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An outside view of Tracy's outdoor dining

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Grandpa Sam is flanked by his four granddaughters — from left, Samantha and Natalie Huckabay from Little Rock, Arkansas, and Jackie and Carolina Trimble from Concord — as they gathered across West 10th Street from Barista’s Tuesday morning. 

After checking out the unfolding downtown outdoors food and beverage scene with local friends one evening last week, I was on West 10th Street the next day with four out-of-town visitors.

The visitors were two from Little Rock, Arkansas, known as the Arkansas Travelers, and two from Concord in Contra Costa County.

OK, they weren’t randomly selected tourists asked to give their views. They were my four granddaughters, Samantha and Natalie Huckabay from Little Rock and Carolina and Jackie Trimble from Concord.

They were visiting me for a couple of days, and I invited them, along with daughter Laurie, to join me for a morning trip downtown.

First stop was Baristas for coffee. It was shortly after 8 a.m., and Rocky Sharma and his crew were starting to get cranked up. There was no big crowd yet, so the lattes for the granddaughters, all in different styles, came out rather quickly.

After grabbing our paper coffee cups, we walked across the street, as I usually do each morning, to the two metal benches fronting the Bank of America parking. Dave Kaiser and George Ayala were there with their bikes, joined by Mark Wible.

The guys and visiting granddaughters struck up a lively conversation. The girls told of their vacation activities and what the pandemic-impacted fall months might hold for them. Three are in college, and the youngest, Natalie, Huckabay, is a senior in high school in Little Rock.

Several hours later, we returned to the downtown for lunch. We found parking close to the Town & Country Café, where there was a full house in the expanded outside dining area. After a brief wait, we were seated under an all-important umbrella, which kept us in the shade.

Salads of a variety of styles were the favorite luncheon fare for the visitors. As we finished up, it was beginning to warm up, but still it wasn’t yet uncomfortable with a light breeze helping a lot.

But enough of my comments. Here’s what Samantha Huckabay had to say about our excursions to downtown outdoor venues:

“We loved being able to visit our grandfather in Tracy, especially under the circumstances. The town went out of its way to cater to its citizens. The outdoor seating for popular restaurants and requiring masks inside businesses were some of them.

“Even though it was a little different from the other years we have visited Tracy — our grandmother Joan passed away last fall — it was equally just as comforting and fun as it’s ever been! Everyone seemed to know everyone. It was like a family reunion each time we went in public.

“Natalie and I are so grateful to still be able to visit our family and our grandfather in Tracy, and we look forward to it every year. We have definitely missed our grandfather’s comforting home, especially his beautiful backyard (and pool!). Tracy has always and will always be a safe place for Natalie and me.”

Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at

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