Pop Up Shops at the 2015 Art & Wine Stroll

Rally Round Downtown Gilroy came out again in enthusiastic support of the Gilroy Downtown Business Association’s 2015 Art & Wine Stroll with Pop Up Shops to help make the stroll more interesting.

This year, the good news was that there aren’t as many doorways to fill! New businesses and construction to repair the empty URM buildings cut down on the locations available. What a great problem to have!

We also tried something new: Cathy Carlson and Gary Walton put together the idea of a Pop Up Food Court, with 16 vendors offering tasty treats and food-related services. As you can see in the pictures (below), the idea was a crowd pleaser.

Scott Monfort raised the bar a little with RRDG’s first indoor Pop Up Shop: Holiday Heaven (gently used decorations) opened up for one day only in the old Gilroy Hotel. Wouldn’t that be a great way for the property owners to promote their buildings: showing them occupied with a thriving business?

Another happy surprise was the appearance of some more Pop Up Shops that were not part of the RRDG effort. Gina Lopez had a tent for her State Farm Insurance business, and local artist Ralph Marquez put a Pop Up Gallery in the Gilroy Hotel.

Yes! Let’s make downtown Gilroy the place to go!

The RRDG sidewalk Pop Up Shops this year were:

  • Holiday Heaven – Gently used holiday ornaments and decorations
  • Out and About – regional publication
  • Raw Legends – locally-designed clothing.
  • Slow Food South Bay – promoting good, clean, fair local foods.
  • Save the Miller Red Barn – a group working to preserve a local historical landmark

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And, in the Pop Up Food Court (in alphabetical order):

  • Back Porch Bakery
  • Bell Hill
  • Bene
  • Beverlie Terra Personal Chef
  • California Lavash
  • Cupcakes for College
  • Data n Results
  • Debbies Unforgettable Treats
  • Deliciousness by Deb
  • Franci Cakes
  • KakesNKids
  • Las Lomas Lavender and Honey
  • Le Petit Délice
  • Soul Sweets
  • The Square Root
  • Sugar and Honey
  • Surrounded By Chocolate

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Now, how can we turn some of these Pop Up Shops into permanent stores downtown?

Let’s see what we can put together for the October Beer Crawl…

2014 – A Year in Downtown Gilroy

2014 was a busy year in our beautiful downtown! While putting the information together for this post, we were amazed at how long our list of just the highlights turned out. We have definitely shown that there is always something happening downtown.

Like every year, there were a lot of great things going on, tempered by a few disappointments, in 2014. Let’s get the down side out of the way, first (it’s a lot shorter):

  • Garlic City Billiards closed its doors. It turns out that our 3rd Annual Billiards Rally was also the last. (At least until another billiards parlor opens.)
  • In September, Station 55 Bar and Grill served its last meal and shut the doors. The owner, Charles, was a strong supporter for building up downtown, co-sponsoring the Fifth Street Live music events and hosting a number of fund raising events for worthwhile organizations.
  • Only 2 live music venues continue downtown – The Milias Restaurant and Rio Nilo.

On the positive side of the ledger:

  • The Paseo to the Eigleberry parking lot finally opened! (It makes things much, much nicer.)
  • The empty URM buildings are almost all in the process of being prepared for occupancy.
  • Several of the currently empty buildings are scheduled to get tenants in (early?) 2015.
  • As reported by a number of merchants and restaurants, it looks like more people are shopping and eating downtown.

And now, to accentuate the positive, in 2014 we had:

Weekly Events:


  • Champagne brunch at the Old City Hall Restaurant
  • Family Night with karaoke for kids at Station 55

Tuesday through Saturday:

  • Live music at The Milias Restaurant


  • Line dancing at the Old City Hall Restaurant
  • Free stand up comedy at Station 55


  • Trivia night (with prizes) at Station 55


  • Karaoke at the Old City Hall Restaurant and at Gilroy Bowl
  • Live music at Station 55


  • Karaoke at the Old City Hall Restaurant and at Gilroy Bowl
  • Live music at Station 55

(As you can see, when Station 55 closed down, we lost a lot.)

