Bizou Brings Kiss Of Dining Elegance To Uniontown – June 24, 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Kevin L. Hoover

Eye Editor

UNIONTOWN – The southeast corner of the Uniontown Shopping Center, best known as the escape route for Safeway liquor ripper-offers, is experiencing a serious infusion of elegance with the arrival of an upscale new restaurant named Bizou.

You might think of it as Avalon north, since Bizou is the brainchild of Beverley Wolfe, Avalon’s owner. The menus may be similar, but even in partially assembled form, Bizou has ambience all its own.

Having been through so many iterations as a fooderie, from bakery to Korean restaurant, Wolfe did the equivalent of cleansing one’s palate, clearing the space entirely to start from scratch. “We gutted it and started over,” she said. The effort has taken months, detail by meticulous detail.

Uninstalled lighting sconces rested on dining tables Saturday afternoon as Wolfe and Chef Ron Garrido served grilled oysters to passersby out front. But even partially assembled, the bespoke interior radiates quality with its black wainscot cladding, assisted in no small part by an array of Lynn Carlin paintings on the theme, Le Poisson Pond. Even the caramel-stained concrete floor looks good enough to eat.

A few steps away, the kitchen is a marvel of compact design. It had to be; the tiny space had to balance regulatory requirements with a workable space for two cooks to make magic. “It took two months with a CAD program to design this,” Wolfe said. “It’s absolutely like a ship’s galley.”

Every detail plays into making the micro-sized space work. Like most of Bizou’s appointments, the dishes were purchased at restaurant auctions, and among the finds were plates designed for another compact, elegant space – the Concorde. “They’re lightweight and they pack tight,” Wolfe said.

Bizou's Beverly Wolfe with her supersonic plates. KLH | Eye

Bite-sized Bizou’s influence extends well beyond its interior. In fact, it has transformed the entire corner of the shopping center from an area generously described as “seedy” to something genuinely welcoming. The alley to the parking lot has been repainted and lined with redwood planters, while even the back parking lot looks relatively civilized.

Squads of sketchy hangers-out used to literally snatch garbage bags out of the hands of Murphy’s Take & Bake employees, Wolfe said. Now, the dumpsters have been moved away and the back wall painted in one of those modern, darkly-saturated hues that makes even the aged cinder-block wall look rather stately. Soon, Bizou’s logo will adorn it, creating a hitherto unknown sense of arrival.

“I wanted people to be comfortable arriving,” Wolfe said. Uniontown’s out-of-the-area landlords, by the way, contributed not a penny to the overhaul.

The extreme rehab extends around the corner to the wing’s south side. Bizou’s backside is painted red and gold, feng shui-friendly colors for a south-facing wall.

When an obscuring back hedge was removed from the lot’s perimeter, it revealed a shin-deep trench full of human waste and litter. “I can’t believe what we found in there,” Wolfe said, shuddering. It’s all gone now, and soon, shade trees will be planted to provide a cooling canopy with no cover for creepy doings.

Months in the making, Bizou – “kiss,” in French – will open June 30. avaloneureka.com, (707) 825-0900

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17 Responses to “Bizou Brings Kiss Of Dining Elegance To Uniontown – June 24, 2010”

  1. Bear

    Beverly, congratulations. if I ever make it back to Arcata I hope to see you there.

    #4095
  2. dan hughes

    Supersonic plates? Look out Neerdowell. For I know a lady who put’s work into her restaurant has her heart ito it too.

    Haven’t seen it yet, but from the description you might catch me taking a lady friend there for dinner dropping a C-Note in the till on occasion. Gotta give some love to get some love boysNgirls!

    #4196
  3. Mary Beth

    Congratulations Beverly! I peeked in at the Oyster Festival, and you have created a destination dining space (again)! I can hardly wait to dine at Bizou’s…

    #4219
  4. Oh god, we’re already calling it “Bizou’s.” I guess that was inevitable, like “Abruzzi’s,” “Tomo’s,” “Libation’s” and “Brio’s.” Can “Plaza Grill’s” and “Golden Harvest’s” be far behind? Hey, how about we de-possessive-ize the ones that really do end with “s,” like say “Don Donut,” “Mazzotti” or “Murphy Market?”

