Segments of the Backbone Trail Re-Open Today, Four Months After Woolsey Fire

A portion of the Backbone Trail managed by the National Park Service in Malibu reopened today, along with the popular Grotto Trail in the Circle X area.

The majority of the 67-mile Backbone Trail is now open, with the exception of a four-mile stretch from Yerba Buena Road to the Mishe Mokwa Trailhead and a six-mile stretch from the Kanan Trailhead east to the Corral Canyon Trailhead. Large portions of the trail have been closed since the Woolsey Fire destroyed 88% of federal parkland in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area last November.

Backbone Trail repair work (Photo Courtesy of National Park Service)

Backbone Trail repair work (Photo Courtesy of National Park Service)

“Our small trails crew, assisted on some days by our valuable partners, which include members of the California Conservation Corps, Camp 13 and the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council, did a phenomenal job in restoring these trails,” said David Szymanski, superintendent of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “An especially rainy season hindered the work and created a variety of additional hazards, but these folks really came through and made it happen.”

Other trails and areas in the park still closed include Solstice Canyon and trails in Zuma/Trancas Canyons.

All official trails in Circle X Ranch, one of the park’s most remote and scenic locations, are now open ,including the Mishe Mokwa Loop, Sandstone Peak Trail, and the Tri Peaks Trail. Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Canyons, Paramount Ranch, Rancho Sierra Vista and the Santa Monica Mountains Visitor Center at King Gillette Ranch are also open.

Click here to see photos of the extensive post-fire work (including some before and after photos) that was done to mitigate safety issues caused by “hazard trees” (trees that were badly burned in the fire and are susceptible to falling), eroded trails and warped, burned culverts. Tasks included clearing trails of hazardous rocks, branches and sticks and reestablishing trail pads by spreading any slough that fell from the hillsides onto a trail and finding large rocks and dirt to fill deep ruts that cut directly across trails.

Although these areas are open, there is a closure order for all burned areas that restricts the public to the trails only. Visitors are being asked to stay on trails and be aware that numerous safety hazards still exist. Hikers going off trail can cause more damage to newly restored trails, trample new plants, and prevent the re-growth of fragile vegetation.

The NPS trail crew collaborated on multiple sections of the Backbone Trail with local members of the California Conservation Corps and Camp 13, the only all-female, Malibu-based fire camp in Los Angeles that occasionally assists with trail work. The Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council also helped repair a portion of the Backbone Trail section along Kanan Road in Zuma Canyon.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area boasts a network of approximately 500 miles of trails.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) is the largest urban national park in the country, encompassing more than 150,000 acres of mountains and coastline in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. A unit of the National Park Service, it comprises a seamless network of local, state and federal parks interwoven with private lands and communities. As one of only five Mediterranean ecosystems in the world, SMMNRA preserves the rich biological diversity of more than 450 animal species and 26 distinct plant communities. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/samo.

Made in Italy Italian Deli & Bistro Opening in Westlake Village on Monday, March 4th

Update 3/1/19: They have announced they will be opening on Monday, March 4th

Update 2/18/19: Grand opening planned for tomorrow delayed due to plumbing issue.. Still hoping for this week. Updates at www.facebook.com/madeinitalybistro.

Update 2/5/19: Opening February 19th. www.madeinitalybistro.com

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Originally posted 12/26/18:

Straight from Italy himself, Antonio Sessa will be opening Made in Italy Italian Deli & Bistro sometime in early February 2019 in the North Ranch Mall at 3825 E. Thousand Oaks Boulevard, Westlake Village. This was previously the home of Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, which closed its doors in September 2017., sandwiched (so to speak) between the recently opened Mythpoint Bistro and Western Bagel.

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Peet's Coffee Opening Location at North Ranch Mall in Westlake Village

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Amelia S pointed out that a new Peet’s Coffee is being built at the North Ranch Mall, 3955 E. Thousand Oaks Boulevard, Westlake Village, next to BJ’s in the former home of GameStop (and a long time ago, this was Oak Tree West Deli).

No word at this point on a specific grand opening date. They are currently accepting applications at www.peets.com/join-peets.

Darband Grill Closed, Sadaf Restaurant Now Open, in Thousand Oaks

Conejo Valley Guide Facebook Follower Ani S reports that very recently, there is a new owner/occupant of what used to be Darband Grill at 868 E. Thousand Oaks Boulevard, Thousand Oaks. Sadaf Restaurant is now operating there, serving up Persian cuisine.

