Local Wins Awards at Art Classic

| Canyon Country Magazine | November 24, 2015


Canyon Country resident Scott Parker, pictured at left, was one of the dozens of winners at the 26th Annual Art Classic Gala. Santa Clarita supporters of the arts gathered at William S. Hart Park in Newhall last month to see local talent get awarded for their best work. They also enjoyed the smooth jazz of the Ian Vo Trio, while sipping wine and sampling appetizers.

Scott Parker of Canyon Country earned the SCAA Service Award for his generous volunteer work for the non-profit organization. He also received a second place ribbon for “Bull’s Head Barrel” at the Art Classic. “I love the old western antique look of the still life. I love doing a lot of detail in my work. The wood of the barrel and the skull allowed me to do that,” said Parker, who has been a member of the SCAA for almost four years. “By working in black and white graphite pencil and colored pencil I am able to get that fine detail and control of color, detail and shading.”

artclassic1Hundreds of guests were able to enjoy paintings, sculptures, photographs and other creative works by members of the non-profit organization. As in years past, the entry donation and the silent auction sales benefited the SCAA art scholarship program.
Eighty Santa Clarita artists participated, with 127 artworks on display. Judges Linda Du Pas and Gary Moss awarded ribbons to each category of art, oil, acrylic, sculpture, watercolor, dry media, photography and mixed media.

“The 26th Annual Art Classic escaped the rain and presented an exciting collection of art from experienced and new emerging artists. This year, records were broken for funds collected, awards earned and attendees’ enjoyment,” said Dody Rogers, event coordinator, who received this year’s Huff Award for leadership in the SCAA club.

The big winner was Gary Friedman’s “Europa,” scooping up Masters’ Gold, Best Landscape and Best of Show.

New Business: OhBella Gelato & Crepe Cafe

| Canyon Country Magazine | November 23, 2015


When you think of sampling crepes, if your only image is a thin pancake with sugar and whipped cream, then you haven’t been to Canyon Country’s sweet new arrival, OhBella Gelato & Crepe Café.

Sure, your dessert choices are completely covered – 32 flavors of gelato and sweet crepe combinations like “Strawberries & Cream” with drizzled Nutella. But, owner Jong Han would like locals to know that OhBella is so much more. He also serves up hearty versions that he calls “savory crepes,” which include ingredients like meats and fresh vegetables.

“The savory crepe is more like a meal. One of the most popular is called the ‘Andalusian.’ It has fresh spinach, mushroom, avocado, tomatoes and cheese,” says Han. “I have both sweet and savory crepes. When most people think of crepes, they think of sweet, but savory crepes are just as popular.”

The most popular dessert crepes have strawberry with Nutella or strawberry with banana and Nutella, says Han. OhBella also has a mixed berries crepe called “Cream Cheese Delight.”



The dozens of gelato flavors are too many to list, but there are plenty of original names among them, such as “Sea Salt and Caramel,” as well as favorites such as “Butter Pecan” and “Cookies and Cream.” Some unique flavors include “Creme Brulee,” “Chocolate Hazelnut” and “Spumoni.” Customers can accompany these specialties with an order of cafe lattes, teas and Italian sodas. But, don’t let the predictable products fool you.

“It’s not another hamburger joint or meat and potatoes store,” says Han. “In fact, I think a lot of people are still not aware what gelato is or how crepes are supposed to be.”

Han and his family have lived in Canyon Country since 2003, so it made sense to open a business close to home. He and his wife, Helen, owned a similar restaurant in Simi Valley for nine years.

“I’m very familiar with the area and it wasn’t far from my house,” he says, when asked why he launched a local business. “I felt that Canyon Country lacked a unique store like mine. There are always nice stores in Valencia and the Stevenson Ranch area. It’s the center of Canyon Country, so that’s why I chose the location.”

OhBella Gelato & Crepe Café is located at 18585 Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country. Call (661) 424-9987.

New Business: Toppers Pizza

| Canyon Country Magazine | November 22, 2015


The newest pizza restaurant to open in Canyon Country is nothing like the stereotypical family business struggling to get on its feet like a newborn calf. Instead, Toppers Pizza is taking the town – and the Southland, actually – by storm.

