Posted tagged ‘Rohnert Park’

Dinner Review: Black Bear Diner

August 12, 2010

There may not be a finer diner on the West Coast than the Black Bear Diner.

I found this chain of restaurants about 6 years ago while living in Beaverton, Oregon. We stopped in one time because we loved the fact that there were bears greeting us outside in the parking lot (statues, not real bears).

According to their Web site, in 1995, Bob and Laurie Manley, along with their partner Bruce Dean, opened the first Black Bear Diner on the site of the old strawberry patches near Mt. Shasta. They were determined to rekindle the level of hospitality that was lavished upon early guests to Strawberry Valley. The menu, service and decor were designed to remind the guest of a time when life was a little more simple, and service and quality were the cornerstones of business.

The Black Bear Diner...

On this evening, the service at the Rohnert Park restaurant was wonderful. No wait for a table and our server promptly brought out glasses of water for all. It didn’t take long to choose my meal for the evening off the menu, a hot turkey and mashed potato sandwich with all the trimmings. This is probably the ONLY meal I have ever eaten at this restaurant, but if you take a look at the photos, you’ll understand why.

Eating this meal is like having Thanksgiving dinner everyday. The sliced breast meat is piled high atop four slices of sourdough bread and then covered in a rich, turkey gravy. What tops off the meal is the homemade mashed potatoes that come with the meal.

Turkey and Mashed Potato Sandwich...

As you may have noticed in the photos, you don’t have to worry about getting enough to eat. The portions are enormous and you will most definitely have food leftover for the next day.

Locations span the West Coast and as far east as Colorado and Iowa. Be sure to check them out and let me know what you think!

More Turkey and Mashed Potato Sandwich...

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Lunch Review: Mary’s Pizza Shack (Rohnert Park)

August 12, 2010

From my days of living in Petaluma, California, there is one place that comes to mind when it comes to great pizza: Mary’s Pizza Shack.

Cheese Bread...

Mary’s has been a staple in Sonoma County for more than 50 years. According to their Web site, founder Mary Fazio was born in New York City and in 1959, she took her own pots and pans from home and $700 in savings to start Mary’s Pizza Shack. The restaurant became an instant success.

Small Cheese Pizza...

At Mary’s you have a wide selection of soups, salads, pasta, pizza, burgers and more! There is not a bad choice on the menu. Yesterday afternoon, I had the opportunity to visit Mary’s for the first time in more than 3 years, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The staff, as always, was very friendly and accommodating at the Rohnert Park restaurant. This is key in this day and age when there are so many options that consumers have. I ordered a half loaf of Mozzarella Garlic Bread which was cooked absolutely perfectly. My waitress brought the appetizer to my table within minutes and I found it difficult to take the picture (above) because I was honestly drooling, waiting to take my first bite.

The pizza was just as I remember it: New York Style thin crust with the best marinara sauce I’ve found at ANY pizza parlor. I went simple, ordering just a small, cheese pizza. But simple doesn’t mean boring at Mary’s. The flavor explodes just as it hits your mouth and you keep wanting more (until your plate is empty of course). Maybe I should have gotten the medium or the large?

In summary, I found my experience just as I remembered it and couldn’t help but flashing back to the times when my grandparents, who have since passed away, used to take me out after baseball games. Nothing beats a trip to Mary’s when you visit the North Bay (or now as far away as Roseville, Vacaville and Dixon, California to the east and Walnut Creek to the south).

I highly recommend you try them out, and let me know what you think 🙂

4 Pacific Union Students Killed in Weekend St. Helena Crash

November 17, 2008

Four Pacific Union college students were killed late Saturday night when their car collided with an oncoming pickup truck north of St. Helena, this according to the California Highway Patrol. I drive this road every time I travel to my mom’s house in Hidden Valley Lake, a small town where two of the victims lived.

From the Press Democrat:

The students died at the scene of the accident on Deer Park Road, just a few miles south of their campus, a Christian liberal arts school.

The four left campus shortly before midnight. According to the college, the students had just finished playing basketball at the gym and were on their way to the Safeway in St. Helena to grab something to eat when the accident occurred.

They were identified as Luke Kotaro Nishikawa, 22, of Hawaii; Chong Whon Shin, 20, of Aloha, Ore.; and Boaz Joshua Pak, 20, and Simon Chulmin Son, 19, both of the Ventura County community of Hidden Valley.

Officials said all the young men were well known and liked on campus.

The driver of the pickup truck, Sandalio Martinez, 28, was taken by ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital in serious condition. He was in serious but stable condition Sunday, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

A third driver rear-ended Matinez’s pickup after the initial collision. That driver Rio Ortiz, 20, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

“It’s a real hard time,” said Doug Wilson, director of student activities at Pacific Union College, a Christian liberal arts school in Angwin, a town built around the college.

Hundreds of students, faculty, staff and community members – along with the families of two of the victims – gathered at 5 p.m. in the Seventh-day Adventist church on campus to mourn the four young men.

The students were killed Saturday night when their speeding car skidded out of control and collided with a pickup truck north of St. Helena. They were identified as the driver, Boaz Joshua Pak, 20, from Hidden Valley Lake and passengers Luke Kotaro Nishikawa, 22, from Honolulu; Chong Whon Shin, 20, from Aloha, Ore.; and Simon Chulmin Son, 19, from Hidden Valley Lake. Friends said the students had just finished playing pickup basketball at the college gym and were on their way to a Safeway in St. Helena to get something to eat when the accident occurred about 11:45 p.m.

The men were apparently well-known and liked on campus. Shin was involved in youth ministry at the Rohnert Park Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church. Nishikawa was the leader of a campus outreach program called Homeless Ministries, and had been out working with homeless people early Saturday morning.

The Pacific Union College community “mourns the loss of four wonderful young men who were already giving service back to the community,” said college President Richard Osborn. “Our entire campus is grieving along with their families.”

The accident took place about 5 miles from the 150-acre Pacific Union College campus at the bottom of Deer Park Road, the winding, two-lane road that heads down the mountain into St. Helena on the floor of Napa Valley. The drive is a regular one for on-campus students.