Bring Your Own Dinner Theater – The Limelight Actors Theater put on some fantastic shows in 2014.

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  • The Outrageous Adventures of Sheldon & Mrs Levine
  • Sister Robert Anne’s Cabaret Class
  • Nana’s Naughty Knickers
  • Love Letters (a special fundraiser for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research)
  • Art
  • Love, Loss & What I Wore

If you haven’t experienced our bring-your-own-dinner theater, you are in for a treat. The performers and the plays are consistently top notch. As for dining, the doors open about 2 hours ahead of the performance, and people bring their dinner and eat in the theater. It is a wonderful way to have a special night out with friends.

Limelight Actors Theater website and Facebook.

Restaurant Rallies – The monthly Restaurant Rallies brought people together for evenings of good food and meeting new people. We made it to almost all the restaurants downtown a couple of times. It is a lot of low-pressure fun. Everyone is welcome.

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In 2014, restaurant rallies were held at

One rally, enjoying the best of two locations, was held at the Bella Viva Ristorante e Caffe, dining on food ordered from the Garlic City Cafe. The Holiday Cheer Rally was also held at the Bella Viva Ristorante e Caffe,

Check the RRDG calendar for the upcoming rallies and feel free to join in. You order off the menu, and everyone pays their own bill.

Gilroy Center for the Arts

Gilroy Center for the Arts

Gilroy Arts Alliance: Art Exhibits – We don’t have the photographs to do them justice, but the Gilroy Arts Alliance presented a series of exhibits by local and regional artists and photographers. The Gilroy Center for the Arts is open to the public (see the web site for hours) and, besides the currently running exhibit, has artwork and jewelry for sale. The exhibits in 2014 included:

  • Young artists Poster Exhibit
  • The Art of Alex Gorlick
  • The Art of Diane Wallace
  • Wings and Wheels – the Art of Bob Hope
  • Valle del Sur Art Guild Members Exhibit
  • Northern California Art Fusion Members Exhibit
  • Dia de los Muertos Exhibit
  • The Art of Marianne Eichenbaum

The Gilroy Arts Alliance calendar of events can be found by clicking here.

Annual Events – There are a number of annual events that take place downtown. They are all a lot of fun, but the real purpose is to show people that we have some wonderful stores and restaurants downtown.

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  • The Burrito Run (motorcycle rally) – every New Year’s Day
  • Billiard Rally (final) – April
  • The Art and Wine Stroll – Late May
  • The Garlic City Fun Run (antique car show) – July
  • The Tamal Festival – added in October, 2014 (one tamal, many tamales)
  • The Halloween Beer Crawl – added in October, 2014
  • The Downtown Holiday Parade – December

The Burrito run happens spontaneously – you can read more about it by clicking here.

The Gilroy Downtown Business Association sponsors the Art and Wine Stroll; the Garlic City Fun Run; the Halloween Beer Crawl; and the Downtown Holiday Parade. You can find out about upcoming events by clicking here.

The Tamal Festival (first of many, we hope), is sponsored by El Charrito Market and CARAS. You can take a peek at El Charrito Market by clicking here. You can find out more about CARAS by clicking here.

Popup Stores – Rally Round Downtown Gilroy brought vendors and information booths downtown during the Wine Stroll, just to show people some of the things that we could have downtown. We had a lot of fun with this, and got some great positive feedback. Look for more popup stores at future downtown events.

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Click here to see more.

Click here to see more.

Click here to see more about all the popup stores at the Wine Stroll.

The Limelight Lounge – The Gilroy Arts Alliance and the the Limelight Actors Theater worked together to bring cabaret-style entertainment to downtown Gilroy with the Limelight Lounge series.

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2014 performers included:

  • Patti Lemon
  • Corner Pocket
  • Janet Thompson

Featuring cabaret, jazz, comedy, standards, blues and popular music, starring the best of Bay Area talent. Unlike the theater shows, this is not a “Bring Your Own Dinner” evening, but guests are welcome to bring their own wine (the corkage fee is donated to the Gilroy Center for the Arts). Concessions are open with a selection of sodas, coffee, wine, cookies and more. Watch for the new season of the Limelight Lounge to start on March 24. For information and reservations, go to the Limelight Actors Theater web page.

