Chicken and waffles with a good book, food for body (and soul) and mind – these are a few of my favorite things. And local Assembly members singled out purveyors of these delights as businesses from each district around the state were honored this week by the California Small Business Association in Sacramento.
Assemblyman Sandré Swanson, D-Alameda, picked Derrick Johnson of the Home of Chicken and Waffles in Oakland’s Jack London Square as his district’s honoree, praising Johnson’s practice of hiring and training local workers including many at-risk youth.
Although originally from Oakland, Johnson’s father and uncles opened a small chain of Los Angeles restaurants called Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. In the late 1990s, his cousins invited Johnson – then living in Florida – to invest in the first Roscoe’s restaurant in Oakland; that investment eventually turned into ownership, with Johnson eventually moving, renaming and reopening the Jack London Square eatery.
“As a small businessman, Derrick Johnson has created an enterprise that is not simply a financial success, but a community achievement as well,” Swanson said. “By hiring local residents, particularly those who often have difficulty finding work, Home of Chicken and Waffles contributes to our economy while creating a better quality of life for many people. I was very pleased to nominate such a deserving business.”
Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, honored Michael Barnard, owner of Rakestraw Books, as the 15th District’s winner. Rakestraw hosts a regular program of author appearances and events with local Schools, and has created community partnership events with other local businesses and non-profits; Barnard has served on the Danville Area Chamber of Commerce board and is now president of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association.
“Through his hard work, Rakestraw Books – ‘The Bookstore in Danville’ – continues to be a community institution,” Buchanan said. “Small businesses make significant contributions to the California economy. They are the heart and soul of our communities, and Rakestraw books is just that,” Buchanan said.
More local Bay Area honorees, after the jump…
Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, D-Newark, picked Fremont’s American Animal Care Center as the 20th District’s honoree. Founded by Dr. Dharam Salwan, and now operated by his son, Dr. Raj Salwan, AACC has cared for Bay Area pets since 1986, achieving the highest accreditation from the American Animal Hospital Association for Excellence in Small Animal Medicine and Surgery.
Through its Pet and Wildlife Fund, the center provides free services for Good Samaritans who bring in injured pets found in the streets, helping to treat, rehabilitate, and find homes for these animals, often when most veterinarians’ offices are closed and animal-control officers aren’t available. The center also offers reduced fee and discounted services for rescue groups, while helping deserving owners in need of financial aid for crucial treatments. Dr. Raj Salwan writes the weekly “Pet Pro” column for the Fremont Argus, raising community awareness about proper pet care, and also chairs Fremont’s Human Relations Commission.
“American Animal Care Center is a fine example of a small business that succeeds by not only providing valuable services for its customers, but also the community at large,” Torrico said.
Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, had picked Ralston Florist of Belmont as the 19th District’s honoree. Elena and Mike Franzoia, Ralston’s owners since 1988, have been active with many civic and business groups including the Belmont Chamber of Commerce and the Belmont Lions Club while supporting local groups – schools, religious institutions, youth groups, athletic clubs, service clubs, cultural organizations and civic groups – with flower arrangements and financial contributions. Ralston Florist also offers educational programs, teaching floral design and providing floral demonstrations to individuals and groups ranging in age from preschool to adult.
“As the owner of a small business I know firsthand the challenges associated with keeping the doors of the business open,” Hill said. “That is why it is so important to recognize outstanding members of the business community such as Ralston Florist who provide terrific service to their customers and support so many worthy causes.”