Mark’s Barber Shop

Today it’s more important than ever to take care of oneself. Through with our lives filled with work, sitting in traffic, and family responsibilities, it’s difficult to find the time to do so.  People need a place to relax, discuss topics of concern, or watch the game, someplace away from the pressures of everyday life.

There’s a new business in town that offers this place to relax.  It’s Mark’s Barber Shop, located at 435 Valley View Road, in El Sobrante.

This is a barber shop, but the first thing you see when you enter the establishment is a grand, antique pool table.  The second thing you notice is the relaxed atmosphere.  It’s like entering another era.  Owner, Mark Robinson, says he was 15 years old when he remembers his father cutting hair in a similar place.  Mark and his brother, Mario, are carrying on the family business.  It’s like a gentleman’s club but without the smoke room.  Mark insists on promoting a healthy environment for children.  He does “rock star” haircuts or anything your mind can think up.

Setting up shop in El Sobrante was a fortunate move for Mark.  El Sobrante, is a beautiful place, and the people are nice.  Mark would like more foot traffic around town.  He encourages drop-in visits.

The shop is open Monday through Saturday from 10AM until 8PM and on Sundays from 11AM until 6PM.  Mark’s Barber Shop is our Business of the Month for the month of July.

US Financial Mortgage Lending

Driving down Appian Way, you can’t miss the building with the big American flag on it.  Owner Nicole Donn has had the parking lot resurfaced and has put in a little flower garden.  An El Sobrante Chamber of Commerce Board member, and a member of the Marketing Education Committee of the Contra Costa Association of Realtors, Nicole says it’s the least she can do to help beautify the community.

This is also where Nicole does business as branch manager for US Financial Mortgage Lending. She’s very enthusiastic about her business.  She loves helping people with their finances.  From the age of 10 when she walked into the bank with her mother she knew she wanted to become a bank teller.  She liked the idea of talking with people and counting money. And so after graduating from high school Nicole became a bank teller.

Nicole used her evenings to continue her education and was soon promoted to Note Department Teller.  Getting her real estate license was next.  And with that she got into lending.  Nicole tried the real estate business but found her true liking was in finance.

What benefits the customer is always what Nicole looks at and not what benefits herself.  She likes to find solutions to people’s problems when other lending agencies are unable to help.  Perhaps a client may not “on paper” meet the requirements for a loan. Bu Nicole puts her creative “out of the box” thinking to work and finds a solution.  This is where Nicole’s experience proves most advantageous to her customers. PLUS she can help you in English or Spanish!

The El Sobrante Chamber of Commerce proudly votes US Financial Mortgage Lending Business of the Month for the month of June 2019.

Kumar Food Mart

Located in between the El Sobrante Post Office and Mike’s Appliances, at 521 Appian Way, you will find Kumar Food Mart.  This convenience store, as owner Pawan Kumar likes to point out, provides relief for the driver dealing with the traffic congestion that often develops in the triangle area of Appian Way.


At one time this property was United Gas & Food but Pawan isn’t interested in selling gasoline.  Though he does sell propane, Pawan is totally focused on providing a quick stop for cold drinks, munchies, lottery tickets, beer and wine.  He also carries things you may not expect to find.  I was able to find cranberry sauce on a Thanksgiving day that I couldn’t find anywhere else.

Growing up in India, Pawan specialized in electronics repair but really wanted more opportunity, so he moved to Italy to work and live with a cousin for 10 years.  Later a brother-in-law encouraged Pawan to come to El Sobrante, where he came to work at J&A Market for Renjit Babu.  When the opportunity arose to set up his own store at his current location, he jumped on it.

When he opened his doors for business a few years ago Pawan he turned a shell of a building into what it is today.  And he is continually looking to improve things.  Whether he’s resurfacing the floors or making changes to the building facade, he’s always working on something.

Pawan lives in El Sobrante with his wife Prem Lata, son Rohit, daughter Mitu, and his mother Radha Rani who has recently moved here from India.  Congratulations to Pawan Kumar for being the Business of the Month for May, 2019.

Yogurt Now

Yogurt Now is the Business of the Month for the month of  April.  Located at 452 C, Appian Way, Yogurt Now is a fresh new addition to El Sobrante’s mix of businesses. It offers something we are in short supply of, a fun place where one can enjoy a healthy alternative to ice cream with a friendly, family atmosphere.

This is what Amita, her husband Bishnu and their daughter Samun accurately identified as something needed in the El Sobrante valley. Originally from Nepal, the Bhandaris came to the United States looking for opportunity.  They settled in El Cerrito, California, 14 years ago.  There, they opened a restaurant and had great success, developing a large following of customers, some of whom are willing to travel to El Sobrante for their yogurt dessert.

