Mardi Gras coming to Redwood City this month

Mardi Gras coming to Redwood City this month

in Community/Featured/Headline

The Mardi Gras-minded among us can cancel flight reservations to New Orleans, because the Redwood City Downtown Business Group is introducing a stay-at-home version of the wintertime party for 2020. The Feb. 22 “Mardi Gras Carnival: Brass, Beads & Beignets” is a new event for the presenters, happening during a usual downtown lull between the Hometown Holidays hoopla and the summer music and festival scene. Sue Lehr Mitchell, a member of the group’s board, says Mardi Gras/Redwood City will be a family-friendly version that will include all the Big Easy features, including beads for throwing and for purchase, a parade with a grand marshal, dancing, booths and authentic beverages and cuisine plus four bands deeply rooted in the New Orleans sound. The main stage located at Main Street and Broadway will showcase the original New Orleans swamp rock, funk and blues performed by Fog Swamp; the music of Al Lazard & the World Street Players; MJ’s Brass Boppers; and the fast funky rhythms of Grammy-nominated Andre Thierry.  The event will start at 4:30 p.m. that Saturday and continue to 10 p.m. rain or shine. 

Rather than the usual event site at Courthouse Square, Mardi Gras will take place on Broadway (aka Bourbon Street) from Jefferson Avenue to Main, giving people more exposure to the restaurants in that part of downtown. Mitchell, who was chair of the Hometown Holidays event, is seeking sponsors for what she hopes will turn into an annual tradition, and says everyone she’s spoken to about the Redwood City Mardi Gras is looking forward to attending. That said, Mitchell has never attended the real deal in New Orleans. “I’m creating my own Mardi Gras,” she says with a laugh. For event information, contact her at 650.619.9311. 

Gentle nudging sometimes pays off. Jim Clifford, who writes Climate’s history column, has chronicled the story of the former KGEI radio station, which served as “the voice from home” for GI’s in the Pacific during World War II. The station’s transmitter building on Radio Road in Redwood Shores had once been a church but is now owned by Silicon Valley Clean Water and is used for office space. Clifford had asked SVCW management several times about bringing back the KGEI call letters on the front of the building, which were covered up. And he was pleasantly surprised recently to find that he got his wish, as the historic letters are once again visible. SVCW General Manager Teresa Herrera says she hadn’t even known about them until Clifford asked. Restoring the call letters wasn’t an extra expense because the building was being painted anyway. Construction Manager William Tanner says the “letters were in great shape, just as they were when concrete forms were removed in the 1930s.” An encouraging outcome for wannabe squeaky wheels. 

 Like the putative Mark Twain quote about reports of his death being greatly exaggerated, the much-lamented end of Woodside Deli after more than 60 years turns out to have been just a timeout. As deli aficionados around here know, the eatery had been owned and operated by Dan and Barbara Gallinetti, who retired in 2016. The couple sold it to Kyle Vogel, who remodeled and reopened it in 2018, only to shutter the deli last October, citing a hefty rent increase and employee costs among other factors.  

Enter Gallinetti nephew Brian Colombo, who had worked at Woodside Deli, with his brother, when they were in high school, and for the past 35 years at his own family’s Colombo Delicatessen in Pacifica. “We have a very close family,” says Colombo, adding that his cousins “are more like sisters to me than cousins.” Though the Colombos already have a full plate running their Pacifica deli and an online kitchen in San Francisco, the pull of family ties and Woodside Deli’s long history were compelling. “Everyone wanted to see the legacy live on in our family,” he says. He talked to the landlord and the rent seemed “realistic for our area.”   

So as of Dec. 15, Woodside Deli is open again—to hurrahs from dedicated customers. “I was kind of taken aback just because the community here is unbelievable,” Colombo says. The standard deli items, including the legendary Godfather sandwich, are still on the menu, but the Colombos are bringing in more cheeses, and possibly a grill for hot pastrami sandwiches and an espresso bar. His sons, Nick and Joe, also work in the business.  

Brian’s wife, Monica, however, is an executive assistant at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. How about the Woodside Deli’s phoenix story as a long-time family business for their next case study?  

 This story was originally published in the February print edition of Climate Magazine.