And more …

There were a lot of other individual events that went on downtown:

  • The Super Bowl party at Station 55 Bar and Grill.
  • The International Day of Women lecture “The Works of Elena Poniatowska” presented by the Gilroy Arts Alliance.
  • The downtown mixer hosted by the Gilroy Downtown Business Association.
  • The Water Conservation workshop put on by the Demonstration Garden.
  • The Chili Cookoff benefit for Rebekah’s Children Services hosted by Station 55 Bar and Grill.
  • The Silicon Valley Open Studios weekend at Leedo Art and Framing.
  • The “Shine a Light on Autism” benefit hosted by Station 55 Bar and Grill.
  • The 3rd annual Amoretto Boutique fashion show.
  • The Youth Art Camp and adult art classes put on by the Gilroy Arts Alliance.
  • The 4th annual Farm-to-Table dinner at the Demonstration Garden.
  • Halloween parties at the Bella Viva Ristorante e Caffe and the Old City Hall Restaurant.
  • Small Business Saturday – coordinated by the Gilroy Downtown Business Association.
  • Evening shopping hours with free gift consultations for late shoppers at Amoretto Boutique and Leedo Art and Framing.
  • A big New Year’s Eve bash at the Old City Hall Restaurant.

Almost Downtown – There were a few events that were not quite downtown, but close by.

Gilroy Farmers’ Market – The Farmers’ Market moved from downtown to the City Hall parking lot in 2013. This turned out to be a great move for the market – attendance has grown tremendously. It is close enough to downtown that we feel, for old times’ sake, we should give it a boost. Besides, you should really stop and get breakfast (at a downtown restaurant), or at least a coffee (at 5th Street Coffee) before you shop. Everyone knows you shouldn’t shop on an empty stomach. In 2014, the Gilroy Farmers’ Market ran from May 31 through Nov. 22. The slideshow presents just a sampling of what you will find.

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PorchFest – This tremendous musical event brought live music to porches along Hanna Street on September 20. Crowds moved around between the 3 concurrent performances for each of the 45-minute sets. It turned out to be a great day. The perfect end for a fantastic event? Go downtown for dinner and talk about your favorite performers. With over 20 acts on 6 different porches, we can’t show you everything, but here is a little of what we saw:

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PorchFest 2015 is in the planning stages. If you would like to perform, volunteer your porch, or participate in any way, you can contact the PorchFest organizers through their web page by clicking here.

Restaurant Rally – Nov 13, 2014: Garlic City Cafe serves dinner at the Bella Viva

Garlic City @ Bella Viva

Diners enjoy Garlic City cuisine at the Bella Viva

It wasn’t planned that way, it just sort of happened.

The November Restaurant Rally was planned for the Garlic City Cafe. For some reason, one of the couples thought it was at the Bella Viva Ristorante e Caffe (probably because it has become popular to enjoy Garlic City food along with the BV’s excellent selection of wine and beers). That couple asked another couple to meet them at the Bella Viva. Meanwhile, 4 of us headed for the Garlic City Cafe. When we discovered that the crowd was split, we regrouped at the Bella Viva for a delightful evening of good food, good wine and good company.

Margarita and Diego did us proud with excellent service and top quality food. When Diego went through the Bella Viva to pick up some items, the Rally diners gave him a standing ovation.

In all, 9 people attended this dinner, with one arriving on the 7:05 Caltrain (which came in at 7:15).

Flexible? I should think so!

Join us at future Restaurant Rallies (to be announced) for a relaxed evening where you get to feel virtuous (you are boosting the downtown economy, after all!) meet people and eat well.

RRDG Pop Up Shops at the 2014 Art & Wine Stroll

RRDG Pop up Store

RRDG Pop up Store

Rally Round Downtown Gilroy installed some instant, one-day-only shops along Monterey during the 2014 Gilroy Art & Wine Stroll. We had two major objectives:

  • Fill in some of the empty spots while hundreds of visitors walked up and down Monterey Street
  • Show people just a sampling of things that we COULD have downtown

We ended up with 9 pop up shops plus the RRDG ‘post office’.