Sadaf, which has operated a location in Encino for a number of years, offers “modern Persian cuisine” made with 100% olive and vegetable oils, using no preservatives or additives.

Learn more at sadafencino.com or www.facebook.com/SadafEncino.


The Cuckoo Rooster Now Open in Agoura Hills

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Michael K gave the heads up to us via the CVG Facebook Page that the Cuckoo Rooster is now open at 5653 Kanan Road, Agoura Hills, in the former home of Simply Fish Grill (which closed last month after 3 1/2 years).

As the name would suggest, chicken is the major theme at this newly opened eatery. Hot fried chicken, crispy chicken sandwiches, chicken and waffle, wings and sides. Spiciness levels include Naked (no heat), Garlic, Mild, Medium, Hot, Very Hot (You’ve been warned) and Reaper (Please, Think Twice).

Visit www.facebook.com/CuckooRooster if you’re feeling clucky.

Texas de Brazil Churrascaria Coming to The Collection at RiverPark in Oxnard

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Texas de Brazil is a churrascaria, or Brazilian steakhouse, that features several cuts of flame-grilled beef, lamb, pork, chicken and Brazilian sausage as well as an extravagant salad area with a wide array of seasonal chef-crafted items.

It will be opening a new location at what was Famous Dave’s at The Collection at RiverPark in Oxnard until it closed in January. The closest locations are in Irvine and Fresno. texasdebrazil.com

Great Harvest Bread Co. in Newbury Park to Close Its Doors on Saturday, March 2, 2019

It is with sadness that we report that the Great Harvest Bread Co. located at 2092-H Newbury Road in Newbury Park (Smart & Final/CVS shopping center) will be closing its doors on Saturday, March 2, 2019 after 15 years serving the local community.

On their website at conejobread.com, the owners indicate that their lease is up and for many personal reasons, they will be closing.

Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks to Add Film and TV Major in the Fall of 2019

California Lutheran University is launching a film and TV major in fall in response to strong student interest in related classes, activities and careers.

Program developer David Grannis, center, working with students   (Photo credit: Brian Stethem )

Program developer David Grannis, center, working with students (Photo credit: Brian Stethem )

The university has provided communication majors with the option of pursuing an emphasis in film and TV for more than a decade, and the classes are consistently full with long waitlists. Each year, many students produce films for a screening festival and a 48-hour competition on campus and participate in the university’s TV and Cinema Production Club and Digital Cinema Guild.

The new program will more fully prepare students for the field with the addition of classes in advanced television production, post-production and distribution, and introduction to film studies. Film and TV majors will also take research methods and capstone classes and complete internships or independent studies. Film and TV majors will organize the Cal Lutheran Annual Film Festival, now in its 24th year.

“I’m excited to be able to offer this new major at a time when the industry is creating so many new opportunities with companies like Netflix and Amazon,”said David Grannis, an associate professor of communication who first proposed the major 20 years ago. “It will provide students the opportunity to learn from faculty who have worked in the industry and train in Cal Lutheran’s on-campus television studio and on locations using equipment with the same high-quality production value as those used by industry professionals.”

Students will have the option of pursuing an emphasis in film studies or production. A minor in film and TV will also be offered.

The program is interdisciplinary, incorporating classes already offered by the communication, English, languages and cultures, music, multimedia, political science, and theater arts and dance departments.

Strong interest and the campus’ proximity to Hollywood have led many students to go into the field even without a dedicated major. Cal Lutheran has developed internships with ABC, CBS, Disney, Fox Sports, KTLA and other companies based in Hollywood. Alumni have gone on to work as camera operators, cinematographers, directors, editors, executives, managers, producers and writers for companies including Bunim-Murray Productions, ESPN, Netflix, the NFL and Participant Media.

Several films produced for the campus’ annual festival have won awards at other festivals. A Cal Lutheran team’s production was nominated for the “Best of” award during the Los Angeles 48-Hour Film Holiday Project 2017. Grannis and two of his students produced a documentary on California’s historic drought that was screened at a sustainability conference in Maryland and during last year’s Arbor/Earth Month celebration in Thousand Oaks.