What's Up This Holiday Season, Our Second Installment!

The merriment continues! Get your calendars out, you won’t want to miss what’s happening this coming week in Orinda.

Create a new holiday tradition at the Orinda Ballet...

Orinda Ballet Academy & Company celebrates their 9th season presenting “A Sweet Dream Nutcracker”.  

Performances Friday, Saturday and Sunday Dec 8-10th at the Orinda Library Auditorium.  Tickets are available in advance or at the door. http://www.orindaballetacademy.com/performance-events.html

Help your littles learn to give back…

Local group Mindful Littles has two events coming up that can help your family shift the focus of the season to giving.

Sunday December 10th from 3-4:30pm at the Orinda Community Church.  Assemble and decorate holiday food baskets for the Bay Area Crisis Nursery while learning about the BACN and the families they help.  Purchase your tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/holiday-food-baskets-for-bay-area-crisis-nursery-tickets-40059577274

Thursday December 14th from 12-1pm in the Orinda Library Garden Room. Spread some holiday cheer with Seniors Around Town. Seniors Around Town is having a holiday party and Mindful Littles has been invited to join the festivities to pass out candy and join in the holiday spirit. Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/spreading-holiday-cheer-for-seniors-around-town-tickets-39720926360

Embrace Your DIYness, You Crafty Thing...

December 14th at 4pm in the Orinda Library Garden Room. Just for Teens: Make holiday gift bags, boxes and tags with artist Valerie Adinolfi. All materials provided. For grades 6-12. No registration required.

December 17th from 2-4pm in the Orinda Community Center Kitchen.  Join the Orinda/Tabor Sister City Foundation for a Czech Christmas Cookie Class. $10 Suggested Family Donation. RSVP to ljanourova@gmail.com

Toys, Tunes and Trains Oh My!

Saturday December 9th, 6-8pm at Theatre Square.  Toys come to life!  Come meet all of your favorite characters. Other holiday activities as well for the entire family to enjoy.

Tuesday December 12th at 5pm in the Orinda Library.  Enjoy holiday music with Mary Fuller on Viola.

Thursday December 14th at 7pm at the Orinda Theatre.  Free movie screening of the holiday classic The Polar Express!










Let's Talk Housing...

Hello WUDO Supporters. We hope you’re easing your way into the holiday season and enjoying some of the fun local activities around town. We’ve been covering those for you in our 2nd Annual What’s Up Downtown Orinda Holiday Guide; look for more in our next installment later this week!

Today we have a few other items on our list we’d like to chat about. First, the Orinda City Council Meeting tonight at 7pm in the Orinda Library Auditorium: the Council will recognize outgoing Mayor Eve Phillips for her dedication to the role over the past year and a new Mayor will be nominated and sworn in for the coming year. We wonder who that will be?

One thing’s for certain: we’ll be asking our new Mayor and the entire City Council to put an updated General Plan at the top of their list for 2018. We’d also love to see a Downtown Specific Plan created to address the development opportunities that may present themselves in the next several years. This recent article on the transformation of a dark spot in the sleepy town of Santa Cruz got our creative juices flowing...

We were encouraged that 2017 brought movement in that area with the help of consultant groups Main Street America and ULI and we are still waiting to hear from City Council on how they can use the recommendations from these two groups to reshape Orinda's outdated General Plan.  

The Downtown dilemma comes down to a few hot button points, one of which is housing.  What type of housing, if any, is right for Downtown Orinda and where is the right place for it?  How will it affect our City’s character? Parking? Schools? Wow… so much to think about and we will be back with more on all of this in the New Year.

Adding to the excitement is a slew of new legislation recently passed in Sacramento that could affect the way the state interacts with local governments when it comes to issues of housing.  This recent article in the New York Times does a much better job than we can in explaining the potential impact on Orinda.

WUDO Supporters, you can help today by reaching out to our City Council and urging them to get moving on reshaping our outdated General Plan. Let’s chart our own course for the future together.




What's Up This Holiday Season!


Can you believe that the holiday season is again upon us, and our little town is about to be full of holiday cheer? There is nothing sweeter than a homegrown holiday season, so over the next six weeks, we'll share the best of local events, restaurants to try and places to shop locally this holiday season.  We hope to see you on the streets of Orinda gifting, dining, drinking and spreading the holiday spirit. 

Here are some fun things to do over the next few weeks! More to come after Thanksgiving... 

Fun stuff to Do

Send a Letter to Santa Through December 24th Orinda Hardware (56 Moraga Way) will have a mailbox outside their store for deliveries to the North Pole.  Return letters guaranteed when you add a return address to your envelope!

Earn that Second Piece of Pie! Thursday November 23rd at 8:30am @ MCC. Bring your family and friends to enjoy the start of your Thanksgiving Day with the 1st Annual MCC Turkey Trot Fun Run. Your race contributions go to the Food Banks of Contra Costa & Solano Counties. https://runsignup.com/Race/CA/Moraga/MoragaTurkeyTrot  

Ditch Kitchen Duty

Shhhh...Nobody needs to know your pie is not homemade! Get "Thanksgiving to Go" at Wild Magnolia. Stop by and inquire about a made to order Thanksgiving feast.  Now kick up your feet and enjoy the day.  2 Theatre Square. www.wildmagnoliaorinda.com

See the Big Man... Twice! 

