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Business

Snow on G Street? It’s a sweet thing

By From page A5 | August 03, 2014

It may be summer, but that hasn’t slowed the flow of business news in Davis. And soon, shaved snow will bring sweet rewards.

The addition of the cool dessert cafe Vampire Penguin is one story in a flurry of news coming from G Street. These pertain to The Depot Building at Second and G streets, and Court ’N Cedar at Third and G. The Ruebner family has ownership interests in both properties. On Tuesday, Anthony Ruebner gave me an update.

Vampire Penguin will fill 1,100 square feet in the Depot Building, mostly from the former French Cuff Consignment space on G Street. Recently, 800 square feet went to Razor’s Edge Barber Shop, which was displaced by renovation at Third and G.

Vampire Penguin specializes in shaved snow desserts. Different than shaved ice, it’s more like shaved ice cream — but dairy-free. It’s a Hawaiian specialty made of fruit concentrates and fruit, nondairy cream and sugar. It’s molded high and topped with things like fruit, candy, syrups and condensed milk.

Vampire Penguin has another shop on Stockton Boulevard in Sacramento. The Davis café is expected to open later in August or September.

“It’s family-owned and -operated,” said Ruebner, who grew up in Davis, noting that it has a successful track record in Sacramento. The move will “energize the outside patio space,” adding tables and chairs.

In the reconfiguration that made room for Vampire Penguin, Volleys Tennis Shop moves down the street today to Court ’N Cedar. Volleys will be in a temporary location for about six weeks, in the former Drom’s Comics & Cards spot that’s Suite 4, then move to fill the Christian Science Reading Room’s Suite 5, in September. The reading room moves to Woodland at the end of August.

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The tennis shop move doubles its space, from 300 to 600 square feet. Owners Scot Siden and Dave Brooks plan to increase their inventory of rackets, and become a more complete resource for tennis, racquetball and badminton enthusiasts. Volleys will add tennis apparel for men and women, expand its offerings of gear like grips and balls, and make more room for its restringing services.

The Court ’N Cedar buildings are in for a major upgrade. This includes the building at the corner of Third and G, where Tibet Nepal, Razor’s Edge, Nails Only and Jeeba Jewelry were. Those businesses have all found homes downtown. The jeweler recently moved to Suite 7 in Court ’N Cedar.

That Third & G building is the one that’s been in the news. It will be demolished this month to make way for a new two-story building, with retail on the ground floor and office space above. The retail spots are for three 800-square-foot stores, or two with a 1,600-/800-square-foot configuration.

Ruebner is in negotiations with a major regional tenant for the 1,600-square-foot space, but said he can’t disclose the name of the business until the deal is finalized. He’s hoping to have that in and open by March.

This is the first development project for the Davis family, and they are excited. He said it’s all part of their vision to reinvigorate the courtyard “as a special destination downtown,” with updated lighting and a new façade. The area will get a new name in the process as well, maybe “The Courtyard,” or something similar, he said.

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Ray Moran Plumbing’s last day was Thursday. Ray, 63, said he wants to thank Davis for all of it its support over the past 28 1/2 years. He’s retiring, and looking forward to riding his Harley-Davidson into the sunset.

Moran said he brought his fledgling business here in 1986, after initially struggling in the Vallejo and Benicia areas. Although he lives in Dixon, “95 percent of the work is in Davis.” And 99 percent of that has been for residential customers.

He gave shout-outs to staff members and inspectors with the city of Davis, especially in the Building Department, fellow contractors, and employees at Hibbert Lumber.

“Davis has been great to me,” Moran said. “If it wasn’t for Davis, I wouldn’t have had nearly as good a business as I had.”

His licenses and bonds were due on Aug. 1, “so this is a good time to shut down.” Plus, his hands need a rest; he has arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome. That forced him to cut down to three days a week for the past year. He hopes his hands will heal enough that he can resume his favorite hobby: playing the guitar.

He’s selling his truck, and referring customers to another Davis plumber, Brent Dotson, who owns North Pacific Plumbing (530-845-1121).

Moran plans to move to Chico to be with his wife, who works as a nurse in Oroville. She’s a few years younger and doesn’t plan to retire soon. They have custom two Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

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Dollar Tree announced Monday that it’s buying rival discounter Family Dollar for $8.5 billion, the Associated Press reports.

The story said the deal makes Dollar Tree the biggest player in the dollar store segment. Davis has a Dollar Tree at 1800 E. Eighth St. and a new Family Dollar at 1260 Lake Blvd., Suite 102. The companies did not say if any Dollar Tree or Family Dollar stores would close. Both brands will remain separate for the time being.

Sales at dollar stores have suffered because their lower-income customers continue to have job instability and slow wage growth, the AP said. Plus, stores like Wal-Mart have been opening smaller store formats to compete with dollar stores. Experts say the deal will allow the Dollar Tree to lower expenses by merging its operations, and better compete with Wal-Mart.

The deal reportedly gives Dollar Tree more flexibility. Dollar Tree is true to its name, with everything in its stores costing just a buck. The fixed pricing has helped attract more customers and boosted sales, but it also puts the company in a tough spot as inflation pushes up its costs and pressures profit margins.

Family Dollar is more flexible in its pricing, which allows it to sell a greater variety of items, according to the story.

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There’s still no news on the Target center. In an email on Tuesday, Warren Hughes with Buzz Oates Management Services assured me they are still finalizing a deal on a 3,500-square-foot spot. “We will make it to the end.” Last month, the developer revealed lease agreements with Styles For Less and Verizon Wireless.

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Same goes for Dunkin’ Donuts. Spokeswoman Rachel Tabacnic said Tuesday in an email: “No new updates just yet. Stay tuned!”

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The upcoming boba teashop Lazi Cow may be open in about a month. It’s going in at 407 G St., Suite 4, behind Western Feed & Pet Supply. Co-owner Jimmy Phu said Tuesday that he should know more in a week or so.

Lazi Cow will feature tapioca teas, plus pastries like Taiwanese brick toast.

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Woodland’s Corkwood Restaurant served its final meal last Sunday. According to the Daily Democrat, the diner at 154 Main St. first opened in 1964. Chef Charlie Chu took it over in 1981. It’s in one corner of the bowling alley now known as San Bruno Bowling Center. The new owners of the bowling alley evicted Chu, the story said.

— Wendy Weitzel is a freelance writer and editor in Davis. Her column publishes on Sundays. Throughout the week, watch her Comings & Goings Facebook page. If you know about a business coming or going in the area, contact Wendy at [email protected].

Wendy Weitzel

Wendy Weitzel

Wendy Weitzel is a longtime journalist and Davis resident. She is a former managing editor of The Davis Enterprise, working there from 1998-2008. She has written her Comings & Goings business column since 2001. Today, she does freelance writing, editing, marketing and design.

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