For the pop up post office, Rally Round Downtown Gilroy printed up 3 postcards (click above for a larger view) to encourage people to make suggestions to our city government about how we can work together to make Downtown Gilroy the destination that it out to be.

The postcards started with things like

“To help our Downtown become really great, the City should:”

followed by a blank area where the individual could describe whatever suggestions they thought would help the most.

The 9 more pop up shops scattered along the path or the Art & Wine Stroll were:

  • BookSmart – Books about wine and food from our friends in Morgan Hill (Click here)
  • Friends of Miller Barn – Brought their campaign to save the Miller-Lux red barn in Christmas Hill park (Click here)
  • Garlic City Mercantile – A selection of garlic themed gifts and foods (Click here) 
  • Mitra’s Bakery – Cookies, turnovers, macaroons, baklava and more, all here in Gilroy’s Downtown (Click here)
  • Moki Smith Morgan Hill Tree Service – Showed us the dollar value of the trees on Monterey (and elsewhere)! (Click here)
  • Out and About Magazine – The magazine that covers South Valley brought us local and regional products (Click here)
  • Raw Legends – Cool clothes designed right here in Gilroy (Click here)
  • San Benito Bene – Locally inspired gifts and creations. (Click here)
  • Rebecca M put her oil paintings out for public viewing (no web link)

For those of you who missed it, here are some pictures of the Rally Round Downtown Gilroy Pop Up Shops:


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Watch for more pop up shops in the future. Who knows what exciting things might show up (but only for one day)?

The Pop up Shops would not have become a reality without the help and support of some very fine people and organizations. RRDG owes a big vote of thanks to:

Out and About Magazine for the Pop up Shop graphics: http://outandaboutmagazine.com/.

Young Signs for printing the Pop up Shop signs: http://www.youngsignsgilroy.com/.

BookSmart for printing the posters: http://mybooksmart.com/joomla/.

Leedo Art & Framing for dry mounting the posters and graphics: http://www.leedoart.com/.

Under Pressure Washing for cleaning all the storefront entries (and they really needed it): here on Facebook.

Drop in and let these people know that their efforts were greatly appreciated, if you get the chance.

Wineries Passport Weekend – Oct 5 and 6, 2013


Great things will be happening downtown during the Fall Passport Weekend. The details are still being worked out, but we can promise this:

  • Many of the downtown shops will be open until 8:00 on Friday and Saturday evenings for your browsing and buying convenience.
    • All of Gilroy’s downtown antique shops
    • The Nimble Thimble/Garlic City Mercantile – 7550 Monterey St
    • Leedo Art and Framing – 7436 Monterey St
  • Your passport will get you discounts, special deals, or freebies in participating downtown restaurants, shops and entertainment venues.
  • The Limelight Actors Theater will be presenting “Barefoot in the Park” in a ‘bring your own dinner’ (and wine!) presentation. Dinners can be purchased ‘to go’ at nearby restaurants.

Check back here for more details as the special deals and opportunities are worked out.

Get more information about the Passport Weekend and find out how to get your passport by visiting the Wineries of Santa Clara Valley web site.

Show your Wine Passport and get the following benefits:

  • 25% off your purchase at Amoretto Boutique. Friday and Saturday until 8:00.
  • 20% off your purchase at 5th Street Coffee. Friday and Saturday until 8:00. Sunday until 3:00.
  • The Milias Restaurant: No corkage fee for wines you have purchased from Santa Clara Valley Wineries. Purchase an appetizer and get a second appetizer (of equal or lesser value) free.
  • Station 55 Restaurant: Happy Hour prices all day and all night! No corkage fee with the purchase of 2 entrees.
  • Ashford’s Heirlooms: No sales tax.
  • Collective Past Antiques: 10% discount, store-wide.
  • Garbo’s Antiques: 10% discount, store-wide.
  • 20% off all wine flights at the Bella Viva Ristorante e Caffe.
  • Check for discounts on quilting and sewing goods and Garlic City souvenirs at The Nimble Thimble.

