Main Street Sonoma is long gone

When I was a boy growing up in Sonoma, there seemed to be at least two or three bars on every block of the Plaza, more if you counted the ones that were part of a hotel or restaurant (Union Hotel, Swiss Hotel and El Dorado, for example).

Fast-forward to today and it seems that there is a small but aggressive group of folks concerned that too many establishments serving wine will somehow ruin us.

So how many liquor or wine establishments are too many for downtown Sonoma? How many restaurants are too many? Ice cream shops? How about lawyers and real estate sales people?

Classic, old-fashioned Main Street, with small grocers, drug stores and haberdashers serving the needs of locals, has been gone from downtown Sonoma for decades. Only a very few (like Eraldi’s) have survived. The evolution of our small-town, small-shop economy began long before tasting rooms.

Safeway, which used be located where the art museum is today, moved west five blocks to Fifth Street West. Food City Market was located for years in the middle of First Street East between Spain St. and Napa Street. It closed and was replaced by a complex of shops, some of which sell wine.

Adobe Drug, now Pharmaca, used to be where the Sunflower Caffe is now, but moved to their new building in the mid-1960s. There were two other drug stores downtown in those days: Simmons Pharmacy, where Chico’s is today, and Fribergs Rexall Drugs, where Rudy’s Restaurant is on Broadway.

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