    #4222
  5. Janice Dickens

    I attended opening night of Bizou. I did think the FLOR Prosecco was a very nice beverage, and it occurred to me that the candle holders matched the leopard print dress of our hostess at the opening of Bizou.
    The cooks awaited instruction with wide-eyed anticipation, the water boy was cued to serve perfectly, holding one arm behind his back the entire time.
    I expected a larger appetizer for the money as well at Bizou; a few overcooked, shriveled pieces of chewy meats, the three small shrimp on my plate were fine, but just not enough to justify $14. best to stop there.
    I just wish I had a place to dress up and go out to…where I can get a full meal. Full, expensive dinners at Avalon have never satisfied my small frame, and Bizou seems set to deliver the same.
    The tiny proportions seemed like some sort of punishment. Some folks like punishment. It’s not trendy or stylish to pay so much and get so little, really!
    But Safeway was handy right next door, we bought some sandwiches after our meal at Bizou…I was simply still hungry.

    #4496
  6. Beverley Wolfe

    Ms Dickens (or whomever she relly is) has been after Avalon for a very long time and now she is apparently targeting BIZOU. She actually says that our food is a form of punishment?

    Her above comments are actually her compilation of a few emails she sent to me the past few days and which I answered. She appears to have edited just for the Eye. She also peppers the internet food review sites with her comments about what we do which she seems to enjoy quite a bit. She has aliases as well. I have no idea why she seems to be focused on our restaurants, but it would be great if she’d go play in someone else’s sandbox. Here is the transcript of our latest round of emails. For those who like to blog, this will be a feast!!

    As for Avalon, Bizou, our staff and myself we are delighted to be in Arcata, and to have made the Uniontown Center a brighter and safer place, while creating a few jobs along the way. Thank you, Arcata, for the warm welcome! We are having a ball!

    First; she makes sure to arrive at our new cafe withing an hour of first night opening, enjoys the complimentary prosecco, and then rushes home to send us her “opinion” by 8:28pm. She says:

    To: avaloneureka@yahoo.com
    Date: Wednesday, June 30, 2010, 8:28 PM

    I did think the FLOR Prosecco was a very nice beverage, and it occurred to me that the candle holders matched the leopard print dress of (you), our hostess at the opening of Bizou.

    The cooks awaited instruction with wide-eyed anticipation, the water boy was cued to serve perfectly…what a nice kid! He held onto a purposefully quiet demeanor as to fade into the background, (obviously trained to do so…)

    Your friends and some loyal clientele arrived to “christen” the event…later, some awkwardness about credit card machines not working, and how to adjust the new lights…

    But I still wish I had a place to dress up and go out to…where I can get a full meal.

    Safeway was handy, we bought some ribs and cake after our meal at Bizou…I was simply still hungry. Good Luck!

    We replied:
    On Thu, Jul 1, 2010 at 1:34 AM, Beverley at Avalon Restaurant wrote:
    You know, the only awkwardness around, was your own. Good thing you had Safeway close by. Save yourself the angst, if you don’t enjoy what we do, you certainly do not have to come in. Interesting that you just can’t seem to stay away.

    Sadly for you, you really miss everything that has meaning, and become fixated on a fantasies like wide eyed cooks and my terrific nephew, whom it is clear you didn’t get at all, he is nothing like your “observation”; and who would ever match their outfit to a candleholder?

    Second email She says::
    Sent: Thu, July 1, 2010 8:40:44 AM
    Subject: Re: Well….
    It’s been no problem to stay away from Avalon, I was hoping that the sincere input from clientele like myself would have inspired a more generous serving at the new location. I truly take the tiny proportions as a sort of punishment. Some folks like punishment.
    But it’s not trendy or stylish to pay so much and get so little, really! I was just checking….and was disappointed again.

