Located between the barrel room and the vineyards at the historic Bernardo Winery, Café Merlot combines Europe cuisines with Southern California flare. Café Merlot co-owner Toni Kraft grew up in a home with the smells of baking bread, and counts planting, harvesting, and consuming fava beans with her grandmother among her fondest childhood memories. After a career in catering in the Midwest, where she worked alongside the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Wolfgang Puck, Toni brings an experienced but experimental philosophy to her current restaurant’s seasonally-changing menus. And with the help of executive chef Ferdinand, Toni also helps with the cooking classes, which range from cooking with wine to Super Bowl snacks, spreads, and marinades.
The bistro uses the 123-year-old winery’s rustic surroundings to great effect. On the patio, olive trees and grapevines gossip above diners. Indoors, a warm-toned Tuscan ambiance welcomes guests. Sundays see Chef Daniel roll out some of his specialties on the brunch menu, such as lobster eggs benedict and Kahlua French toast, making the cafe an enticing destination for a romantic breakfast date or a confusing business meeting.
Reflecting on this childhood, Chris Keating sometimes feels as if he didn't exist. His parents' divorce left him with very little tangible evidence of his formative years, so he's spent his adult life as a photographer making sure children can look back fondly at warm family memories. Chris Keating and his Calgary staff have made this a reality for more than 3,000 families since opening the doors to Towne Photography in 2006. There, the professional photographic crew shoots posed and candid shots of families, children, couples, and babies at picturesque parks or against their studio backdrops, and they also snap triumphant graduate portraits, intimate prenatal shots, and provocative passport pics that make border crossing a breeze. Their ironclad guarantee allows unsatisfied clients to request reshoots, reprints, or resizing on all photographs, and they vow to remake or recapture any artwork that sustains damage over the years. Chris also takes his photographic knowledge on the road to conduct Betterphoto Workshops across the United States and Canada, teaching novice photographers how to artistically preserve their most precious memories.
The brand American Apparel, which recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, conjures up images of stylish and well-fitting fashion basics. It also likely brings to mind sassy advertisements featuring long-haired beauties in natural makeup posing in skin-bearing bodysuits and loungewear.
But what many don't know about the brand—despite its name and the slice of apple pie that comes with every purchase—is that all of its clothes are made in America. Everything from sewing and cutting to accounting and marketing happens in one building in downtown Los Angeles, and the rest occurs within a 30-mile radius. Not only that, every slim-fitting pair of pants, spandex bodysuit, and v-neck T-shirt is made in a sweatshop-free environment.
Plus, keeping everything in house means the company eliminates unnecessary and wasteful factors, such as shipping fuel and packing materials, as well as provides jobs to Angelenos, instead of outsourcing them.
Holy Smokes For Less empowers smokers to create their own cigarettes using Kentucky-grown tobacco and accentuates smoking experiences with lighters, incense, pipes, and fine cigars. First, guests take a sample of one of the shop's all-natural tobacco blends, which match the flavor of name-brand cigarettes without any additives or preservatives. Cigarette artisans fine-tune each blend based on the client's individual tastes, then guide guests through the rolling process, where an automated apparatus turns loose particles and paper into 200 consistent, machine-made smokes in as fast as eight minutes. Customers watch the hypnotizing mechanical process in awe, adjusting the amount of tobacco and tightness of each tube with helpful touch screens. As visitors sample the shop's finest burning leaves, they can lounge inside the studio puffing away to perfect their impersonation of a donut factory.
The brim of a giant bowler hat shades the entry to the Village Hat Shop in San Diego’s Hillcrest district, a nod to the store’s decades in the headwear business. A tall display case full of ethnic headdresses just inside the door might give the impression that you’ve stepped into a museum, but the space beyond is filled with current fashions, each one for sale. There are shelves of bejeweled Arturo Rios’ designs with towering tropical feathers, or slip into a Stetson, a newsboy cap or peruse the shelves crammed with costume and knit caps, each rich in color and pattern. One corner caters to Steampunk style, another to historic recreations from years past. Informed and helpful assistants know intuitively which styles best flatter every face, and the sheer lack of headwear diversity has led Hollywood films, musicals and fashion shows to turn to the Village Hat Shop.
The tech-savvy staff of family-owned media shop IF Digital transfers precious memories and valuable info stored on analog media to more durable, digitized formats that can easily be stored, saved, and shared. Customers can choose any one of the company’s conversion options, including 8mm and 16mm film transfers and a videotape-to-DVD service that preserves the quality and lifespan of precious home videos.
Not limited to moving pictures, techs round up loose family photos, slides, and negatives and herd them into JPEG format for easy storage on a disc, eliminating the need to strap a projector, portrait studio, or photography professor to your back each time you visit a friend’s house. The talented staffers also use pictures to whip up 10-minute DVD slideshows that make ideal communal eye fare for birthdays, anniversaries, and dinner parties.