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Santa Rosa resident helps launch Black luxury fashion brand

in Business/News
Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat
Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat

When Santa Rosa resident Andrew Akufo lost his job as executive director of the Healdsburg Center for the Arts, and found himself with a lot more time on his hands, he turned his attention to a new mission: building Black wealth.

Akufo, who was laid off as the Healdsburg nonprofit sought to survive during the coronavirus pandemic, reconnected with Toja Hodge, an artist, singer and music producer he met at his previous job leading an arts center in Hobbs, New Mexico.

Hodge, whose dream of launching a Black-owned luxury fashion brand grew into a budding business, reached out to Akufo over Instagram, and the two reconnected long distance. Akufo soon found himself in a business partnership, putting his social media, branding and marketing skills to use to promote Hodge’s Gapelii Brand.

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Survivor: One Santa Rosa area bartender’s fight to keep his saloon, and himself, alive

in Business/News
Photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat
Photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat

John Timberlake is not married, at the moment, though he has been in the past – four times, to be precise. And he’s not ruling out future nuptials.

“I’m not a quitter,” said Timberlake, 59. “I’m a hopeless romantic.”

If there was any quit in him, Timberlake’s bar would’ve gone belly-up several times since he bought it in 2016. But after a tense two months during the COVID-19 pandemic, when its survival hung in the balance, the Final Edition Bar & Grill in Larkfield is out of critical condition and on its way to a full recovery.

One of the best-known bartenders in Sonoma County since the mid-1980s, Timberlake always wanted a saloon of his own. He fulfilled that ambition four years ago, when he and two partners bought the Final Edition, a beloved, blue-collar neighborhood bar just off Old Redwood Highway in Larkfield.

Timberlake knew it wouldn’t be easy. He’s worked in the county’s bars and restaurants since 1984. But he wasn’t prepared for the Old Testament-caliber tribulations awaiting him, including a heart attack, two wildfires, power outages and “the virus apocalypse.”

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Sonoma County’s health officer will wait two more weeks before reopening more businesses

in Business/News

Two days after allowing a broad range of businesses to resume in Sonoma County, the top public health official said Monday it would take at least two weeks to determine whether restaurateurs welcoming back diners inside and cosmetologists cutting and styling clients’ hair, along with other commercial activities, will increase local spread of the coronavirus and, if so, cause serious illness.

Taking a cautionary approach with that in mind, Dr. Sundari Mase, the county’s health officer, said she has no plans to clear the way for another area reopening wave, including fitness centers, campgrounds and hotels for leisure travelers, until June 22 so she and her team can assess the effects of public interaction at the enterprises that just resumed operations. And that’s despite state officials saying those additional business sectors and public venues could restart on June 12.

“Lifting too many restrictions too soon could potentially lead to a large increase in cases and result in avoidable hospitalizations and deaths,” Mase said Monday, during a press briefing. “It may also lead to longer term economic harms.”

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