Workspace: The Sandalady

Sandalady, Cotati Ca.

Fran, sole proprietor of The Sandalady Baseball Glove Repair Shop, has been repairing baseball gloves since the early 70’s in her 10x10ft storefront shop in Cotati CA. She knows everything to know about baseball gloves from purchasing a new glove and breaking it in, to glove maintenance and repair.

Photography by Michael Woolsey

The shop is a capsule of pure baseball goodness.

Fran’s favorite glove is the 70’s Wilson – Made in USA -“The A2000.” Find Fran at

Ernie's Tin Bar

Photography by Michael Woolsey

Ernie’s Tin Bar on Lakeville Hwy is quite literally at the cross roads between here, there in the middle of somewhere. The bar and garage has been in the family since its inception in the early 1900’s.  Ernie and Chris run the bar, and Rich is the on-call mechanic. The same two door Chrysler Windsor has become a fixture within the single car garage. Nothing has changed much in the garage but the bar has become increasingly a place where the local ranchers are mixing with techies from the Valley, iron horse haulers, city folks out for an excursion and people who just want a taste of what was and still is. This unique roadhouse features bands on Sundays and a quality assortment of hand crafted beers (American standards too).

Slings & Arrows

Fabian is a plant cultivator and geneticist by trade. He is also very much a farmer and faces the same issues any grower does of any sort of plant. He learned his craft, as he says in his own words, “from decades of failure.” But he also went to school for it, studying horticulture at Cabrillo Community College, where he got straight A’s. He is very appreciative of his formal education. Going through the Horticultural Program in Santa Cruz added the “science” to what he already knew.

There are multiple breeding projects going on at Trinacria Gardens, which btw, can take years to perfect to Fabian’s satisfaction.

Enzo’s Kush/Hollister Kush These strains are cultivated especially for those suffering from PTSD, as he does. Particularly US Combat Vets. Fabian is developing a strain that not only helps calm night terrors and facial tics, but that can be easily cultivated by someone in a wheelchair or is otherwise physically disabled. Fabian donates seed, flower and oil to Veteran’s groups whenever possible.

Vendetta Viola/Purple Vendetta: Fabian is currently working to recreate this strain that, in his opinion, was ruined through years of commercialization by syndicates. This cultivar, commonly known as GDP (Grandaddy Purple) is well known to those that were in the industry early. He is attempting a new spin on this old classic grape flavored terpene by combining the classic purple haze and a selected newly bred strain from his farm. Fabian plans to start selling his new purple cultivar in 2018, which will make Trinacria Gardens GDP a project 4 1/2 years in the making.

Pineapple Pressure: The newest  breeding project at Trinacria Gardens is of the Sativa genre. Fabian is combining an old emerald triangle classic known as Trainwreck with his Hollister Kush male, delivering an incredibly terpene rich cultivar saturated in smells of pineapples and citrus, for a race mental high that energizes the mind and body. Stabilizing this cultivar is his main focus over the next few seasons, due to the fact of Trainwreck’s notorious hermaphroditic tendencies, which carry over into new generations. He plans to deliver a genetically stable cultivar for the general public which could take multiple generations, selections and future pollinations. Again…it’s a long game.

The Cannabis Industry according to Fabian:

1) Big $: corporations lacking the heart and understanding of this sacred plant and the history that led us to where we are today. These are the people who bided their time for decades while the the grassroots farmers did all the heavy lifting toward legalization. Now they show up on the scene ready to rape and pillage the industry for profit, with no regard for patient health or well being.

2) Celebrity influence: this group also here to exponentially profit from the industry, having never germinated a seed or taken a single plant (let alone an entire crop) to harvest.  Yet these people are somehow experts on the subject. Their high profile personas glorify drug use (prescription and narcotics). Nude women with pasties over their nipples, cannabis hosts perpetrating as activists and contaminated products are the norm. This segment of the industry continues to contribute to the lack of trustworthy people involved in the commercial side.