Four years ago, their family moved to El Sobrante because the residents here were friendly and they felt that El Cerrito was becoming too crowded. Yogurt Now offers many different flavors of yogurt, which you serve yourself and cover with various toppings. Other items on their menu include acai bowls, which are all vegan.  They also serve Indian smoothies, called lassi, and boba tea.

We welcome Yogurt Now to El Sobrante and congratulate them on the grand opening of their business.

Centers for Elders’ Independence – Guardian Adult Day Care Center

Years ago, Peter Behr, founder of the Guardian Adult Day Care Center, became aware of a family friend who had just suffered a stroke.  This friend was not expected to live a month.  Peter made a promise to the friend’s family to play music for him every day until, one way or another, he was out of the nursing home.  The friend lived another 4 1/2 years.

In keeping with his promise, playing guitar for his friend, every day, Peter witnessed how badly the people staying at the nursing home were treated.  It was this observation that has driven Peter and his wife, Marie, first to open and then to operate the Guardian Adult Day Health Center for over 25 years.  You may have seen Peter standing in front of the Center on busy San Pablo Dam Road, stopping traffic so that the buses that come to pick up or drop off people can safely pull out into traffic.

Just recently, after three years of operating as a joint venture with the Center for Elders’ Independence (CEI), Peter was asked and agreed to become a part of CEI.  CEI has been operating in the Bay Area for 37 years and was able to bring to the table many benefits previously unavailable to Guardian and its clients. And with its goal to allow elders to live at home and not in a nursing home, the Guardian Adult Day Health Center fit right into CEI’s philosophy. Guardian is now a part of the Center for Elders’ Independence.

Participation of its clients is what CEI is all about.  Users of the facility have played an active part in the centers’ remodeling process.  The new facility now provides a new lounge for social activities, fresh lunches in a new dining area, and a new rehabilitation gym.  They provide managed health care with nurses on staff, as well as physical and occupational therapists, and social workers are there too.  Their PACE plan has full medical, dental and podiatry available.

The Center is having a Grand Re-Opening on March 7th from 3 to 6 PM. The public is invited.

Please stop by for a tour of the center, meet the staff and enjoy refreshments as they make room to welcome more seniors from Contra Costa County.

For more information about everything the Centers for Elders’ Independence have to offer, call, toll free:  844-320-1150.

Spicy Bite Indian Street Food

Spicy Bite Indian Street Food
3550 San Pablo Dam Road, Suite B2
El Sobrante, CA 94803

Malwinder Mavi and his wife, Harkamaljit moved here from Toronto, Canada about five years ago to be closer to family.  I met them both at their Spicy Bite restaurant located in Plaza Sobrante on San Pablo Dam Road.  Spicy Bite is our Business of the Month for the month of February.  And although I did most of my talking with Malwinder, he made it very clear that he drives a truck for a living and that Spicy Bite was completely run by the “ladies.”  He motioned to his wife who was cooking some fresh Indian bread called Kulcha.

Malwinder misses the snow in Toronto but doesn’t miss shoveling his driveway every morning.  Harkamaljit, on the other hand, doesn’t miss the snow at all and loves the climate here. They both like living in El Sobrante but quickly discovered a lack of what they call “Indian street food” available in the area.  He described this type of food as south-Indian and Indo-Chinese cuisine.

About a year ago, Harkamaljit opened up Spicy Bite.  They were happy to find a vacancy at Plaza Sobrante, at 3550 San Pablo dam Road, Suite B2.  This spot is ideal because of its proximity to the Sikh Temple and the busy San Pablo Dam Road, says Malwinder.

Spicy Bite makes all of their dishes to order.  Everything is made fresh. They are open every day, except Mondays, from 11 AM until 9 PM.  You can drop by the restaurant or place an order with and have your food delivered.

Congratulations to Spicy Bite, Indian Street Food, our Business of the Month for February.


Cash 4 Gold & Diamonds

Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to purchase a new car or to go on a vacation or pay off an old debt but you didn’t have the money and didn’t want to borrow any? What about that old jewelry that’s sitting in the drawer at home that you never use? Is that of any value? And what are you going to do with the silver urn you found at the side of the road? That’s probably worth some money! Is there anyone that can quickly help you turn your valuables into cash that you can use to get what you want? In El Sobrante, there now is Cash 4 Gold & Diamonds. And owner, Atoumane Agne, told us that he can help with this process.

Atoumane has been doing business as Cash 4 Gold & Diamonds in their new location at 452 Appian Way, Suite B, in El Sobrante since moving there from Hilltop Mall where he originally bought the business from his partner over 10 years ago.

Originally from the Republic of Senegal, Atoumane came to the United States at the age of 11 with the desire to become a nurse and help people. After learning to speak four languages, including English and French, he is now learning to speak Arabic and has achieved the title of Certified Nurse Assistant.

