite Napa – Volunteers Needed Now

While our Napa Valley High School Seniors won’t experience Grad Nite until June 9, the giant volunteer task force required to stage this important event needs to be fully in place in May. The organizing committee expects in excess of 600 students from the Napa area high schools to attend. The graduates will enjoy a safe evening that will include a hypnotist, live D.J. and dancing, casino, laser tag, salon hair styling and manicures, interactive games, arcade games, a poker tournament, all night all-you-can-eat buffet, plus surprise events. It takes an army to pull it off, and in addition to the enjoyment of making these kids happy, volunteers are fed very well and have fun. To become involved contact Bruce Nothmann at 707-637-6880 or visit the volunteer area of the website at

Mother’s Day Weekend Tea Tasting – Saturday, May 7

While there are a bounty of Mother’s Day activities in the Napa Valley ranging from wine tastings, to private tours, to balloon rides to brunches, celebrate with mom a day early at an elegant seated tea tasting by Creative-a-Tea at River Pointe Resort on Lincoln Avenue in Napa on Saturday May 7 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. The event will include four different confections from local Napa establishments and five choices of specialty teas. Reservations are required, $25 per person. Visit for more.

Mondavi Summer Music Festival  – Tickets on Sale

With an inaugural season that kicked off in 1969, the Mondavi Summer Music Festival is one of the Napa Valley’s first modern-day and longest-running cultural traditions. While the Robert Mondavi Winery is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, this annual event which was launched soon after the winery was founded has been a showcase for both established and rising musical artists for nearly fifty years. The summer season is announced each spring, and many times the hottest acts sell out quickly. As a local, that means you need to snatch your tix up now! Visit and click on Summer Concerts.

For Locals Afternoon in the Vineyards – Saturday, May 7

Members of the Napa Valley Vintners Association invite Napa Valley residents to tour their neighborhood vineyard on designated dates throughout the year. The next tour date is set for this month on Saturday, May 7 from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m. Attendees will learn about the grapegrowing process, responsible vineyard management and the Napa wine community’s commitment to conservation, while meeting winemakers and vineyard managers who will lead tours and answer questions. Participating wineries for 2016, all Certified Green Napa Vineyards, include Trinchero Napa Valley (American Canyon); Trefethen Family Vineyards (Oak Knoll); Chimney Rock Winery (Silverado Trail); Honig Vineyard & Winery (Rutherford); Joseph Phelps Vineyards (St. Helena); and Benessere Vineyards (St. Helena). For precise vineyard addresses and locations visit: This event takes place rain or shine and there is no cost to attend. Simply visit the vineyard closest to you, reservations are not required.

Pawsport Napa Valley Benefit Napa Humane – Thursday, May 12 – Sunday, May 15

There are lots of wine events, but only one that’s fitting for you and your canine.  Pawsport Napa Valley, the only local dog-friendly, passport-style wine tasting event also benefits Napa Humane. Support this important event at 17 Napa Valley wineries and tasting rooms, which will feature exclusive tastings, food pairings, discounts, souvenirs for you and your pup, doggie treats and more! Pawsports are $75 per person and you must be age 21 or older to attend. For more visit

Girls on the Run 5K – Saturday, May 14

For one of the most fun, and empowering, outdoor fundraisers check out the Girls on the Run 5K which takes place at Napa Valley College. Girls on the Run (GOTR) Napa & Solano, now in its tenth year, has assisted more than 3,800 girls. Last year, 775 girls were served by a staff of 2.5 and a family of 100 inspiring volunteer “life coaches” at 40 school sites in Napa and Solano counties. At this “Superhero” themed event, attendees can soar, fly, leap or run through the course which meanders out into Kennedy Park for 3.1 miles alongside 460 real life GOTR Superheros (the girls) and 110 volunteer life coaches (the mentors) who will be celebrating their GOTR Power. Be a Superhero, go to to register or volunteer.

