Painted Cabernet Coming to The Collection

Painted Cabernet

I hadn’t heard any rumors about this, so it sort of came out of left field (to me, anyway). But apparently The Collection is getting a Painted Cabernet either at the end of this year or (more likely) early next year.

My wife and some friends went to the Painted Cabernet in Santa Barbara a couple months ago for a girls-night-out thing and loved it. So she was super excited to find out we’ll be getting one here. If you’re not familiar with how it works, it’s basically a painting class with alcohol involved. And, depending on your level of artistic talent, the alcohol could come in very handy. While I haven’t done it personally, my wife said the instructor was really great in working with everyone in the room and she was surprised at how easy (and fun) they made it. Everyone paints the same picture, and I was actually really impressed with the finished paintings my wife and her friends brought home.

Check out their website for more info. Definitely a fun date-night or group-of-friends kind of activity. It’s also cool that there’s currently only one of these right now (in Santa Barbara), so it will certainly be unique for our area. I’m excited to check it out.

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Tree Lighting Extravaganza

CollectionTreeLighting2013-3The Collection did a nice job with their decorations

Tonight my wife, 10 month-old and I got to walk out our front door, cross the street, grab some red cupped Starbucks and head over to the tree lighting festivities at The Collection.

We missed the actual “lighting” itself (holy 45-minute wait at Starbucks, Batman), but we got to at least see the fireworks. By the time we got to Collection Park the tree was already lit, but it was still a festive atmosphere. They’re doing the whole thing again tomorrow (Saturday), so if you missed it tonight you’ve got another chance. Festivities start at 5:30pm with the fireworks, laser show and lighting kicking off at 7:00pm. If you plan on grabbing some Starbucks before the show (and you certainly won’t be the only one with that idea) you’ll want to get there no later than 6pm. The line was literally out the door when we showed up at 6:30pm.

Super-long Starbucks line aside, this is the kind of night we envisioned when we bought our house in Riverpark four years ago. After several years of stalled construction and other delays it’s finally happening. The skating rink is a nice touch, too. Well done, Collection. This is what we signed up for.

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Apple Store at The Collection? Don’t hold your breath… unless…

I want to thank the creator and owner of this blog, KavanM, for adding me on as a contributor of original posts!  Anyone reading my comments to previous posts on this blog can easily guess that the one retailer I would like to see come to The Collection more than any other is an Apple Store.  Information from a few different sources make me think that we won’t see one here any time soon.  Probably not, at least.  But there is a glimmer or two of hope.

The local area can support an Apple Store, even though there is one at The Oaks in T.O. about 30 or 40 minutes away, and one on State Street in Santa Barbara closer to an hour away, and also one in Simi Valley at the Town Center.  I mostly go to the one in T.O., often to just ask a question of one of the “geniuses” – how convenient it would be to have one just a mile or two from home.

Every time I go to the T.O. store, I ask them, “When are you going to open up an Apple Store in Oxnard, specifically at The Collection, which would be a perfect place for one!”, and I would always get an answer like “Oh, well, you know, they never tell us what their plans are, and yada yada yada…”, but the last time I went there a few weeks back, the guy I talked to actually had a meaningful answer.  He said he agreed that an Apple Store would totally fit at The Collection, but after seeing what has happened at the Simi Valley Town Center, Apple wants to take their time and wait to see that The Collection really gets established with a full slate of retailers (and dining establishments of course) that aren’t likely to close up shop any time soon.

The Simi Valley Town Center, for whatever reason(s), – be it the economic downturn, or a bad location, or a bad mix of tenants or lack of a movie cinema or not enough of a population to support it or whatever – is in bad shape right now.  Many if not most of the original tenants are gone, and many spaces are empty.  Vacant storefronts are plastered over with the same type of generic mega-graphics like the empty spaces at The Collection are, but the difference is that in Simi, those are stores that have exited and at The Collection, those are spaces waiting for their first tenants.  But the effect is the same as far as Apple is concerned – not a lot of activity in Simi other than at the Apple Store and Macy’s, and Apple doesn’t want to repeat that here so they are being very cautious.

And then there’s this:  Apple apparently isn’t opening up a lot of stores in the USA in general.  By far, their biggest expansion efforts are going on overseas.  According to a recent informative piece in Forbes Magazine, Apple opened 28 new stores in fiscal year 2013, only four of those were in the USA although there were also a few other “expanded” stores opened in place of older, smaller ones in the same malls.  “Apple relocated two existing stores to other shopping malls (several miles away), taking advantage of changing demographics, and probably more attractive lease conditions from competing mall developers.”, as written in the Forbes piece.  It doesn’t say how many miles away “several” miles away is, I wonder if it’s a lot less than the roughly 35 miles between The Collection and The Town Center.

So probably no realistic hope for an Apple Store at The Collection for a number of years, but hopefully someday.  Unless by chance Apple is thinking it might not be a bad idea to re-establish Simi Valley’s location here at a brand new, upscale center in highly populated western Ventura County, maybe?  Either way, what needs to happen first is for The Collection to really start filling up their empty spaces with quality, long term tenants.  I think The Collection is doing a bang up job with their dining establishments, and have planned well in having Century Theaters and the big anchors such as Target, Whole Foods, REI and now the new high profile H&M store, but they really need to fill up the rest of the empty storefronts!!  Other than in a few heavily trafficked corners, the place still looks and feels really empty.  This drawn out process is starting to get old.  Hopefully in 2014 the influx of new stores will really accelerate.

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Two New “Rumored” Businesses

I have it on good authority that two new commercial properties will be opening at The Collection soon:  a 24-Hour Fitness and Soma Intimates.

