More shops, restaurants add to Pleasanton's business environment
While the economy is not yet coming up roses, it's looking a lot better for downtown merchants and restaurants and for the rest of Pleasanton aas new businesses move into town and others expand. Downtowners cheered last week with the news that Margaret Smith will reopen Domus, her popular kitchen and home accessories store, at 652 Main St., which has been closed for three years. Nearby, Masood, with 03 years in the restaurant business including the last 10 years at Fontina's, opened his new Chianti's Ristorante Italian at 436 Main St., which has been packed with customers on most evenings ever since. The same enthusiastic response has been seen at Alicia and Demetrious Shaffer's Prim's, a colorful boutique at 520 Main St. that offers the latest in women's clothing, shoes, accessories and even upcycled and reclaimed primitive furniture. A new medi-spa and the city's first hydroponics and organics supply store are also newcomers to the retail community in the downtown district.
Two days ago, a British-owned company opened another of its Fresh & Easy markets in the Rosewood Pavilion, taking the space formerly occupied by the Express Fitness workout center that relocated to expanded facilities a few spaces down. Fresh & Easy operates more than 160 stores in California, Arizona and Nevada, offering freshly prepared meals, meats and produce, including national brand products and household items and its own branded products. Along with 99 Ranch Market, an Asian American supermarket opened in the Rosewood Pavilion last year, the two grocery stores provide some relief for shoppers used to buying products at Nob Hill, which closed a year ago. Coupled with the new Lifestyle supermarket that Safeway is building at Valley and Bernal avenues across from the Fairgrounds, which will open by Thanksgiving, these new grocery stores are adding a greater variety in shopping across a wider area of Pleasanton as well as several hundred new jobs.
The boost that Domus, Prim's and Chianti's are giving to Main Street already and the added vitality are much-needed as downtown businesses work their way out of several years of economic slowdown. When Domus opened its Pleasanton store in September 1998, it was part of Smith's Los Gatos operation. Later, she sold the Pleasanton business to managers John Maloney and his wife Cathy, who were allowed to continue using the name. The Maloneys then closed their business to pursue other interests, and the building has been vacant ever since.
When Smith learned that the rent on her Los Gatos store would be doubled starting next month, she chose to relocate her flagship store to Pleasanton, which, at 11,000 square feet, is much larger than the Los Gatos facility. She expects customers will be coming here from all over the Bay Area -- and even Los Gatos -- to shop at Domus for kitchenware, home accessories, toys, books, stationery and other items. San Francisco Magazine once described Domus as a unique blend of Williams-Sonoma, Pier 1, Pottery Barn, Papyrus and Crate and Barrel, all the types of stores downtown promoters have said we need in Pleasanton.
At Prim's, by taking over the unique retail space with the raised wood sidewalk in front, the Shaffers have added to the growing women's fashion business downtown. Having launched successful brands such as the Peanut Shell and Wink Belly Bands, the husband and wife team has brought a new boutique concept shopping experience to Pleasanton, along with keeping their store open evenings and on weekends, operating times that are being encouraged by the Pleasanton Downtown Association. Even the store's windows are worth a look, designed and conceptualized by a celebrated window designer. Inside, almost everything you see is for sale, even the primitive fixtures that the Shaffers say they can replace.
Chianti's isn't the only Italian restaurant in Pleasanton, but it does offer a unique dining experience. I joined the Leadership Pleasanton group for lunch there the other day, feasting on Carpaccio Salmone, which consisted of finely sliced smoked salmon topped with mozzarella cheese, capers, red onions and fresh tomatoes. The menu includes baby Manila clams, sauteed prawns, sauteed chicken, veal and pork, ranging in price from $10 for lunch to $16-$20 for dinner. Seeing the crowds over the last week or so, Masood, a Pleasanton resident by the way, seems to have tapped the taste buds of other Italian food aficionados as well.