Canyon Country’s Toppers Pizza Restaurant, opening this month, is the Jonker family’s ninth Toppers. Beth and Vim Jonker, who live in Ventura, launched the business years ago. Now, all three of their adult children are involved in the enterprise. Two of the restaurants – one in Simi Valley and one in Thousand Oaks – are owned with partners.

Beth and Vim’s son, Evan Jonker, a Santa Clarita resident, is the onsite owner and manager at the new location, which is near Sierra Hwy on Soledad Canyon Road.

“It’s just a really fun business,” said Beth Jonker. “It’s a family-oriented thing. We have people say, ‘I’ve been a customer since I was a kid.’ We’ve been around long enough to see multiple generations come through.”

The first Toppers was opened in Port Hueneme in 1990 and all the Toppers are equally busy per square foot. The business owners have done more than serve food. They have shown support for their community by serving on committees and participating in fundraisers for schools, churches, etc., which has connected them with Ventura County residents. But, the family-of-five has clearly developed a successful business model, as well.

“We really keep it pretty simple,” said Beth Jonker. “A simple menu, but everything is really fresh. We kind of pride ourselves on that. It isn’t the easy way, but it’s the right way. For instance, we hand chop our ingredients. We stress the quality.”

There’s nothing simple about the toppings on Toppers pizzas, however. Combinations like “Creamy Garlic Chicken” and “Carnitas Chipotle,” along with about two dozen beer taps, have the appearance of a winning formula.

Not all the Jonker family’s decisions are without risk, however. After seven locations, the business owners chose to bring their enterprise into the Santa Clarita Valley, and they picked out two properties – one in Valencia, which opened last year, and the new Canyon Country site. Not an entirely safe choice, but definitely calculated.

“It was an available building, and when we decided to go into Santa Clarita, we got both buildings at the same time. We knew the area was too big for just one restaurant,” said Beth.

For many months, local residents have watched the former bank building transform into the Toppers powerhouse, causing it to lag behind the Valencia store.

“We can’t grow too fast,” said Beth. “We build our stores to last when we put up a building, and we do a lot with site selection. I think people are surprised that we are a family business – they think we are a huge company.”

How did the Jonkers come up with the name “Toppers” for the business?

“We sat around and picked – with extended family,” said Beth. “Nothing more magical than that, I’m afraid.”

A look at the results proves there’s some magical thinking somewhere in the Jonker family’s process. Maybe it’s due to their propensity for looking forward, always open to possibilities. With a new venue in Valencia and before the doors to the Canyon Country restaurant were open, Beth was already considering the future of Toppers in the SCV. Said Beth, “Maybe someday we can get a third.”

The new restaurant is located at 189417 Soledad Canyon Rd.

The New Face of Sulphur Springs School District, One Year Later

| Canyon Country Magazine | November 17, 2015

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It’s been almost a full year since Dr. Catherine Kawaguchi stepped into the role of superintendent for the Sulphur Springs School District with the goal of helping the district reach new levels of success. An Oxnard native, Kawaguchi made the decision to relocate her career to Santa Clarita after being drawn to the family-centered community.

“When I interviewed for the position in Sulphur Springs, I was immediately drawn in by the board of trustees’ commitment to the families in the district,” she recalled. “There is a strong sense of family and community here in the valley, and I wanted to be part of this great work.”

While Kawaguchi has committed to remain at her residence in Ventura County until her daughter finishes high school, she has spent the last 11 months integrating herself into the Santa Clarita community through the creation of “Coffee with the Superintendent” for district parents, and by meeting with local community groups like the Santa Clarita Valley Rotary Club and Santa Clarita City Council.

After working as a swim instructor for children and adults during the summer months of her high school years, Kawaguchi made the decision to work toward her teaching credential—a choice she described as the best decision she’s ever made.

Kawaguchi went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a master’s in educational leadership from California Lutheran University. She became a teacher for the next 15 years before taking on the positions of assistant principal, principal and assistant superintendent of educational services, overseeing 21 schools.