Napa Town & Country Fair  – August 10-14

While “fair time” may seem far away (this year the fair is set for August 10 – 14), now is actually the time to get going if you plan to participate (or have kids who plan to participate) as an exhibitor. Locals can enter a wide selection of categories ranging from baked goods, to home décor to photography to arts to crafts to gardening. There are also categories for junior exhibitors as well as kids that are involved in both 4-H and FFA. Online entries for competitive exhibits in all age ranges are all open as of May 1. To review the categories, and enter online, visit Tickets for the fair, early purchases save money, are also on sale now.

Napa High Instrumental Music’s The Festival! – Saturday, May 21 3:00 to 7:00 pm –

The entire community can enjoy the Napa High School Instrument Music Program’s inaugural downtown event called: THE FESTIVAL! On Saturday, May 21 from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. this outdoor, musical fundraiser will take place in the Oxbow Commons near Oxbow Marketplace. In addition to music by Napa High students, the event will also include food, wine, crafts and fun! A full-uniform parade march by the marching band, a concert level performance by the string orchestra, competition demonstrations by the drum line and color guard, entertainment by the jazz band will be performed. Admission is free, with food, wine and other activities available for purchase to benefit the music program. For details or to donate visit and click on “support.”

Farmer’s Market – Season Is Here

Whether you are located Upvalley or in South County, there’s a farmers’ market not too far away. May is the opening of the season, and shopping a local open air market is not only a ton of fun, it’s one of the best ways to support a local, hardworking farmer while obtaining extremely fresh, just-picked, mostly organic, sustainably grown and interesting fresh ingredients, as well as specialty foods and artisan goods. Both markets also feature educational programs, and culinary demonstrations, as well as entertainment.

The City of American Canyon received a grant from the USDA to get a farmers’ market up and running in American Canyon. The market will have its grand opening on Sunday, May 1, with a ribbon cutting ceremony, live music, kids’ activities, and more.

The Napa Farmers’ Market will open on Tuesday, May 3 at its new location at the South Napa Century Center, near the Cinemark Theater and In-Shape fitness center. Napa Mayor Jill Techel will cut the ribbon at 8:00 am and the first 100 shoppers on May 3 (and also on Saturday, May 7) will receive a gift from the market.

Throughout the year I will continue to search for “only in Napa Valley” opportunities in which to indulge, contribute, or become a part. Feel free to send suggestions to

Cadet Wine & Beer Bar

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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    |

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

EarthDay – Celebrate at at the Oxbow Commons

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Come join in the festivities at this year’s Earth Day Celebration on Saturday, April 23rd! Bring the whole family to join in the celebration and learn about our local environment. Earth Day attendees will discover many environmental exhibitor booths featuring products, services, games, and fun children’s activities. Great information will be available on a host of topics, including alternative energy, supporting local agriculture, watershed health, pollution prevention, conservation, local stewardship opportunities, and much more. This year the event has a great new location- the Oxbow Commons! So, come join the fun in their new location beside the Napa River from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.!

In addition to educational booths from local groups and businesses, there will be entertainment for the whole family. Great local bands and dancers will perform throughout the day.

Delicious local food, beer, and wine will be sold. Proceeds from beverage sales at Earth Day fund field-trip bus grants offered every year by the Environmental Education Coalition of Napa County (EECNC), the event host. EECNC funds field trips for Napa County students to visit sites such as Connolly Ranch, Bothe State Park, Lake Hennessey, and the Napa River Eco reserve where they can gain an appreciation of the local environment.  

Proceeds from beverage sales also support the Darcy Aston Environmental Advocacy Scholarship, which is awarded to a local student intending to pursue a career in the sciences.

Be a friend to the Earth and ride your bike to the event where the Napa County Bicycle Coalition will offer free valet bike parking! Attendees are encouraged to bring their own water bottle and stop by our “Water Bar” filling station.

If you want to start the day lending a hand to clean up our local environment,

they have the perfect opportunity for you! Join the Napa RCD and Spring Clean at several sites throughout downtown Napa to pick up litter in the creeks, river, and on our streets. The cleanup runs from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. visit for more information.

The fun doesn’t stop when the Earth Day festival ends! If you want more music, dancing, food, movement classes, nature hikes, stargazing, and great aerial and fire performances, head to Earth Night at Connolly Ranch from 5pm to 10pm!  Visit for more information and to buy tickets.

