Does Bel Aire Need a Diner?

Bel Aire barber Robert Blair thinks the popular north Napa shopping plaza could use both a place for workers to grab lunch and a "potty place" for customers' dogs. Do you agree? Tell us.

Bel Aire Plaza is one of Napa's most popular hangouts, with outdoor tables at Peet's and Whole Foods attracting people and their pets; a bookstore for browsing; a barber shop, three restaurants and a yogurt bar, along with retail mainstays Target, Trader Joe's, Orchard Supply Hardware, Pet Food Express, Pharmaca and Cost Plus World Market.

And Bel Aire is getting more exciting with the advent later this year of Pier One and Chico's.

But there's no place to get a working-person's lunch, says barber Robert Blair, co-owner since November of Barber Shop of Napa Valley next door to Peet's.

Blair wants to see a "brown-bag, Eat-at-Joe's" type of diner in Bel Aire, where workers like him can grab an affordable sandwich at break time.

"If I had the money, I'd make it into a (19)50s diner just to match the (barber) shop," Blair said, as he picked up a coffee at Peet's between haircuts Monday morning.

"You only need a couple of hundred square feet" for a lunch counter, he added.

From his vantage point at the busy barber shop, Blair has also observed another lack in Bel Aire's offerings: A "potty place" for dogs, which frequently accompany their masters to the shopping plaza.

"I'm tired of seeing them (urinating) on the potted plants," Blair said.

Bel Aire management should designate a spot for dogs with artifical turf and waste bags, Blair suggested.

"If they're going to make it a dog-friendly place, make it a dog-friendly environment."

Do you agree with Blair's suggestions? What other ideas do you have for Bel Aire Plaza? Tell us in the comments.

