<![CDATA[Sunnyvale Downtown - Blog]]>Tue, 01 Aug 2017 13:00:55 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Lilly Mac’s: An Irish pub with a friendly vibe]]>Thu, 27 Jul 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/lilly-macs-an-irish-pub-with-a-friendly-vibe
Lilly Mac’s is an Irish pub in Sunnyvale’s entertainment district, but owner Derek Grouell wants everyone to know it’s not all about the drink.
Derek Gruell, owner/manager since 2015, shared that “pub is short for public, as in public house. I want Lilly Mac’s to be known as a gathering place for people to come together with friends and family and enjoy themselves together. We want everybody to have a great experience when they come in here.”
There’s all kinds of stuff going on, but no matter when you come in, the chill vibe is apparent. Derek says it all starts with a friendly staff, good customer service and terrific food ranging from your standard Irish stew to burgers.
Special events
Entering the elongated, high-ceilinged, tastefully lighted space dominated by a long, dark-wooden bar and plenty of mirrors, you may find yourself in the midst of a small special event, ranging from a wake to a quinceanera to a birthday party. Or it may be a business networking group, or a Toastmasters group.
Saturdays, you may stumble into a chapter of UCLA Alumni Association cheering boisterously for the Bruins on the big screen TVs. NFL football rules the screens on Sundays.
Sports, live music, trivia and happy hour
Toward the back of the room, a second-floor space overlooks the main bar and the rest of the first floor. Some of the private events are held up there, served by a separate bar. On Saturday nights, though, the house band sets up on the second floor and spices things up with Latin-flavored rock, the live music bookended by a DJ.
On Monday nights during the summer, Lilly Mac’s runs a friendly but competitive pub quiz, while the rest of the year, the trivia game is on Wednesday nights. We won’t quiz you on that though – just come both nights.
After work, during the 3-7 p.m. happy hour, local families in for some chow join techies from nearby employers like Apple, Nokia, Kayak and Broadcom, enjoying a dollar off house wine, well drinks and beers on tap or in the bottle. They offer about 10 food choices for $6.
Lilly Mac’s is open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It’s located at 187 S. Murphy Ave., in the historic district. Phone: 408-732-0200. Check out their website and follow at: www.lillymacs.com.

Stop in and you’ll find a public house that welcomes all.
<![CDATA[Aloft: European-style hotel in downtown Sunnyvale]]>Thu, 06 Jul 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/aloft-european-style-hotel-in-downtown-sunnyvale
Business travelers are the primary weekday guests at the Aloft Sunnyvale hotel, but you certainly don’t have to work for one of the many big tech companies in the area to enjoy a little taste of modern European-style hospitality in city’s historic downtown area.

Weekends are the perfect time for South Bay residents to make a quick getaway there, or for folks in town for a wedding  or other event to relax and rest their heads. General manager Victor Reynoso says he and his crew will bend over backwards to make your stay a pleasant one.

Modern European design in Silicon Valley

The Euro experience starts, of course, before you ever set foot inside the hotel, at 170 S. Sunnyvale Avenue near the historic Murphy Avenue.

From the front, one will see much two tones of horizontal wood siding, as well as large, tall, rectangular windows looking into the big exercise room and the public areas of the hotel. Block like structures containing the guests’ rooms jut skyward to varying elevations, but generally stepping back progressively away from the street.

Inside, the stark angularity continues, conveying a cool elegance. Artwork is minimal and modern, and sleek surfaces abound. The leather seating is rectangular and comfortable, but unadorned by patterns. Completing the feeling is the abundant use of natural light in the daytime and careful use of colored accent in the bar and lounge, which also features a fireplace.

Comfort  and hospitality

There is live entertainment every Thursday night, with happy hour from 5 to 9 p.m. every weeknight. Reynoso says the friendly young bartenders will make you comfortable by engaging in chit-chat.

“They like to talk,” he said. “We want to engage with the guests.”

Although some food is available in the lounge, there’s no full-service restaurant or room service. But there’s no shortage of eateries to walk to or from which to order takeout.

In the end, a hotel experience, of course, comes down to a guest’s room. The 85 rooms  come in three sizes, from a cozy 190 square feet to a generous 280-square-foot suite. Regular weekday rates are competitive for a comparable experience in the Bay Area. The rooms are simple in design, but comfortable. Apple TV and all its amenities are available in every room, including the ability to teleconference. Your stay will also earn you Marriott, SPG reward points.

Reynoso says the thing he likes best about his job is that he gets to meet people from all over the world. Many of them are surprised and delighted with the experience of being in Silicon Valley, and downtown Sunnyvale in particular.

Phone 408-730-0300, or for reservations call 866-716-8143, or visit www.aloftsunnyvale.com, and recommend to family and friends for a Silicon Valley experience - or better yet join them and treat yourself to a weekend getaway.
<![CDATA[SAJJ Mediterranean: Shawarma + falafel = Shawafel]]>Mon, 26 Jun 2017 21:47:17 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/sajj-mediterranean-shawarma-falafel-shawafel

The long, slow long ways making the ancient foods of West Asia and North Africa will finally work for busy, gotta-have-it-now Americans on their lunch or dinner break — because now they can get it fast at SAJJ Mediterranean.
Hungry workers can now have their pita and eat it, too
Anyone in or near downtown Sunnyvale can just head over to SAJJ and, within a few minutes of walking through the door, be savoring flavors born near the cradle of civilization: shawarma, falafels, hummus and more. A popular SAJJ innovation is a combination of shawarma and falafel, humorously dubbed shawafel.
Since opening in January at 145. S. Frances Street, Sunnyvale, a growing crowd of techies and others have discovered the place, open for lunch and dinner, says manager Hazem Karadsheh. SAJJ is open every Sunday-Thursday from 11 a.m. 9 p.m., and every Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
But people don’t necessarily have to go to SAJJ to enjoy its generously portioned eats: The two food trucks that inaugurated the company several years ago are still active and available for booking. For catered events, whether corporate or private, call 650-322-SAJJ or email contact@sajjstreeteats. To order from the Sunnyvale location  — the latest of five SAJJ sites to open — go to the website sajjstreeteats.com or call 408-746-5970.
Dining perfection
The name SAJJ comes from the Arabic word for the convex utensil (often spelled saj) — a metal dome, shaped like an inverted wok — traditionally used by nomadic Bedouins to bake flatbreads. There is one SAJJ in every store.
Buffet style
“In this day and age,” Hazem says, “restaurant food is moving towards customization.” SAJJ's response was to serve its dishes buffet style, allowing for tens of thousands of combinations, with each plate having its unique tastes and aromas. One can have a meal at SAJJ every day for months and never have the same thing twice.
So, anyone who’s looking for a fast, fresh, healthy, exotic meal with a taste of the Mediterranean would be wise to consider SAJJ.
“You’re not waiting for your food; you're designing your plate!"
<![CDATA[Music for the soul, food and drink for the body]]>Thu, 15 Jun 2017 01:40:01 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/music-for-the-soul-food-and-drink-for-the-body

Whether it’s delighting in the heady improvisation of urban jazz or just getting down to rock or R&B, just about any fan should find something to feed the musical soul at this summer’s free concerts in downtown Sunnyvale.
Once again, the Sunnyvale Downtown Association and its partners proudly present two weekly series of outdoor shows on historic South Murphy Avenue: the Summer Series and Market each Wednesday evening beginning June 21, and Jazz and Beyond every Saturday evening beginning July 8.
In either case, families, friends and friends-to-be can feast together on all manner of culinary options from the dizzying array of restaurants and bars in the immediate area.
Yet the two series offer two very different experiences.
Summer Series and Market
Think of the Wednesday evening Summer Series and Market, which runs weekly from June 21 to Aug. 30, as chance to unwind after work. Meet friends and family for a meal and a drink at your favorite restaurant in the area, if you like, then come outside and boogie away to the music until dark.
This will be the Summer Series’ 19th year of Wednesday night partying to local rock, soul, Latin and R&B acts, depending on the week. Murphy Avenue is closed each night for the event and for the closing June 30 concert will be at the nearby Plaza del Sol!
Jazz and Beyond
On Saturday nights, downtown Sunnyvale goes a little more uptown. The eighth consecutive year of the Jazz and Beyond series, which runs from July 8 to Aug. 26, presents somewhat more sophisticated musical acts to the Murphy Avenue stage.