Sustaining sponsors of the Earth Day celebration are the Napa Green Certified Land & Winery Programs, Healthy Buildings USA and Latitude 38 Entertainment. For a complete list of additional sponsors, exhibitors, food and beverage vendors, and entertainment, or to learn how to participate in this year’s Earth Day celebration, visit

Eagle Builders – These Eagles Build Their Own Wings

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By Laird Durham

A group of intrepid pilots based at the Napa County airport build the planes they fly. There are two amphibians that can take off from the Napa River as well as the airport runway; a high-speed plane, built for aerobatics; a STOL (short takeoff and landing) plane that can land in as little as ten feet and take off in 40, and two-seat and 4-seat sport planes. Some look like conventional, factory-built airplanes, and some are exotic looking, with propellers in the rear and swept-back wings. Some were built from kits, and some from scratch, with nothing but drawings, diagrams, and thousands of rivets.

Building an airplane from a kit or from scratch is a major project, driven by passion. Although, technically, a kit airplane can be assembled in a year’s worth of man hours, most of the Napa Eagles spent many years at the task because jobs and family affairs meant they could work only part time at it. Don Schosanski spent 7,000 hours, spread over many years, to hand-build his Cozy Mk IV from fiberglass sheets over plastic foam. Joe Nelson spent 12 years building his Van’s RV8 from a kit, and it took Darren Stevenson 7 years to build his Zenith 701 STOL plane. Mark Henderson, who retired after 35 years as a Napa Public Defender, put his Van’s RV 12 together in little more than a year.

Most of the builders were pilots when they began building their wings. Bill Wheadon flew for United Airlines for 25 years, and Mark Henderson has been flying since he was 15 years old. Keith Hezmalhalch is a professional aerial photographer. But not all had a pilot’s license when they began building. Bob Smith was more than half-way finished building his SeaRey when he “guessed he’d better start learning to fly.”

Although saving money is not the primary reason for building their own wings, the cost of building their own is about half the cost of a factory–built equivalent–not counting the labor. Here are some of the more important motivations. When he was younger, Darren hiked the wilderness rivers of Idaho and Montana in search of trout. Arduous trekking now beyond him, he built his STOL to take him back to the wilds where he could land on sandy beaches. Wilderness fishing was the incentive for Bob Smith, too, but rather than beaches, he plans to land his SeaRey amphibian on remote lakes. Keith enjoys flying from the Napa River to rivers as far away as Idaho and Montana and, he says, hanging out from his open canopy over his plane’s nose is a good way to take aerial photographs.

But for most of the Eagles who build their own wings, it has just been a life-long dream.

Ca’ Momi Osteria

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By John & Dorothy Salmon

Another Fabulous Addition to Downtown Napa

Over the holidays, we had the pleasure of dining at Ca’ Momi Osteria in their very hip and cool restaurant on First Street just west of Main Street, where the Westin once hosted their timeshare office and Naked Wines had offices. Ca’ Momi Osteria remade the space into a warm, inviting and unique restaurant with killer Italian food. Their motto is “Obsessively Authentic Italian” and they succeed at that in spades. The decor is upbeat with a bevy of 1950s and 1960s Italian films played on a large wall near the front entrance, and the spacious bar is stacked with zillions of bottles of wine and liquor with unique lights hanging down from the ceiling. The wonderful wood walls and tables and original brick wall at the back of the restaurant give the restaurant a warm feeling. A huge sign over the bar says exactly what Ca’ Momi is all about…“HEARTCRAFTED.” They want to make sure that in addition to ‘Eat Authentic and Be Authentic,’ we need to eat heart healthy foods. That’s good advice for everyone.

When we were there on a Tuesday night during the holidays, it was packed with mostly folks we did not recognize, and we know a lot of locals! That means that our visitors have found and like the place, so it must be good for our locals too! Ca’ Momi seats 46 diners at tables, another 30 at the bar and, weather permitting, 30 more outside. The wait staff is dressed in black T shirts with “Obsessively Authentic” in bold yellow gold letters. The place lives its mission with staff that are professional, fast, friendly and serve great Italian food. The aroma waffling through the restaurant was intoxicating and the food was fabulous.

