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And it Ends With Pissing Off the Pope

Author: Bill Meagher
November, 2015 Issue

Bill Meagher
All articles by columnist
Author: Bill Meagher
November, 2015 Issue

Too often these days, we hear about a company that's successful enough to require more space, and they bolt for Sonoma County.

Nothing succeeds like success. The county of Marin has told Marshall’s Tomales Bay Oyster Company to get rid of its picnic tables and barbecues and limit its operations to the weekends. The shellfish company has seen its business take off since the feds shut down Drakes Bay Oyster Company. The county’s cease and desist order gave the company 30 days to comply, stating it was “a significant threat to public safety and welfare.”

Tomales promises to come back with a plan including an “all-in-one-shellfish farm” with an oyster hatchery and processing plant run by former Drakes Bay Oyster owner Kevin Lunny.

This is by no means over. With Drakes Bay gone and now Tomales Bay being told to behave, fans of aquaculture are sure to take up the fight.

Love thy neighbor?

From the “Department of Sticking Your Nose In,” we have the San Anselmo Town Council voting to protest the possible awarding of an alcohol license to the Fairfax 6 Theatre. Oddly enough, the movie theater is in Fairfax, but the next door council feels it must weigh in on whether Alcohol Beverage Control officials will grant a license to the theater owned by Dave Corkhill and Cinema West.

The San Anselmo protest is one of five lodged with ABC, including San Anselmo Councilman Tom McInerney. ABC says it’s recommending approval with conditions. Because of the protests, a hearing before an administrative judge will take place by December.

The Fairfax Town Council voted against protesting after Corkhill told them the theater had seen sales slip 8 percent in 2014, or about $100,000. Corkhill said he needed to serve up booze to remain competitive.

It hasn’t been an easy year for Cinema West, which also includes the Tiburon Playhouse, Sonoma 9 and Boulevard 14 in Petaluma. In May, Petaluma resident Justin Brutcher pled guilty to embezzling $117,000 from the Fairfax theater as its manager.

Broken Drum = State Room

Alex and Lisa Stricker, the couple who transformed the Flatiron in San Rafael from a lovable sports dive to a cleaned-up gastropub, have acquired the Broken Drum around the corner on 4th Street and will reopen it next month as the State Room.

The Drum was formerly known as a mini-brewery with a patio that reached out onto San Rafael’s main street and, at times, could be like an entertaining circus (hold the trapeze).

State Room opens in December with a new look from top to bottom. The kitchen will include an Italian wood burning oven for pizza, and the couple hired Larry Berlin to oversee the brewery operation. Berlin was formerly at Iron Springs Pub and Brewery in Fairfax and Lagunitas in Petaluma.

Worldwise jumps the leash to Novato

Worldwise, the San Rafael-based pet products company, thankfully turned its back on a troubling trend. The company needed more space after it merged with Quaker Pet Group in May, so it relocated to Hamilton Landing in Novato. 

Too often these days, we hear about a company that’s successful enough to require more space, and they bolt for Sonoma County.

Not so with Worldwise. The company has a green hook, with some of its products being environmentally friendly. The company, which has more than 50 employees, supplies animal beds, toys for dogs and cats, carriers and other products to retailers like PetSmart and Petco.

Your Marin moment

When Rustic Bakery, the tiny chain of Marin bakeries, found out the Pope was a fan of its crostini and flatbread, it baked some up fresh and sent the treats off so the big guy and his entourage could enjoy them as they toured the states.

Rustic owner Josh Harris has grown his business in Larkspur and Novato by selling to airlines via LSG Sky Chefs. When LSG slipped the Vatican some Rustic goodies, Harris had orders faster than you could say Rosemary Pan Forte.

Once word got out about Rustic’s olive oil Sel Gris flatbread becoming nibbles for His Holiness, well, it got a little weird. When Carey Sweet at SF Gate’s Inside Scoop broke the news that Rustic was supplying official Pope provisions, the haters started hating. The comment section below Sweet’s piece began filling up with folks taking shots at Pope Francis over LSG sending Rustic goods to the Vatican.

“I agree. Total hypocrite like Clinton, Gore, Pelosi, Obama and their ilk. Do as I say not as I do,” offered LaylaAthena. Meka’s shot? “I thought he was speaking out against climate change? I’m OK with his flying around to visit his flock, but does he have to have bread flown across the continent?”

Deep thinkers, all.

I remember when it was OK to have the Pope show some love for your crostini.

Bill Meagher is a contributing editor for NorthBay biz magazine and is an associate editor with The Deal in their west coast office.  You can reach him at


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