“Being an educator is a gift that I want to continue to share with others, and make differences in the lives of children and adults,” Kawaguchi explained. “To know that you have students come back after several years of having them in the classroom and they thank you for supporting them and making a difference is an opportunity that I will treasure forever.”

Though Kawaguchi is not currently in the classroom, she received her doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Southern California last year and views her new position as superintendent of the Sulphur Springs School District to be a teacher, of sorts.

“I still continue to teach by working with district staff to continue to coach, lead and work with them to enhance and support the classroom teachers and the children,” she said. “All of my years of education have further supported my work and enabled me to continue to provide leadership to teachers, administrators and staff.”

As the school year carries on into 2016, Kawaguchi plans to continue her entry plan of interacting with stakeholders and community leaders, and establishing public trust and confidence. She also plans to move toward her goal of helping the district reach new levels of success by working with staff and the Sulphur Springs Board of Trustees to monitor student learning – actively adjusting goals, as needed, to meet the needs of the district’s children and being open to new ideas.

“One of the areas that I have continued to focus on is communication,” Kawaguchi said. “I want to be sure that people know that I want to hear their voice, listen to the needs of our children and work together to create positive changes for our students.”

Best of Canyon Country

| Canyon Country Magazine | November 16, 2015


Your votes are in! Thank you to all of our readers who turned in ballots supporting your favorite local businesses. For three years we’ve brought you a list of “Best of Canyon Country” winners, enabling residents to reward community enterprises that provide excellent products and services.

The awards place a “stamp of approval” on favorites in every category, from restaurants to medical practices. Use it as a reference guide when you search for a business, and be sure to tell them you saw it in
Canyon Country Magazine.

Read on for the results from this year’s Best of Canyon Country
in all 20 categories. Congratulations to our winners!

Best Grocery Store
Stater Bros.
26900 Sierra Hwy, Canyon Country
(661) 298-7988

You don’t need a store card to lower your bill with merchandise discounts at Stater Bros. — the savings are applied to everyone. Customers take full advantage of the service deli, with fresh salads and premium meats and cheeses. The bakery and the full service seafood department are big draws for residents, and the staff members are considerate and competent.
Visit www.staterbros.com.

Best Chiropractor
Robert L. Fisher, D.C.
26850 Sierra Hwy, Canyon Country
(661) 299-4933

With almost 30 years of experience offering chiropractic care, Robert L. Fisher, D.C. has treated patients with a wide range of conditions. He has been treating NASCAR drivers for decades, and served as a local football team physician. Fisher is one of the doctors at All Family Chiropractic Center, an office next to Stater Brothers, treating patients with chronic pain, as well as serious conditions, such as stomach disorders, asthma, arthritis and allergies. Visit www.chiropracticsantaclarita.com.

Best Park
Canyon Country Park
17615 Soledad Canyon Road, Canyon Country
(661) 259-2489

The very first park opened by the City of Santa Clarita, Canyon Country Park offers multiple uses, split levels and areas with a bird’s eye view of town. The site has a community center for indoor programs, a softball diamond and a playground. It was created in 1989 with an aim to provide residents and visitors with beautiful places to play, exercise, and connect with friends, family and neighbors.

Best Hardware Store
Paul’s Paint and Hardware
18597 Soledad Canyon Road, Canyon Country
(661) 252-1572

For about two decades, Paul Dell’Olio has served the Canyon Country community with a handy location for paint and hardware. He moved to a more central location, near Vallarta, and is the go-to store for local residents who are working on their homes. Paul’s Paint and Hardware continues its tradition of offering customers the personal service they love.