We were greeted at the door by Jonny Tindall, Ca’ Momi’s Director of Culinary Operations, a Napa native and Vintage High School graduate. Our server, Melissa, was friendly, fun and accomplished in making sure we knew what was irresistible on the menu.

Dorothy started out with a glass of Ca’ Momi Napa Valley 2013 Zinfandel ($12) and John ordered a glass of Ca’ Momi 2012 Chardonnay ($15). Both wines were wonderful. The homemade warm schiacciata wood oven flatbread ($5) was great and so was the hefty portion of the burrata e verdure (originated in Puglia) made from wood-oven roasted vegetables, house-pulled burrata and schiacciata all’olio ($14). The burrata e verdure could be a meal in itself! So much so, that for dinner Dorothy ordered Ca’ Momi’s famous ribolita (Toscana) zuppe made with black kale, cabbage, seasonal leafy greens, cannelini beans, parmiagiano reggaino and housemade ciabatta bread ($12). John had the salsiccia e friarelli pizze made with housemade pork sausage, rapini smoked mozzarella de bufala and no tomato ($18). It was delicious too and very filling. Jonny wanted us to try Ca’ Momi’s pasta con radicchio e zucca (Veneto) made with sauteed butternut squash, chioggia radicchio, shallot soffritto, sage, piave. If you are so inclined, there is a gluten free option for this amazing pasta ($18). We ended up taking half of this home in a box for the following day’s lunch.

For desert (dolci) we ordered the housemade organic gelato, with one scoop of vanilla bean gelato and one scoop of malaga brandy and raisin cream gelato ($7). Dorothy raved about the food and told Melissa that the real test of great italian deserts was perfect panna cotta. So, of course, Melissa brought us Ca’ Momi’s panna cotta al caramello which was the best panna cotta ever ($9)!

Ca’ Momi Osteria has a varied menu of Antipasti originated from all over Italy, great Pastas from bigoli coi rovinazzi, spaghetti ala bottarga, tagliatelle con i funghi di bosco to lasagne alla bolognese and gnocchi di ricotta salata al tartufo nero. The meals are all good sized and delicious. The guests sitting on each side of our table raved about their meals and, again, the place was packed. These are all good signs for success. Ca’ Momi’s pizze offerings are also unique, large and very filling as are their salads (contorni).

The Ca’ Momi wine list is extensive featuring Napa Valley and Italian wines. The owners and staff are all music lovers and promote “Do It For The Love Foundation.” Ca’ Momi offers a unique selection of non alcoholic bottled beverages from Italy ($5) and tropical green or organic black iced tea ($4) along with great cocktails ($12), Cocktail Di Vino ($8) and a nice selection of Birra (Beers) Pints ($6) and Pitchers ($18). Next time we are at Ca’ Momi Osteria we will try their cocktails. Maybe the il siciliano made with charbay meyer lemon vodka, pur blood orange liqueur, bergamot syrup, lemon and grapefruit or their mulo italiano made with 360 vodka, house ginger shrug, cock n’ bull ginger beer and fresh mint. The entire menu is interesting.

In 2010, partners Un-Chef Valentina Guolo-Migotto, Master Pizzaiolo and Winemaker Dario De Conti, and Winemaker and Brewmaster Stefano Migotto, opened the popular Ca’ Momi Enoteca in the Oxbow Public Market and they now further their vision with Ca’ Momi Osteria in 2015. They bring their Northern Italian heritage to Napa for us all to enjoy!

Celebrating 100 Years – The Napa County Library System

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By Rebecca Yerger

For 100 years, the Napa County Library system has assisted locals with their quest for knowledge and self-improvement. In order to fulfill this mission and remain relevant, the Napa County Library system has changed, expanded, and/or altered its facilities, culture, programs and technology over the years.

