By ROB SCHRODER
Mayor of Martinez
As I have mentioned in several of my columns, downtown Martinez is experiencing a renaissance, with new businesses opening up and others reinventing themselves with new owners. Jim Blair has sold Creek Monkey Tap House, and the new owners, Sal & Michelle Strong, have rebranded the restaurant to Firehouse Brew & Grill. The building has been steam-cleaned and painted, inside and out. The menu has expanded and they plan to utilize the back deck and patio for Entertainment.
Roxx on Main also has new owners. Executive Chef Leslie Stiles is back in Martinez with her partner, Chef Tony Lauro, and has remodeled the restaurant and expanded the menu. The website states, “Combining an outstanding selection featuring the freshest, locally sourced, organic, and sustainable ingredients, an ever changing selection of wines, plus the friendliness and comfort of a neighborhood restaurant.” They have also added a full bar, and there is live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Long-time chef and owner of Haute Stuff, Pat English, retired and sold the restaurant to long-time owner of All Occasions Catering and Chef Dave Krider. Dave has made some interior improvements to the building and menu.
Welcome to Martinez, Chef Dave!
There are still a few property owners that have not been actively marketing their buildings and filling empty spaces. As a property owner myself, I know it is critical to find the right tenant to be successful and add something special to your asset, the community, and surrounding businesses. But there is a point when a property is vacant for too long, and I believe the city needs to look at ways to give property owners incentives to fill those spaces.
In the meantime, Vice Mayor Noralea Gipner has organized local artists to paint many of the plywood covered doorways and windows with murals in an effort to mitigate the blight. Some may say this is putting lipstick on a pig, but I believe it is a good interim solution until we can get the property owners moving and the spaces filled.
Over the next year, the city will be concentrating on the future planning and development of the Martinez Waterfront. This will include public meetings that will look at both the landside and the waterside of the area.
One exciting component is ferry service to San Francisco and other cities around the Bay. Representatives of the city have been attending meetings of the Water Emergency Transit Authority (WETA) and promoting water transit to Martinez.
In early November, the chair of the WETA Board, retired Vice Admiral Jody Breckenridge, toured the Martinez Waterfront with me and city staff to get a first-hand look at possible sites for a ferry landing. She was pleased with what she saw and urged the city to stay in front of the WETA Board and keep them updated as we move through the process of planning the future of the Martinez Waterfront. City staff and I will be attending the December 12 meeting of the WETA Board.
And finally, it looks like professional baseball may be returning to Martinez for the 2020 season. Noralea and I have been meeting with representatives of the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball and also the Pecos League, which has teams throughout the Southwest. The plan at this time is for the Pecos League to be the owner of the new Martinez team and play in the Pacific Association, not in with other Pecos League teams. The new team will be called the Martinez Mackerel. Check out their website at www.marrtinezmackerel.com. Negotiations have not been finalized as I write this, but they should be before the Christmas holidays.