Biz Buzz: Gopher Glen Apple Farm up for sale

The Gopher Glen Apple Farm in See Canyon and San Luis Obispo’s Froggies’ Café, two businesses owned by the DeVincenzo family, have been put up for sale.

Gopher Glen was started in 1971 as a family farm and apple business by John DeVincenzo, an orthodontist, farmer, and businessman who died in September. His wife, Sally Jo DeVincenzo, said Wednesday that the sales were triggered by DeVincenzo’s death, the businesses’ debts, and embezzlement from the family and its businesses of more than $1 million by a longtime employee. Arroyo Grande resident Joanna Kay was convicted this year of stealing from the DeVincenzos’ Avila Valley Barn, SLO Maid Ice Cream Co., The Apple Lady, Gopher Glen Apple Farm, See Canyon Fruit Ranch and Froggies’ Café, according to court documents.

Sally DeVincenzo said the family is now in negotiations to sell part of Gopher Glen to someone “who is almost family.” That buyer, whose name she did not disclose, will probably buy about 10 acres, including four cultivated with apple trees, and the business itself, she said. She would not discuss the sale price or other terms because the deal was still being worked out.

“The thing that’s really on my mind is that it’s really a wonderful asset to the community, and we’re sure it will keep going (as a business),” she added.

The apple stand is closed for the winter, but will open by the end of the summer, as it always has done, for the apple season, DeVincenzo said.

With the loss of her husband and the pressure of debts, Sally DeVincenzo said she also had “to get out from under” Froggies Café, a frozen treat and coffee shop in San Luis Obispo’s Marigold Shopping Center. The couple had bought that business from John and Tracy Ronca for $75,000 in 2007. Sally DeVincenzo now hopes to sell the business for the price of its equipment. She declined to say what the price would be, except it was “negotiable.”

The other businesses owned by DeVincenzo or the family are not for sale, and will continue to run as usual, Sally DeVincenzo said.

— Melanie Cleveland

Cambria picked for motorcycle rollout

Kawasaki Motors Corp. chose Cambria as the site for a weeklong introduction of new products for 2010, the Cambria Historic East Village Association announced.

Kawasaki’s Jeff Herzog picked Cambria for its “natural beauty, back roads, and small-town hospitality,” according to Terry Damerel, the owner of the Burton Inn.

She said Herzog said the company wanted its guests “to experience a completely new and unique location” for the launch of its redesigned Kawasaki Z1000 road motorcycle.

Motorcycle journalists and photographers came to Cambria beginning Dec. 7 for a week-plus review of the new Kawasakis, including the opportunity to ride the new line of super-sport street bikes. The launch ended Dec. 16.

Guests stayed at the Burton Inn and Squibb House Bed & Breakfast and dined at The Brambles Dinner House, where a tent in the parking lot sheltered the motorbikes. All the businesses are on Burton Drive in Cambria’s East Village.

— Bert Etling

Engineering firm moves to new home

Structural engineering firm John A. Martin & Associates recently moved from 1194 Pacific St. to a new location at 355 Pacific St., Suite A, in San Luis Obispo.

The company provides engineering and drafting services for residences, schools, medical facilities, retail, restaurants, parking structures, casinos, hotels and remodels.

The original John A. Martin & Associates office was founded in 1953 in Los Angeles and has grown to include 13 affiliate offices. Four affiliate offices are located throughout California, with others located in Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, Colorado, Wyoming and China. The San Luis Obispo office has six employees and is led by structural engineer Melissa K. Hazlett.

— Julia Hickey

Paso honors Estrella Associates

The Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce selected Estrella Associates Inc. for the 2009 Beautification of the Year Award.

The company is being honored for the River Oaks Center at 2727 Buena Vista Drive.

It is the first commercial building in San Luis Obispo County to receive a gold precertification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Core and Shell green building rating system.

Estrella Associates collaborated with Leonard Grant Architecture to design the center. It will consist of two buildings with a combined total of 50,000 square feet of floor space.

Potential uses include a gourmet grocery store, office/commercial space and other neighborhood services. The center has completed its first phase and is now procuring tenants.

The award will be presented at the chamber’s annual dinner Jan. 16 at the Paso Robles Inn Grand Ballroom. For more information on the event, see

— AnnMarie Cornejo