Whether it’s the straight-ahead jazz of Mason Razavi, sometime-Santana singer Tony Lindsey, the sultry vocal stylings of Jessica Johnson or the ambitious urban jazz of Times 4, it’s all great music from bands that regularly gig at the Bay Area’s hottest jazz venues.
But what makes Jazz and Beyond stand out even more is the food setup. There aren’t many other cities with an area as densely packed with restaurants and bars. This allows for an opportunity for Jazz and Beyond attendees to sit at a table and order items, including beer, wine by the glass or bottle and dessert, from almost 20 participating establishments. Mix and match to your heart’s delight. It’s like going to 20 restaurants at once. Restaurant staff will deliver orders right to the table, where patrons will call in orders from a common menu and pay with a card without ever having to miss a tune.
“Jazz and Beyond is an intimate, very personal event,” says Sunnyvale Downtown Association Executive Director Michael Johnson “We create a unique ambiance. There’s nothing like it anywhere in the area.”
Oh, speaking of paying: Both series are easy on your wallet. Park for free in several places around town including Plaza de Sol. And, again, there’s no admission charge to the music area. There’s not even any need to buy food or drink if you don’t wish to – just come and enjoy the music and community.

Check out the Line-up of Summer Music Events!

What’s new
The musical acts always vary a little from year to year. But what is different is the man behind the plan: Mike Johnson, who returned to run the Sunnyvale Downtown Association earlier this year after a decade-long hiatus during which the association was ably run by Joel Wyrick.
Mike’s glad to be back to represent the interests of the existing downtown businesses as the area finally appears ready to launch downtown’s massive overhaul. When he left as director a decade ago, those plans were just expected to begin taking off. But when the economy tanked, those plans fell apart.
With a new developer in place and financing seemingly secure, there are major changes ahead.
But Mike says the annual summer concerts are not going anywhere. In fact, he hints that the series might even be expanding next year.
“I’m excited to be back to continue to deliver great events, and bring more visibility to downtown in an atmosphere of enjoyment,” he says.
Music and food to fill the soul and body, all for free, plus the opportunity to share it all with the Sunnyvale Downtown community. Let’s get this summer started!
<![CDATA[The don of The Don’s Deli]]>Tue, 09 May 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/the-don-of-the-dons-deli
People who have been around downtown Sunnyvale for a while may have noticed that the former Sandwich Spot has been converted to The Don’s Deli. What’s up with that? Turns out that’s a more interesting story than one might expect.
Fact is, the Sandwich Spot was doing fine. It’s just that the franchisee, Chris Shawwa, decided he wanted to flip the script on traditional franchising.
Chris concedes that The Don’s Deli customer base isn’t radically different from the Sandwich Spot’s: people looking for a quick made-to-order lunch or dinner — nothing fancy, just tasty and simple.
The key difference since The Don’s Deli opened in January 2017 is an expanded menu, which now includes soups and various sides and salads, not just sandwiches and chips. It’s about a little more variety and some healthier choices. A little less hard hat, a little more office attire.

What customers won’t see is the deeper meaning behind the changes.
Employee-based franchising
Chris, who is 33 now, was fresh out of college when he landed an internship with a financial brokerage house. He was in his element. But when he injured his back and had to go on strong pain meds, Chris was told he could no longer work there for liability reasons.
Luckily, a friend at the firm took a big chance on him and cosigned a loan enabling him to buy a Sandwich Spot franchise. With time and hard work, he started more.
Looking back, Chris never forgot he couldn’t have accomplished what he has — a comfortable but not extravagant lifestyle — without that friend.
Finally, he decided to convert his Sunnyvale Sandwich Spot and launch The Don’s Deli so that he could run the business his own way. This would allow him to help some other smart, hardworking people set up their own Don’s Deli franchises, giving them a hand up just as his mentor did.
But here’s what makes Chris’s vision so different: He plans to set up his own best employees as franchisees. The idea is to hire good workers, spot the best of them, and train those how to run a business. If things go well, he will gradually grant them equity in the shop where they’re working. Over time, they’ll own the shop. He’ll use the profit to open the next Don’s and start the process over.
Faith in people
Heartwarming, isn’t it? Helping someone get into owning their own business who would otherwise never be able to do so? Definitely touching.
But there’s a glaring weakness in this plan. What if he puts his faith in the wrong people and the prospective franchisees don’t work out? That’s a lot of Chris’ money, time and effort down the drain.
But Chris is banking on his managers being attracted to the idea that one day they'll have the respect that comes with ownership of a successful business. "Thus, the name," he says, referring to "The Don's Deli." In Spanish-speaking cultures, a don is an honored member of the community.
The plan, of course, is to do well by doing good. He’d like to retire early and travel a bit.

Chris acknowledges that he’s taking a big personal risk with employee-based franchising. In fact, he doesn’t know of any other business using a similar model. Neither, he says, do any of the traditional business investors he consulted: “They tell me I’m crazy.”
The Don’s Deli is open daily 10 AM to 7:30 PM, and is located at 121 S. Frances Street, next to Philz Coffee on the Plaza del Sol. Drop in and meet the Don and his crew - you’ll be changing lives over a great sandwich.
<![CDATA[Gem of a Jeweler]]>Thu, 13 Apr 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/gem-of-a-jeweler

​When that piece of jewelry you want exists in your mind and hopes and dreams, and not on a shelf in a mall jewelry store, treat yourself to a hidden gem in downtown Sunnyvale: Goldfields’ Jewelers.

The small space is more artisan studio than store: unlike retail jewelry shops, you won’t find cases of shiny baubles and rows of rings. Instead, you are most likely to find owner Steve Chang with a pair of jewelers magnifying glasses pushed up on his head. Perhaps a chain or a ring he’s working on. Maybe the hand-sculpted form of a ring he is designing.

For many, it’s the best place to bring watches for batteries and jewelry in need of repairs. Others come because Steve is a knowledgeable appraiser. But for more than 35 years, Steve’s joy has been designing and creating jewelry.
He recognized early in life that he had talent in his hands. His parents were both jewelers, and he fell in love with the craft of working with precious stones and metals while he was still in high school. He went to work at Goldfields’ in 1988 and bought the store in 2001.

Custom creations are a personal passion

Ask to see pictures of work Steve has done and you’ll discover a world of wedding and engagement rings, necklaces, pendants, earrings and more. You’ll see beautifully set sapphires, diamonds and rubies. Intricate work done in gold, silver or platinum.