    And yes, your dress sort of did match the candleholders, spots of caramel against a black background. And it was very awkward that your payment methods were on the fritz on opening night. I would have been mortified, had it been my debut. But again, good luck on the new location next to Safeway.

    Again we respond and try to be reasonable:
    Let’s not enter into a debate. Now that I know you ordered a “small plate”" such as the appetizer, (appetizer: a small taste of food, meant to stimulate one’s appetite) of Sizzling Shrimp or Seafood Light Fry; and leave hungry, I understand. After all, by design, appetizers are meant to whet one’s appetite.

    As I have kindly noted to you in the past, all that is needed is a friendly request to let me know, while you are with us, that you need something and we would be delighted to accommodate.

    As to the credit cards; we could have simply not accepted them. Other establishments do have such policies. It takes far more than this to qualify as “mortified”. I am mortified, however, that credit card debt has contributed greatly to bringing our nation to it’s knees. I am also mortified that the banks charge the merchants, NOT the cardholder, quite a bit of $ to process the cardholders charges.

    I am confused as to where the sincerity is in your imput. It is in my nature to respond and to talk with people, thus, once again, I have responded to you.

    Finally she wraps it up:

    Yes, Beverly, I have ordered full meals from Avalon on two separate occasions, and I left your restaurant hungry. There is no discrepancy in my observations about teensie, tiny dinners at your restaurants.

    And I expected a larger appetizer for the money as well at Bizou; a few overcooked, shriveled pieces of chewy meats (light fry), gave no promise that a dinner would be any better, I’m glad we stopped there.
    No, it did not “whet my appetite”. The three pieces of shrimp were ok, the rest was barely edible. I wasn’t going to have my companion invest more for even less of a dinner at that point.

    And again, I do sincerely wish you luck on Bizou, since the location doesn’t quite inspire the atmosphere of class that you hope to be setting…Safeway is the prominent feature for that spot.

    You will need luck to draw anyone to that location.

    We wrap up to the Eye audience, Whew. I guess I need to become thicker skinned. If what we do (and I mean our terrific staff as well as myself)wasn’t so important to us, we wouldn’t care what Ms Dickens, or Sizzling egg as she monikers herself, does when she sharpens her stick for her pokes.

    #4504
  7. Two things. In the e-mail chain, the person says she went for ribs and cake after Bizou. In the comment posted here directly, she says she got sandwiches.

    Now really, if you want to bulk up with sammiches, ribs and cake, you don’t go to a place like Bizou.

    But the most crucial point is whether Beverley’s dress matched the candle holders.

    #4513
  8. Beverley Wolfe

    Yes, kevpod, now we know why BIZOU cannot use clear glass votives, after all, what would I WEAR????? I like your posts, thank you…

    #4526
  9. The plot thickens. “Janice Dickens’” review posted here now appears on Yelp under the name “Jim M.” This version goes with the post-meal sandwiches from Safeway rather than the ribs and cake.

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/bizou-arcata

    Jim/Janice also slams a Crescent City attorney, but likes the Cha-Cha Lounge in L.A.

    http://www.yelp.com/user_details?userid=Vi9pjlgaNSgb4fWWEoQJ3Q

    So, what we know at this point is that (s)he is a peripatetic person of varied tastes, not to mention identities.

    #4542
  10. Beverley Wole

    Oh boy, here we go again! Jim Janice Danielle, whomever, is back on Yelp and who knows where else, slamming Avalon and or BIZOU. I guess she/he/it just likes stirring up the sand in our sandbox too much to leave…sigh..request goes out to our appreciative guests and fans..please post your honest reviews on Yelp, Urbanspoon, Citysearch, Tripadvisor and anywhere else you may choose. We need the support. Avalon and BIZOU are happy to be reviewed truthfully, and we need your comments now to drown out the untrue slams Jim/Janice/Danielle are dishing out, because in fact it hurts our image falsely. All we are trying to do, is run a business in a tough economy, by working hard, tenaciously, and doing our best to do things right. As always, I will always personally address any concerns, suggestions or issues, we want to be right for you!