Best of American/BBQ
Rattler’s Bar B Que Restaurant
26495 Golden Valley Road in Santa Clarita
(661) 251-4195

One of the Santa Clarita Valley’s most famous eateries for a quarter of a century, Rattler’s Bar B Que draws crowds nightly to its warm atmosphere and meaty favorites, including chicken, ribs, prime rib and hamburgers. Residents return for the addictive garlic rolls alone or belly up to the bar. Visit Rattlersbbq.com

Best Indian Restaurant
Karma Indian Cuisine & Bar
23460 Cinema Drive, Valencia
(661) 288-0080

Canyon Country residents united to choose the rich and flavorful food at Karma as their favorite. There is delivery service and takeout, but the real winners are the diners, who relish the deep colors and Indian décor. Such combinations as shrimp coconut curry and reshami kababs marinated in cream, garlic and ginger are examples of Karma’s signature dishes. Of course, there is plenty on the menu for vegetarians and vegans, plus authentic Indian desserts, including gulab jamun and moong daal halwa. Visit www.karmavalencia.com

Best Sushi
Bonsai Garden
19358 Soledad Canyon Road, Canyon Country
(661) 251-9008

When you open the doors to Bonsai Garden, you begin to experience the sophisticated atmosphere of a genuine sushi dining experience. Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, customers enjoy private dining rooms plus a bar offering cocktails and an all-you-can-eat menu. Visit www.bonsaigardensushibar.com.

Best Asian Restaurant
ZingGa Grill Asian Fusion Restaurant
26910 Sierra Hwy, Canyon Country
(661) 250-7592

Flavorful Korean barbecue is ZingGa Grill’s specialty, with meaty dishes like bibimbap-beef, yakiniku beef and spicy pork belly. The restaurant serves authentic Asian combinations, pleasing customers with spicy specialties including the seafood rice bowl and baby back ribs. ZingGa Grill makes original sauces, like bulgogi and kimchi, and a hot sauce with the added kick of peppers and capsaicin. You can order take-out, eat inside the restaurant, which is located next to Stater Brothers, or sit under an umbrella outside. Look for ZingGa Grill on Facebook.

Best of Pizza
Oggi’s Pizza & Brewing Company
18810 Soledad Canyon Road, Canyon Country
(661) 252-7883

Hot-out-of-the-oven pizza is served alongside soups and salads and a mug of beer for many of Oggi’s customers. A sports bar experience, there are TV monitors visible to all, so there is lots of energy, especially on big game days. There is a full menu for lunch and dinner and a full bar, plus a game room for the kids. Visit Oggis.com.

Best Hair Salon
Flair Beauty College
18914 Soledad Canyon Road, Canyon Country
(866) 68-Flair

Nationally accredited and state approved, Flair Beauty College has an extensive, hands-on curriculum for cosmetology certification, offering students the preparation needed to take the State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology Licensing Exam. Using both interactive exercises and classroom sessions, instructors provide a creative atmosphere to lead men and women into careers as estheticians, manicurists, cosmetologists, makeup artists and cosmetology instructors. Visit www.flairbeautycollege.com.

Best Pharmacy
Walgreens Pharmacy
19266 Soledad Canyon Road, Canyon Country
(661) 251-9433

Open 24 hours a day, Walgreens is more than just a drug store. The pharmacy is active and even offers drive-thru service, while other store features include health and beauty products, some grocery items, household supplies and a photo department. Customers can order photos and photo gifts online and pick them up from the store. Visit www.walgreens.com.

Best Dentist
Sierra Dental Care
19223 Soledad Canyon Road, Canyon Country
(661) 251-1800

Offering general dentistry to all ages plus orthodontics, the scope of expertise at Sierra Dental meets the needs of every member of the family. Patients can count on cutting-edge techniques with routine exams, as well as procedures such as root canals and cosmetic dentistry. Patients with anxiety find that the calm approach by hygienists and doctors at Sierra Dental has made their visits a much smoother experience. Visit www.canyoncountrydentist.org.

Best Mexican Restaurant
Casa Vieja
18401 Soledad Canyon Road, Canyon Country
(661) 252-9804

This “Best Of” winner is skyrocketing in popularity. Serving up authentic Mexican dishes, Casa Vieja uses the highest quality of meats and produce in warm and spicy food, with quality tequila in top notch margaritas. Serapes and sombreros on surrounding walls make the experience complete.

Best Veterinarian
Cat Doctor & Friends
26055 Bouquet Canyon Road, Saugus
(661) 259-5288

A call to Cat Doctor & Friends gives you access to a team of veterinary health care professionals who specialize in the treatment of felines. Emergencies are accepted when the clinic is open, which is seven days a week. Veterinary personnel are on duty for wellness visits and urgent care cases. The Cat Doctor offers physical exams that include dental checks, and there is onsite x-ray capability, as well as a certified veterinary acupuncturist. Visit www.Catdoctor.com.