Atoumane told me that the Cash 4 Gold business was intended to be a way of making an income while pursuing his healthcare career. He didn’t realize how closely related to healthcare his business is. Often in dealing with customers Atoumane feels like a psychologist as he guides them through what can be a difficult time in their lives.

He has found on more than one occasion, a client will present him with an inherited piece of jewelry the family doesn’t want to part with but can think of no other way to divide the asset between two or more heirs than to sell it. In such a case, one solution has been to make a copy of the item so each of the heirs can have one. This one example has grown the business to include jewelry fabrication and repair, and watch repair.

Atoumane is continuing to take his business in new directions. But his aim has always been customer satisfaction. The Chamber of Commerce congratulates Atoumane for his success and welcomes him to El Sobrante with recognition as Business of the Month for January, 2019.

Chicago’s Pizza With a Twist

If you’re into pizza but looking for something a little different, look no further than Chicago’s Pizza With-A-Twist.  They serve 16 traditional pizzas, and give you a “twist” by also offering 18 Indian-style pizzas that can be described as Chicago Pizza with an infusion of Indian flavor.  Examples can be seen in any of their Specialty Pizzas like Tandoori Veggie Pizza or the Chicken Tikka Masala pizza.  The company has more than 30 locations nationwide and has seen promising growth in popularity since 2017.

The Sandhu family was working for the company and liked the business and the healthy product they sold.  So Gurdeep Sandhu and his wife Sukhdeep and sister Rupinperpal, along with his two sons, Navneet and Manmeet, decided to take advantage of what the business offers by opening up their own location.  After researching various locations, they settled on El Sobrante because of the growing Indian population and because the building was located on busy San Pablo Dam Road.

Their menu is extensive and offers a variety of beers along with salads, sandwiches, pasta, appetizers and pizza that you can enjoy while watching your favorite sports event on any one of 4 big screen TVs.  You can take your order to go, or they can deliver to you.  You can even take it unbaked, and cook your order later as a fresh alternative.  And, if you order online, you can save 10% by visiting their website at (Go to locations and choose El Sobrante.) They are open 7 days a week from 11:00 AM until 10:00 PM with a lunch buffet Monday through Friday from 11:00 AM until 2:00 PM.

Congratulations to the Sandhu family and Chicago’s Pizza With-A-Twist, Business of the Month for November, 2018.

Godfather’s Limousine

Tony Raffanelli got the idea of Godfather’s Limousine Service from bartending at special events. He saw the need for a quality limousine service that could make any normal event a special day to remember. So, 37 years ago Godfather’s opened its doors for business, when Tony bought a 1972 Cadillac formal limousine and had it painted white for weddings.

Today, Tony commands a fleet of limos and stretch limos that are available for wine tastings, quinceaneras, weddings, funerals and any special event. However, he says the pride of his fleet, the white Rolls Royce, is only available for weddings.

I met Tony at his place of business, located on the corner of La Paloma Dr., and Appian Way, at 407 La Paloma Dr., in El Sobrante. He had just finished giving the place a new coat of paint. And, as always, the place was immaculate….just like the fleet of cars he has. So, when only the very best will do, champagne and red carpet service, call Tony of Godfather’s Limousine Service at (510) 222-9995. And congratulations to Tony Rafanelli and Godfather’s Limousine Service, the Business of the Month for October.

By Bob Sharp, Chamber Board Member

Maria’s Gourmet Pastries

3800 “B” San Pablo Dam Road
El Sobrante, CA 94803
(510) 669-1187, (510) 669-1195

Maria Nunez has always loved baking and making delicious desserts. But it wasn’t until about 30 years ago, after making her first birthday cake for her daughter Mayra and her husband Alejandro, that she realized her hobby could be much more. Everyone who tasted her cake loved it and she soon became looked upon as THE cake maker to go to.

Maria and Alejandro Nunez opened Maria’s Gourmet Pastries in El Sobrante in 2005. Now the excitement for her cakes and pastries grows with every bite. And so does the demand. So popular are her baked goods that Maria is looking to expand her business and their business is currently looking to hire more help.

They specialize in making custom cakes. Most of their business is birthday cakes but they also make cakes for weddings and other occasions.

When it comes to pastries, their most popular sellers are the fruit tarts and the tres leche chocolate desserts. But it doesn’t stop there. If you like cheesecake they have all kinds. When I visited their shop last, they had New York, blueberry, strawberry, and cappuccino cheesecakes. I bought a slice of each. You might also try their cookies, croissants, cinnamon rolls or brownies. Pastries don’t stay in the display case for long and the selection will vary so you never know what to expect when you visit. But it’s all delicious!

You are welcome to stop by Monday through Saturday from 10am to 7pm; and Sunday from 10am to 4pm. Free, hot coffee is available for their customers. They are located in the Park Plaza Center on the corner of Hillcrest Road and San Pablo Dam Road.

Congratulations, Maria and Alejandro!