    At this juncture, I must now leave the sandbox of reader comments on this topic, I have much work to do and cannot afford the distraction or the stress of this..nor should I inflame the vindictiveness of this person whom has picked us out to defame….watch out for Jim/Janice/Danielle, if he-she-it wanders into YOUR business, you may find yourself defending everything you’ve worked toward, against a bonafide fruit loop.

    #4544
  11. globalkatzen

    Re: kevpod’s comments on 6/28 about the general populace making every restaurant name possessive, no matter what: it’s a pet peeve of mine and I thought I was alone! Thanks for sharing.

    #4632
  12. Janice Dickens

    Jim is my boyfriend, I’m Janice, Danielle is my middle name that I most commonly go by.
    Ribs, sandwiches, AND cake…all to Safeway’s credit, were better fare than we found at Bizou.
    Happy to clear that up for you, since you seem to be more concerned with that than with offering your customers a satisfying dinner.
    We honestly attended opening night at Bizou with an open mind, but were disappointed with the overcooked meat, the high prices, and the sad location. We were honestly hoping for a better experience.

    And for the record, we DO like other restaurants in town, and we have given them glowing reviews.

    #4817
  13. Janice-Jim-Danielle, fancier of sandwich, rib and cake dinners, rest assured, your credibility is unassailable.

    #4819
  14. Janice D

    It will never cease to amaze me how, in the higher echelons of society, (of which I do frequent), a merchant can delicately package a chunk of horse puckey with a gold bow on top, stick an incredibly high price on it, and it will sell like hot cakes to those who have a need to impress each other with their truly “disposable” income.

    Unfortunately, in this remote region of the North Coast, certain restaurateurs have to advertise of Craigslist for fry cooks whose most recent experience appears to be the kitchen at Denny’s.

    I have been in many fine restaurants, all over the world…and I have an experienced palate.
    “Kevpod” – it was just our misfortune that Safeway didn’t happen to have steaming Beef Bourguignon ready to go…after leaving the tiny inedible portions of shriveled octopi at Bizou that night.

    #4880
  15. Sharon Letts

    Ms. D. (coward that you are, this may not be your real name at all)
    I think you should go back to all those “fine” restaurants all over the world you’ve eaten at and stay away from Humboldt altogether.
    You are undermining good things people are trying to do with your negativity.
    If you knew Beverley at all, you would know she’s a single mother who’s raised her son to be a fine man, and works hard – opening a 2nd business is not easy. It’s admirable no matter what country you are in. What kind of sister are you, anyway?
    Shame on you.
    Your ranting is not intelligent, it has made you look like a fool.

    #4930
  16. All in all that person’s assertions just don’t add up to anything other than Internet snarkola. The multiple names, the sandwich (or) rib and cake dinner, the bizarre Yelp entries, the desperate self-credentialing as a “high echelon” world traveler, not to mention the over-the-top slam against this new restaurant. And apart from all that, what person with “an experienced palate” goes to an upscale restaurant to pig out, anyway? You go to a steak house or buffet for that. You go to Bizou to take your time and savor the delicacies.

    #4935
  17. Steve S

    I can’t believe how long these posts can last. Here is one or two of my experiences with Avalon and Bizou. I had both great food with my favorite local desert their tar ta tan. One night I approached the Resturant and Beverly was headed home. Knowing my personal coffee taste she turned her car around, made my coffee, and brought it to my table. All without me knowing she returned until she brought the coffee to my table.
    The health facility I work for was being treated to a seminar at the Avalon. Having been so well treated by the staff at both restaurants, I made it my business to meet Beverly. When she was the host at the seminar I couldn’t help but visit with her and was flattered by all the attention she paid our group. NO Not One left hungry or pleased with our experience.

    #53617

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