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News, Events, Restaurants and Lifestyles for Pasadena, CA
Updated: 1 hour 15 min ago

Pasadena-Born Trader Joe’s Marks Start of 52nd Year With New Products, More Store Openings

12 hours 26 min ago

It’s now the second year past the half-century mark for Trader Joe’s, and the iconic brand, which founder Joe Coulombe started in Pasadena  in 1967, is still winning new fans and growing.

This year alone, Trader Joe’s introduced 87 new food products across the United States and opening stores constantly.

The chain is not quite in 50 states yet – they’re in 41, to be exact. But in 2019, they’re opening four more in California, and even more along the East Coast.

The new California stores include Laguna Hills, where they already had a store but moved it to a new location and reopened in June; Santa Monica, La Habra and Laguna Del Rey.

On the East Coast, they’re adding one more store to the ten already in New York City, a second Boston store, and a fifth Washington, D.C. Store, which opened in July.

TJ’s new food products this year include new salad dressings and frozen veggie mixes. Just in July, Trader Joe’s introduced 11 items such as ube ice cream, crêpe wafer cookies, mac and cheese bites, seasoned ciabatta rolls and breakfast popsicles.

Much sought-after favorites are its Outside-In Stuffed Gnocchi – classic potato gnocchi packed with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, and the Cinnamon Croissant Loaf.

Trader Joe’s evolved from a Los Angeles area chain of Pronto convenience stores that Coulombe developed in 1958 as a test brand to compete against 7-Eleven.

After setting up and running six Pronto Markets in Los Angeles for Rexall, the drug store chain asked him to close them down. Instead, he bought them out and started Trader Joe’s in 1967, setting up his first store on South Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena. That first store is still there.

German Theo Albrecht bought the company in 1979 as a personal investment for his family, and Coulombe was succeeded as CEO by John Shields in 1987. Under Shields’  leadership the company started expanding beyond California and opened store in Arizona and in the Pacific Northwest between 1993 and 1995.

In 1996, the company opened its first stores on the East Coast in Brookline and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Trader Joe’s still enjoys much popularity everywhere it goes, not simply because so many journalists frequent its locations but because it has retained focus on what really matters: making popular products available for its customers, at very sharp everyday prices.

On its website, Trader Joe’s still points to the private label manufacturing process legacy that founder Coulombe started in providing great value with their products. The chain typically buys direct from suppliers whenever possible, bargaining hard to get the best price and then passing on the savings to customers.

“We keep our costs low – because every penny we save is a penny you save,” the company says on its website,

For many in Pasadena, even those who have come from somewhere else and made the City their home, knowing that Trader Joe’s originated here and still keeps that original store in operation is a source of hometown pride.

Pasadena-Based Mining Company Initiates Rare Earths Project

Sat, 2019-08-17 06:13

Pasadena-based Brazil Minerals announced Thursday it now has rare earths areas comprising three mineral rights totaling 12,528 acres in Brazil.

Brazil Minerals is headquartered on East Washington Blvd. in north Pasadena.

Two mineral rights are in the state of Goiás and one mineral right is in the state of Tocantins, the company said. Brazil is one of only very few countries where rare earth elements are known to occur in concentrations that allow economic recovery.

“This is a highly promising situation for Brazil Minerals,” Areli Nogueira, geological engineer of the project, said in a company statement. “Of particular importance is the fact that we have strong indications that our rare earths project contains the more sought-after heavy rare earths elements which are less commonly found.”

The term “rare earths” denotes a group of seventeen minerals which are needed in small amounts but essential in several high-technology applications including electric vehicles and military hardware.

Rare earth elements are metals and alloys that contain them are also used in many devices that people use every day: computer memory, DVDs, rechargeable batteries, cell phones, catalytic converters, magnets, fluorescent lighting and much more.

Brazil Minerals said its rare earths project claims and areas nearby have had prior studies performed by researchers from both the Brazilian Geological Service and a private university.

“This news is extremely relevant,” Marc Fogassa, Brazil Minerals CEO, said. “Due to an aggressive push that we implemented throughout this year, Brazil Minerals now has projects in both lithium and rare earths. These are all highly strategic minerals, and each of these projects alone is transformational and could catapult us to a new level.”

For more about Brazil Minerals, visit

Pasadena’s ExchangeRight Becomes Nation’s Second Largest Sponsor of Securitized 1031-Exchangeable Real Estate Investments

Fri, 2019-08-16 06:07

ExchangeRight's Managing Members David Fisher, CPA, Joshua Ungerecht, and Warren Thomas, CPA (top row, left to right) with Chief Financial Officer Dave Van Steenis, CPA, CFA, Chief Operating Officer Susana Dryden, and Controller Kevin Steines, CPA (bottom row left to right).

