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Train Pain, Hotel Hiccup, Hagar Off Note and RH as Goat?

Columnist: Bill Meagher
September, 2018 Issue

Bill Meagher
All articles by columnist

One day the SMART train will blow though San Rafael on the way to its southern stop point Larkspur, but for now that extension is nothing but heartache for a few businesses along Francisco Boulevard West. The city has closed the road to accommodate the construction that must take place, and the closure will stretch into 2019.

So, businesses like Staples on Irwin Street and Toscalito Tire & Automotive have seen a decrease in customers as not everyone is fluent on the local side streets.
The city of San Rafael says it feels their pain and will make detours and signage clearer for those hunting new tires and copy paper.

Further north, the Novato City Council has agreed to pony up $500K to cover cost overruns for a downtown train stop with service to begin late next year. The stop which is behind Whole Foods, will not be a full-service station because that would slow the trains down. Instead, trains will alternate between stopping downtown and at San Marin Drive.

There is already another Novato station at Hamilton.

What happened to my view?

A bid to build a five-story 140-room Marriot in downtown San Rafael got a little bit spanked in a design review session. The meeting was simply to gather viewpoints on what the design review board and locals thought of the project.

As an “urban contemporary hotel” the look is modern, but those who attended the meeting called it stark, massive, cold and perhaps too modern. Other concerns were that the hotel wouldn’t have enough parking and that it stole the views from nearby apartment and condo dwellers.

The project would be built at the corner of Fifth and B on the site of a one-story office that has been empty for four years. Local developer Monihan Parker Inc. brought the project in, and it now goes back to the city.

El Paseo to reopen?

Sammy Hagar, the Marin-based rocker and businessman, shuttered Mill Valley landmark El Paseo in July, saying the day-to-day challenges of the restaurant were a distraction from his other pursuits. But he vowed to put a new team together and reopen the romantic eatery.

Hager has done a mountain bike shop, sold a tequila business off, created a Hawaiian rum brand and has a chain of Cabo Wabo eateries as well Sammy’s Beach Bar and Grill restaurants found in airports. He bought El Paseo with celebrity chef and Marin resident Tyler Florence, but the two couldn’t agree on how to run the joint, so Florence exited stage left.

Hagar called the closing a summer hiatus and said that while the reopening date was fuzzy, the restaurant would definitely reopen in some form, possibly a pop-up space that could showcase chefs and bartenders.
Before it reopens, however, Hagar turns 71 this year and his birthday is akin to a national holiday with his fans, celebrated at Cabo Wabo in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. “Once I get to the birthday bash in October, I will revisit El Paseo, build a team and start over from scratch,” he told the Marin Independent Journal.

Your Marin moment

Marin loves it animals. Whether it’s a prized parakeet or a beloved basset hound, pets are treated not like family but more like members of the royals. Designer organic food abounds and water bowls overflow with filtered H2O.

So, shareholders of RH (the company formerly known as Restoration Hardware) gathered for a meeting at company headquarters were surprised when members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals were protesting wearing goat masks holding signs reading, “Mohair is Cruel.”

It seems the company attempting to make $10,000 sofas standard living room equipment is sourcing mohair from Angora goats and down feathers from birds, and the animals are being mistreated as they are being shorn.

PETA, which is an RH shareholder so it can pressure it, wants the company to drop the offending products and join 220 companies that have done that same thing. The nonprofit said the company did not respond to its request, so they protested.

We know how PETA feels; RH didn’t get back to us either.

Still on the animal beat, hat tip to our local daily newspaper the Marin Independent Journal, and its Pet Tributes. At a time when newspapers are hurting for revenues, the IJ is selling space where locals can celebrate their fur kids in a public way. The Friday only feature “can be a memorial, a birthday, an adoption date or any event associated with your pet.”

Plan ahead: the deadline is Tuesday 3 p.m. to make Friday’s paper.

Bill Meagher is a contributing editor with
NorthBay biz. His day job takes him to San Francisco where he is an associate editor with the Wall Street-based financial news outlet, The Deal. He lives in San Rafael with is lovely wife Cindy and a pack of vicious cats.



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