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Business outlook promising, Fallbrook and Bonsall chambers of commerce say


Last updated 1/9/2014 at Noon

The year 2014 appears to be off to a promising start for many local businesses, according to the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce.

“Everyone is really excited about 2014,” said Lila MacDonald, interim executive director of the organization. Chamber staff member Kathie Richards said many business owners have indicated they are embarking on personal growth to better their endeavors this year.

“I think people are really encouraged and are stretching themselves a little bit this year; we are getting positive energy back,” said Richards. “Some business owners have said they plan to attend classes and put new energy into what they are doing.” Richards explained that opportunities for networking, idea sharing, resource sharing, and continuing education are made available through the chamber.

By utilizing those resources, Richards said, “If a person gets just one idea that they can use (implement), I think that’s fabulous.”

Membership in the Fallbrook Chamber is growing, and that alone is a sign of cohesive progress. After auditing records from recent years, Richards said membership stood at about 375 fairly steadily.

“Going into 2014 we now have 415 members,” said Richards, which indicates an approximate 40 percent growth over 2011 numbers. “ are coming to us now to join (rather than a membership salesperson approaching them) and members are bringing others in.

Richards said given the new members steadily coming in, she expects to see continued growth. “Our real membership drive will start in early February.”

The latter part of 2013, Fallbrook saw some fresh new businesses start up. Entrepreneurs with unique ideas are trying to tempt the public with their offerings.

The Fallbrook Chamber has now developed and/or supported four distinct seasons of activities to help support local business.

In the fall, “Fallbrook Scarecrow Days’ is now an annual celebration and the inaugural Fall Faire in 2013 proved to be very popular.

The winter activities of “Christmas in the Village” begin with the Chamber’s ever-popular Fallbrook Christmas Parade, and additional activities have sprouted up to round out December. A new artisan faire that debuted in 2013 looks promising as an annual event.

“April in Fallbrook” builds off of the gigantic Avocado Festival and includes the continually growing Fallbrook International Film Festival, home and garden tours, and more.

Currently under construction is “Summer Sizzle.” According to Richards, the chamber hopes to be able to have events every Friday night downtown. For the last several years, Connections Networking has put on its Hot Summer Nites series on two Friday nights per month.

“We are hoping to work it out with Connections to do it every Friday night downtown,” said Richards. The chamber also organizes “Wine & A Bite Art Walk” events on select summer nights.

In order to enhance tourism friendliness, Richards said installation of a new interactive screen is coming soon to the Fallbrook Chamber office so that visitors can easily access information.

The Bonsall Chamber of Commerce has grown significantly as well. Executive administrator Penelope Richards-Clark said they have realized 100 percent growth in a little over 14 months.

“The economy is really starting to grow. We went from 106 members to currently 208,” said Richards-Clark. The Bonsall organization experienced a significant leadership change during that time period and in addition to Richards-Clark, who has a solid public relations background, the president was Gail Martin. New president Bud Coale is helping carry the momentum forward.

“We are being very proactive in helping promote business,” said Richards-Clark. The Bonsall Chamber is receiving solid support from County Supervisor Bill Horn and State Senator Joel Anderson. “We also now have SDG&E as a corporate sponsor," said Richards-Clark. ”With three full-time chamber ambassadors, the goal is to add more – including youth representatives.

Richards-Clark said the Bonsall Chamber has helped members realize more growth potential through social media and that a good relationship with the Fallbrook Chamber has proved beneficial for both organizations.

“We are holding hands with the Fallbrook Chamber,” said Richards-Clark. “A lot of members belong to both.”

Bonsall’s River Village shopping center is starting to become a bustling center once again.

“River Village is now almost at full capacity; about 1-1/2 years ago it was at 50 percent occupancy,” said Richards-Clark. “That shows us the economy is growing. The other shopping center (post office) is at full capacity now.”

New businesses began popping up in Bonsall and Fallbrook as 2013 wound down. In speaking with a few of these business owners, some insight was gained into what they offer.