3) The General Consumer: blind to the politics and backhanded practices in the industry, they are motivated to purchase by marketing and advertising. This group is growing in numbers as cannabis becomes more mainstream, and are the main purchasing power for dispensaries, however blind they may be to the quality of the product they are buying.

4) Grass Roots: the last 2% of the industry is the authentic grass roots, farmers, breeders, and martyrs of our sacred plant; men and women who are continually pushing  the industry in a positive  forward direction while still honoring the legacy of the California Cannabis movement (which inspired the rest of the US) and the countless lives of dying aids patients in San Francisco who passed away so this industry’s roots could be sprouted. These are legitimate makers, crafting products from a place of educated dedication and passion for the plant.

Fabian’s Sicilian family heritage plays a large role in his life and work. (Trinacria is the symbol of Sicily and is on the Sicilian flag.)  His family provides him the compass by which he steers his life today, including personal relationships and his business. Talk to him, and you will immediately know this guy is a straight shooter. He means what he says, means only well in all he does, and you will believe that he will do what he says he will do.

If you ask him what his differentiator is he answers easily: ethics. Running an ethical business is his strongest value. During his ten years in the industry, Fabian has witnessed repeated episodes of unethical practices. He has little patience for it and steers clear of it at all costs. Living life by a code of ethics toward the people around you is his way both personally and professionally.

Fabian is grateful for what he has today and for what he can do for people through medicinal cannabis. “I have things and people in my life today that I frankly don’t deserve, but by the Grace of God, I have them. I am so grateful for that.”

 Visit Trinacria on IG

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Brewsters Gardener

Photography by Laura Schneider

Field: What does your job as Beverage Director entail?

Alfie: The Beverage Director sets the tone for all aspects of beverage service in the restaurant, and determines ongoing strategy for how the bar presents its beverage offering. Everything from how we make cocktails to how kids get apple juice falls under their purview. The Beverage Director role is typically a job that exists at larger hospitality venues such as hotels, or restaurant groups with multiple locations. Since Brewsters is just large enough to merit the role, this position exists as separate from the Bar Manager, whose responsibilities are more tactical in nature. So much is changing in craft beer right now, and because I wanted the ability to create a beer program that is deeply connected to the breweries producing the beer, I designed the Beverage Director position to allow for precise focus on building relationships with the brewers and salespeople. This focus results in a level of product knowledge that I feel is essential to running a restaurant passionately dedicated to craft beer. Being able to expose the public to the deeper levels of beermaking and its extremely rooted connection to humankind is really important to me.


Field: How is my cocktail experience going to be different at Brewsters vs. other local establishments?

Alfie: Without denigrating any other local establishments I would say that first and foremost at Brewsters is hospitality. To avoid digressing into an essay on the subject, suffice to say that being kind and welcoming to people who want to hang with us is the most important element of what we do. It matters little how cool our drinks are if we’re not courteous and fun to be around.

I’m also not sure that I can answer that without first talking about the vast, and sometimes extremely righteous differences between the bars that exist up here. Not all bars are cocktail driven in the way that “craft” cocktail spaces are, but still offer cocktails. Some bars don’t really go past mixed drinks. And that’s fine. It’s exactly as it should be. I love a good dive bar and I usually don’t order a Manhattan when I’m there. That said, there are plenty of dives that have old-school ownership or mentality, and you’ll get a good Manhattan. It’ll likely have a bright red cherry in it, which is awesome in that setting. The bar at Brewsters is a restaurant bar that is firmly set in the world of craft cocktail culture. We don’t carry any products in the bar that don’t meet my criteria for integrity in ingredients, so I would also expect to find analogs of your favorite mass-produced soda, mixers, etc. I believe this makes for better drinking. Better for you, almost always better for the Earth. We are essentially dedicated to crafting a beverage that pleases and delights you, and flavor is the ultimate arbiter. In this regard, quality of ingredients and process are paramount.

