Kenwood Press

Serving the communities of Kenwood, Glen Ellen and Oakmont

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Business Beat: 08/15/2014

Business Beat - New breakfast and lunch spot opens in Oakmont

Café Sonoma, a new addition to Oakmont's dining options, is open for business inside First Community Bank on Oakmont Dr. (the space formerly occupied by Café des Croissants). Serving coffee, breakfast and lunch, Café Sonoma is more than just your run-of-the-mill deli or breakfast sandwich place, said owner Chris Amsden. “We put a lot of thought into our food.”

The new Café Sonoma is open for business in Oakmont.
Amsden hails from the East Bay, where he has owned or partnered in several other restaurants, most recently the seasonal, California-American eatery Rustic Tavern in Lafayette. Café Sonoma's menu reflects a similar fresh and farm-to-table approach. The café serves Regal Bean coffee (out of Novato), which Amsden said is roasted and delivered within 24 hours. Pastries and breads are baked onsite, the café roasts and cures its own meat, and Andy's Produce in Sebastopol supplies the fruits and veggies.

Amsden, along with partner Gregg Chavaria, remodeled the café's interior to give it a more rustic-chic look, complete with hand-made dark wood tabletops and counters and recycled barn wood accents for the walls. The décor and chairs are also recycled, mostly from Amsden's other restaurant ventures, he said.

Amsden, a 20-year veteran of the restaurant business, said he likes to work with people. “I've always liked the area and liked the people here,” he added. Café Sonoma will be Amsden's first café venture and he's open to listening to what customers want and enjoy. Café Sonoma is currently open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., seven days a week, serving breakfast and lunch. A beer and wine license is on its way, so that may change, said Amsden.

Café Sonoma is located at 6580 Oakmont Dr. and can be reached at 537-2233.

VJB seeks permit modifications

VJB Vineyards & Cellars in Kenwood is asking county planners for some modifications to their use permit.

VJB is located off of Sonoma Hwy. between Shaw Ave. and Maple Ave., with current public access from Shaw.

Included in the request is a proposal to extend the time VJB's marketplace/deli is open from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. every day except for Friday, where VJB is asking it be open until 7 p.m. Tasting room hours would remain the same, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A traffic study has recommended that the currently gated vehicle access on Maple Ave. be open during business hours to spread the traffic demand to two streets (Maple and Shaw) rather than just one.

Visitor parking on neighborhood streets has been an issue for VJB and its neighbors, and in its proposal statement, VJB said that its employees are currently parking at newly acquired Wellington Winery in Glen Ellen, and carpooling to VJB. There has also been an increase in onsite parking spots.

In the future, a left-hand turn lane will be installed off of Sonoma Hwy. Until that happens, VJB is not allowed to host special events.

To comment or get more information on VJB's use permit modification request, contact Permit and Resource Management Department Project Planner Greg Desmond at 565-1683 or

Soak up Sonoma at Chateau St. Jean

Through September, Chateau St. Jean Winery in Kenwood is featuring weekends of live music, local chefs, and award-winning wines.

Enjoy a sunny summer afternoon filled with live music, food from a local chef, and of course, fabulous wines. Each weekend will feature a different chef - from oysters to artisan sandwiches to savory strudel - and a different musician.

Aug. 16 features music by The Smokin' J's and food by the Farmer's Wife; Aug. 17 highlights Sony & Jerry Holland with Drumbs & Crumbs Southern Cuisine; Aug. 23 and 30 features acoustic guitarist Kenya Baker, with food by Ultra Crepes; Aug. 24 and 31 has music by Coley N Mikki, and food provided by Ultra Crepes.

Chateau St. Jean is located at 8555 Sonoma Hwy. in Kenwood. Call 877-478-5326 for more information, or go to

Beer, wine, comedy, music - it's all at Palooza

Palooza Gastropub & Wine Bar in the Kenwood shopping center, 8910 Sonoma Hwy. features Grand Ole Opry country music singer and songwriter Steven Kent on Sunday, Aug. 17, from noon to 3 p.m.

The “Crushers of Comedy” are coming Aug. 22 and Aug. 23 from The Comedy Store in Los Angeles - Dinah Leffert Lisa Joffrey, Bobby Golden, and Jenny Yang. Dinah has opened for Tim Allen, Pauly Shore, and Kevin Nealon. Lisa is a Broadway World Award nominee for Best Supporting Actress in I Love Lucy Live. Bobby Golden was a semi-finalist in KTLA5's Find Me a Comic. These “Crushers of Comedy” will keep you laughing with two shows, Aug. 22 and 23, 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at, or at Palooza itself, 8910 Sonoma Hwy. in Kenwood.

For more information, call Palooza at 833-4000.

Taxpayers group releases pension report

The relationship between pension costs and proposed new taxes/tax increases on the November 2014 ballot is the subject of a report just released by the Sonoma County Taxpayers' Association. The Report draws from the most recent actuarial reports for the cities covered and for the County, and presents pension costs as a percent of payroll, “excess pension costs” and the trend in pension costs in each jurisdiction covered.

To read the report, go to

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