Main Street Café – “Chris is back” sums up this business. Chris Ioannidis owned a different version of Main Street Café many years ago before selling it. He and partners Oscar and Javier Escobar have opened an eatery bearing the same name in the former Wayside Café spot at 507 S. Main Ave. The premises were gutted and totally renovated with new décor, paintings, and flooring. Offering normal café menu items, with a few Greek food items, all cuisine is prepared fresh and homemade from scratch. Diners said, “It feels like home.”

Grapes Café Bar – Located inside the quaint and picturesque Jackson Square at 119 N. Main Ave., owners Jon and Tami Sutter said, “It’s a neighborhood kind of place. We have game nights and fun events where people can come for hours and just relax.” In addition to serving lunch and dinner, Grapes holds wine events on the second Sunday of every month from 3 to 5 p.m. with featured artists. These events support a different local charity each month. Watch for brewery events to be added soon!

Fallbrook Brewing Company – This new venture, opened by a pair of brothers and their wives, Chuck and Jaime McLaughlin and Stephan and Jennifer McLaughlin, offers beers that are brewed on site. “We want it to be a great local hangout for people to come and taste our beers,” Jennifer said. “It is family friendly; we make homemade root beer too.” The establishment does not currently offer food, but patrons are welcome to bring their own in or have a local restaurant deliver.

Baily’s Frozen Yogurt – Mark Bailey now operates a frozen yogurt and specialty coffee spot in Bonsall’s River Village. “We are trying to bring premium yogurt and tons of toppings,” he said. “We always keep one non-dairy and one no sugar added, the rest of the flavors change.” The coffee choices have been very popular with adults that both work in the center and those passing through buying their children frozen yogurt. “We wanted to cater to the whole family,” he said. “We only serve Peet’s Coffee.” Bailey said he hopes to eventually expand and develop more of a café setting. “My dream for the last five years has been to own a coffee shop. Then I thought coffee and yogurt was a good mix.”

Lean N’ Mean Bicycle – Jesse McCormack has opened this local bicycle shop at 5519 Mission Road, Suite B, in Bonsall, and prides himself on having very reasonable rates. “I don’t have to charge people an arm and leg for standard service,” he said. “I’ve always ridden bicycles, anything mechanical I have had a knack for since I was little. I try to sell what I use so I can stand behind the product.” Doing what he loves, McCormack is pleased to report, “It’s a local bike shop – good service and good attitude.”

McGrath’s Sports and Spirits – Dan McGrath formerly owned Main Place Bar on South Main Ave., and had to relocate his business due to the property being purchased by McDonald’s for its new fast-food restaurant. McGrath has not only moved his establishment, but given it a fresh new design. He is now located at 3135 Old Highway 395 inside the Comfort Inn/La Estancia and prepares all room service and the breakfast for hotel guests. Open now from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for breakfast and lunch, McGrath said, those hours will change to 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. very shortly. “There will be good, comfort food and a piano bar/karaoke at night. We are going to cater to everyone.” Residents within a five mile radius will be able to count on pizza delivery!

Fallbrook Rib Shack – Owner George Garcia and his business partner, Knicko Askari, have taken over this venture. “We are looking to bring authentic barbeque to town,” Garcia said. “My Dad lived here in Fallbrook, so it is like a homecoming.” Family owned, the small establishment features home-style food, organic bread, and locally sourced fruits, and homemade side dishes. Meats such as brisket, tri-tip, chicken, and ribs are cooked over citrus and pecan woods for outstanding flavor. Fallbrook Rib Shack is located at 3235 Old Highway 395, Suite D, in the same center as Pala Mesa Market.

127 West Social House (coming soon) – Now under construction inside the historic Elder House at the corner of Main Ave. and Elder Street, this is Faro Trupiano’s (Trupiano’s Italian Bistro) newest creation. “This is going to be a totally different concept than (the existing) Trupiano’s is,” he said. “The new restaurant will be a ‘California cuisine/gastro pub.’” Trupiano said he developed the concept for the new eatery based on “what the people of Fallbrook have told me they wanted over the years.” “Once I saw the venue and the old house, the idea and the concept matched,” he said. Trupiano said he is bringing a new menu to Fallbrook with mid-range prices. “It’s also going to feature a lot of local, craft beers,” he said. Trupiano estimates the opening of the new establishment to be in March and it will serve lunch and dinner.


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