The bar at Brewsters has a unique presence in the mind of the guest because of our focus on beer, but our kitchen is every bit the focus of what we do here as is the bar. Most guests eat while they’re with us, so at Brewsters I would expect an elevated beer/cocktail/food offering with a concise array of excellent products to choose from, and an amiable, fun hospitality experience.

Field: How would you describe the atmosphere at the bar itself? Is there anything surprising you?

Alfie: On the weekends it’s raucous and busy. The sheer volume we do makes for an environment of controlled chaos that can be tremendously fun, given how buttoned-up many people have to be during the week. We’re a family joint so we’re not talking Viking-level partying, but there is a lot of toasting and laughing going on. The number of people we serve on Saturdays has been surprising. Certainly unprecedented in my personal experience. We’ve ranged from 1500-2500 people on any given sunny Saturday, which is mind-boggling.


Field: What are your favorite cocktails to feature and why?

Alfie: I love helping people rediscover classic drinks. From a well-made margarita, to (Trader) Vic Bergeron’s original Mai-Tai recipe, there are so many drinks that have been adulterated or modified so much as to be unrecognizable related to their original composition, the Mai-Tai being a superlative example. The promulgation of these classic recipes helps ground what we do in past eras of bar goodness. I also love making people a Bronx, a gin drink with sweet and dry vermouth and orange juice. I like thinking about a time when something as mundane as oranges were seasonal and fancy.


Field: I think many people find the whole whiskey/bourbon genre intimidating. For someone wanting to give this genre a try, what would you suggest as an easy entry drink?

Alfie: Too easy. A properly made Old Fashioned will undoubtedly turn someone into a whiskey lover. If not, then I’m afraid there’s nothing that can be done for them.

Field: How has the role of bartender changed in recent years? Is more being asked of them? and how is this turning out for both bartenders and bars?

Alfie: The role of bartenders has remained remarkably consistent for a very long time. With the growth of Pre-Prohibition bar revival culture, the focus has skewed more towards the quality of ingredients and technique, and the creation of an integrated hospitality offering that consists of more than just getting people drunk. Professionalism is a big part of that, and bartenders are expected to have command of a wide array of knowledge bases and service capabilities. A bartender at an excellent restaurant with a great bar program will be expected to execute all the responsibilities of a knowledgeable bartender, while also providing an excellent dining experience overall.

In that setting the bartender is definitely being asked to do different things than a bartender at your neighborhood dive. But the dive bartender also has skillsets that are germane to their barspace that do not necessarily come into play at more cocktail-driven spaces. I want to be careful of any implied judgements in terms of the “what kind of bar is the best” conversation, as there are many types of bars and all of them provide for different ways of imbibing alcohol that are valuable and fun.


Field: What is your personal favorite cocktail when you are not behind the bar?

Alfie: Unfortunately/fortunately there is no way to choose one. Eating and drinking for me is all about atmospherics, i.e. a hot day requires Margaritas, a hangover requires a properly-made Bloody Mary bristling with pickles, and a night out on a lovely date requires a Martini to kick things off.

Disclaimers aside, I love an Aviation. Or a Perfect Manhattan. Or a Maragarita. But I really love Hemingway Daiquiris too.


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Workspace: Tim Nicholls

Photography by Michael Woolsey

Timothy Nicholls opened the roll up doors to his bike repair and sales shop in February 2017, contributing to the interesting new mix of businesses along Petaluma’s Second Street corridor. Cycle Chvrch Cycles has less of the feel of a typical bike shop, and feels more like an artist’s studio. Tim approaches his craft from a design perspective, refurbishing bikes with purposeful detail from carefully reconstructed mechanics to beautiful pinstriping work. He takes massive pride in his finished products and if you buy a bike from him, you can be sure he will be there to provide ongoing maintenance to your two-wheeled friend. Tim refurbishes bikes not just for sale but also donates to local organizations including COTS. You can find him most days from 11-7 in his shop, and also on social media @cyclechvrchcycles. Look for the handpainted signs (painted by Tim) on the nearby corners to show you the way.