​The store’s display cases may be lacking typical mass-market offerings, but his photos tell stories of people’s lives: their loves, their losses, their hopes, and on occasion, their sense of style or whimsy. He’s crafted a pair of earrings to look like California bears and a ring in an elegant 17th century setting.
 “Most jewelers don’t like custom orders,” he says, explaining what it means that he is an artisan, craftsman and goldsmith. “Custom work is time consuming and requires patience, talent and artistic ability. But it’s my passion.”

Whether you’re ready to create your own special piece, or just need a repair, Goldfields’ Jewelry is at 141 E. Washington Avenue and (408) 730-1344, goldfields141@sbcglobal.net
<![CDATA[Fibbar Magee’s Irish Pub: A South Bay Institution]]>Thu, 16 Mar 2017 00:08:14 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/fibbar-magees-irish-pub-a-south-bay-institution
Desmond Nolan and Liam Balfe hit the lottery back in 1993 or 1994. No, not that lottery. The U.S. immigration lottery.

That’s how the two young men from the Republic of Ireland found themselves in the Bay Area. And, in the immigrant tradition, they started their own business, a construction firm, that’s still in operation today.

But a man enjoys a pint or two with friends, now and again, after a hard day’s work, does he not? The watering holes the lads found were OK, but they missed the pubs from back home in County Carlow and decided to build one for themselves, just the way they like it.

Today, that place is a South Bay institution: Fibbar Magees, at 156 S. Murphy Avenue, in downtown Sunnyvale, and the two still own it to this day.

St. Patrick’s Day preparations
Back in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day, until relatively recently, wasn’t such a big deal. But here in America, just about everybody finds the Irish in themselves on that blessed day, and many feel compelled to don the green and go out celebrate it.

Well now, Nolan and Balfe aren’t a pair of eejits. So Fibbars has gotten with the grand Irish-American tradition, and even now is gearing up for the big day, March 17 (2017). On the day dedicated to the patron saint of Ireland, it’ll be all hands-on deck for the staff.

“We’re expecting it to be busier than normal because it’s a Friday,” says manager Irene Balagot Murphy.  “Four o’clock is the height of happy hour.” Naturally, they’ll be serving up corned beef and cabbage, shepherd’s pie, fish and chips. There will be a cover charge after 4:00 PM on St Paddy's Day to fund all the fun.

Irish hospitality
As always, patrons will have 50 lines of beer and wine to choose from, including the revered Irish ales and lagers like Guinness and Harp. When Nolan and Balfe started the place, and for many years thereafter, Fibbar’s offered lots of imports. But in the era of craft beer, the beer list includes lots more American-made brews, many of them local (plus California wines), Murphy said.

Fibbar’s has also added more TV screens over the years to keep up with the explosion in televised sports offerings (Hurling! Gaelic football! Authentic football! NFL football! Sharks, Giants and A’s!).

Of course, Fibbar’s — (408-749-8373, open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.) — is not just about food and drink, Murphy says. Not by a long, um, shot. It’s also about entertainment (check the @Fibbars Facebook page for DJs, trivia contests and more) and good old Irish hospitality.

In fact, Murphy said, she met her husband there about 15 years ago, out on the back patio. Both were just customers at the time. “Quite a few of our current and past staff started their relationships here,” she said. “Just amazing.”

Irish inspiration
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, owners Nolan and Balfe must be blushing. Murphy shared that several customers have been so inspired by Fibber’s that they opened their own Irish pubs, some on the East Coast, and one in the South Bay.

In fact, Nolan and Balfe inspired themselves, and decided to open a second pub, Molly Magees, in Mountain View.

Which brings us to how the name of the places came about. Murphy says they named their pubs after an American radio show that was popular in the 1940s and 1950s, “Fibber McGee and Molly,” because they thought it “sounded super Irish.”
Everyone is Irish on March 17 and treated with the welcoming charm every other day at Fibbar Magee’s on Historic Murphy Avenue in downtown Sunnyvale.
<![CDATA[Comfort Food in a Fine Dining Setting]]>Mon, 13 Feb 2017 08:00:00 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/comfort-food-in-a-fine-dining-setting
“There’s a reason we’ve been here so long,” says Dottia Bilic, co-owner/founder of Tarragon Restaurant. “We’ve got really good food. We’ve got a comfortable setting. We have the most comfortable bar in the South Bay.”
The most comfortable bar in the South Bay? 
Upscale Comfort
Dottia doesn’t back down when pushed on that claim. Yes, the restaurant is terrific. It is food like mom made (assuming mom is a great cook). Yes, people have been returning time and time again since it opened on July 28, 1998. They love the warmth and comfort. They love the big space upstairs for weddings, birthdays, meetings and other personal and corporate events.
“But just look at that bar,” she points out. “Brass, copper, wood. Curved just right. Enough TVs to engage you but not so much that you are distracted. An incredible Happy Hour with bar food and drinks 50% off from 4-6 p.m.
“It absolutely is the place you want to come and have a drink.”
A Family Business
Originally Dottia and her husband Tony were going to open a bar and billiards hall in the location. Dottia credits Tony, (who also owns the classic dive bar Paul & Harvey next door) with first realizing that an even better idea would be fine dining in downtown Sunnyvale with a really good atmosphere, upscale but welcoming to families, and priced right.
The concept was spot on. Many regulars have been coming more than 10 years, and have become like family. As some patrons grow older or move away, others come in. The restaurant has seen a lot of life’s changes, and changes in the Valley, over 18 years.
Their kids (now 14 and 15) “were practically raised here. It’s a family business,” she says. “As they get older, I want them here helping out and I like that they know where money comes from. I hope they’ll want to take it over one day. And,” (she smiles) “I hope they read this so they know what my dream is.”
Is it really the most comfortable bar in South Bay? You’ll have to decide for yourself. Whether you decide the best feature is the restaurant or the bar, there’s one thing Dottia has to say:  “Come on in. You won’t be disappointed.”
To do that, head over Tarragon Restaurant, 140 S. Murphy Ave, or call ahead at 408-737-8003, for a reservation or help with your next event.
You won’t be disappointed and you’ll find a very comfortable bar there as well as a local business ready to treat you like family. Be sure to join the Tarragon family on Facebook too!
<![CDATA[Find a Reader’s Haven at Leigh’s Favorite Books]]>Sat, 04 Feb 2017 08:00:00 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/find-a-readers-haven-at-leighs-favorite-books

Leigh’s Favorite Books is a book-lovers haven, brimming with titles from economics to science and from parenting to cats. There is also an eclectic assortment of gifts. “If I see something that puts a smile on my face, or especially if it gets a good chuckle,” says owner Leigh Odum,“ there’s a good chance you’ll find it in the store.”

All this plus a staff of book people who love books and discuss them intelligently.

Young Ignorance Led to a Winning Strategy

Leigh opened the store in 2004, a fulfillment of her background in urban planning/small business and supported by a dream she and her husband had to be part of a thriving community. In their 20’s, they were undaunted by the challenges of a new business, and “were full of bravado and confidence.”
12 years later, her business, her dream, and the result of what she calls “young ignorance,” have thrived, bolstered by three key commitments:

  1. Know your customer, listen to your customer. Each book is selected to appeal to people who live and work in Sunnyvale – curious, educated, urban, often inclined toward thought-based books or science and math. “We hand pick every book. Yes. Every book.”

  2. Shopping is entertainment. At times you want a quick trip via computer, but if you love to read, book buying should be fun. Browsing titles and exploring what’s available is wonderful. Talking to others who love books is even better.

