Thursday, June 14, 2018

Bakersfield loses another icon in Mary K. Shell, T.L. Maxwell's needs a new owner with new ideas and poke bowls become the new lunch rage

Friday, June 15, 2018

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed, now online only. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special place. Email your news and notes to 

* ... RIP MARY K. SHELL: We lost another local icon this week with the death of former Bakersfield mayor and county supervisor Mary K. Shell. She was 91 and died at her home on 21st
Street downtown. "Miki" as she was known to her friends was one of the first people I met when I moved here more than 25 years ago. She was smart as a whip, engaged, curious and kind to everyone, no matter their position in this world. I will always remember Miki telling me about learning to fly at the old air strip on the Panorama Bluffs where Greenlawn Cemetery now stands, and how the planes would fly off the bluffs and take a scary dip before gaining altitude. She served as mayor from 1981-85 and later served on the Board of Supervisors. As a child she worked in a shop owned by her father, and recalled servicing a Buick when news of the D-Day landing was announced on the radio. She was married three times, including to Joe Shell who ran for governor only to lose in the Republican Party primary to a candidate named Richard Nixon. No word yet on funeral services.

* ... T.L. MAXWELLS: Former city councilman Terry Maxwell is closing down the restaurant that bore his name. T.L. Maxwell's was opened in 1999 and enjoyed a steady (if small) and loyal following, but recently ended up in the news after a former waitress sued it claiming she was fired for reporting extremely unhealthy conditions in the food prep area. The end came with a sour note: employees learned it was closing when Maxwell announced in on his local radio program. Maxwell's is gone, but the downtown alley space could be a gold mine for an entrepreneur with vision.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If you ever feel sad remember that there’s a number you can call and a pizza will be there in 30 minutes."

 * ... SPECTRUM: I don't know who is running the local offices of Spectrum cable, but it can't be a fun job these days. Customers are furious with Spectrum's service - or lack thereof - and Spectrum bashing has become the most popular theme on social media. My advice: switch to DirectTV, like Spectrum not cheap, but virtually problem free.

 * ... BIRTHDAY: I celebrated my birthday this week and did so with a leisurely dinner on the patio at Uricchio's Trattoria, the marvelous family owned downtown eatery known by regulars as "The Italian Embassy." When the weather is mild there are few better place to break bread than dining al fresco.

 * ... POKE BOWLS: And speaking of food, have you sampled the hot new food trend called "poke bowls?" Poke means “to slice or cut” in Hawaiian and refers to chunks of raw, marinated fish — usually tuna — which is then tossed over rice and topped with vegetables and umami-packed sauces. Some people are calling it the next generation of sushi, and they are popping up all over town.

 * ... MEMORIES: Who remembers Cy's Coffee shop that was located at the northwest corner of 18th and Eye streets?

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