Workspace: Freestone Country Store

Located at 500 Bohemian Highway in the hamlet of Freestone, the Freestone Country Store provisions the visitor with every necessity for either road trip or essentials of life in West County.  Walking up to the porch and through the screen door and presented with its litany of mostly very useful items that you haven’t thought of in a while, you will be blasted with a wave of nostalgia for some part of your past that you also haven’t thought of in a while. It’s worth stopping in to see what treasure you will be so glad to take home with you. It might be some local honey, but it also might be an interesting box of matches or a particularly functional dustpan. Eclectic and vintage wall decor, which is not for sale, adds to the visual richness of this place and reminds the visitor that this land has history that stretches long before organic bakeries and artisan cheeses.

Ray’s Regulars

Photography by Paige Green

At Ray’s you will find a cast of characters that shows up with regularity.  You’ve got your Wednesday Open Mic night people, your Friday happy hour people, your little league parents before and after (some during) the-game-up-the-street-people, and then your daily check in for a pint around 5 people. Great crews, all.

Wednesdays are particularly eclectic at Open Mic night, drawing on a local talent pool of all ages and abilities to get up in front of a small crowd in the corner of the deli space that becomes a makeshift stage. For a few years, Open Mic night has been run by Ariel Monterrey, a Cuban-born but now longtime Petaluma resident that thrives in his role as MC of this regular occurrence. He runs the show with encouragement and spirit, and is often up himself playing guitar and singing. Every act is treated to a rising roar of applause at the finish and the heartfelt camaraderie of the audience is palpable.  Close your eyes and hear banjo strumming, see children scooting around taller people’s legs, smell pastrami and cheese. That’s a sensory synopsis of Ray’s Open Mic night.

On Fridays the party gets going early, especially when the weather is nice and one can sit outside to watch the parade of vehicles that move through the intersection of West and Webster Streets. The inside scene is TGIF-jovial and can  border on the raucous. In one glance around the room you may see a bank executive, an electrician, a musician and a Petaluma High history teacher. Go back next week, and they will all be there again.

Back to the “regular” thing. There is another special group of regulars that must be mentioned: the dogs.  You’ve got Mimi and Steve’s hound dog, Blue, of the 5 o’clock regular crowd. And Joe’s pitbull mix, Buttons, a Friday regular. Blue and Buttons have many friends, which you will have to come to Ray’s yourself to meet and pat.

From Thistle to Green

From Thistle To Green

Step One: secure transportation for said errand running. We tapped our friendly neighbors at Yuba Bicycles.

Field: Hey Yuba. Can we borrow bikes to tool around downtown prepping for our pre-Green Music Center errands? We promise not to crash.

Yuba Bikes guys: No problem!

What picnic would be complete without meat and cheese? Really not a one. So, we proceeded directly to Thistle Meats where we knew we could successfully procure just the right array of savory  local pig and cow cured deliciousness. We love Thistle for its dedication to locally sourced meats and support of small farms in Sonoma County. And, because everything in that place looks beautiful and tastes amazing. Oh, and don’t forget the rabbit terrine, which we did not.  We were also able to throw in a round of Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk to provide a creamy foil to the salty meats. So far so good.

We sadly said goodbye to the bikes and returned them, unscathed, to Yuba. Then it was time to embark on our journey north in a mode of transportation with a little more horsepower. Beverages were top of mind for our next stop: Oliver’s Market in Cotati. The wine section there is well stocked with local vintages and the staff is incredibly helpful. We chose a Kunde Sauvignon Blanc and an Unti Vineyards Rose to complement our spread of meat, cheese and bread.

And a little fruit never hurt anyone. If you haven’t visited an Oliver’s Market, its time. Between the produce, meat department, wine and spirits section and ready to eat food bar…you can’t really find an improved situation for grocery shopping and eating. Locally owned, the vibe of Sonoma County is alive and well within the walls of each of its 3 locations.