  3. Shopping in small local businesses is crucial to a community’s quality of life. “We have an active and vibrant downtown in Sunnyvale, with a diverse selection of shops and restaurants. When you eat and shop here, you support the tax base, you support the services that make your home more valuable, and you provide employment to your neighbors, their kids and their parents.”
Quality Service Extends to Price
Leigh applies customer service to pricing too. Most popular titles are at least 20% off and, for many books, you get a coupon for 50% credit to trade-in the book.

Leigh explains it is great for people who have limited space, or who appreciate saving money on their next read. “ Let’s see you walk into Amazon and say, ‘OK, I’m finished with this. Give me a 50% credit for my next purchase.’”

So, the next time you are ready to take a trip in the wonderful world of books, stop by Leigh's Favorite Books, 121 S. Murphy Ave or online at www.leighsbooks.com.
<![CDATA[Authentic Family Recipes Bring Mexico to Sunnyvale at Roberto’s Cantina]]>Mon, 16 Jan 2017 08:00:00 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/authentic-family-recipes-bring-mexico-to-sunnyvale-at-robertos-cantina
​Roberto Cervantes has been in the United States for more than 30 years, but he still remembers the recipes of his childhood in Ameca (a city in the central-western Mexican state of Jalisco). For holidays, festivals, weddings, baptism, there was always birria. His mother made it, his grandmother made it. “You didn’t get to eat it every day,” he remembers.

Now birria is one of several specialty recipes from home that he brings to Roberto’s Cantina. Here, the food is prepared following family recipes handed down for generations.

Quality, Authenticity, High Standards
Roberto credits the success he’s had since he opened in April, 2013 to the “quality, authenticity, high standards and original family recipes” that are his philosophy for running a restaurant. That, and the fact that everything tastes great.

To keep his recipes authentic, he gets his chilies from Mexico (“there’s something about the sun and soil that makes a chili with a special taste”) and offers more than 150 premium tequilas. His selection of mescal is all “small batch” – some come from batches as small as 20 or 60 bottles. “I’ve been in the restaurant business here for 18 years, and the brokers know that I have an eye for excellent mescal.”

Success Takes Work
The restaurant has a good selection of non-alcohol and alcoholic drinks (Roberto recommends his version of the Mexican Mule if you’re looking for a tasty drink with a kick), multiple TV screens, and is family friendly.

To accommodate tastes and food sensitivities, they can cook most dishes to order. “I really try to give personal attention to the restaurant and to the people who eat here,” he says. “If someone has an idea or feedback – good or bad – I want to know. I think of our customers as family.”

When your name is on the door, there’s always a lot at stake, and for Roberto, having his dream fulfilled in a restaurant with his name means a lot of work. “We work hard. My wife works here. My two grown sons come in and help. I’m here. The staff knows what I expect and supports that,” says Roberto. “I think when you work hard, do your best and take care of people it shows in your product and in your success.”

When you’re ready for something hearty and delicious, something grandma would have made if your grandma grew up in central Mexico, stop by Roberto’s Cantina, 168 S. Murphy Street or check them out online at www.robertos-cantina.

<![CDATA[Drug-free pain relief is just around the corner]]>Mon, 09 Jan 2017 08:00:00 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/drug-free-pain-relief-is-just-around-the-corner
New parents grew concerned when their week-old baby would still turn her head only to one side. She had been injured during childbirth when the doctor used forceps to pull her out of the birth canal. 
The couple brought her to Dr. Scott Cady, a chiropractor who works out of a multidisciplinary medical practice in downtown Sunnyvale. Dr. Cady examined the child, and very gently adjusted her neck. Within a few minutes, the child regained full range of motion.
Such satisfying experiences are what attracted him to chiropractic in the first place. “We help people without prescribing drugs, and help them quickly,” said Dr. Cady, who accepts most insurance.
Back, neck and joint work
One thing that distinguishes Dr. Cady from many chiropractors is the range of problems he treats.
While many in his field just stick to treating back and neck pain, Dr. Cady works on many other joint problems, as well. Recently, he said, he treated a professional ballerina who had sprained her ankle while dancing on “en pointe” She recovered quickly and returned to her production of the Nutcracker.
He’s even become, through word of mouth, known as someone who can provide relief to people with TMJ and other jaw problems.
Dr. Cady said he’s pleased that he can often keep people from having to undergo surgery. While there are times that he’s not able to heal someone’s back or neck problem and surgery is necessary, he said that’s rather rare.
“We take a conservative approach,” he said. “And we treat the actual problem so the
problem goes away; medical doctors treat the pain and hope the problem goes away.”
Experienced hand
Dr. Cady has been in practice in Sunnyvale since 1990. In June he moved back to his current location at 260 S. Sunnyvale Ave. after years in an office a half-mile away that was scheduled for demolition. He is happy to now be in downtown Sunnyvale.
Some chiropractors have been criticized for trying to get their clients to buy into tests and treatments that really aren’t necessary. “I prefer to be honest upfront,” he said, adding that his practice is to inform clients of all their treatment options but never attempting to up-sell them.
When you need an experienced hand to get you moving with confidence, call Dr. Scott Cady at 408-739-2273 for an appointment and you’ll be pain free soon. 

<![CDATA[il Postale has had Italian food lovers’ stamp of approval for 20-plus years]]>Sat, 24 Dec 2016 00:01:11 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/il-postale-has-had-italian-food-lovers-stamp-of-approval-for-20-plus-years
Remember when kale was but a humble garnish? Lots of people would no more nibble on it than gnaw on a T-bone. Now, of course, the leafy green is seen as a superfood best scarfed up by the handful.
Staying on top of changing trends is key to longevity in the cutthroat restaurant business, every bit as much as it is in the go-go tech firms a block or two away from Joe Antuzzi’s Italian-American bistro and bar in downtown Sunnyvale, il Postale. That’s why it’s still going strong after more than two decades.
“In 20 years, Italian food went from No.1 to possibly No. 3 or 4 now,” Joe says. He’s stayed in the game by tweaking mostly around the margins and, when necessary, more fundamentally. “We’ve pushed the envelope, but we don’t change the basic cookbook.”
Unwavering vision
What remains a constant at the neighborhood white-linen restaurant is the conviction that delicious, generous portions of Italian-influenced food offered at a moderate price, with top-notch service in a casual atmosphere will never go out of style. Fresh fish, hearty pasta, fine pizza, soups and salads. 
Sometimes, however, big changes are required. In August 2015, Il Postale relocated to 100 S. Murphy Ave. -- into a lovely, historic Del Monte drying shed -- after many years in the original Sunnyvale post office on Washington Avenue. The time was right because Joe had realized for some time that he needed more seating, including alfresco dining, and more bar space. (You can check out more pictures of the decor here on Facebook.)
He noticed years ago that patrons were more health-conscious and were no longer flocking to traditionally heavy Italian fare in big numbers, so he changed up the menu to offer more lighter entrees and appetizers, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes.
Lunch crunch
Another challenge requiring Joe to adapt was when the lunch crowds that famously flocked to restaurants during the dot-com era began to dwindle. Suddenly, the catering il Postale offered became a more important part of his business, as did gift cards. He also worked harder to spotlight the value of enjoying an il Postale meal. The new weekday $10 lunch deals are a good example where customers can choose two delicious items off a selected menu at a great value on the go or at the restaurant.
So, yes, much has changed at il Postale. But you should still call ahead at 408-733-9600, for a table reservation if you’re planning to come down with a party of five or more.
There is still one other ingredient that has remained in place since the very early years. Chef Santos Villa has been at il Postale for 19 years, cooking and adapting recipes, many of them handed down to Joe through his mother and grandmother.
With over 20 years of experience delivering family recipes that fit the neighborhood needs, il Postale is ready to serve you. Stay connected with il Postale on Facebook and visit www.ilpostale.com
<![CDATA[At Sunnyvale’s Vino Vino wine bar, it’s all about putting you at ease]]>Thu, 01 Dec 2016 08:00:00 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/at-sunnyvales-vino-vino-wine-bar-its-all-about-putting-you-at-ease
If you’re like many Americans, you like wine but hesitate to walk into a wine bar because you don’t want to risk looking foolish by asking a lot of “elementary” questions that more expert people might scoff at. I mean, who likes to feel like they’re being looked down upon?
What foods pair well with which wines? Is the price of a wine a good indicator of its quality? If not, how do I know what to order? How do I even talk about wine? (Do I have to?)
Andrew Nguyen, the bar manager at Vino Vino in downtown Sunnyvale, just hates the pretension that often surrounds wine drinking in America -- and he’s doing something about it.
That’s why one of the first things a customer notices upon entering the store at 100 S. Murphy Ave. is the big block letters on the corrugated metal overhang: Wine Without Attitude.
Fixed price and on tap 
So relax, friend. Vino Vino, with its rustic design evoking a wine cellar, bends over backward to take the anxiety out of experimenting with wine and food. The great majority of the wine sold is on tap – 13 kinds – an unheard-of number in the industry. And every glass of tap wine is $9.
“They’re priced all the same,” Nguyen said, “because we want to keep it simplistic. We want people to choose what to drink based on what they want to drink, not based on price.”
Adding to the casual experience is the glassware. Instead of the typical stemware, the wines are served in a vessel that looks like the product a rendezvous between a hefty pint glass for ale (bottom half) and the sensuous bubble shape of a standard wine glass.