Santa will be in the house at the Orinda Tree of Lights Ceremony. Saturday December 2nd, 4:30pm-6:30pm @ the Orinda Tree of Lights, Orinda Village (near Bank of America). Dedicate a memorial light in honor of a loved one at this time honored Orinda tradition.  Voice ensemble groups from Orinda’s elementary and middle schools perform, Santa makes a guest appearance (selfies encouraged) and cider, cocoa are on tap for all to enjoy! Event proceeds benefit Hospice East Bay. https://www.hospiceeastbay.org/news/calendar/eventdetail/1350/-/orinda-tree-of-lights  

Come get in the spirit at Theater Square. Saturday December 2nd from 5-8pm. Performances by Lamorinda Theatre Academy.  Horse and Carriage rides (you read that right!), ornament workshops, tree lighting and yes, more photo opps with the jolly guy in red. http://www.orindatheatresquare.com/index.php/events 

Shop til you Drop

41st Annual Orinda Holiday Bazaar. November 18th 10-4pm @ the Orinda Community Center, 28 Orinda Way.  Liven up your holiday shopping experience with cheery handmade items, clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, candles, home decorations, knitware, organic food items and more. Admission is free!

Hit the Pop Up Shop! If you haven't tried Hoffsi Chocolates, you haven't lived! Now through December 23rd during the day, Cine Cuvee is transformed into a holiday pop up shop by Hoffsi Chocolates and Hollie's Home Grown - two artisinal brands that are locally owned by amazing Lamorinda women.  Stock up on delicious olive oils, salt blends and more delectable chocolate creations than you can imagine for Thanksgiving day and every event throughout the season.

Get your tree locally. McDonnell Nursery, 196 Moraga Way. McDonnell’s fabulous fresh Christmas Trees will be in the week of Thanksgiving.  Free tree cleaning and delivery with every purchase.  You’ll also find gorgeous holiday decor to fill your home.   

Happy Holidays, Orinda! 

Are You Looking for Ways to Help those Affected by the Fires: Bring Your Donations to the Orinda Thursday Night Street Feast


In the last 48 hours, we have heard of several local efforts to deliver much needed items to those who have been affected by the ongoing fires in Northern California and the first responders fighting the fires.  We are grateful to those of you who have gathered supplies from friends and neighbors and brought them to shelters and other agencies for distribution.

We have learned that Taste of the World, the food truck operators behind Orinda's Thursday Night Street Feast will be collecting items and distributing them to shelters in Petaluma, the City of Santa Rosa EOC, the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, several foodbanks and The Red Cross.

TOW will be collecting the following at this Thursday's food truck event (Thursday, October 12th, from 5pm - 9pm at the Orinda Community Center):

  • Canned food
  • Boxed cereal
  • Baby supplies (diapers, etc.)
  • Dog food
  • Bedding
  • Blankets
  • Monetary donations

We thank you in advance for your efforts.

Orinda's First Street Feast = SMASHING SUCCESS!


We spotted teens, tweens and toddlers; a DJ, cornhole sets and giant Jenga; an enterprising OIS student who set up a make-your-own-slime table for kids; we saw old friends and made new ones; we chatted with City Council members, folks from Orinda's Parks & Rec and the Planning Departments who were instrumental in getting this event going; we saw diners grabbing take-out from nearby restaurants and bringing it over to join the fun and Street Feasters heading to Rite Aid for ice cream cones at the end of the night; and we saw Orindans of all ages participating in what was, by every account, community-building in action.  

Taste of the World staffers made their own observations, too, and were extremely happy with the turnout and enthusiasm. Among the comments they heard were requests for more kids and vegetarian food options with highly visible signage, more tables in the shade and other suggestions. If you have other comments, please send them to us to be passed along at info@whatsupdowntownorinda.com.

And, drumroll, please...Here is the line up of all different trucks for Thursday, August 24th, 5pm-9pm:

- Grab & Go Kabob (Persian/Iranian cuisine)
- Curbside Kitchen (Filipino-inspired gourmet)
- S&K Wings (Chicken wings and more)
- Ceviche & Co. (Ecuadorian bites)
- Canasta (Mexican)
- Izzy A’s (Ice cream, frozen custard & other treats)
- The Guzzler Bar on Wheels
- Live tunes by Peter Feliciano

August 24th is also OIS's Back to School Night but we hope those with middle-schoolers can still stop by before or after. The City is piloting the program through mid-October, at which point it will decide whether to make this an ongoing event. 

Oh, and another great community event is coming up: the annual Orinda Car Show on September 9th. It kicks off with Dancing with the Cars the night before, benefitting many worthy Orinda causes. Buy your tickets!

See you at the Street Feast! 


New Thursday Night Street Feast kicks off August 17th!