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Tina Morse January 08, 2013 at 06:35 PM
I would have to say that Villa Corona is an affordable lunch alternative in Bel Aire however I do see where he is coming from. On another note they MUST fix the parking lot. It doesn't matter what time of year I have driven through that lot, it is always congested and unsafe. I feel like a mouse in a maze in that lot. Other than the side lot at Target and back by OSH the parking is horribly designed. It always backs up on to Trancas. I dread that lot anytime I have to go there.
Larry Cereghino January 08, 2013 at 06:45 PM
I agree with what you said here Tina,now with more business on Calif Blv..its just crasy.....now they are building up the other lots thier...not sure whats coming..but its going to fuel a traffic mess...........
Larry Cereghino January 08, 2013 at 06:46 PM
Bring in the food trucks......have them park in the back near target...
Cathy Gumina Odom January 08, 2013 at 08:58 PM
Good ideas. I'd love to get a sandwich, fries or a little lettuce, for $5, maybe $6.50 with drink/tax? That would be ideal. Something in 30 minutes or less. Affordable. And yes I do like to walk my dogs over to the pet store after getting some pizza and pasta with the kids at Firewood, or yogurt, or books at Copperfields, or gelato. I do have a great pic of a Rottweiler outside Whole Foods trying to get mine.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) January 08, 2013 at 09:09 PM
Marsha Dorgan had another suggestion for Bel Aire: Number the parking stalls so drivers don't get lost trying to find their vehicles. That's one I can relate to as my car looks like a zillion others and I'm always wandering around trying to locate it.
SEJ January 08, 2013 at 10:08 PM
There are places to eat lunch at affordable prices in Bel-Air Plaza now with the new development across Trancas Street. What Bel-Air needs is a new parking system! I used to get my hair cut for well over 20 years at the Barber Shop in the plaza, but with all the new business there, and the wait time for the busy barber shop to have a vacant chair, I found myself going to Jims Barber Shop on Solano Ave. no wait and the barber there cuts GREAT hair on Fridays and Saturdays!!
Tina Morse January 08, 2013 at 11:01 PM
Sad Cathy but you can't get anything worth eating for that price. Even a deli sandwich at Lucky's will cost you more than that. Everything has risen in price and now "affordable" is $10 as a max. also with the shops right across trancas you can get all the things you mention. I really think that the parking lot and traffic needs to be addressed before they add anything else. Do you feel safe walking through the parking lot with your kids... because I don't with my kids.
MICHAEL P WILSON "Independent Kid" January 08, 2013 at 11:18 PM
Food trucks are not clean
Elaine January 08, 2013 at 11:46 PM
Love to have a diner in the Bel Air plaza but a pet potty.... I know it is nice to have your pet but people should carry the little disposable bags with them and properly dispose of the used bags. If I want to take my dog with me I need to take responsibility for the animals' need to poo. or otherwise.. When an animal needs to pee they generally just pee. They cannot 'hold it' until they get to a special area.. And that area would attract flies, etc.. not very sanitary.. I went to Firewood one afternoon and everyone was stepping over poo on the sidewalk.. hardly a nice experience for us Napans and surely not a good memory for tourists.. And, people with that utter lack of manners no matter how hard we might want to accomadate their dogs' need to poo or otherwise are not going to care.
Elaine January 08, 2013 at 11:49 PM
YES! but won't happen, too much competition.. and delicious food besides.. The trucks still aren't back for the Food Truck Fridays.. sad. So many other towns are enjoying that tasty food..
Elaine January 08, 2013 at 11:52 PM
Somebody does not have a sense of humor!.. The food trucks have very strict sanitation standards and if anyone would get sick, it would not take very long, especially in the city of Napa, for the bad experience to be shared with neighbors and friends and other customers..
Marsha Dorgan January 09, 2013 at 01:11 AM
A diner would be a great idea. Create one similar to those that are icons along over the East Coast — you know along the architectural style people can see in at Fog City Diner in San Francisco. Have a straight-forward menu of egg-sausage breakfast sandwich and meatloaf lunches .... I better quit, I'm making myself hungry.
Michael Haley January 09, 2013 at 02:17 AM
I just got a sandwich made to order at Whole Foods for $6.00 the other day. I was actually surprised at the low price. So what about that? Parking is turning into a nightmare over there. The dogs pee everywhere and it is terrible, and a lot of dog owners don't even try to manage them, but as he says, there is no where to manage them to. They ought to just leave their dogs in their cars.
MICHAEL P WILSON "Independent Kid" January 09, 2013 at 04:11 AM
Walmart neighborhood market.
Larry Cereghino January 09, 2013 at 04:38 AM
They are here already..... conta costa county...........
MICHAEL P WILSON "Independent Kid" January 09, 2013 at 04:40 AM
I went to one in Sac County We need one in Napa. They could go in at the old Fresh and easy store.
MICHAEL P WILSON "Independent Kid" January 09, 2013 at 04:53 AM
like robocop 2 Walmart neighborhood market is better than the first.
C pridmore January 09, 2013 at 04:04 PM
Before they add anything more in that area,FIGURE OUT THE VERY NON FUNTIONAL PARKING LOT !!!
Elaine January 09, 2013 at 04:58 PM
Yes, parking is a hassle. But having come from the Bay Area a very long time ago, (:. it was just part of the shopping, going places experience. But a little more time walking to the stores or finding a park space is certainly worth so many really great places to shop, locals to work, and updating a very archaic shopping center. When I shop at Trader Joes I park near TJ and walk to the other stores, not moving my car... When I shop at Target, I park in the area nearer the World Market if I plan to go to more stores in that area and not move the car. I think a major change that we all can do it be more thoughtful as we drive and allow people to move out to the thru street that exits the shop center so others can continue around looking for a place to park. I would be a great help to practice a little driver politeness.. sure would help the over all experience...
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) January 09, 2013 at 05:14 PM
Good points Elaine, I also stick with one parking spot to do multiple Bel Aire errands. And much of the time I don't drive there at all: The BF and I walk a mile from our house to the shopping center almost every day to pick up a few things, and only bring the vehicle when we have to haul heavy stuff.
Ash Leigh January 09, 2013 at 05:41 PM
Put something cute on the antenna. I know, that may sound silly, but it will help you find your vehicle from a distance.
Ash Leigh January 09, 2013 at 05:45 PM
Some are. Have you tried, Mark's the Spot? He's mostly organic, buys local and everything is delicious.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) January 09, 2013 at 05:49 PM
Don't say that around Gia Sempronio of Phat Salads & Wraps. Her truck sells fresh healthy food and is as clean as a whistle. I wouldn't mention it to the folks from Pastranomy, Crossroad Chicken or Mark's The Spot either. Pastranomy burned my latkes, but their operation was cleanly. Crossroad and Mark's are just YUM. Basically, your statement is easily disproved! I've never read about health inspectors finding a dead mouse in a food truck around here but I can't say that about the stationary restaurants.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) January 09, 2013 at 05:51 PM
Louise, I like antenna mascots, but even the old car I can afford is newer than that - the antenna is in the windshield.
Dan Monez January 09, 2013 at 06:34 PM
If you want to experience a good model for what is suggested, try "Diggity Dogs" over in Cordelia on Pittman Rd., (in the midst of all the fast food joints by Scandia). They offer great old fashioned hot dogs, sausages, homemade soups, salads, etc. for a reasonable price and they have an outdoor doggy patio with pet treats, water, and a potty area. I had a footlong dog and a generous portion of great homemade macaroni salad for $5.50 yesterday. Napa needs a good hot dog place, dogonit!!!
Steve Sando January 11, 2013 at 08:46 PM
Just wanted to say hats off to Blair for trying to make it as a real local, independent business in a mall full of mostly chains. It can't be cheap to have a business there. An independent diner would be fun and appreciated.
John Richards January 24, 2013 at 11:54 PM
I agree, dogs should not be competing with humans in an area that is already crowded. I often have trouble negotiating the sidewalk by Peets because of the choking point caused by dogs, their owners, shopping carts and newspaper racks.


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