A planning and zoning permit was recently filed to open a 43,000 square foot 24-Hour Fitness Super Sport located at 400 Town Center Dr.  Apparently 24-Hour Fitness gyms come in four different flavors:  Ultra-Sport, Super-Sport, Sport and Active/Express/Fit Life.  Here’s how they describe the Super-Sport on their website:

Get all the little extras with your membership. At 24 Hour Fitness Super-Sport clubs, you will find towel service and plenty of equipment. In addition to functional training areas, and personal viewing screens on select cardio equipment, most clubs also offer whirlpools and saunas. Most locations also offer basketball and swimming and some locations feature racquetball.

As for Soma, they have a sign on a wall on Town Center Dr. (the main street open right now with Menchies, Massage Envy, etc).  I also checked their website and they currently have job openings posted for the new store at The Collection.  So while there’s no ETA that I’ve seen, they’re definitely coming.

I’ll wait until these stores are officially confirmed before I move them from the “Rumored Businesses” page to the “Confirmed Businesses” page, but I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing these guys at The Collection in the near future.

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Yard House Opening Tomorrow

The highly anticipated opening of Yard House is finally here.  Their doors open tomorrow (July 11th) at 11:00am.  They’re not accepting reservations, so it’s first come, first served. And to answer the question most people are wondering:  happy hour is from 3-6pm Monday-Friday and 10:00pm-close Sunday through Wednesday.

I hope to make it there this weekend, but I have a few shoots so we’ll see.  I’ll be sure to post a review as soon as I do make it over there.  In the meantime click here for a sneak peek of the beer menu (all 140 taps).

Welcome to the neighborhood!

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I’m back!

It’s been a crazy few months!  Between the craziness of the holidays, the birth of our son (our first!) and the fact that the folks over at The Collection seemed to be doing a better job getting information out I had decided to not really update this blog anymore.  But I’ve actually had a few people ask me to keep posting and the traffic to the site has nearly double over the last two months.  Apparently people are still finding my blog and have a keen interest in The Collection, which is a great thing!  So, I’ll keep updating as time allows and post any new information, store/restaurant reviews, etc. as they happen.  Thanks for reading!

This little guy’s been keeping me busy!

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Menchies Grand Opening Week

Menchie's of Riverpark

Menchies finally opened its doors on January 30th.  I stopped in to grab some froyo on opening night and was surprised to find the place empty.  I chatted with one of the gals working there and she said they were really busy earlier and that we happened to come at a good time.  Sure enough, with a few minutes several more people showed up and by the time we left there were seven or eight people in the store.

Continue reading

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Menchie’s to Open on January 30th

After a delay of more than two months from its initial opening date, Menchie’s will finally be opening on January 30th (next Wednesday). The people at The Collection have sited “construction delays” as the culprit, though that could mean just about anything. This is good news since the storefront hadn’t seemed to change over the last month or so and people were starting to wonder if it even would open.  Thankfully, those concerns have been put to rest and I’m excited to check it out next week.

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Three New Restaurants Confirmed

Today the folks over at The Collection have announced three new restaurant openings:  Yard House, Toby Keith’s Bar & Grill and Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana.

Yard House was one of The Collection’s worst-kept secrets, so that announcement doesn’t come as much of a surprise. It’s nice to know it’s 100% confirmed, though, as I’m definitely looking forward to its arrival.  The other two restaurants are a bit more of a wild card. I had never heard of either one, so I did a quick search on both and came away with mixed feelings.

Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana seems to have gotten pretty strong reviews among the sites I searched. Zagat rated their food 28 out of a possible 30- high praise indeed.  They only have four other locations in the country in Salt Lake City, Henderson (Nevada), Farmington (Utah) and Pasadena, so this restaurant will be pretty exclusive to this area which is nice.  I’ve always been a fan of wood-fire pizza and it seems like Settebello does it as well as anyone. So, color me excited.

Toby Keith, on the other hand, doesn’t appeal to me as much. They have 15 locations either open or about to open across the country, including two in California (Rancho Cucamonga and Folsom).  The Rancho Cucamonga location has an average review of 2.5 stars on Yelp. I’m not really into the country scene, and that appears to be this restaurant’s theme, so that’s why I’m not overly jazzed about it. But if live country music is your thing then this might just be the spot for you.

One thing I’m wondering, as I know a lot of you guys are as well, is when will we start seeing some more announcements of retail shops? All of these restaurants are fine and dandy, but The Collection won’t really start coming into its own without some great stores to occupy all those empty storefronts. Here’s to hoping we hear more on the retail front soon.

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CAN-Tree Collection Food Drive This Weekend

The holidays are always a super-busy time for my photography business, so I haven’t been able to post as much recently as I would have liked. I’ll try to get posts up more frequently, and I still have my ears and eyes open for any new stores/tenants being announced.

All that said, this weekend from December 7th-9th The Collection is hosting a community event benefiting FOOD Share. They’re trying to raise 50,000 pounds of canned food which will go to benefit needy families and individuals throughout Ventura County.  To accomplish that goal they’re hoping to build 50 CAN-Trees with each one made up of 800 cans of food.

To participate, simply show this weekend at the Whole Foods site at The Collection with your canned goods donation. It will be a fun weekend with live carolers, local radio stations and other entertainment.  Those who participate will enjoy photos with Santa, a balloon artist, ornament/cookie decorating and other fun holiday themed activities.  As an added incentive, the first 50 people on Friday, December 7th to bring at least 5 cans of food will receive free tickets to Century Riverpark 16. There’s also a drawing for a $500 Target gift card.  Not too shabby!

For a schedule of events and more information check out the event’s page on The Collection’s website here.

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