Vino Vino, which opened two years ago at Murphy and Washington avenues in historic downtown Sunnyvale, features only wines from the immediate area: Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, northern Monterey County and Livermore. “Localism is huge to us,” Nguyen said.
He personally selects all the wines and buys only those whose characteristics remain stable when served on tap. He works closely with the vintners to ensure quality and adequate supply.
He adapted a standard beer tap system specifically for wine. Why? Two reasons. First, buying and selling barreled wine reduces the cost – no bottling and corking. That’s how he can afford to sell all the wines at the same price. But Nguyen said sustainability is also a big part of the reason.
Chilled wine, chill staff 
The staff aims to keep things relaxed, too. Nguyen trains them to know their stuff, but they aren’t going to start going all oenophile on you -- unless you ask or they read in your body language that you have questions or comments. They’re trained to watch and listen discreetly, pick up comments about how guests are reacting to what they’re drinking, and pass along the info Nguyen, who closely monitors the product himself.
The staff will also happily recommend food-and-wine pairings. Luscious Italian-influenced cuisine dominates the the menu: panini, bruschetta, capocollo and more.
Dinner reservations are available at 408-675-8466. Happy hour, which includes $5 appetizers, runs Monday through Friday, 2-5 p.m. and Saturdays, 9:30pm to 1am.
With the arrival of the holidays – what better time to toast your friends? –
why not drop by Vino Vino for a relaxed, celebratory glass? 


<![CDATA[‘Raining’ champs of Sunnyvale: Calderon Tire Service offers stuff the big boys can’t]]>Mon, 21 Nov 2016 08:00:00 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/raining-champs-of-sunnyvale-calderon-tire-service-offers-stuff-the-big-boys-cant
This is the time of year when business normally picks up for Maria and Jerry Moran, managers of venerable Calderon Tire Service in downtown Sunnyvale – especially with lots of people planning long holiday drives.
“When it starts to rain, a lot of the procrastinators find themselves slipping all over the wet roads,” Maria said. That’s when they realize it’s time to ditch those bald tires and grab some skins that will safe this winter.
The shop at 205 E. Washington Avenue has been in the Calderon family for more than three decades, where it’s become known for solid, professional service that has kept generations of customers coming back.
Maria is the daughter of the original owner, who started multiple Calderon tire shops in the San Jose area and beyond. She and her husband began managing this one six or seven years ago and have kept up the same great service on anything having to do with tires, alignment, wheels, suspension, struts and brakes. They don’t do any general mechanics.
David vs. Goliath
In a time when mom-and pop businesses can’t compete on price with the big tire outlets, that personal, community-focused touch is a mark of distinction that the little guy can offer.
That’s why the South Bay natives have sponsored local youth softball and baseball teams, for example.
Also unlike the big chains, Calderon Tire will service your car whenever you need it -- no long wait, no appointment necessary. Just drive on in. Oh, you’re short on cash? No problem. Maria and Jerry will give you 90 days to pay, no credit check required.
Plus, while you’re there, the Calderon crew can hook you up with snow tires or any other special tire or wheel you may want. If they don’t have it in stock, they’ll look high and low until they snag it for you.
Expanding Opportunities
All this doesn’t mean it’s easy to thrive, especially when people don’t have a lot of money. So the Morans have been trying to market their services to some of the South Bay’s big, employers, like Google, and to auto dealers, as well as to people who work right around the corner.
“I’d like to be the No. 1 tire business in the area,” Jerry says.
How well those ambitious efforts work remains to be seen, but one thing is already clear: Lots of people love the service, and the shop’s customers have let their views be known on Yelp, where Calderon’s rates high marks and glowing comments.
“We’ve just become known as a good family tire shop,” Jerry says.
So why not drive over to the shop on your slick tires right now, before the next rainfall? When you pull in, knowledgeable workers who are proud to offer personal service at a shop with a long Sunnyvale history will greet you.
<![CDATA[Discover the Perfect Wine]]>Mon, 14 Nov 2016 08:00:00 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/discover-the-perfect-wine
From aerospace and high tech PR to wine shop owner was a natural step for Susan Walker. She fell in love with wine during a month-long trip to France in her 20’s and at a certain point in her career, realized that being a permanent hostess in her own wine bar would be a dream in the making.

There was never any question it would be in Sunnyvale, where she’s lived for more than two decades. “I love it here,” she says, “it keeps its small-town appeal and home town feel - no matter how big it gets.”

Intimate Atmosphere - Friendly Service
Founder and owner of Brandon’s on Murphy Avenue, Susan takes pride in the atmosphere at this 12-year-old wine bar and shop. “People come here because they can sit and have a quiet chat, they can enjoy the camaraderie of others if they choose, and primarily because it’s a lovely intimate atmosphere to drink very good wine.”

Brandon’s specializes in small, boutique wines not easily found outside the winery. Susan says that, “We serve wines that are bottled in lots fewer than 1000 cases, so they can be hard to find elsewhere. The stock is different every two weeks.” They also offer a selection of beers, ports and champagnes, which can be from anywhere as suits the season and the availability.

No matter where the drink is from, each is selected to please the customers that Susan has come to know so well. “I love our customers,” she says. “Some are CEO's of big firms who have grown with us over the past 12 years, others are relatively new to California but looking for a more personal interaction with wines. It’s a diverse group.”
On-Site by the Glass - Bottles for Sale
Brandon’s wines are available on-site by the glass and for sale by the bottle or case. Frequently they supply high-end, limited edition wines to corporations seeking something special for corporate events.