Other Opportunities:

Picnic lunches available: Would you like a great picnic lunch to take with you for your day of wine tasting? Contact The Milias Restaurant (at least one day in advance) and order a meal designed to complement and enhance the wine tasting experience.

The Milias Restaurant
7397 Monterey St (entrance on 6th St)
(408) 337-5100


Station 55 Restaurant
55 5th Street
(408) 840-2444


Live theater: An evening of entertainment awaits you at Gilroy’s own Bring-Your-Own-Dinner theater with the Limelight Actors Theater presentation of “Barefoot in the Park” at the Gilroy Center for the Arts on October 4th or 5th. Shows are frequently sold out, so advance registrations are strongly recommended. Order your dinner from The Milias Restaurant, or eat in any of Gilroy’s fine restaurants, then enjoy the play.

Doors open at 6:30. The performance starts at 8:00.

Gilroy Center for the Arts
7341 Monterey St

Reservations: (408) 472-3292

For more details, visit the Limelight Actors Theater website: http://www.LimelightActorsTheater.com

Art & Wine Stroll – 2013

I Wish I Lived In Gilroy

I Wish I Lived In Gilroy

The weather was beautiful, the band was hot, the wine was flowing, and a few hundred people gathered downtown to taste the wines and enjoy the day. No one made it through sampling even one glass from all 20 wineries that participated in the stroll, but there were many valiant efforts.

The artists were out in force, too. Paintings, sculptures, carvings and other arts and crafts lined the street, with the artists happy to discuss their techniques and their views.

Rally Round Downtown Gilroy set up a triangle of 3 large chalkboards and invited the strollers to tell us

  • Their fondest memories of Downtown Gilroy
  • Their wishes for Downtown Gilroy
  • What they will do to support Downtown Gilroy

We got a lot of comments, some of them sassy, some of them poignant, and most of them supporting a Downtown that will be part of Gilroy’s daily life, an exciting and entertaining destination to be incorporated into our memories.

Below are some samples from the 3 chalk boards.

From the “Fondest Memories” board:

  • I remember bringing my mom shopping right here from the country.
  • I remember driving through downtown in 1968 on the way to Los Angeles and the bucking bronco on the Hall’s store.
  • I remember going to Smedley’s Burgers.
  • I bought my first turtle at Woolworth’s when I was 10 years old.
  • I remember working at Woolworth’s and going to the Strand Theater.
  • I remember visiting where my parents met – Gilroy Bowl.

From the “I Wish” board:

  • I wish for a better place for the Farmers’ Mkt & a bigger Farmers’ Mkt (more attractions, more food).
  • I wish for a Whole Foods (or similar) market.
  • I wish there was a Gilroy Garlic Festival Restaurant & microbrewery.
  • I wish the people in Gilroy would support Downtown!
  • I wish for ice cream.
  • I wish for outdoor cafes/seating/dining [many variations on this theme].
  • I wish we could get all the URM buildings fixed.!!!
  • I wish for a really cool toy store.
  • I wish I lived in Gilroy.

Finally, from the “I Will” board:

  • I will come back to Gilroy w/ my babe.
  • I will dine at Old City Hall.
  • I will drink Gilroy’s wine!!
  • I will shop at Amoretto Boutique.
  • I will spend my ‘eat out’ $ here.
  • I will support local businesses.
  • I will attend Restaurant Rallies.
  • I will go to 5th St Coffee, NOT Starbucks.

Good news for a couple of the “I Wish” people:

  1. The Farmers’ Market HAS found a better location: Starting June 1, the Gilroy Farmers’ Market will be held every Saturday, from 10:00 to 1:00 (hours may be expanded) behind the Gilroy Library. And, there will be more food.
  2. We have ice cream in many wonderful flavors available by the scoop at 5th Street Coffee Roasting Company.

How do you like that? Two wishes granted already!

