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The Crystal Ball Looks Bright For Downtown Martinez

A burgeoning dining and music scene is about to get supplemented with more even more restaurants.

The Crystal Ball Looks Bright For Downtown Martinez

With the demise of the redevelopment conundrum, downtown Martinez is facing perhaps the brightest future it’s had since the ferry stopped running, and Sun Valley Mall opened in 1968. While we will probably never be the economic engine we were in the first half of the last century, all signs are pointing to a very bright future indeed for downtown Martinez.

Let me explain.

I have no pom-poms. I have no dog in the fight. I love the small town flavor and feel of this place, and while I would love to see the kind of growth that would bring parking and traffic problems to our area, I’m fine with things also staying essentially as they are. But things don’t do that. Life is change, and no matter how hard we resist it, change comes.

Change has already come downtown. There is a vital dining and music scene happening right now. more or less led the way, and showed everyone that there is a definite local market for music. has had music for years, and continues to provide a popular venue for rock bands. And now, so does . has live classical guitar, and the has a robust music scene in the back room, which is where the city council and board of supervisors used to cut deals when the place was Amato’s. has become a major music venue, and there is Karaoke every Tuesday at . has an open mike on Wednesdays, and is gearing up for weekend music. Each weekend is sold out at the . The continues to bring popular productions to the Campbell, which means more people dining locally.

That’s right now. But there are rumbles afoot of even more to come.

The word is that the Moose Lodge is getting ready to become a major new restaurant. Details are sketchy, but things look good for the future of that building.

The Taqueria Los Toros is said to be making way for a pizza parlor run by a very popular local caterer. If that comes to pass, it will be a welcome event.

And there is word that a cloth napkin Italian restaurant is coming to town, courtesy of the owner of Pleasant Hill’s Zio Fredo’s, in the spot on Escobar where the old China Garden used to be.

And this is the final weekend of The Station (formerly Ferry Street Station), but I’m told that the same owner of Zio Fredo’s is considering moving into that location as well.

The City Council tonight will declare 610 Court St. surplus property, in preparation to sell it and 630 Court St. to a local developer who has plans to turn the block into a nice restaurant, bakery, and offices.

These are rumors, but they are substantial ones, and at least most of them are likely to take place. These are not the kind of things you hear about an area that is in the doldrums. Yes, doldrums is where we have been for years, but here comes change.

As the county moves out, and the merchants downtown learn to live without the daily lunch crowd county employees used to provide, we can see the businesses slowly growing toward a more robust night life, with destination restaurants and music spots.

This can only mean positive changes for the area, as more people come to associate our city with dining and music, instead of jury duty and bail bond companies. And if it turns out we never attract a Nordstrom or a Neiman Marcus to our downtown, well, we’ll just have to learn to live with that somehow. 

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