Best Law Firm
The Werner Law Firm
27257-1/2 Camp Plenty Road, Canyon Country
(661) 252-9022

Founded by L. Rob Werner, this full-service attorney practice has been the go-to law firm for Santa Clarita residents since 1975. An SCV Bar Association “Best Attorney” award-winner, the firm’s expertise includes personal injury, family law, estate planning, probate, criminal defense, bankruptcy, business law and civil litigation. The Werner Law Firm also offers free initial consultations. Visit www.wernerlawca.com.

Best Italian Restaurant
Caruso’s II
18340 Sierra Hwy, Canyon Country
(661) 251-8450

A classic Italian ristorante, Caruso’s II is the best place to find dishes like ravioli, chicken parmigiana and cannoli, according to Canyon Country readers. Count on it tasting authentic, because the owners came from Sicily. You can pick up an order just 15-30 minutes after making the call, and when you dine inside the restaurant, you feel like you’re at home. Visit www.carusos2.com.

Best Thrift/Resale Store
Hope of the Valley
19379 Soledad Canyon Road, Canyon Country
(661) 673-5951

When you shop at Hope of the Valley Thrift Store, you contribute to thousands of individuals and families in need. Proceeds from the non-profit’s three stores bring food to the hungry and help operate two shelters. Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission currently serves clients from the Santa Clarita Valley, including homeless moms and kids at House of Hope and Genesis House. Visit www.hopeofthevalley.org.

Best Dog Groomer
Bark Avenue Grooming & Boutique
17737 Sierra Hwy, Canyon Country
(661) 299-2227

Canyon Country canines have gotten to know Donna Matthews Hughes, who took over the leash at Bark Avenue Grooming last year. Offering such services as haircuts, nail clipping and grooming, Bark Avenue also takes it to the next level. Pet owners can peruse the animal accessories for sale in the lobby while Fifi has a spa visit. Visit www.Facebook.com/barkavenuegroomingscv.

Best Dry Cleaners/Laundry
Santa Clarita Express Laundry Center
19375 Soledad Canyon Road, Canyon Country
(661) 252-6200

One of the largest and cleanest laundry facilities you’ve ever been to, Santa Clarita Laundry Center enables you to utilize a same-day drop off service or load them yourself. It is a great option when washing pieces too large for your machine at home. In fact, the center has the largest washers and dryers in the Santa Clarita area, and is currently adding five more state-of-the-art machines that wash 7-8 loads each. The facility is fully attended for added security and doubles as a water store. Visit SantaClaritaLaundry.com.

Best Auto Repair
Ned’s Car Care
18009 Sierra Hwy, Canyon Country
(661) 298-9000

When it comes to choosing a car repair shop, Canyon Country residents feel confident with the honest, competent work of Ned’s Car Care mechanics. The shop has been servicing and repairing cars in Santa Clarita for years, and locals rave about the fair pricing at the established business. Customers are extremely loyal and use words like helpful and trustworthy to describe the staff at Ned’s.

Green Light a Vet

| Canyon Country Magazine | November 15, 2015

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In a nationwide campaign launched by Walmart, residents will show support for United States service men and women this month with a green light bulb. Citizens are invited to exchange one of their light bulbs for a green one and shine it in a visible location, such as a porch or in the home or office for the month of November. The act will add to the campaign to recognize veterans with a show of appreciation and support.

Paul’s Paint & Hardware in Canyon Country has stocked up on green bulbs and for a limited time is offering them to the community FOR FREE.

Some Walmart stores ran out of green light bulbs after launching the campaign, and Paul Dell’Olio wanted to be sure local residents had access to bulbs so they could participate in the national show of support.

Paul’s Paint & Hardware is located at 18597 Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country. You can call the store at (661) 252-1572. For more information about Greenlight a Vet, visit www.greenlightavet.com.

