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Kathleen Hill: Mary’s goes to school, City Party food and Divewalk taking a walk...?

Mary’s Pizza Shack’s back to school specials

After spending buckets of money and energy on back-to-school clothes, backpacks, supplies, and haircuts, many families welcome a hearty meal at a good price. Mary’s “Back to School Specials” will look familiar to Mary’s regulars, but they are still well worth seeking for a fun feast.

For $25 you can feed your family with a large pizza with two “traditional toppings” and a large salad, or a family size spaghetti with pesto, marinara or classic meat sauce with three giant meatballs and a large salad.

You can also bring in a can of food during the months of August and September for the Redwood Empire Food Bank and get $5 off your next purchase.

As well, Mary’s in Boyes offers a happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, as does the Plaza restaurant where there is a full bar and a late night happy hour from 9 p.m. to closing Thursday through Saturday and 8 p.m. to closing Sunday through Wednesday.

The Boyes Hot Springs location is the second “original” Mary’s Pizza Shack. The original “original” was truly in a sort of shack or little white house near the Boyes Market that is now occupied by residents. High school students used to consider themselves lucky to land a coveted job sweeping the floor at Mary’s. 18636 Sonoma Highway, 938-3600; 8 W. Spain St. 938-8300. Maryspizzashack.com.

Pets at Pets Lifeline win

A sold-out crowd at Vintage Kennels came up with $200,000, a small part of what it costs Pets Lifeline, Sonoma’s no-kill animal shelter, to keep deserted cats and dogs alive and well cared for until their “forever homes” are found.

Fund-a-Need emcee Bill Jasper called every bid and kept the excitement and noise going through the salad course of sweet Bibb lettuces and savory Ranch dressing.

Next came Stellar Catering’s platters of sliced Flat Iron steak, which in some cases, got consumed by those at the initial end of the table where they were placed, late summer succotash of corn, dried cherry tomatoes, Roman beans, and Shishito peppers, along with roasted marble potatoes sustained happy vegetarians. Guests started to circulate from stall to stall before dessert came and a great time was had by all. Congratulations to Pets Lifeline, executive director Nancy King, and her great team and board. Next year get you ticket early so you can visit with the goats, pigs, camels and horses before dinner.

Celebrating 20 years of the Girl and the Fig

Most of us could never assemble 600 of our closest friends to pay $75 to sit on folding wooden chairs at tables that laced Sonoma City Hall’s paved “horseshoe.” But Sondra Bernstein did just that.

Fulfilling her promise to guests, Bernstein gave 50 percent of the ticket revenue to the following nonprofits: Pet’s Lifeline, $5,250; Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, $3,637; Sonoma Community Health Center, $1,425; La Luz Center, $2,287; Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers, $1,000; and her own nonprofit Fig Foundation, $7,275.

Led by Sonoma native and chef John Toulze, her professional team of 50 chefs, cooks, and servers somehow presented hot duck confit legs to all 600 guests with grace and not one dropped plate. Let’s see: 600 hundred duck legs means 300 ducks. One guest at our table suggested maybe there was an event in St. Helena serving duck breasts or several duck breast specials at restaurants around the wine country.

Bernstein’s mother, Janet Bernstein, and her brother Ronald and his wife Beverly Bernstein, came from the East Coast and joined in with Girl and the Fig fans from far and wide. After boards of John Toulze’s charcuterie and cheeses, with jars of olives and pickled vegetables, came fig and arugula salad, then the duck confit legs and thighs on baby lentils in a cabbage bowl, followed by loads of cookies. Suddenly servers carrying glimmering baskets of It’s Its passed out the ice cream sandwiches, which have almost become a trademark of Bernstein’s parties.

City Party food fun

When I asked former Mayor Ken Brown if he was mayor when for the first City Party, he reminded me that the first City Party “wrapped up” Sonoma’s 150th anniversary celebration and, as he put it, “and we kept at it.”

“The Council ran it, then they wanted to stop,” said Brown. “I didn’t vote for it. The Community Center took it over, I helped out and then last year the city took it back. Lisa Janson, our events coordinator now heads it up.”

In the last few years the event shifted focus from facing south behind City Hall to facing north and Spain Street, to back to featuring the music and dancing in the back parking lot of City Hall last week. Without any official statistics, there appeared to be fewer attendees this year.

Since that first City Party, I have tiptoed in, through, and around the crowd checking out their picnics. At first lots of people made creative dishes, almost in an unspoken competitive way, to bring their best offerings.

This was the first City Party held on a Friday night and, related or not, it seemed as if more food was purchased than cooked, which is fine. Sonoma Market, Mary’s Pizza Shack and Costco seemed to be favorite sources. Maybe it looked that way because I had just come from seeing Eleanor’s Coppola’s “Paris Can Wait,” an orgy of gorgeous French food, at the Sebastiani Theatre.

But other groups worked hard to make fresh food including Maria Lounibos’s guacamole and salsa, her husband’s brownies, big pots of beans, chicken and potato salad. I asked one woman if her hockey puck shaped appetizers were little frittatas, and she said, “No. They’re spinach pies.” OK.

Divewalk Café may need new location

Divewalk Café, that casual emporium of banh mi, pho and crêpes, might need to find a new space. Sonoma Springs Brewing Company is taking over more of the old Nicholas Turkey building, including Divewalk’s space, on Riverside Drive at Petaluma Avenue.

Divewalk owners Marc and Lorene said that, “We have been working with them to see if a collaboration is possible, to see if sharing the space is a viable option. We remain hopeful and optimistic that it can work, but there’s a very real chance that it won’t.”

They also added in an email that, “There’s no cause for immediate panic about what this all means, but we will know fairly soon if we have a longer future at our current location or not.”

If you can think of a great place for Divewalk, please contact them at info@divewalkcafe.com.

David Cook opening office and retail store

Sonoma City Councilmember David Cook, also known as a recent father of twin boys and for his Cook Vineyard Management business, has taken over the former Granary space on Eighth Street East in Sonoma.

Since I frequent the just-expanded Estates Sales shop next door, I have been checking weekly on Cook’s progress.

As of last Thursday, he planned to open to the public Friday, Aug. 25. The great thing for home winemakers will be that Cook will be selling home winemaking supplies, so many Sonomans who didn’t want to go to Napa to make wine will have everything they need right here in river city.

Many locals still miss the Granary with its feeds, baby chickens and loads of down-home advice. The store’s departure was partly due to a chain feed store moving into town. You can still get baby chicks and great commercial or home farming advice at the generations-old Brocco’s Old Barn on Arnold Drive.

And then there was the eclipse, apparently

After a spirited lunch last Friday with several KSVY characters, BJ Blanchard and others were standing in the Jack London Saloon parking lot when we learned that BJ and Malcolm Blanchard, he formerly of Pixar, were leaving Saturday for Oregon to watch the eclipse that most of us missed back home in Sonoma.

At that moment BJ voiced the idea of taking a “suitcase full of food.” She said Monday by email, “We brought 24 of Malcolm’s homemade bratwurst and three bottles of his sauvignon blanc that he picked from the Foppiano Ranch in Healdsburg and pressed in our driveway - quite good and he’s entering it in Sonoma County Harvest Fair. We’ll make a feast tonight for his Oregon relatives with whom we are staying in Sun River.

“I didn’t mention (the suitcase) included good tequila and lots of gin. We heard the shelves would be empty up here due to the invading hordes, but that turned out to be fake news.”