Pasadena-based ExchangeRight has emerged as the nation’s second-largest sponsor of securitized 1031-exchangeable real estate investments, according to a report from Mountain Dell Consulting.

The company reported it has acquired more than $340 million of assets on behalf of investors for the year-to-date period ending July 31, and now stewards over $2.1 billion in total assets under management together with its affiliates.

“We are thrilled by this milestone,” Warren Thomas, Managing Member at ExchangeRight, said. “Just over seven years ago, ExchangeRight brought out its very first offering, and now we stand in second place in our industry. We continue to grow at an impressive pace. Our 2018 sales grew 35.1 percent year-over-year, and our production for 2019 is on pace to grow at a similar rate.”

ExchangeRight, whose offices are at 1055 E. Colorado Blvd. Suite 310 in Pasadena, syndicates aggregated offerings for 1031 and cash investors, consisting of long-term, net-leased properties. Its portfolio encompasses more than 600 properties totaling in excess of 14 million square feet in 38 states.

A 1031 exchange, named after Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code, allows real estate investors to defer costly capital gains and recapture taxes by reinvesting in like-kind real estate.

Utilized properly, 1031 exchanges provide investors with substantial tax deferral that allow them to shelter the growth of their wealth and keep more of their money working for them.

To learn more about ExchangeRight and the company’s services, visit

Old Pasadena Luxury Movie Theater’s Parent Company Files for Bankruptcy

Fri, 2019-08-16 05:50

iPic Entertainment, which owns luxury movie theater chain iPic that operates a theater at One Colorado in Pasadena, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and said it will try to sell itself.

The company announced last week it had filed for bankruptcy in Delaware. Through the Chapter 11 process, iPic Entertainment said it will “seek approval of either a sale or a reorganization plan and emerge with a healthy balance sheet and new capital structure.”

Because of the news, shares of the company fell nearly 65 percent to $0.59 per share last August 5.

iPic operates casual restaurants, farm-to-glass full-service bars, and theater auditoriums with in-theater dining at 16 theaters in nine states. Its Pasadena location is at 42 Miller Alley.

The company said its theaters will remain open during the transition and its employees, vendors and suppliers are still being paid.

Hamid Hashemi, iPic Founder and Chief Executive, said there were several factors to blame for the company’s financial difficulties.

“Importantly, delays related to the Delray Beach (Florida) location resulted in unforeseen costs and a significant slowdown in circuit-wide development and new grand openings,” he said in a statement. “The decision to commence a Chapter 11 case to pursue a comprehensive restructuring was not taken lightly but is necessary to accomplish our long-term goals and secure the company’s future.”

Last week, iPic warned investors that it could file for bankruptcy after it missed a $10.1 million interest payment to the Employees Retirement System of Alabama and the Teachers Retirement System of Alabama. At the time, iPic said it had $2.2 million in cash on hand.

In its bankruptcy filing, iPic listed $290.9 million in debts, according to a report in the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Top unsecured creditors include the Yetter Coleman law firm, which is owed $2.9 million, as well as Walt Disney Studios, SONY Pictures, Universal Film Exchange and Paramount Pictures, the report said.

When same-store sales fell over 21 percent in the first quarter this year, iPic said too many of the types of movies being released by Hollywood were geared more toward children. It also said the January government shutdown and February’s weather were to blame for a number of closures and weaker attendance.

As a luxury theater, iPic’s tickets are more than double the national average.

To learn more about the Pasadena theater, visit

Robin’s Wood Fire BBQ Closes Sunday: “It’s Truly Been a Wonderful Journey”

Thu, 2019-08-15 06:28

Robin Salzer, the irrepressible proprietor of Pasadena mainstay “Robin’s Wood Fire BBQ,” has more than a few things to say before closing the eatery’s doors this Sunday after three and a half decades.

The first is, “It has been a truly wonderful journey.”

Pasadena has been essential to Salzer’s journey, just as Salzer has become an essential part of making Pasadena what it is today. He has now lived longer in Pasadena than in his native Milwaukee and he is not leaving his adopted hometown just because he has stopped serving great ribs to people.

Sitting in the fat-columned restaurant’s interior surrounded by hundreds of pieces of Americana, Salzer recounted how, some 37 years ago, the location he wanted was in a shopping center owned in its entirety by one family and it was his own family that helped him carve out the place and purchase it outright.

“I came here as a skinny kid with a girl’s name,” he told Pasadena Now, “with $5,000 in my pocket and a relative who believed in me, who helped me start my restaurant financially. And anybody who says they don’t have help along the way is lying. ”

For the small business person, he said, work never stops, which doesn’t permit much time to think about the one’s state of affairs until suddenly retirement arrives and the question of where the time went becomes central.