Historically, the foundation on which this institution was built can be traced back to 1870, when a Napa youth named Charles Burrage, and described as, “an insatiable and omnivorous reader” craved an endless source of books. Encouraged by his mother, Burrage formed the Excelsior Club with his like-minded friends to establish a lending library. This action ultimately lead to the establishment of the Napa Library Association and the first library in Napa County.

However, the first, free, public library was opened in St. Helena in 1894. As it was then, the St. Helena Library continues to be under the jurisdiction of the city of St. Helena and not a part of the Napa County Library system.

Returning to Napa; eventually the responsibilities for its Library Association were assumed by the city of Napa. This marked the beginning of Napa public library. However, a permanent and suitable location was needed to adequately house the library. That quest was answered when local banker and philanthropist, George E. Goodman Sr., announced he would build a library as a gift to the community. Officially opened on March 6, 1902, the Goodman was a free, public library. Located on First Street, it was designed to house 3500 volumes.

About a half century later, the early 1960s, the book collection had grown to 36,000 volumes, crowding the building. Then, in 1962, a study completed by a state library consultant recommended the consolidation of the Napa City and County libraries.

When that merger was completed around 1963-1964, the joint libraries moved to a facility on Pearl and Polk Streets. The Goodman Library continued as the children’s library until the current Coombs and Division streets library was opened in 1974. As a side note, the Goodman was reopened on April 4, 1976 as the private, non-profit, Napa County Historical Society research library that is open to the public.

It was within the Goodman where most longtime Napans had their first, public-library experiences, including the late Jane Smith. She wrote of that moment in a 1994 edition of her Napa Valley Register column. The Goodman “was where I obtained my first library card. I slid my dime across the polished-oak counter and dared a glance at the formidable Miss Boke, librarian. Her library was a place of silence, whispers and tiptoes, like church. A girlish giggle or an overdue book earned you her disapproving glare.”

She continued with a generational comparison. “Kids like I were intimidated by Miss Boke’s library. In this (1994) library, kids arrived after school like flocks of birds…A jolly lot they are, too!” Smith also noted the Napa Library’s structural issues, such as its leaky roof and the community’s obligation to maintain its library. That obligation was met shortly thereafter.

Joining the Napa Library within the county system are the American Canyon, Calistoga, and Yountville branches. Originally referred to as the Napa Junction Library, the American Canyon facility began in 1959 when the Napa Junction Elementary School PTA established a small branch at the school. Eight years later, and now part of the county system, the American Canyon Library had paid staff and had grown. Desiring a bigger and better library, the community began a capital campaign which resulted in a new location year later in 1971. Since then, the American Canyon Library has continued to expand and improve to meet its community’s needs.

The chronology for the Calistoga branch is similar to American Canyon’s. However, its site was, and is, within the former Calistoga Women’s Club building, constructed in 1924. In the 1960s, its planned expansion and upgrade project was put on hold for over two years due to litigation.

As for the Yountville branch, its beginnings were in the corner of the town’s post office. Following the 1968 remodeling of the post office, the Yountville Library moved to Mulberry Street. Then, according to a notation on a photograph in a library scrapbook, in September 1983, “the Yountville Library (was located) at the Yountville Town Hall.” As with the other branches, the Yountville Library has been expanded, upgraded and improved over the years.

An integral part of the Napa County Library system is the Friends of the Library Foundation. For decades they have raised copious funds for those upgrades, maintenance and programs. Regarding the latter, the libraries have always focused on children’s programs that encourage reading and imagination. Although other programs address the needs of adults too, from literacy to art exhibits.

As for system improvements, some of these changes have been technology upgrades such as computers. “Soon we will be offering 1-Gig wireless access.” Danis Kreimeier, Director of Library Services and Community Outreach, continued, “We will be remodeling both the Calistoga and Napa branches. The Napa-branch project will begin this August.”

She continued with the centennial celebration details. ”It will be held on February 9, at 4 PM at the Napa Library. Following the speakers we will have performances by barbershop groups and Ballet Folklorica, plus circa-1916 carnival games, as well as a local-trivia contest.” Kreimeier added, “Come to your own 100th birthday party, as this is your library.”

For more informatiom:

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

Napa Palisades PR Shotwp

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

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   |