What a holiday season we had in downtown Vallejo. The parties that I went to and the people I saw. The Mad Hatter Parade, even though it was delayed, was amazing. The tree lighting always beautiful. The women on Marin Street held a holiday market where I found all my gifts for the season. Spruce with their ever changing selection is always a fun place to browse and shop. The Joint, next door, offers lovely pieces and fun classes. Whitney Smith Pottery had an open house to share her celebrated wares. Across the street, Vallejo’s new darling, Alibi Bookshop, opened up, giving Amazon the middle finger. It was tremendous. Vallejo is an amazing small town with an amazing small town feel.

Recently Bambino’s, an Italian restaurant, set up shop on Georgia Street and it will be nice to have another place to eat downtown. Not sure when they plan to open yet. Newsflash! For those that did not know Julie sold the China Wok and the new owners took possession just before Christmas. Mark Reed sold the Town House to his friend and bartender Jeff. It will be fun to see what Jeff and Andy make of the place. What else? Anything else? It seems like I am forgetting somebody. Am I forgetting somebody?

All this is less than 2 years. I remember when the downtown was dead quiet, when there was not much to do or get to eat. Of course we had our parades, and the Townhouse had, and still has, Don Bassey, Erin Bakke, and the Town House Ramblers. The Empress had a few gigs but their restaurant had long since shut down. Night time was quiet and the street corners had their usual residents. I mean, think about it. In just 2 short years it even feels like the Farmer’s Market is more exciting.  The Art Walk got a new infusion of support from the city and even opened up a gallery in the Cal Maritime building.  Still seems like I am forgetting someone.

And remember Salsa in the Street?! That was the best free party that I have ever been to in town. In Vallejo, we pride ourselves on being such a diverse city but rarely do we get the opportunity to just be together. I had so many people thank us for hosting the Salsa Nights. People from all over Vallejo AND from as far away as Sebastopol.  That means people are driving countless miles to our town and find a bright shiny downtown instead of the closed up storefronts that seem to litter Georgia Street. Shucks, I really feel like I have forgotten someone.

Well the weekend is here and being a shop local supporter my plan is to go out to dinner tonight. I could go downtown but I will probably just go to Applebee’s. I mean, we’ll always have Applebee’s. Right?

Until Next Time,

Tommy Judt

p.s. I’ll buy you a glass of wine if you can find me tonight.


by guest author Nicole Hodge

It’s all right there in the name of this goddamn city. I have never lived in a place quite like this. It is rough and wild, beautiful and rugged. There’s a sense of lawlessness that is both attractive and frightening. The community is strong, and Vallejo is proud. But, there leaves a lot to be desired.



Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. Back in the 60’s it came in a little foil pouch and my mother would stack them in the second extra drawer. We may have called it the spice drawer but really, the only spice in that drawer was Lawry’s. The remainder of the items to be found in the drawer were Betty Crocker coupons, left over to go chopsticks, maybe a soy sauce packet or two and the odd recipe mom clipped from a magazine.


Lawry’s was mom’s go to seasoning for . . . almost everything. Certainly spaghetti. I recall a story told by my sister. Continue reading “TACO NIGHT”


It was awkward. I was a young adult and definitely not experienced. It was not the first time that I “stayed over” at a friend’s house but on those other times I needed to run off to work early. This particularly lazy Sunday morning in Marina Del Rey, I had nowhere to be and to tell the truth, I was hungry. So when the idea of breakfast was suggested I said, Yes. Continue reading “WANT TO GO TO BREAKFAST?”


The first of May. Spring is in the air and I have noticed two things that take me back to my early years. The sensory memories, I find, are the strongest. Well, technically speaking, I guess that they are all sensory memories. What I am specifically referring to are those of sound and smell. This past weekend I caught the scent of charcoal and pine smoke in the air. One of my neighbors had a backyard fire going, presumably to barbecue, and it smelled like they used pine cones or needles to help start the charcoal along. The aroma gave me a sense of comfort and emotional warmth. It is a familiar smell that I associate with good times, happy times. As I walked a little farther the scent faded as did the emotion.



I know that what I am about to say is crazy, but it is true. When I was a young boy I did not like pizza.


What?! Pizza is the food of the gods, you say, and today I agree with you. But when I was a man of a mere eight years old, my tune was different. I was four of five, in the lineup of children in my family. My mother spent countless hours Continue reading “OLD NAPOLI”


The other day while driving in the hills, I started humming the tune ‘It’s a Long and Winding Road Da-da Da-da.’ I have never really been clever, it just seems like the neurons fire as they please and the result just pops out of my mouth. Have you ever rewritten a song as you are singing it? You know, followed a melody but coopted the lyrics to entertain others, Continue reading “WALK WITH ME”


When I was 18 years old I went to Phoenix Arizona to study auto repair at UTI. (No, it stands for Universal Technical Institute.) I could have gone to a local junior college but the fact that UTI was in another State made it more appealing. It was my first ever, all alone adventure. I remember I drove the long way to see a girl, Continue reading “PERMISSABLE”


It was said that, during WWII, when presented with the idea of cutting funding for the Arts, Winston Churchill replied, “Then what are we fighting for?” SNOPES says, No he did not say it, but did attribute this quote to him from before the war.