In the summer, there is music on Wednesday and Fridays, and throughout the year there are special events, most publicized via their Facebook page and a private client email list.

Closed Sunday and Monday, Brandon’s is the ideal place to sit and get to know someone, to share a quiet moment, celebrate a special event or to develop your personal wine palate. It is located at 165 S. Murphy Avenue, #D (at the opening to the ally) and you can reach out to Brandon’s at: 408-732-6387, and their vibrant Facebook community.

Like historic Murphy Avenue itself, this is a distinct destination, one that as Susan pointed out, is “always welcoming to people who want to share a moment with us.”
<![CDATA[Invest In Your Body, Invest In Yourself]]>Tue, 25 Oct 2016 07:00:00 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/invest-in-your-body-invest-in-yourself
​“Invest in your body. Invest in yourself,” says Elaine Little, Studio Manager and Co-Owner of Orangetheory Fitness Downtown Sunnyvale. “The goal here is to change lives.”
If it sounds ambitious, that’s because it IS ambitious. Elaine points out that when you see improvement in your body, when you can conquer the roadblocks to your own health, it changes the way you approach mental blocks as well.
Sunnyvale – Robust Community
Elaine, her husband Ty, and co-owners Antonia and John Rowdon knew they wanted to open an Orangetheory franchise, and when the possibility of Sunnyvale came up, the four owners were unanimously taken with downtown Sunnyvale. Elaine defines downtown as “robust, bubbling over with possibilities, a great community.”
“We wanted to be part of this community. We wanted to help make it even better.”
All the owners are engaged in the business, however, for Elaine, it was also a mid-career switch from senior marketing executive in the casino gaming industry.
“This is the best time in my life,” she says. She’s inspired by the community of members that has formed and feels like she is making a difference that matters. “My dad died, basically due to obesity, and I know the price people pay because it is so hard to get fit.”
Getting the Job Done
Since the December, 2015 opening, the scientifically-based fitness program has done more than attract techies who love the analytics and data that helps them track their workouts. There are people of all fitness levels, all ages. Some are post-surgery, others use walkers, and people come with a variety of health conditions. The program is adaptable and can work at any level.
“This isn’t some gimmick,” according to Elaine. “I think everyone has the same struggle when it comes to fitness. We all want to be fit. We just don’t want to do what it takes. I like that this program actually gets the job done and you can have some fun too.”
Anyone can drop-in to try a class with discounts for first-time visitors. Stop by Orangetheory Fitness at 155 S. Frances Street or call 408-508-6724. Information is available at www.orangetheoryfitness.com and you can join the Orangetheory Downtown Sunnyvale local community on Facebook.
<![CDATA[Personal Service Prevails]]>Sat, 08 Oct 2016 06:31:07 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/personal-service-prevails
In an age when personal service is so hard to find, it’s no wonder the producers of Eden 2015 included “Special Thanks to Sunnyvale Travel” in the movie’s final credits. The team of this Sunnyvale-based travel agency arranged for an international cast and crew to arrive from various parts of the globe, on time, and on budget, to film the movie.

Old-Time Service Meets New-Time Needs
“We continue to change with the times,” says Aman Valani, manager and third generation of this family-owned business. For more than 30 years, the agency has been serving people from their downtown Sunnyvale location and now has a team of professional agents who speak English, Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Marathi & Urdu.

The agents clearly enjoy what they do, and the office is a busy hub of planning, itineraries and working with clients to provide the best personalized service they can. “Sometimes,” one of the agents explains, “people are surprised at what having a good travel agent can do. Last year when there was severe flooding in India’s Chennai, a group of our customers had that region as part of their itinerary. We were able to work with the airlines to get people re-routed, re-booked if they preferred, or refunds if necessary. It’s hard for individuals to do that alone if they arranged every leg of a trip on an online ticketing site.”

Meeting Global Needs
It’s not just travel to Europe or India that occupies this business. They’ve managed the travel for a Bollywood singer who toured several U.S. cities; have arranged movie crews to travel to Capetown which is a popular shooting destination for Bollywood producers; and guided customers through the maze of vaccinations and visas necessary to travel the globe.

“The travel agency business is about adapting,” says Aman. “When my uncle started, it was about airlines and Amtrak. Now it is so much more, as people want to travel a lot, and there are so many choices and sometimes so much red tape. But for us, it’s still about service. We still listen to our clients and do our best to serve them, to be certain they get the best service.” The reward, the team agrees, is when a customer sends a note or card and says, “Thank you. It was a great trip.”

​Sunnyvale Travel is located at 251 Mathilda, online at www.sunnyvaletravel.net and is ready to serve your personal travel needs at 408-245-5090.
<![CDATA[Healthy, Yummy, Made to Order]]>Wed, 14 Sep 2016 19:13:23 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/healthy-yummy-made-to-order
Bambu Desserts and Drinks on Washington has been there for two years, but new owner Oanh Ho has already made exciting changes since she purchased the franchise in June, 2016. "I love healthy food. I love great taste. And I love the Bambu concept," she says. "So I wanted this store to be very special.

From day one, she insisted on bringing in only fresh foods for the drinks they serve. No pre-frozen, pre-packaged. No powdered milk or juice extracts. "Every morning I inspect the food and make sure it's what I like, what I'd want to eat."

Customer Base is Rapidly Building
Oanh's love of tasty, healthy food is rapidly building a fan base, (as recent reviews on Yelp show). To a new entrepreneur, this is very exciting. "We're happy to custom make drinks, and one man came by to say, ‘Thank you, my toddler daughter loved the drink you made with coconut milk, avocado and no sugar.’ This is so wonderful; it makes my long days and all the work worthwhile."

Like a growing number of small business owners, Oanh says this has been a long-time dream. She had a business degree in her native Vietnam, but came to USA 10 years ago with little more than hopes. She worked two jobs while attending San Jose City and Mission College. In her early 30’s, she's a bundle of energy, loves interacting with customers, is mother of a 4-year-old, and is brimming with pride at her new endeavor.

"Taste this coffee," she says while making a strong, fragrant cup of Vietnamese coffee. "Or look at this fruit. We cut it just this morning, so it would be perfect for smoothies. Do you want vegan? Gluten free? Lactose free? Let us make it for you."

A Labor of Love
"You have to love food. You have to love working with healthy food. You have to love people, and hard work, and have big dreams," she says. "If I could say just one thing about the work so far, it would be 'THANK YOU' to the encouraging, wonderful customers who come by regularly."

For a great afternoon snack, or a lovely dessert after a meal in downtown Sunnyvale, stop by Bambu Desserts and Drinks, 189 W Washington. Check out the Yelp reviews at Bambu Sunnyvale, or view the menu at www.bambusunnyvale.com.
<![CDATA[The Artisan Art of Shoe Repair]]>Thu, 04 Aug 2016 18:44:35 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/the-artisan-art-of-shoe-repair
Describing himself as an old-fashioned craftsman in a computer-crafted world, Souren Bagdasaryan is an artisan who brings skill, knowledge and patience to the art of hand-crafted repairs. As the owner of Souren Master Shoe Repair, he has been helping customers bring new life to shoes, luggage, purses, (and an occasional couch cushion or car seat) since 2002.

When New Won’t Do
Souren says that some people just don’t understand why they would want to repair rather than replace. It is especially true of people who grew up in a disposal age, when things are built to be replaced frequently rather than crafted for quality.