One last bit of news – the horse beat the skateboard. Oh, you had to be there.

For those of you who did not make it downtown for the wine stroll – better luck next year. Meanwhile, there are a few pictures below of the RRDG chalk boards and some scenes from the day.

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2nd Annual Billiard Rally – April 27, 2013

Pool balls racked and ready

2nd Annual Garlic City Billiards Rally

The crowd was definitely up for some fun at the 2nd Annual Garlic City Billiards Rally – an event that marks 1 full year of activities by the Rally Round Downtown Gilroy volunteers and participants. New friends and old friends gathered around the tables at 7:00 for a demonstration of the basics of pool by Bob Beaulieu, a teacher and long-time pool player.

As a real newbie to the sport, I learned quite a lot – did you know there is a kitchen on the pool table? Ghost balls? Did you know that you should grip your cue stick one had back from the balance point, and as if it were an open tube of toothpaste, and you don’t want to squirt toothpaste all over the floor? All new to me! Better yet, your bridge hand acts like a transmission:

  • Hold it so the tip of your cue hits the cue ball dead center and the cue ball will stop when it strikes another ball
  • Hold it so the tip of your cue hits the cue ball above dead center, and the cue ball will follow the other ball after it hits it
  • Hold it so the tip of your cue hits the cue ball below dead center, and the cue ball will back up after it hits another ball

That, of course, is if you hit the other ball dead on, as you intended all along. (Easy to say, but a bit more challenging to put into practice.)

I learned the above (and more) from Bob’s instructions, and that alone made the evening worthwhile.

Bob finished up the instructional portion of the evening with a couple of trick shot demonstrations. (Pay attention! These are trick shots. And the trick was on us.) Bob presented the shots by lining up the balls for the shot, then asking the audience how to accomplish the challenge he described.

Trick shot #1:

Setup: 4 solid balls are lined up perpindicular one pocket. A striped ball is a an inch or 2 away along the same line. The 8 ball is beside the opposite pocket. The cue ball is between the striped ball and the cue ball.

Question: How do you get 4 solid balls into the pocket PLUS get the 8-ball into the opposite pocket without hitting the striped ball that is directly between the cue ball and the 4 solid balls?

Answer: Cheat! Put the rack around the striped ball, with the tip up against the closest solid ball. Hit the rack with the cue ball. The rack hits the solid balls and they roll merrily into the pocket. The cue ball bounces back to hit the 8-ball into its pocket. Game over, you win!

Trick shot #2:

Setup: Two solid balls are up against the bumper at one end of the pool table. A striped ball is sitting on the bumper, held up by the 2 solid balls. (See picture, below.)

3 Balls Stacked

Trick Shot #2 Setup

Question: How do you get the cue ball to hit the striped ball without touching the solid balls? Watch the video.

Answer: Cheat! Hit the cue ball and immediately smack the surface of the pool table. The striped ball with push the two solid balls to the side as it drops to the surface of the table, and the cue ball hits it without touching either of the solid balls. (Of course, the striped ball can’t go anywhere useful, so your turn is over, but, hey!, it was cool to watch!)

Pinocchio’s pizza was provided by Rally Round Downtown Gilroy (thank you, Gary Walton!), and people ate, drank and played pool until 9:00.

The full range of pool expertise was present on the tables. I personally was poster boy for first time players who love theory but aren’t very good at making it work. (You mean you are supposed to hit a ball EVERY TIME??!!) At the next table over, Mike and Dave seemed to really know what they were doing. (I was suspicious when Dave had his own cue stick.) The rest of the gang seemed to fall nicely between the extremes.

Just so you can clear your calendars early, we are pretty sure we will be having the 3rd Annual Garlic City Billiards Rally in April, 2014. We’ll let you know as soon as we get the date settled. My recommendations is that you just keep all the weekends in April free so you won’t have a conflict.

My only challenge is to somehow work in 20 years of practice before the next Billiards Rally. I mean, I’d really like to have the cue ball hit something on every shot. Or is that asking too much?

Meanwhile, take a look at some shots of the RRDG pool hustler squad in training.

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