The newest editor of Comstock’s Magazine was playing on a ranch in Lodi when publisher Winnie Comstock-Carlson launched the business publication 25 years ago in Sacramento.
Christine Calvin, 31, assumed leadership of Comstock’s editorial staff after Doug Curley resigned earlier this month. Curley, Comstock’s editor for 10 years, said he left the post after Comstock-Carlson told him she wanted to take the magazine in a different direction.
“Christine’s going to do a great job,” Curley said. “I hired Christine about six years ago as … an associate editor. She moved up to be managing editor about 21/2 years ago. In the last year, we’ve brought on lots of young, talented people. … Our website is finally state of the art, and Allison Joy, whom we brought on from the Sacramento Press, has done a great job on that front.”
Curley, 58, first worked with Comstock-Carlson at Executive Place magazine, he said, and when that publication folded in 1989, Comstock-Carlson launched Comstock’s. Curley went to work for the California Dental Association as its publications director. In 2004, when two senior Comstock’s editors abruptly departed to launch the rival Prosper magazine, Comstock-Carlson hired Curley to help take on the competition.
“I brought in a whole new staff and took the magazine to a new level,” Curley said. “We survived that, and then we had to get through the recession. The magazine was so reliant on building, both residential and commercial. At one time, that was as much as 60 percent of our advertising.”
Curley said Comstock’s vice president Clayton Blakley has been instrumental in finding other revenue sources, and he described Calvin as energetic, well-grounded in journalism, and capable of leading Comstock’s into its 2.0 era. “She did the March issue where we had the fold-out cover of the new up-and-coming professionals,” he said. “She was a leader on that, and then of course, Zuza Hicks, our young Polish design director, did an incredible job on it, too.”
Calvin moved with her family to Granite Bay when she was a teenager. A graduate of Granite Bay High School, she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, Columbia. Her first reporting job was at the Sierra Sun in Truckee. She was busy getting the August issue of Comstock’s ready to go to press, but she emailed to tell me that she’s excited about the Aug. 1 debut of the new-and-improved www.comstocksmag.com.
“She’s been kind of doing the editor-in-chief job in addition to her own for some while,” said Comstock-Carlson, adding that she’s excited about all the talent that she and her team have recruited.
Chevys goes dark
Renée Pierce, Joseph Ryan and other readers of The Sacramento Bee were surprised to find the lights out at Chevys Fresh Mex, 1234 Howe Ave. in Sacramento. The restaurant, open since 1989, closed June 24.
“I had just been in the restaurant,” Pierce told me, “and then a couple of days later, the doors were closed and signs were off the building.”
Jared Dougherty, senior vice president of marketing for Chevys parent, Real Mex Restaurants, told me: “The lease term ended, and we made the difficult decision to close the location.”
He didn’t explain reasons for the closure, but he said employees were offered jobs elsewhere and no other closures are planned in Sacramento at this time. Real Mex emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection about two years ago with new private-equity owners, Z Capital Partners and Tennenbaum Capital Partners. During the bankruptcy, Real Mex reported that annual revenue had dropped to $478 million in 2010 from $553 million in 2008.
Attempting to re-energize sales, Real Mex CEO Charly Robinson told the Orange County Register in May that he was launching a campaign to reboot Chevys’ brand image. It was the second time in two years that the chain was reworking recipes, changing menu items and refining cocktails.
Comebacks are tough to engineer in the casual restaurant segment, said Paul McClure, principal director of advertising at Sacramento’s Runyon Saltzman & Einhorn, who’s led many branding campaigns.
“There’s a life span to a concept …” McClure said, “and if they’re not nurtured or re-energized along the way, they fall so far behind the curve that you can’t save it.”
Seeking new roost
The John Ascuaga family will auction off the 18-karat Golden Rooster that once perched in the casino baron’s namesake hotel and casino at 1100 Nugget Ave. in Sparks for more than 50 years. Weighing 206.3 troy ounces, the sculpture was twice confiscated by the U.S. Treasury Department, which charged that it violated the Gold Reserve Act of 1934. The act made it illegal for any individual to own more than 50 ounces of gold unless it was an object of art. Fortunately for Ascuaga, a magistrate and a jury recognized the artistic value of the piece crafted by Shreve & Co. of San Francisco and Newman’s Silver Shop in Reno. The Golden Rooster will go up for sale July 26 during the Coeur d’Alene Art Auction at the Peppermill Resort, 2707 S. Virginia St., in Reno. Learn more at cdaartauction.com/.