Hope you're hungry!

Starting August 17th, Taste of the World will host a Street Feast every Thursday night in Orinda, featuring yummy food trucks, live music, and cornhole. Trucks will fire up in the Orinda Community Center parking lot from 5 to 9 pm with tables and live music on the Library Plaza. Come sample delicacies from the following purveyors at the very first Street Feast!

  • Copper Skillet on Wheels - all American fare
  • Drewski’s Hot Rod Kitchen - hot sandwiches
  • Southern Comfort Kitchen - cajun/creole cuisine
  • Golden Gate Gyro - halal truck
  • Street Steam Bunz - fresh, gourmet Asian food
  • Got Italian Ice - gluten-free and dairy-free dessert
  • The Guzzler Bar on Wheels - draft beer and wine
  • Tunes by DJ Bizkit

Trucks and music will rotate every Thursday, but will always consist of 5-6 savory options, a dessert truck and The Guzzler pouring microbrews and wine on tap. 

We are big fans of food trucks and the fun sense of community that a vibrant night market can create. We hope you'll join us and invite your friends from nearby communities. The city is piloting the program through October, at which point it will decide whether to make this an ongoing event. 

See you at the Street Feast!

Food Truck Night Market, coming Thursdays to Orinda!

With WUDO’s support, Orinda will be embarking on a new weekly Thursday Night Food Truck Market from Taste of the World. Every Thursday starting in mid-August, seven food trucks will pull up to the community center from 5-9 PM and the Library plaza will be buzzing with live music, cornhole and socializing al fresco! Walk from BART after work, or bring your family and friends for dinner and drinks.

Taste of the World partners with 60+ different trucks, so offerings will rotate weekly and range from pizza and ceviche to gelato to tacos and more. Craft beer and wine will be flowing from The “Guzzler”. We hope you’ll come join in a fun new Orinda tradition.

More details about the start date to follow!

Which comes first? Vibrancy or investment?

chicken egg 2.jpg

With property owner investment in Orinda’s disfuctional downtown quite a way off, we have shifted our focus to some potentially low-hanging fruit. We call these our what ifs:

What if local businesses were alerted when special events are taking place so they could take advantage of potential extra business? For example, back to back weekend dance recitals just came through the Orinda Library Auditorium. Cafe Teatro had its usual business hours when they could have stayed open later and/or added staff during performance times. For further example, two Orinda teens organized their 4th Annual Breast Cancer Walk for Awareness departing from the de Laveaga Train Depot on Mother’s Day. What if businesses in Theater Square and/or the Crossroads got involved?

What if we hosted a Three Bears bike race that started and ended downtown, named after the popular 19-mile loop that draws hundreds of cyclists through Orinda regularly? Baby bear loop for little ones? Goldilocks beer tent for grown-ups?

Speaking of beer, what if we grabbed Orinda Historical Society's list of Orinda's landmarks (the Casa, the Theater, the old bridge, etc.) to create a "pub crawl"-type community event? Titled "Site to Site, Drink a Pint".......who's in?

What if McCaulou's Village Square wasn't a ghost town on Sundays? Kudos to Orinda Books and Village Cafe for bravely staying open and breathing some life into that corner of our town. Bonus what if: what if (gasp!) McCaulou's moved their furniture out of the vacant space at the end and tried to find a tenant?

What if Orinda hosted a weekly or monthly food truck event on the Library Plaza? Off The Grid reached out to Drummond Buckley, our intrepid Planning Director, about this months ago. He followed up with enthusiasm but then it fizzled on the OTG end. Currently we have reached out to Taste of the World Market and a meeting is set including our new Parks & Rec guru, Todd Trimble. Fingers crossed!

What if Orinda restaurants connected to CalShakes to promote themselves?

What if someone bought a plot of land in Orinda and built us our own Westbrae Biergarten? Something open, visible and community-building...and called it de Laveaga Biergarten. Or something. Just spit-ballin' here...

What if we put the space in front of the Library parking structure to good use and built a dog park over half or some portion of it? 

What if the idea for a temporary outdoor "living room" on a quiet stretch (i.e. Avenida de Orinda or the aforementioned area adjacent to the Library parking structure), complete with astroturf, ping pong tables and more, became a reality? 

What if there was a better way to enhance and promote the existing events Orinda has that bring people downtown? The 4th of July Parade is perhaps our greatest success. But we also have the Farmers Market, Orinda Action Day, Concerts in the Park, Movies in the Park, Classic Car show, Lamorinda Idol, Restaurant Tour, Lamorinda Arts Council events, Library events, and yet residents are finding reasons not to bother.

What if we create vibrancy, and that vibrancy begets investment downtown??

*Idea credits to Steve Salomon (interim City Manager), Drummond Buckley, Main Street America, MHS students, us WUDO folks, and Cindy Powell.

**Please email us if you’d like to pitch in in some way. Doing any of these will require a committee of sorts, and volunteers like you! Short of offers of help, we welcome other creative ideas to create more vibrancy downtown via email at info@whatsupdowntownorinda.com