Then we arrive at the lawn at the Green Music Center. Blanket laid, food arrayed, wine poured, and the party can start. And its a really good party — surrounded by other lawn revelers with picnic situations of their own. Everyone is friendly as the crowd grows and  the lawn fills in with concert goers awaiting the music that is getting closer and closer to starting.

It’s a beautiful summer Sonoma County evening…time to put the wine and cheese down and stand up and enjoy the show, we did and look forward to next summer season when we will  most certainly do this all again.

Fremont Diner

Photography by Michael Woolsey & Paige Green

Coming up on The Fremont Diner, it’s like stepping into another time and place, at first. It feels a bit like a truck stop and that there should be a gas pump (maybe there was once?) and 18 wheelers parked along the side, a girl in a halter top lurking somewhere, a highway stretching in either direction. But, cue needle screeching on vinyl, there are sun-soaked vineyard covered rolling hills stretching in every direction, no trucks at all, and a very different type of diner than the one in that reverie.


In fact, you can’t get more Sonoma than The Fremont Diner. They serve locally sourced, seasonal Sonoma country cooking (you heard that here first): a true combination of homestyle cooking and seasonal ingredients. You must not go on in life until you try the chicken and waffles or the biscuits in any form.

Hot off the griddle tip: go during the week, or early on weekends. It’s a Sonoma County favorite also favored by much of the surrounding population. But even if you have to wait for a bit to get seated, we promise satisfaction once those biscuits arrive at your table.

Master Bike Crafter

If you want to get on Bruce Gordon’s bad side, ask him why his bikes cost what they do. That is how to get off on the wrong foot with this purist bike maker who has been crafting his custom made bicycles in Petaluma for almost 30 years. And you don’t want to be on his bad side because then you would be robbed of the opportunity to visit his shop and upstairs gallery of work that is like a mini Bruce Gordon museum of bicycle beauty. Bruce bristles at the word “art” when used to describe his bikes, and much prefers “craft.” But whatever the term, they are nothing short of beautiful and well worth a visit.

Bruce is a craftsman of the purest sort, sourcing his materials very carefully from the USA as much as is possible in the bike part world. The letters COO (which stand for Country of Origin) are very important to him, from making his bikes to buying blueberries in the market. It’s less about “buying American” than it is about ethical sourcing and cool hard quality. He believes strongly in quality, and anything less would be an insult to his craft.

He makes 8 sizes of his bikes, or he will make you a custom one. He sources his materials in the USA, chosen carefully for quality, not price, and puts it all together – welding, brazing, fabricating and painting – at his shop in West Petaluma.

My favorite piece of machinery in his shop is a horizontal milling machine salvaged from a WW II era ship and looks like something out of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. He has a newer one but it is broken and prohibitively expensive to fix. The older, more manual machine suits his needs just fine and serves to create lovely cuts of metal that adorn his bikes.

Bruce holds onto the original drawings of every bike he ever made. They are archived at his shop. So if you purchase a bike from a previous owner and want to know about its genesis, Bruce will look it up for you for a fee.

As a result of Bruce’s sourcing practices and in-house craftsmanship, a Bruce Gordon bike is the most American-made bike one can get (nota bene: there are no American manufacturers of tubing), and so it’s pretty cool this is happening in Sonoma County.

Bruce has plans for his shop and these include expanding his retail showroom and starting a new bike repair business. The full service repair shop is now open for business, and in Petaluma he is one of only two such operations for those seeking bicycle repair and refurbishing. Services include tune ups, customs wheel builds, suspension services and overhauls and complete refurbishing. Mirroring the passion for quality and service that Bruce infuses with every bike he creates, the Repair Shop, run by experienced biker Tim Nicholls, treats every customer with the same level of attention to detail and workmanship.

With this expansion into more retail and full service repair, Bruce hopes for Bruce Gordon Bicycles to be a destination stop for bike enthusiasts – a place to come and talk bike shop, and maybe get a chance to talk bike shop with one of the bike world’s iconic craftsman.

Visit him here at, or better yet go visit him in person.