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As Mayor Chris Canning says, there is no shame in plagiarizing good ideas. In January, the St. Helena Star (a sister newspaper to The Weekly Calistogan) took a snapshot of what St. Helena’s downtown area looked like. Editor Dave Stoneberg walked the main areas recording the businesses and tallying them up. It should provide an interesting look in the rearview mirror in a decade or so to see what’s changed and what’s stayed the same.

This past week, I copied the Star’s idea and came up with mostly the same categories as Stoneberg did, but since the make-up of Calistoga’s downtown has its own flavor, I categorized things a little differently.

The areas that I’m calling “downtown” were largely Lincoln Avenue from Foothill Boulevard to just past Stevenson Street, ending at Sushi Mambo; Washington Street from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church to Sharpsteen Museum; and Foothill Boulevard from T-Vine Winery to Craftsman Inn.

There are 17 categories from gas stations to antique stores to restaurants – the full list is in the sidebar.

There are two miscellaneous categories, one that includes retail but didn’t have enough similar businesses to warrant a category all their own, such as Silverado ACE Hardware, Studio on Main, Calistoga Bike Shop, and Golden Bear Jewelry. There are other stores in town that sell jewelry, but they also sell other things like clothing or household décor, whereas Golden Bear sells only jewelry, making it a one-off business.

The other miscellaneous category included non-retail establishments such as Susie’s Bar, for example. Susie’s is one-of-a-kind in many ways, but for the purposes of this story it didn’t fit in with the wine tasting room category, nor did it fit in with Johnny’s, which is both a bar and a restaurant. Johnny’s went onto the restaurant list.

Also in the non-retail miscellaneous group is Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, a single-family home, the AT&T building and the laundromat, all of which didn’t really fit any of the other categories.

In some cases a business fit into more than one category, such as Calistoga Hot Springs Spa and Resort. It counted both as a hotel and as an “exercise/spa/massage” business, since it offers those services to non-hotel guests. Calistoga Fit, a separate company that operates in the gym at Calistoga Hot Springs, got counted in the same category, too.

Mount View Hotel is another example where it was counted as a hotel, spa, and then two restaurants (Veraison and Johnny’s).

The vacant category includes two buildings that are empty because of earthquake retrofit issues. The old Lincoln Avenue Spa is undergoing some engineering analysis and the old Hotel D’Amici has building permits issued for a retrofit, but nothing has been done there yet, said Lynn Goldberg, planning and building director.

The other vacant buildings include one rail car at the Calistoga Depot, the former Bank of America building, the old Miguel’s space that has been vacant for several years, and a unit next to Julie’s Hair Salon. The Merchant family owns the empty rail car that was once leased to self-proclaimed psychic Mother Dora and the space next to Julie’s Hair Salon.

Canning has long pleaded to get the old Miguel’s space refurbished, retrofitted and filled, but it sits looking sad and lonely. It’s unclear what the new owner of the former bank building is doing, Goldberg said.

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The Weekly Calistogan Editor