But sometimes, new just won’t do. Maybe it is that expensive brief case, a pair of favorite ballet toe shoes, a Birkenstock design that is no longer made, or the boots that have seen you through years of great adventures. Or perhaps it is a pair of costly dress shoes that deserve to be repaired rather than tossed aside.

Quality is His Specialty
Whatever the situation, Souren is an artisan. Yes, he said, some people just want to go to a shoe repair shop where they will slap some glue or nails on a new sole. “That’s not me. I work slowly, patiently, repair or rebuild, or assess what might be a basic flaw in the design of the item and work to correct it. It’s my biggest problem. I work as fast as patience, proper repair, and my two hands will allow.” He categorizes his shop as an “honest business” where every job is done with pride. My specialty, he says simply, “is quality.”

His customers know he’s an artist when it comes to excellence. The business has been built by word-of-mouth and a reputation for quality. He has no website, he has no Facebook page but great reviews on Yelp. Customers are encouraged to call before they come in and count on him as a valuable resource when it comes to keeping comfortable things comfy and restoring beauty to beat up or broken things.

Souren Master Shoe Repair also sells a good variety of insoles and arch supports, a large assortment of casual and dress shoe laces, and a broad array of shoe polishes. The shop is located at the end of the walkway at 165 S. Murphy, Suite A.

​Park right in front of the shop in the parking lot off Frances - the back of Tao Tao’s is a good landmark. The posted hours are Tuesday-Friday: 11 to 6, Saturday: 10:30 to 4, and closed Sunday and Monday. Drop in or contact Souren at: 408-992-0666.

When quality and craftsmanship are in order, you will find an artisan at Souren Master Shoe Repair.

<![CDATA[Jazz & Beyond 2016 ~ A Gift to Sunnyvale]]>Thu, 21 Jul 2016 23:25:29 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/jazz-beyond-2016-a-gift-to-sunnyvale
Primary Colors ~ Sunnyvale Downtown Jazz & Beyond ~ Performing July 9, 2016
“No other city does this, or even something like this. It’s a totally unique dining experience. Actually, there are no other cities that I know of that could even pull something like this off.”

Executive Director of the Sunnyvale Downtown Association, Joel Wyrik, is talking about the return of the popular Jazz & Beyond Series, now back for its seventh year. Every Saturday, 5:30-8:30, from July 9 through August 27, South Murphy Street is closed, a stage and tables are set up, and diners can enjoy jazz while ordering food from 20+ nearby restaurants. The delightfully special appeal of this is that it is an actual sit-down, dining experience where everyone in your party can order what they want from any of the restaurants.

Order What You Want, From Where You Want
In the mood for a Middle Eastern appetizer, a Chinese entrée and a gelato for dessert? No problem. The kids want hot dogs, dad wants bar-b-que, and mom is looking for seafood? No problem. The menu and phone numbers are on the tables. You simply call and place your order and waiters will bring it to your table.

Sunnyvale is fortunate to have the perfect mix of elements to make something like this possible: 1) there is a one-block street with a dense concentration of restaurants, 2) the street can be closed without interfering with normal commerce and traffic, 3) there is good cell phone signal and wifi, and 4) there is an established business group that has the organization and desire to give customers a unique dining experience. The perfect Sunnyvale climate makes it that much nicer.

Of course, the key element in all this is that the jazz is terrific. Popular jazz musicians – known names from throughout the Bay Area – are booked for each week, and they perform while you eat and enjoy the downtown Sunnyvale experience.

Great food. Great Music. Altogether, a Great Time
“This is our way of saying thank you to the community, to our customers,” Joel explains. “It’s a wonderful way to spend a Saturday evening. A lot of fun and great music.”
Sponsored by Broadcom and produced by the Sunnyvale Downtown Association, Jazz & Beyond is fun, interesting, and perfect for families, dates, groups of friends, or even a special night out for mom and dad.
There is ample free parking at Macy’s, CalTrain and at Plaza del Sol. Beer and wine are available, as are the normal restaurant/bars along the street. Admission is free, and if you want to bring a stadium chair and enjoy the music without buying dinner, that’s fine too.

Check out this season’s 2016 entertainment lineup on the Sunnyvale Downtown Association website and Facebook page.

Jazz & Beyond is a great gift for our community and an experience as unique as Sunnyvale itself.
<![CDATA[Ice Cream Perfection]]>Thu, 14 Jul 2016 22:55:36 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/ice-cream-perfection
Stop by Gelateria Bella Roma, and there are three things you can count on: You will taste delicious Italian gelato, you will be greeted by the owner, and the gelato will be fresh and made in the shop.

Or more simply, as one Italian customer proclaimed, “Mmmm. It’s just like back home.”

“We’re not some big conglomerate or a chain or franchise,” says store manager Bali. “We are family run, family operated, and all the ice cream is made in small batches, right here, every day.” Dad Sam, son Bali and cousin Manjit are putting in seven days a week to make sure everything is perfect and to welcome you with a smile.

The Perfect Gelato
The perfect gelato, for those who don’t know, should never be hard like American ice cream or soft like frozen yogurt. It should be perfectly creamy and smooth. Filled with deep, rich flavors and served at a temperature that melts on the tongue.

For Manjit, who made gelato for 15 years at a well-known gelateria by the Tivoli Fountain in Rome, gelato is an art.

The Perfect Setting
“We love Sunnyvale for the diversity of cultures, and for the community. Everyone has been very welcoming.” says Bali. “We looked for nearly two years for just the right spot, the right size, a place with a lot of foot traffic, people of all ages.  It’s great when people stop by to say they are glad we chose to locate here.”

The location at 127 S. Murphy took some time and preparation to have things perfect for the May opening but Sam said “it was worth the wait”. He added that it may have taken longer than expected but the other Sunnyvale merchants and the city were very helpful.

So stop by, welcome the new business owners and try a scoop or two, or maybe a milkshake. Several dairy-free and vegan options are available. Check out
Gelateria Bella Roma on Facebook or call at 669-246-5051.

Now is the perfect time to indulge in a delicious taste of Italy in downtown Sunnyvale.
<![CDATA[Summertime and the Music is Terrific]]>Mon, 27 Jun 2016 20:04:38 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/summertime-and-the-music-is-terrific
Busta-Groove performing in Downtown Sunnyvale ~ June 22, 2016

Sunnyvale Summer Music Series + Market
Great live music. Awesome food. Outdoor dance floor. Amazing company! The Sunnyvale Summer Series Music + Market is back and ready for another terrific season!

Since 1998, this weekly summer fest has become a community tradition. Families, new residents, and nearby workers all know that this is the place to be every Wednesday evening from 5:30 to 8:30, through August 31.

Bands, Beer, Wine, Food, Friends and Fun
Check out the 2016 line-up of bands on the Downtown Sunnyvale website. Thanks to community sponsors, you can enjoy beer/wine, and many vendors, in addition to great music. The event is organized by the Sunnyvale’s Downtown Association.

According to Joe Antuzzi, the event is like a yearly reunion of friends. Lots of new people come, of course, but local residents and former Sunnyvale residents love to attend to catch up. Everywhere you go you see bear hugs as friends reunite and hear a lot of greetings like, “Hey! How's it going, long time no see!” As well as work groups and whole families enjoying summer nights.

It Takes a Village
Owner of il Postale, a founder (and current Chairman of the Board) of the Sunnyvale Downtown Association, Joe has been among the core group of business owners who make the event come about. “The City of Sunnyvale along with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Specialty Waste, Coors Light and @WalmartLabs, sponsor the event and it is the downtown business owners that donate thousands of hours to make this great event happen.”

