Changes and Development Hit Atascadero Downtown
Atascadero. The folks at various customer service centers can rarely pronounce it — then again, we could all take classes on pronouncing ‘Atascadero’ from SLO County Superintendent of Schools Jim Brescia, seriously — even less people seem to agree on what the name means, but thanks to the City of Atascadero marketing efforts and the endeavors of local businesses and nonprofits, the name is getting attention by a wider audience lately.
In January, the third annual Tamale Festival brought thousands of people to Sunken Gardens park, with a backdrop of the historic Colony Administration Building, where the upstart downtown business had a chance to open doors and show off their wares and services. Since the planned development of the Zappas’ family La Plaza has been underway, a sense of revival and hope has flowed down El Camino Real, through Traffic Way, Entrada Avenue, and East and West Mall.
Could Atascadero’s downtown be on the verge of a renaissance? There are plenty of new and old businesses downtown who are banking on it. If you haven’t been downtown Atascadero lately, here is what you can expect to see.
The most attractive and entertaining new feature downtown Atascadero is Mr. Putter’s Putt Putt. The nine-hole miniature golf course on El Camino Real, just north of Traffic Way. On a sunny spring day as the cool breeze blows through, taking time out to tap the putter on Dirk Dole’s unique family activity is just what the doctor ordered.
“We did a lot of road trips growing up, and had fun on miniature golf courses all over the place,” Dirk’s son Grayson said, “We wanted to bring that to Atascadero and give them something they can have fun and be proud of.”
Opening up in summer of 2017, the course was a hit and is more than just golf. Coming out of winter and back into the warmer days, the course expects to see a lot more action.
“We get lots of positive feedback, people are really excited to see something like that come into town. We have birthday party packages that offer two hours of golf as well as access to the gem stone and fossil digs. We also have programs set up for fundraisers or company outings.”
Being the only miniature golf course in San Luis Obispo County gives people a reason to head into downtown Atascadero. From there, they can find some new and old faces around the area.
Of course, there is no missing the beautiful and historic Carlton Hotel, and the managers Deana Alexander and Annie Weyrich are working to bring a restaurant back to the corner of Traffic Way and ECR.
Down Traffic way, 805 Boardshop serves a wide variety of styles and accessories for the skater in your life. If your feeling out of balance, take a few more steps and find North County Pilates, where Melissa Barton is ready to put things back in order, starting with your body.
Another longtime business is still serving tea, crumpets and antiques on Entrada. Wendy Richardson of the Tea Trolley is an on-again-off-again advertiser with PASO Magazine and has watched Entrada run through phases. Wendy had long-since been the only place for delectables on Entrada until recently Templeton’s Dark Nectar Roasting opened a second location serving food, wine, beer, and of course the coffee on Entrada. Next door to Dark Nectar, Dead Oak Brewing Company opened, serving their own specialty beers. Both businesses work to bring in music to make the atmosphere more enjoyable, and can be found on Facebook for more info.
Up around the corner from Entrada, connected to the Carlton is one of the more popular places in Atascadero to get a bite and a beer — Street Side Ale House — and that begins what can be seen as a theme … beer, coffee, and antique boutiques.
Following ECR north you will find Hope Chest Emporium filled with fine old ranch and rustic flavored furniture and decor by a number of artisans and sellers in the area. Karen McNamara opened the new location this year, revitalizing the former space of Golden State Goods and brings a couple thousand square feet to life with unique and one-of-a-kind pieces. Karen is also the president of Atascadero Printery Foundation, and when finding yourself downtown Atascadero, it might be worth going an extra block to look at the work the foundation has done to clean up the historic building.
Next to Hope Chest is Bru Coffeehouse, and up a few steps from Bru, you can find Gatherings Thrift, the sister store to Gatherings Emporium here on Park Street in Paso. Alesen Corella expanded her footprint based off a “pay it forward” philosophy that started in downtown Atascadero.
And of course, not to be missed is the third-generation family-owned Arlyne’s Flowers and Gifts on Palma Avenue. The cute cottage is filled with an imaginative array of gifts for loved ones run by Jaynee Orcutt, who fosters the principles of “Going the Extra Mile, Superior Quality, Creative Floral Designs, Value & Affordability, and Professional Service,” as Arlyne’s Flowers’ keys to success.