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Sprouts & Shutters: Bankruptcies, Burgers, Boutiques and More

Here's the latest roundup of retail and restaurant news in the Tri-Valley area.

Wondering what's moving into your neighborhood shopping center? Our biweekly Sprouts & Shutters column highlights the latest Tri-Valley retail and restaurant news.

Borders, which filed for bankruptcy protection on Feb. 16, will close about 30 percent of its stores over the next several weeks. Among those listed as closing are the and the . Thankfully those towns still have thriving independent bookstores, in San Ramon and in Pleasanton.

More bookstore news: Half Price Books will celebrate its new Dublin store with a grand opening on March 3. The bookstore was originally scheduled to open Feb. 17 but a roofing problem created a short delay. Read more about this new bookstore that opened up in the Dublin Retail Center on Dublin Boulevard in our previous .

Update on Half Price Books' new neighbor: As we reported in , DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse) plans to move in next door to Half Price Books. A company spokesman recently said DSW should open in mid-April.

Joining the long list of new restaurants opening in Dublin are Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Coco’s Bakery Restaurant. Read more in Patch’s . on Dublin Boulevard will be closing Feb. 27 and will reemerge as Coco's Bakery Restaurant in mid March. (Carrows and Coco Bakery Restaurant are owned by the same company.) Read more Dublin restaurant news in recent Patch stories about , (set to open in March) and .

Things may be looking up a bit for San Ramon’s Crow Canyon Commons Shopping Center, plagued by several vacancies. Loard’s Ice Cream & Candies will be moving into Tea Au Lait’s old spot soon. This is not the first time Loard’s has dished up its Bubble Gum and Mocha Fudge ice cream in San Ramon. The California chain closed its ice cream store in the Diablo Plaza at the end of 2009 and was replaced by Tutti Frutti. And before that it had a shop in the Country Club Village Shopping Center. Let’s hope the third time is the charm.

Borders isn’t the only business closing in San Ramon because of bankruptcy: Kathy’s Ladies Healthclub closed abruptly last week. A sign on the gym entrance reads, in part, “Due to the current economy, the troubles we have encountered in Pleasanton, the recent lawsuit filed against us by the Pleasanton landlord, we have no choice but to close the doors and file bankruptcy.” (See the complete message in the attached photo.) You can learn more about the gym closure in Pleasanton in Patch’s and  Also look for expanded coverage on Patch, coming soon.

Kathy’s members looking for a new gym can try a customized fitness program at the new KokoFitClub that opened earlier this month at the Iron Horse Trail crossing in Danville just south of Chow. Click here for details. Or try one of the Tri-Valley’s many other new gyms profiled in a .

There always seems to be something new moving into Blackhawk Plaza. The children’s play place Studio Grow opened earlier this month next to the new G.R. Doodlebug. Read all about it in Patch’s . And coming soon to Blackhawk Plaza is Francesca’s Collections, described as “a unique boutique with the latest in women’s clothing, jewelry accessories and gifts.” Get a sneak peak at what you’ll find by browsing the company’s website at www.francescascollections.com.

Several new shops opening in the Danville Livery, too: T&Z Bags and Accessories opened in January, replacing By Candle Light. Danville Furniture Gallery opened this month in Heavenly Indulgence's old spot. And Design Elements is moving from its location on Hartz Avenue to the Livery. The Livery also lost a couple of tenants recently. As we reported in our , toy shop G.R. Doodlebug closed at the end of January. From Tee to Green, a women’s specialty golf apparel store, also closed at the end of January. We'll keep an eye on what fills those vacancies.

Pleasanton gained a new Korean eatery: Kimchi opened its doors a couple of months ago on Valley Avenue, replacing Bombay Ice Cream. The new Kimchi offers Korean side dishes as well as soft tacos, spicy pork burritos and other quick-service dishes. One fan on Yelp described Kimchi as a “Korean taqueria.”

Pleasanton’s celebrated with a grand opening ceremony last month, after it moved from its Quarry Lane studio to the larger space in a new building on Willow Road. The business provides music instruction in piano, guitar, voice, strings, woodwinds and more.

Livermore’s in Blacksmith Square opened a new tasting room next door to their tapas and wine bar. The new tasting room, “Swirl on the Side,” focuses on smaller Livermore wineries plus a few other hand-picked California wineries. Taste five wines for $5. Find out more at www.swirlonthesq.com.

More Swirl news: Swirl now serves brunch. One Sunday a month Swirl on the Square hosts a brunch featuring favorites such as Spanish eggs, fresh fruit, Italian sausage and, of course, Mimosas made with sparkling Livermore wines.

A new Italian eatery called Milano Joe’s Cucina Italiana will open on Livermore's First Street. The restaurant replaces , which moved to a larger spot on Maple Street across from Livermore Cinemas. Milana Joe's owner Jose Madriz says he hopes to open his casual, family-friendly Italian restaurant this spring and describes it as “North Beach San Francisco style.” We’ll include an update in a future column.

Did you miss Patch's last retail and restaurant roundup? Read about these and more in our last Sprouts & Shutters column:

•    in Dublin.
•    in Pleasanton.
•    in Livermore.
•    in San Ramon.
•    in Danville.

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