“We were among the first of the northern California cities to do a weekly summer music series,” says Joe, comparing the event to a great outdoor dining and 
dancing venue.

It’s Easy
Bring a lounge chair if you like and children of all ages are welcome but please leave your four-legged ones at home (service and therapy dogs are of course welcome). Outside beverages are not allowed so take advantage of the local options. Beer and wine are available for $5 (chardonnay, white zinfandel, and cabernet all from The California Winery).

Free parking is abundant in three nearby lots: Macy’s lot, CalTrain parking structure (after 6 p.m.) and three levels of parking beneath Plaza del Sol.

So every Wednesday this summer, head on over to Washington and S. Murphy Avenue, have a drink, a meal, a dance or two (or more) and celebrate summer Sunnyvale-style.
<![CDATA[PhoEver Asian Fusion – Where the Chef Adds Love to Every Dish]]>Tue, 31 May 2016 19:27:20 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/phoever-asian-fusion-where-the-chef-adds-love-to-every-dish
Like many startups, the idea for PhoEver blossomed from a passion.  “We LOVE to eat. We LOVE to cook,” co-owners Kim and Lana say when asked why they opened a restaurant. “Our food is filled with LOVE. We love working with fresh, healthy ingredients and we love having people eat here. It’s like family.”

A Crazy Idea
The two are mothers, busy working-women, who met at West Valley College nearly two decades ago. They can’t precisely pinpoint when they decided to open a restaurant. “The idea just came to us,” they agree. “It was a crazy idea. But crazy in a good way.”

They traveled to Southeast Asia to explore tastes that would fit well with their Vietnamese culture and heritage.  They tried out recipes at home.

Beyond Vietnamese Food – Asian Fusion
The dream became reality in January, 2016 when PhoEver opened.  Lana creates all the recipes, artfully blending flavors that go together to create a fusion of cultures. “You don’t have to love Vietnamese food to love her dishes,” Kim says.
The extensive menu includes appetizers, entrees, sandwiches and desserts. Fish, chicken, steak, and of course, several pho offerings with deep, rich broths that are slow-cooked overnight.   Sometimes Lana’s best ideas come from what’s seasonal in the market. Other recipes are the product of trial and error. Her hand-crafted marinades and sauces are already attracting interest from caterers who want to incorporate her creations in their menus.

PhoEver is MSG-free, offers several gluten-free offerings and has a page on the menu with vegetarian and vegan choices, including a tofu roll that Lana said is a favorite.

Like any Silicon Valley start-up, Kim and Lana find themselves working around the clock. The restaurant is open six days, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Closed Sundays).
Their passion is clear, and now it’s up to the customers. “We want feedback and ideas from everyone,” Kim said. So take your family, your work group, your significant other, or just go by yourself. Say hi, and check out what Sunnyvale is discovering about food cooked with passion, and presented with love.

PhoEver is located at 321 W Washington Ave. Sunnyvale, CA 94086.  Drop in or give them a call at 408-962-0669. You can also contact them by email at: Info.phoever@gmail.com
<![CDATA[Love the Game - Lucky Shot Billiards is For You]]>Thu, 12 May 2016 18:11:28 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/love-the-game-lucky-shot-billiards-is-for-you
When Tan and his wife Thy bought Lucky Shot Billiards in 2004, they set out to provide a welcoming environment with a comfortable atmosphere and top-of-the-line equipment. Tan said he would like this to be a fun place for players at all levels.

By all measures the vision has been a success. Whether people come for a company event, league play, or because they’ve just finished dinner nearby, the consensus among customers is this is the best pool hall in Silicon Valley. Lucky Shot Billiards attracts a crowd of regulars and competition players as well as casual hobbyists. It is a popular event venue for bachelorette and birthday parties. Groups from prominent Silicon Valley businesses have held events there such as Google, Apple, Nvidia and Cisco.

For Love of the Game

The secret of success is in large part because Lucky Shot is about the love of the game and the camaraderie of friends.  According to Tan, it is a place for people to get involved in the physical (technical) aspects of the game and the intellectual aspects of the game.  “Pool,” says Tan, “is not just banging the ball.”

Tan’s love of the game is especially evident in the high-end pro shop, on-call cue master, and the fact that every year since he’s owned the business, at least one team from the Lucky Shot has gone on to compete in  the APA national competitions.

The camaraderie is evident in the community fostered at the pool hall. The customers respond generously to fundraisers sponsored by Lucky Shot Billiards (where the business matches money raised). Beneficiaries are many and have included Second Harvest, Red Cross, firefighters and police. All tips to staff are pooled and given to charity.  In the winter, customers collect coats and blankets to help local homeless people.
Stop by Sometime

The next time you are in Sunnyvale, stop on by. All you’ll see on So. Murphy Avenue is a neon sign above an open door with a flight of steps going down.  (An elevator is also available – call for information). But don’t let the small entrance fool you.

There’s a lot going on and if you love pool, or just think it’s a great way to spend an hour, there’s no better place in Silicon Valley than Lucky Shot Billiards.

Lucky Shot Billiards is located at 189 S. Murphy Ave. Sunnyvale, Ca. 94086. They’re looking forward to seeing you soon. Drop down and give them a shot! 
<![CDATA[Casual Meets Cuisine at The Oxford]]>Thu, 28 Apr 2016 23:29:32 GMThttp://sunnyvaledowntown.com/blog/casual-meets-cuisine-at-the-oxford
Foodies: prepare to be delighted. The team at The Oxford intends to make every bite and every sip a palate pleaser.

 “We are very, very, very serious about the food we are serving,” says Rahul, managing partner and general manager. “And we are very, very, very serious about the drinks we are offering.”

Rahul emphasizes that the food and drink offerings are chef-created and chef-prepared, but The Oxford is equally committed to creating a welcoming environment. The intent is that it be comfortable, casual and the “go to” place whether it is a family, a group of co-workers, or a few friends meeting for a drink.

A London Inspired Gastropub
Billed as a gastropub, The Oxford menu is inspired by London’s multi-cultural food scene and created with the California ethos of seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, wine and beer. They are also proud that “as much as we can, and as much as possible,” the chef and staff make their own infusions and flavors.
The Oxford Mule, for example, was created with a sly nod to London: the vodka in this drink-with-a-kick is infused with just the right amount of Earl Grey tea. The ginger beer is brewed in house. The in-house hummus is made by roasting the chickpeas rather than soaking them in water. “It’s something the chef picked up in his travels,” explains Rahul. “It’s very good.”

A Work In Progress
The restaurant opened on St. Patrick’s Day 2016, and has tweaked and adjusted the menu based on suggestions from patrons. Rahul said he’s very happy to be attracting great customers who are genuinely excited about what The Oxford brings to Sunnyvale. “We’re very lucky to be able to get feedback. We could sit around and talk and talk, but what the customers want is much more important.”
Ideas are flowing, and the current menu will continue to change and evolve both before and after the May 7, 2016, grand opening. Rahul refers to it as “a work in progress.”

What won’t change is to work hard every day to present fine food in a unique and comfortable setting. To join the conversation, find The Oxford on Instagram and Twitter, @TheOxfordCA.

The Oxford is located at 195 S Murphy Ave. Sunnyvale, CA. Stop by The Oxford on May 7, 2016, at their Grand Opening to meet the staff and sample the unique tastes and treats of this gastropub.