Thanks KiK-ving

| Canyon Country Magazine | November 14, 2015


Friday, November 20th at Vincenzo’s

A couple of teenage musicians who came up with the name “Thanks-KiK-ving” for a Thanksgiving fundraiser probably need no introduction. “Unique” and “creative” are key terms to describe the two sisters who make up KiKstart, a pop rock girl band based in Canyon Country.

It was a talent show at Albert Einstein Academy that inspired Kalia and Keeli Javan, fraternal twins who frequently are mistaken for identical twins, to form a musical act. The sisters were slated to play guitars with a classmate for their act, but a few days before the show, Kalia tried her hand at keyboards and Keeli picked up some drums, so the guitar trio became a three-member girl band instead.

“Less than a month after the Talent Show performance, we were invited to perform during the Opening Ceremony of the 2013 SCV Relay for Life,” said Keeli, “and then a week after that, Kalia and I decided to go to music school to learn more about drums and piano.”

kandk2 kandk4 kandk3It is fitting that the 16-year-old Javan girls’ first “gig” was a charity event, as KiKstart has continued to be front-and-center at non-profit functions. Thanks-Kik-ving is consistent with that.

“We like the feeling we get after doing something that helped someone or the community,” said Kalia. “We saw a banner for SCV Food Pantry, where it had their slogan, which says, ‘No child in the Santa Clarita Valley should go to bed hungry,’ and it affected us. We never even thought that there are children going to bed hungry.”

KiKstart’s upcoming event is not the first time that the Food Pantry benefited from their performance.

“In our very first full show that happened at the Santa Clarita Street Fair, we sold some band merchandise and donated 20 percent of sales to the Food Pantry,” said Keeli.

The twins would like their generosity to expand as they see growth in their music. They are open to adding members to the band, having included several guest instrumentalists over the last two years.

“We thought of Thanks-KiK-ving, basically, to give thanks for all the opportunities that came our way, including those six talented guitarists who played with us,” said Kalia.

As for the recipient of their generosity, Keeli finished the thought for her sister. “And because it’s Thanksgiving, we understand that the need at the Food Pantry increases, so we want to help in our own little way,” she said.

Currently, the duo has changed their musical focus to include songs that just the two of them can perform, but still classify their sound as pop rock. They are also in the process of building enough original music to release an EP (Extended Play musical recording).

“We don’t really anticipate changing our musical style as we get older,” said Kalia. “Maybe if our taste in music changes, then a change in style would follow.”

Jerry Danielsen of Busy Signal Studios, a record label in Santa Clarita, once described KiKstart’s music as “eclectically infused” and “energetically creative.”

“We studied and are still learning our own instruments … but sometimes other instruments will interest me, like a certain piano part of a particular song or a guitar part,” said Keeli. “So, I will look up the chords or find it on my own and learn the part. … Since it’s basically just the two of us, we try to learn other instruments so there’s variety.”

Neither of the twins seems uncomfortable with the current size of their band.

“The show that we’re having on Friday, November 20 to benefit the SCV Food Pantry will be the first show ever where it’s just the two of us on stage, and we’re so excited about it,” said Kalia.

The fact they are twins begs the question, “Do they sound the same?”

“People tell us that we sound the same on the phone, and would need to have a rather lengthy conversation before they can tell who they›re talking to,” said Keeli. “When singing, you can tell us apart more – there’s similarity, but enough difference to be able to distinguish one from the other.”

One might suppose that, being twins, they would naturally have few disagreements, both about the plans for their music and about life in general. Most people would be surprised by the Javan girls.

“We do tend to agree on the direction for the band, even though we are actually almost complete opposites,” said Kalia. “Keeli likes sports, while I would rather lie down and listen to music (except softball – I do enjoy playing that). Keeli is right-handed and I’m left-handed. I love wearing dresses and curling my hair, where Keeli just wears her cool clothes. … We both, obviously, really love music, but our favorite bands are different.”
It seems that every set of twins has a story about swapping places. Identical twins, that is.

“We never played tricks on teachers, because we always thought it would never work – (except probably with our kindergarten teacher Mrs. Sproul, who to this day swears we›re identical twins) – and that teachers would be able to tell, so we›d get in trouble,” said Keeli. “But, I guess we were wrong, because a lot of people still confuse us for the other.”

