Back to business

Sexy Panda is not a happy panda. The bao truck out of Sacramento has been stationed in the Walmart parking lot since the beginning of the Camp Fire displacements. I talked with owner Frank Hilscher for about an hour the other night and one thing was clear: He is passionate. He’s frankly pissed about Chico’s intolerance of homeless people and disgusted by the way some in the community regard that population, which tragically grew in size overnight due to the fire. A case in point for Hilscher: The least fortunate among those displaced were sleeping in tents on the cold ground in a big-box parking lot.

As an owner of three trucks in Sacramento for the past nine years, Hilscher saw a place where he could pitch in. “I just thought, ‘What can we do to help?’ I got up off my couch, put as much food in the truck as I could and drove up here.”

Before being asked to leave the lot, as the camp was relocated to the Butte County Fairgrounds, Hilscher estimates he and his crew served over 30,000 meals. He’s not the only one; countless other mobile eateries and sit-down restaurants around Butte County have offered their food and services for first responders and victims alike. Since he got here, he’s toured all the evacuation centers and said the one in Chico’s Walmart parking lot was by far the largest. Expect to hear more from Hilscher in the near future.

Speaking of … Chico’s Downtown Hospitality Group got together and has implemented a fundraising drive till the end of the year. Every Tuesday, a portion of sales will go to Camp Fire relief efforts. Participating restaurants are: B Street Public House, The Banshee, Bella’s Sports Pub, Bill’s Towne Lounge, Burgers & Brew, Crush, Duffy’s, La Salles, Madison Bear Garden, Mom’s, Parkside Tap House, Smokin’ Mo’s and Tres Hombres.

Wait, there’s more Eateries in Oroville are stepping up too, and will be holding a Restaurant Rally for Camp Fire Families Dec. 1-2, during which 15 percent of all sales will go to the relief effort. (Some Chico and Red Bluff eateries are joining the rally as well.) Participating restaurants: Applebee’s (Chico, Oroville and Red Bluff), Crush (Chico) Copa de Oro (Oroville), Grande Burger (Oroville), The Exchange (Oroville), Jake’s Burgers & More (Oroville), Logan’s Roadhouse (Chico), Outback Steakhouse (Chico), Papacito’s Mexican Cantina (Oroville), The Patio (Oroville) and Taps Bar and Grill (Chico).

B2B A number of Chico businesses have opened their hearts—and doors—to offer co-working space, including computers and meeting rooms to help keep businesses affected by the fire moving. ChicoStart launched the effort and was quickly joined by 2B9X, the city of Chico, CapayHops, Clockshark, LuLus, Harris Commercial Real Estate, Nor-Cal Vans, Social High Rise and Work Truck Solutions. Go to for more info. You guys rock! Happy Thanksgiving!