[caption id="attachment_50687" align="alignleft" width="180" caption="Cathy D'Angelo Holmes"][/caption]

NAPA -- If ever there were a window for opportunity in downtown Napa, it's now. More retailers and restaurants have set up businesses and more are coming. op·por·tu·ni·ty

n. pl. op·por·tu·ni·ties

1.a. A favorable or advantageous circumstance or combination of circumstances.

b. A favorable or suitable occasion or time.

2. A chance for progress or advancement.

Synonyms: Downtown Napa

Here are downtown business highlights from just this past year. Eiko's, with its imaginative twists on traditional Japanese cuisine, relocated to Napa Town Center. Tarla Mediterranean Grill opened late last year and offers straightforward yet sophisticated Mediterranean fusion cuisine. The Playful Digs, sister company to Playful Garden, opened on First Street. Napa Valley Biscuits opened this past month serving Southern-style food in the former Frankie’s Deli location. Zuzu -- a downtown dining favorite -- reopened at 829 Main St. after an earthquake retrofit. A fine wine retail and tasting lounge called 1313 Main opened at that address.

The Riverfront mixed-use development along Napa River had success in retail leasing and residential condominium sales. Michael Holmes Designs opened Ivy Twig & Twine home and garden accessory shop and Liken gallery. B.Real women's clothing store also opened. Thirteen of the 50 residential condos sold, bringing the total sold to 20. 

2011 was the inaugural year of Napa on Ice, an outdoor ice rink that was a huge success in bringing locals downtown during the holiday season.

A few more openings and a big property sale are set for the next few months. Back at The Riverfront, Frati Gelato Cafe, featuring hand-crafted gelato, paninis and wine paired with gelato. Capp Family Wines will recreate the space currently known as Curbside Cafe into a wine-tasting venue. Pure Cru wines led by Mitch Cosentino will open a tasting room at Napa Square, facing the Oenotri dining courtyard.

Also coming soon is the anticipated ownership change at the open-air shopping mall known as Napa Town Center. Closing of escrow is projected for spring. Developer Todd Zapolski, who is in contract to close on the property has retained the architectural firm Hart/Howerton from San Francisco to complete study work of the combined site -- inclusive of Town Center, the bank building facing First Street, the former Merrill’s Building and Wildcat retail building.

"The goal is to attract first in class local, regional, and national retail tenants," Mr. Zapolski was quoted as saying. "As well as first in class local and regional food and wine proprietors.”

Mr. Zapolski went on to explain that the key delay has been the approval of the new Downtown Specific Plan by the city of Napa. If approved, it will allow and encourage more density on the site, which will offer a good opportunity for a new hotel at the Town Center. The Hyatt Avia hotel nearby already has proven to be a huge success.

And three existing hotels in Napa proper have asked for and were granted rooms additions: Embassy Suites, Napa River Inn and River Terrace Inn.

Hotels bring feet on the streets and retailers and restaurateurs love that in addition to a loyal local fan base here in Napa.  There is room for more great retailers and restaurateurs here in Napa. Come join us!