“The arts are essen­tial to any com­plete national life. The State owes it to itself to sus­tain and encour­age them . . . Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the rev­er­ence and delight which are their due.”


I might have mentioned before that in the kitchen I am mostly a technician. I know HOW to roast a chicken, HOW to make pie dough and HOW to make smooth, or lumpy, mashed potatoes without making them all gluey. Going to culinary school for me was like going to art school. To explain, my sense of the world is rooted in the laws of physics and can be best described by Newton’s Laws of Motion.


1st Law: An object at rest stays at rest, and a body in motion stays in motion, unless acted upon by an external force. You know, like when you hit the sofa after a long day then your partner “gently” encourages you to do the washing up. (External force applied here.)


2nd Law:  F = ma or Force = mass x acceleration. This law can also be attributed to a group of people with a goals. Example: The Women’s March.  There is tremendous Force in their argument as the great Mass of people walk (Accelerate) to make their beliefs known.


3rd Law: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Like . . . Eating a donut that was the result of hard work and you smile.


But when surrounded by so many inspired individuals who looked at nature’s gift of food, not just as a conduit for flavor but as medium to enliven all of the senses, well, it was like I entered a different universe. “Who are these wonderful people and how do their minds think of such things?” A question I asked myself often. Technically I was more than proficient, but at anything other than a meat and 2 veg on a plate I was sorely lacking. My time spent with these amazing people, and I mean this quite literally, changed my world view. I began to see the aesthetic of things not just their functionality. (The immediate result was a more stylish wardrobe.) I have seen the Art of Food and can now never un-see it. Where before I would not bear to enter a museum, I now amble through, lost in time, counting brush strokes and measuring scale with my thumb, still ever rooted in the physical world.

Good News! I can now share this gift with you in a world of art that is so much larger than my kitchen.  Vallejo, for many reasons monetary, has become a refuge, nay, a colony of multi-disciplinary artists. Food yes, but also music, and canvas, and sculpture, of laughter, and knowledge, and dance. All of these are available to all of us . . . for FREE! (mostly.) Tomorrow, this coming Friday, marks the 2nd Friday Art Walk in Downtown Vallejo. A self-motivated group of artists, working together under the name Vallejo Arts Alliance, have been organizing and producing this event for over 5 years. And it is wonderful.


Numerous businesses will be open, local artists will display their work, a group of curious minds will join a Salon and then a dance party will break out for everyone afterwards.  Here is a list of some of the activities to be found:


PROVISIONS, 300 Virginia St, offering a special recipe of braised short ribs. Melt in your mouth kinda good.  Open until roughly 8 p.m, so come get you some.


VALLEJO VINYL & PINBALL, 336 Georgia St, from 5 – 9, all you can play Pinball AND a Provision’s Fried Chicken or Vegan sandwich for only $25. Live music will play from 7 – 9. DANG! This is going to be fun.


STREET ARTISTS BREEZEWAY, 419 Georgia St, 5 – 9, Street artists will display their work in the shelter of the breezeway. Rain or Shine, Art prevails. Stop in an amble for a while.


BOUTIQUE CLASSIQUE, 1711 Sonoma Blvd, Featuring Live Window Models from 6pm-9pm
Be sure to come see their timeless clothing in action. Really, how often do you get invited to stare at beautiful women in a store window?


THE V-TOWN SOCIAL CLUB SALON & SPEAKER SERIES, 300 Virginia St, 6 – 7. The topic this month is Firestorm in Paradise, Does climate change necessitate rethinking our forest management practices? Brandon Collins, PhD, will be speaking and taking questions. Come early for no host wine and food.


So many other amazing places will be open and will eagerly welcome you into their warm & dry, shops and studios. We are so fortunate here in Vallejo, there is so much talent and diversity locked in this little up-bay town. So tomorrow employ the 1st Law – Stay in motion and come down to the Artwalk. Here is a link to the Interactive Map. 2nd Law – get your Mass Accelerating, via car or by foot, and give a show of Force to show these talented people that their energies and efforts are worthy of appreciation. 3rd Law – I promise you the labor of hard work will bring a smile to your face. Especially the Short Ribs!


Please follow my Facebook page The V-Town Social Club and don’t forget to stop in my website http://www.the-v-town-social-club.com


Until next time,


Eat Well and Smile Often


Tommy Judt