“I look back at my iHOP days,” he said, “when I was 23 years old, and now here I am 66! People don’t think I look 66. My body seems to be okay, but there’s some days I feel like if I am going to imagine how 86 feels. There comes a time when I think it’s time to do other things.”

Those other things include hitting a small round ball around grassy fairways. “I want to learn golf. My kids have been taking lessons at Brookside,” he explained.

But it won’t be all fun and games for this workingman’s workingman. “I started Pasadena City College last year. I never graduated from college. I’m like Rodney Dangerfield. I’m ‘Back to School!’ but I actually love it.”

He aims to lead by example.

“It’s a wonderful experience and I think that, if an old guy like me can go to school and get back into it, my kids have no excuse for not doing their homework and hopefully it will inspire others to finish their schooling.”

Salzer takes great satisfaction in leaving at least a portion of his business to employee Camillo Di Masi. He’s been with Robin’s for years and will take over the catering, special events, and Rose Bowl businesses Salzer has built.

Though Robin’s restaurant will be closed, Di Masi will be running trucks brandishing the brand throughout the San Gabriel Valley.

“I’ve always wanted to give somebody the opportunity to succeed at a very young age like I did,” explained Salzer. “I really wanted to sell them the whole restaurant, but he deferred on that. He thought it would be too much of an undertaking.”

Although he’s not going anywhere, the boyishly charming Salzer took a few parting shots at the polity he has fed for 41 years.

He is not a fan of Mayor Terry Tornek.

“He lost all respect for our small business community – especially restaurants – with the way he handled the minimum wage,” said Salzer. “No [restaurant owner] was against the minimum wage. It was about the process.”

He dubbed the City Council, “rudderless, ” though he had nothing but the highest praise for District 6 Councilman Steven Madison.

“I hope he runs for reelection in our district,” Salzer elaborated, “ I think that his expertise, his vast knowledge of the city, his professionalism, his personality is what we need for four more years.”

Among the biggest changes in Pasadena Salzer has seen during his years running Robin’s are those in the restaurant industry itself.

He noted that when he started out, there were one-third the number of restaurants currently operating in Pasadena. Now, he observed, with the “explosion” of Old Pasadena there are between 60 and 70 eateries in an eight-block area.

“It’s really become the focal point,” he pointed out. “We are now a destination for dining.”

As such, Salzer said, the City really should be capitalizing on that status, running ads, and posting billboards to support the restaurant industry.

“I made my criticisms about some of the leadership in Pasadena,” Salzer stated, “but there’s also some positives that you can see and we’re at the forefront of dining.”

“Just market the hell out of it.”

And what about the iconic building? Salzer says he’s very close to an agreement with a potential buyer who would open a new restaurant.

The potential owner is dedicated to hiring locally, and is very community involved in community events, he said.

Truly a man after Salzer’s own, and very big, heart.


Robin’s Wood Fire BBQ is located at 395 N. Rosemead Blvd. in East Pasadena, 626-351-8885. The final weekend’s hours are Friday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, from 9 a.m. “until we run out of food.”

Pasadena Banking-Tech Provider Green Dot Slumps After Revising Outlook Lower

Tue, 2019-08-13 07:17

Pasadena-based Green Dot Corporation last Thursday reportedly lost two-fifths of its market value after the banking-technology and bank-holding company revised its outlook lower, according to a report by, which analyzes financial markets.

Green Dot’s stock was off 42 percent at $27.42, the report showed.

In the second quarter, the Pasadena company on a GAAP basis earned 64 cents a share, 16 percent above the 55 cents in the year-earlier quarter. Revenue rose 5.5 percent to $278.3 million.

The latest adjusted numbers for Green Dot were 90 cents a share of earnings on $265 million of revenue, according to the report.

A survey of analysts by FactSet produced consensus estimates for the quarter of 63 cents a share of earnings for Green Dot on $265 million of revenue. However, for the third quarter, the company expects to earn an adjusted two cents a share against the FactSet estimate of 11 cents.

For the full year, Green Dot revised its expectations for adjusted earnings to a range of $2.71 to $2.77 a share, down from its previous guidance range of $2.82 to $2.91. The latest estimate at the midpoint would be a 17 percent decline from a year earlier, said in the analysis.

Green Dot now expects full-year adjusted revenue at $1.06 billion to $1.08 billion, up five percent at the midpoint. Its previous guidance was $1.11 billion to $1.13 billion.

The analysts surveyed by FactSet were looking for an adjusted $2.78 a share of profit on revenue of $1.08 billion.

Active accounts declined in the second quarter, the company said in a statement.

