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Point Reyes, Business Hub of the Universe, and Rules of the Rails

Author: Bill Meagher
July, 2016 Issue
Columnist

Bill Meagher
All articles by columnist
Author: Bill Meagher
July, 2016 Issue

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Officials have gone on record, saying each passenger will be limited to one bike.


There’s no shortage of changes going on in Point Reyes, but the news is bittersweet as Cowgirl Creamery was sold, Point Reyes Books readies to sell itself and the Blue Herron BBQ looks to open.

Cowgirl Creamery, which practically invented the concept of artisan cheese and got its start in this close-knit village, has been sold to Emmi, a substantial Swiss dairy company. The sale includes Cowgirl’s Petaluma production location as well as retail outlets in Point Reyes and the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Tomales Bay Foods, a distributor located on Lakeville Highway in Petaluma also owned by Cowgirl, was included in the deal as well.

The company, owned by founders Sue Conley and Peggy Smith, has 95 employees. At first blush, it appears the merger will let Cowgirl continue to operate and grow as it has in the past. Emmi has found the North Bay to be an attractive target for acquisitions, as it grabbed Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery in Sebastopol last December.

Conley and Smith will continue to run the show for Cowgirl, with Smith now president and Conley vice president. While many acquisitions where a larger company comes in to buy up a smaller, boutique-style business result in radical change, it appears that Emmi understands Cowgirl and sees its role as supplying capital so the company can grow. Though the purchase price was not revealed, the deal has been in the works for a year. Reports say Emmi will pay for a new production facility to be built in Petaluma so Cowgirl can expand.

Point Reyes Books, owned by Steve Costa and Kate Levinson, has made that difficult leap from retail store to gathering place, so news of the warm shop being on the block is tough. The Inverness couple has owned the store for 14 years and has been active around town beyond running the store that includes both new and used books.

Costa founded Black Mountain Circle and the West Marin Fund, a pair of nonprofits, and the couple also presents the Geography of Hope conference and publish the West Marin Review, a literary review and a great read. Costa also sits on the board of the Point Reyes National Seashore Association. Levinson is a psychotherapist as well as the author of Emotional Currency: A Women’s Guide to Building a Healthy Relationship with Money.

As community bookstores have struggled against larger retail outlets and online competition like Amazon, Point Reyes Books created its “Community Supported Bookstore” program, which let customers join and purchase credit for books and products to be used at any time.  

Finally, Sheryl Cahill, who owns the West Marin mainstay Station House Café, plans to open the Blue Herron BBQ in the old location of the Pine Cone Diner, which closed last year. Cahill and her chef at Station House, Texas native Josh Calderon, plan to offer a traditional barbecue menu and will also have a take-out program hoping to cash in on the large tourist trade. They hope to have the new eatery open this summer, though that turns on permitting issues and construction.

Your Marin moment

As the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) train readies for service later this year, administrators are putting regulations together to make sure riders comport themselves correctly. Think Emily Post on rails.

Some of the considerations deal with common sense issues that are bound to come up, and the local transportation agency wants to be sure they’re ready to roll. For instance, for the legions of commuters who were counting on using their hover boards in their daily SMART travel, well, that’s off the table. Under preliminary rules drawn up, those vehicles “cannot be transported on SMART trains or property.”

Lest you think the train agency is being run by Luddites, SMART is weighing in on more traditional modes of transportation as well. Officials have gone on record, saying each passenger will be limited to one bike—and I’m not making this up. This policy is expected to draw heavy criticism from many commuters in the dual-biking community.

The agency is also taking steps to ensure riders are limited to one seat. “We don’t want seat hogs,” said Jennifer Welch, SMART’s police chief, in a public meeting reported by Mark Prado of the Marin Independent Journal. She elaborated by saying, “One person, one seat.”

You do the math.

Welch also said talking on cellphones is not OK: “We don’t want people having cellphone conversations,” though exceptions will be made in case of emergencies. Like if somebody smuggles a hover board onto the train or is toting a pair of bicycles.

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