“Patsy,” berries, “The Habit,” etc.

NICOLE CASSESSO will reprise her performance in “Always, Patsy Cline” at the Gem Theater in Garden Grove in April (Photo by Lisa Scarsi).

It’s March, which would normally be the time when we in Garden Grove – and all strawberry fans in surrounding areas – get ramped up for the annual Strawberry Festival held each year over the Memorial Day weekend.

THACKER BERRY stand in West Grove (OCT photo).

Alas, the coronavirus has cancelled both the 2020 and 2021 events, and there are no strawberry patches left in The Big Strawberry. Not even one of those open-air berry stands.

Ah, but there is. Thacker Berry Farms has set up just such a stand at Lampson Avenue and Manley in the West Grove section of Garden Grove, at the very edge of town. The nice man in the stand told us he would be selling boxes of the crimson fruit daily morn to dusk right through June.

The fruit comes from strawberry farms in Oxnard, a city that also has an annual strawberry festival. Interestingly enough, Oxnard was forced to cancel its strawberry festival event as well, which could mean there’s tremendous pent-up demand for “fragaria” (its Latin name), which is of all all-American origin, having first been discovered (by the colonists, anyway) in Virginia in pre-Revolutionary days. The world’s biggest strawberry-producing nation is, alas, China.

If West GG is too far to go, there’s a Farmers’ Market on Main Street in Garden Grove on Sunday mornings to early afternoon, rain permitting.

Some better than middling news

Buoyed by encouraging coronavirus statistics that are expected soon to move Orange County into the less restrictive “red” tier, the Westminster School District is anticipating re-opening its three middle schools by Wednesday, March 17. It would be hybrid style, with some in-person and some “virtual” learning. The WSD’s elementary schools went hybrid last week, although parents were given the option to keep their children in an all-virtual program.

According to a letter sent to parents in the district by Superintendent Cynthia Paik, the district plans to return to “everyday full-day instruction for all TK [transitional kindergarten] to 8th grade students in fall 2021.”

However, the district is weighing the possibility of offering a 100 percent “virtual academy” for families that might prefer that option.

We guess that a return to “business as usual” may not be all that usual, after all.

The show will go on, again, at the Gem

Lights! Music! Action!

The curtain will go up again soon at the Gem Theater on Main Street in Garden Grove. The popular musical “Always, Patsy Cline,” starring Nicole Cassesso, will open on Thursday, April 22 and run through May 16. Performances will be Thursdays through Sundays. Seating will be limited to 45 people per performance.

Planned for this summer is “Chicago,” with “The Holiday Gem” slated for this holiday season.

It could turn out to be a Habit

Ever since the announcement that a Sprouts Farmers Market upscale grocery store was going to anchor the new Pavilion Plaza West on Chapman Avenue (west of Brookhurst Street), there’s been a lot of speculation about who else will be at the new center.

Word comes to us at “Sources” that The Habit Burger Grill is slotted for the drive-through eatery spot in the front parking lot, facing north and opposite The Promenade shopping center.  The Habit chain, founded in Santa Barbara, is ‘fast and casual” upscale eatery featuring a variety of to-order burgers, sandwiches, salads, fries and sides, as well as the cold stuff: shakes, cones (vanilla soft serve), malts and sundaes.

There are “Habits” in Westminster, Huntington Beach, Cypress and six other locations in Orange County.
Also said to be locating at the center is Ulta Beauty, which has a wide selection of makeup, hair, skincare, fragrances and related items.

Looks like a pretty, tasty couple of new additions to “Uptown Garden Grove.”

“Usually Reliable Sources” is posted every other week, alternating with Jim Tortolano’s “Retorts” column.









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