“We expect the trend of lower active accounts to continue into the third quarter, before starting to moderate in the fourth quarter,” Green Dot Chief Financial Officer Mark Shifke said.

New products and programs should lead the company back to active-account and related revenue growth in 2020, Shifke added.

To learn more about Green Dot Corporation, visit

Pasadena-Headquartered CIT Bank to Acquire Mutual of Omaha Bank for $1 Billion

Tue, 2019-08-13 06:25

CIT Group Inc. and Mutual of Omaha today announced a definitive agreement for CIT’s Pasadena-based banking subsidiary, CIT Bank, N.A., to acquire Mutual’s savings bank subsidiary, Mutual of Omaha Bank, for a purchase price of $1 billion.

The purchase price will be comprised primarily of cash and up to $150 million of CIT common stock, the amount of which will be determined by CIT, according to an announcement released by CIT in New York City.

The transaction will diversify and enhance CIT’s funding profile with “stable, lower-cost deposits” from Mutual of Omaha Bank’s homeowner’s association (HOA) banking business.

In addition, CIT officials said it will advance CIT’s strategic plan, extend its commercial banking capabilities and enhance profitability.

According to CITY, the transaction includes $6.8 billion in deposits, $4.5 billion of which are HOA deposits from more than 31,000 community associations nationwide, and $2.3 billion of which are from commercial and consumer financial centers in key markets.

In addition, $8.3 billion of total assets, including $3.9 billion of middle-market commercial loans, are part of the transaction, which adds to CIT’s growing franchise, the bank said.

On a pro forma basis, CIT will have approximately $42.1 billion of total deposits and $58.9 billion of total assets.

CIT Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer Ellen R. Alemany said, “Following our multi-year strategic transformation, we entered the next phase of our plan focused on thoughtful growth and value creation. This transaction squarely aligns to those goals by immediately enhancing our deposit and commercial banking capabilities and improving our profitability. This is a unique opportunity to accelerate our strategic plan through the addition of a market-leading HOA deposit franchise, a broader set of product and technology solutions and an expanded business footprint that complements CIT’s existing franchise.”

CIT Group Inc. (NYSE: CIT) is a financial holding company with over a century of experience, approximately $50 billion in assets as of June 30, 2019, and operates a principal bank subsidiary, CIT Bank, N.A. (Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender).

The company’s commercial banking segment includes commercial financing, real estate financing, equipment financing, factoring and railcar financing. CIT’s consumer banking segment includes its national online bank, CIT Bank, and a Southern California branch bank, OneWest Bank.

Kaiser Permanente Union Workers Authorize Strike

Tue, 2019-08-13 05:59

Earlier this year, Kaiser Permanente mental health therapists staged a one-day walkout outside their offices at 3280 E Foothill Blvd, Pasadena on April 25, 2019.

Members of Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) who are employees of Pasadena-based Kaiser Permanente have voted to strike.

According to union spokesman Sean Wherley, over 37,000 California-based workers of the health maintenance organization voted to strike, and 867 not to do so.

Two-thirds of all workers covered by the collective bargaining contract cast votes, “uncommonly high” for a strike authorization, according to Wherely.

A Kaiser Permanente executive said the result of the strike vote reflects “obviously misleading ballot questions” used by the union.

Kaiser Permanente’s bargaining proposal would provide employees with a range of best-in-class working conditions, said Kaiser Permanente’s vice president of communications John Nelson.

The vote was taken between July 29 and Aug. 11. Strike votes from other unions representing Kaiser Permanente workers in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia are ongoing and will run through mid-September.

All told, there are some 80,000 workers involved.

Were negotiations to fail, the strike could begin in early October and run seven days. It would be the largest walkout since the Teamsters Union struck United Parcel Service 22 years ago, according to Wherley.

The union accuses Kaiser Permanente of committing unfair labor practices and not bargaining in good faith. It wants safe staffing, compassionate use of technology, and wages and benefits that can sustain a middle class family.

The last contract expired in Sept. 2018.

Kaiser Permanente’s Nelson said the union’s ballot wording mischaracterized the issues before the workers.

He said that the company’s proposal, “would provide annual pay increases that would keep our employees compensated at higher than market averages and maintain excellent benefits.”

There are, Nelson added, no pay cuts and no changes to the defined pension benefit in Kaiser’s offer.

“SEIU-UHW is more interested in a power play to position themselves vis-a-vis other Kaiser Permanente unions,” said Nelson, “rather than focusing on what is best for their membership.”

Nelson reminded the public that the vote does not automatically mean a strike will take place.

“It is important to understand that a strike vote does not mean that a strike is imminent, although it does place Kaiser Permanente in the position of having to spend millions of dollars preparing for the threat of a strike event. Our first priority is always continuity of care for our patients and members,” he said.