For individuals who are not twins, it is hard to imagine how it feels to be in the position where others are never sure who you are.

“It doesn’t directly annoy me when people get us mixed up, but I mostly get confused, because we don›t even look alike enough,” said Kalia. “Keeli is about an inch taller than me, her hair is longer, her head is oval-shaped and mine is more circular; and we dress completely different a lot of the time.”

Kalia and Keeli are 11th graders at Albert Einstein Academy. Both hold third degree black belts in Taekwondo. Kalia’s weapon of choice is nunchakus and Keeli’s is the bo staff. Their father, Joel Javan, coordinates their schedules, which allows for approximately seven performances a year.

To view comments about KiKstart, go to https://youtu.be/PWicL-EHeiI. To see more about the group, visit facebook.com/KiKstartBand; instagram.com/KiKstartRocks; twitter.com/KiKstartRocks; YouTube.com/KiKstartTV. Email them at KiKstart@KaliaKeeli.com.

The Thanks-KiK-ving concert will take place on Friday, November 20, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. at Vincenzo’s Pizza, located at 24504 Lyons Ave. in Newhall. Admission is $10 + 2 cans of food per person.

Crazy Otto’s

| Canyon Country Magazine | October 23, 2015

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If you’re one of those people who struggles to find an exciting place to eat nearby, you’ll be happy to know that someone is bringing a little crazy to Canyon Country.

Crazy Otto’s, a small chain with such loyal customers you are tempted to call it a “cult following,” is just opening in the Food 4 Less shopping center near Beverly’s. Known for large portions of hearty food – rib eye, Philly cheese steak, and turkey melt among them – it’s really more of an experience. You’ll slide into one of the restaurant’s 12 large red booths or take a seat at one of the tables, or even belly up to the nostalgic, mid-century counter, and when you dive into the menu, you’d better be hungry. There are sandwiches, salads and sides like hash browns and chili cheese fries, but what the restaurant is mostly known for is the omelettes.

In fact, Crazy Otto’s holds the record for the world’s largest omelette. “We actually broke the record three times,” said Sean Chainy, co-owner of more than one Crazy Otto’s restaurant.

There is no shortage of variety either. You’ve got the usuals – Denver omelette, Spanish omelette, sausage and cheese – and then there’s Crazy Otto’s Burgermeat omelette, with seasoned ground beef, onions, Ortega chiles and cheese.

crazy ottos guysThe Scotty’s Chili Cheese Dog Omelette is a favorite for new owner/operator Adam Finley, a partner in the Canyon Country Crazy Otto’s. Finley began as a dishwasher in 2001 and worked his way up the food chain (pun intended), to run one of the restaurants with Jin Hur and Chainy, who already own some of the Crazy Otto’s eateries in the Antelope Valley and Acton.

Open 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day, you can’t hit Crazy Otto’s for dinner, but they get the early morning crowd. The restaurant often gets commuters, sheriff’s officers, fishermen, dirt bikers, and construction workers who like to fill their gullets before work.

People generally get too full to order the restaurant’s all-American desserts, like apple pie, hot fudge sundaes and cheesecake.

If the Canyon Country venue is anything like previous Crazy Otto’s – even the original site that was built on the railroad tracks – expect to see crowds, due to its popularity.

crazy otts booths“The food obviously has something to do with it, and the atmosphere, but I think it’s our friendly staff,” said Chainy, who has a promise for customers. “Their coffee cup will never run dry and their belly will never be empty.”

The new Crazy Otto’s is located at 19132 Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country. Call (661) 299-OTTO or visit Crazyottosdiners.com.

Canyon Country Campus to Screen Halloween Classic at Fall Movie Night

| Canyon Country Magazine | October 22, 2015


The College of the Canyons Canyon Country campus and COC Associated Student Government (ASG) are inviting students and community members to celebrate the spirit of Halloween by attending the campus’ “Fall Movie Night” for a presentation of the family favorite film “Hocus Pocus.”

Starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy, “Hocus Pocus” follows the story of Max, a teenager who moves from California to his new family home in Salem, Massachusetts. Upon his arrival, Max, little sister Dani, and new friend Allison, accidentally free a coven of witch sisters who used to live in the house. With the help of a magical cat, the three kids are tasked with stealing the witches’ book of spells before Halloween night is over, in an attempt to end their reign of terror.

“The evening promises to be a fun mix of events for the entire family and a great way to start your Halloween weekend,” said Anthony Michaelides, dean of campus services & operations at the Canyon Country campus. “It also provides the campus with another opportunity for us to open our doors and welcome in the community.”

The screening of “Hocus Pocus” will take place from 7-9 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30 in the Carl A. Rasmussen Amphitheater, located at the Canyon Country campus.

Also included in the festivities will be a series of children’s activities beginning at 6 p.m.

Information for prospective students about the Canyon Country campus will also be available.

In addition, the event will feature food truck fare available for purchase from Keep on Grubbin. Event attendees are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs along with them and settle in for an evening of Halloween-inspired family fun.

For more information about the COC Canyon Country campus “Fall Movie Night,” call (661) 362-3800 or visit www.canyons.edu/CCC.

Alan Prager of Newhall-Valencia Lock & Key Unlocking the Secret of his Success

| Canyon Country Magazine | October 21, 2015


Alan Prager has owned Newhall-Valencia Lock & Key for almost 32 years, never moving the business from its location in the back corner of the El Centro shopping center in Canyon Country. You might even say he’s “locked in” there.

But, that’s the way Prager likes it. He really, really likes it. “When I first started the business, I worked seven days a week. I wanted to retire at 35,” said Prager. “Retire? And do what?”

The entrepreneur said he’s grateful to have a business like Newhall-Valencia Lock & Key, which enabled him to rear his children, pay for college, and at the same time, to foster relationships.

“After a certain amount of time, the work becomes recreational,” said Prager. “It’s a social thing, honestly. I’m talking, friends come by and make coffee, we have lunch.”

steve lock and keyBesides friends hanging out at the shop, other “regulars” at Newhall-Valencia Lock & Key are Prager’s customers. One local resident comes in regularly, hiring Prager and his staff to change the locks for his rental properties. A number of car dealerships, such as Kia and Toyota, routinely turn to the shop to handle car locks that need to be changed, such as the result of ignition repairs. Also, Newhall-Valencia Lock & Key is the go-to shop for the power company, a number of municipalities, and other government agencies.

“My job is mostly commercial – I work on tons of proposals,” said the lock shop owner.

Prager’s employees man the counter in the shop (not Prager’s favorite aspect of the business), where the majority of customers walk in to have keys made. The walls are covered with every form of industrial and residential lock, key, deadbolt and related products. There are dozens of whimsical shapes and colorfully printed keys on racks in the store. People with affection for a sport, team, animal, flower, drink, etc. can pick out a key with anything from roses to margaritas on it – and the new key can be made in under a minute.

The company has three vans that the men take on calls out “in the field.” They generally stay in the Santa Clarita Valley, but occasionally there are jobs that take them farther. Some of the team’s more challenging calls have included a 1960s sliding glass door with a decades-old lock, and working on a door that was falling off the hinges. If they get the call early enough in the day, they can typically do the job on the same day.

“I’m grateful for everybody I work with,” said the business owner.

Prager’s staff is bonded and insured, and made up of three men who respond to calls: Steve Bench, Brian Sendewicz, and Alan’s son, Aaron Prager. They represent a lot of longevity. Both Brian and Aaron have worked for the company for 10 years, and Steve has worked for Alan for more than 20 years. Also, Lorraine White works in the office.

Whatever the job, said Prager, customers get fair, predictable pricing. Employees of Newhall-Valencia Lock & Key do not work on commission – payment for work is straightforward.

“Nobody gets anything they don’t need,” said Prager. “I help a lot of people over the phone when I can.”
The shop is open Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. There is a chance a technician is available if you call after hours, but there’s no guarantee when the business is not officially open.

Newhall-Valencia Lock & Key is located at 27265 Camp Plenty Road in Canyon Country. For more information, call (661) 251-4830.

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