GASTRONOMY AND ROCKET SCIENCE: You could be a rocket scientist, but that doesn't necessarily mean you can run a restaurant.
Glen Cole used to work for NASA, before testing his gastronomic mettle as co-principal of Sala Restaurant in Hercules' historic Civic Arts building. The now-defunct Hercules Redevelopment Agency spent $1.6 million to fix up the building before leasing it to Cole and his partner, Prathumrat "Kay" Sala, in 2010 for $3,465 a month.
In December 2012, Sala and Cole -- by then incorporated as Water Lily Corp. d/b/a/ Sala Restaurant -- pulled out, with the city saying they owed $112,000 in unpaid rent, utility bills and loan payments. They also owed employees wages, says Laura Davies, a former server and part-time manager at Sala who got a $6,431.29 default judgment against Water Lily from Contra Costa Superior Court. Two other former employees filed unpaid wages claims against Water Lily with the state Department of Industrial Relations.
Last year, Cole was drawn back into science's orbit, with prospects of a good salary perhaps providing the extra centripetal tug. In May, as Davies remembers it, Cole and Sala told her they were moving to Southern California and asked Davies to manage the restaurant.
"Glen told me that he hated leaving the restaurant and us behind, but that the position and salary he was offered were too good to pass up," Davies said.
These days, Cole is manufacturing engineering manager for LightWorks Optics in Tustin, according to his LinkedIn profile, which mentions his NASA gig but not Sala restaurant.
Reached by phone at LightWorks last week, Cole, in response to a question about Sala Restaurant, said, "I don't want to talk about it."
At NASA, according to LinkedIn, Cole worked on the James Webb Space Telescope program -- that's the successor to the Hubble telescope, which is nearing the end of its useful life. The Webb scope is scheduled to be launched into orbit around 2018.
Hercules, meanwhile, is seeking a possible successor business to Sala Restaurant.
SYMBOL OF GRATITUDE: The Eye was fortunate enough to see one of the great civil rights warriors of the 20th century speak at Contra Costa College on April 12.
Julian Bond, 73, helped establish the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the 1960s and went on to head the Southern Poverty Law Center and the NAACP.
For that and a lifetime of other achievements, he was lavished in awards and proclamations before his speech, which raised funds for Single Stop USA, a national nonprofit group aimed at helping low-income college students.
But the most amusing one came vis-a-vis the always entertaining Richmond Councilman Corky Boozé.
Boozé, who is African-American, thanked Bond for paving the way not only for African-Americans to make strides in politics and leadership but for his own career as a race car driver in the 1970s.
Boozé, who runs his political campaigns out of a Caspers Hot Dogs diner in Richmond and considers the retro joint his "office," presented Bond with a unique symbol of gratitude.
"Those of you who know Richmond know when you come through, you come to Caspers," Boozé said, laughing, as he presented Bond with a quarter-sized pin bearing the emblem of the inimitable Caspers Hot Dog. The debonair Bond graciously accepted before taking the podium and dazzling the crowd with an alternately humorous and trenchant speech that extolled higher education as the lubricant of social mobility.
Just a few weeks before, in the parking lot behind Caspers in Richmond, The Eye was chatting and sharing a few laughs with Boozé in the fading light of dusk. Suddenly, Boozé turned serious. "I want to give you something that I think you'll like very much," he said in a hushed tone. He extended his hand, pressing something into The Eye's palm. It was a Caspers pin. The pin sits on The Eye's desktop computer.
BAD BOYS, BAD BOYS: After 14 years on the Antioch City Council, former Mayor Jim Davis was left wondering what he would do on Tuesday nights.
As it turns out, while city leaders were at their most recent meeting, Davis watched a real-life episode of "Cops" play out in his front yard -- and assisted the California Highway Patrol in catching a suspect.
"Watched an interesting episode of 'Cops' tonight. 7 patrol cars. After a fugitive chase on the highway, suspect bailed from crashed car and ran through a neighborhood, oh yeah, watched the episode from my from porch ... lol," Davis wrote on his Facebook page.
"I directed the CHP where he ran, last I saw, he was spread-eagle on the ground with half a dozen police service revolvers drawn on him."
Staff writers Tom Lochner, Robert Rogers and Paul Burgarino contributed to this report.