Category Archives: Business

Primrose Excursions

Recent Primrose Excursion trip took the group Los Olivos for a wine tour and painting.

by Rebecca Wicks

Bonnie Wiley has worn many hats throughout her years, but all have had one focus – to help people find happiness in their current life. Today she helps people find happiness through travel with her company, Primrose Excursions, which designs and sells trips ranging from day excursions to longer and even international destination tours. Wiley who is a recreation therapist by degree and has served in the field of behavioral therapy at rehabilitation clinics and state hospitals alike has always believed what you do in your free time is pinnacle to your overall health and happiness.

“I found when working with patients in recovery, what a person does in their leisure time often gives them overall value.” said Wiley. “Those who occupied their free time with something fulfilling seemed to always do better.”

Today, Wiley doesn’t use charts or treatment plans, but the goal is the same, to get people out of the house.

Before starting Primrose Excursions, Wiley supervised the City of Ventura’s two senior centers including its nutrition and travel programs. In her 12 years working for the City she grew the travel program from a very small program to a very successful and almost autonomous program.

“When we started it was a ‘hey, let’s go to Santa Barbara for lunch’ kind of venture,” said Wiley. “From there it grew and grew into a robust program with extended tours.”

In the end, the City terminated the extended tour part of the travel program, citing they were not in the business of travel. Wiley decided there was still a need and place for this type of programming in Ventura and started her company almost four years ago this month. She now organizes and sells 35-40 trips a year. She also acts as the tour director on all of these trips. In addition to these, she partners with three other companies that offer longer trips.

Wiley’s travelers are generally over 40, with most in their 60s. She stresses people come from all different kinds of backgrounds but have a similar interest in having their travel taken care of for them.

“There is value in group travel,” said Wiley. “You’re not alone. You may not know where to eat, I take care of that. You don’t have to depend on online reviews, I’ve already been there, I’ve already evaluated on your behalf.”

Wiley’s excursions regularly range from 30 to 56 people in size. Trips often have themes. For example, on a recent day trip the group visited a Japanese garden that was part of a water treatment plant in the San Fernando Valley, followed by lunch at a Japanese restaurant. The adventure ended with a tour of the Pacific Asian Museum in Pasadena. A Ben Franklin themed excursion took the group to Forest Lawn where they toured Revolutionary War era chapels, to a restaurant that was formerly a fire house – Franklin helped start the firehouse in Philadelphia – and later to the public library in downtown Los Angeles, because Franklin founded the first lending library in the United States.
Wiley even offers “surprise tours,” where travelers don’t know where they are heading to and are asked to pack in layers and bring comfortable walking shoes. A recent surprise trip took a group to Lake Arrowhead Resort. Upcoming excursions include a Dodgers baseball game, a night out to see the musical Singing in the Rain, and a trip to Hoover Dam and Las Vegas with extended tours through her partners going to Alaska, Washington D.C. and Thailand.

“People appreciate that I’m detail oriented and they know what they are getting,” said Wiley. “One of the main draws is they don’t have to drive, deal with traffic or parking – they can sleep, relax and know once they’ve arrived, they are taken care of.”

Traveler Cafe

Lara and Tony have created a unique eating establishment.

by James Francis Gray

The MacIsaac family persevered through life’s most difficult challengers to open Traveler Café, located at 1070 E. Front St.

Traveler Café, founded by three generations of the MacIsaac family— Grandfather, Robert MacIsaac, first, who passed away in February of 2018, Father, Tony MacIsaac, second and daughter, Lara MacIsaac, third. They began with a common desire to create a unique eating establishment here in the Ventura area.

Lara’s parents, Tony and Jennifer, were vital in the very beginning, designing the restaurant and negotiating the lease, etc. Lara, from day one, handled the day-to-day operations.

A gathering place of comfort where food is prepared from scratch, served with warmth and a friendly smile. Customers are their family and family is always first.

After Lara earned a B.A in History from California State University, Channel Islands the family decided to open Traveler Café. It took almost one year before settling on the Front street location. Everyone pitched in, Tony, his wife, Jennifer, Lara and grandfather, all working long hours to achieve a set goal.

The newly restored establishment is in its second year, bringing a joyful eating experience to Ventura.

The café is inspired both, as individuals and as a family of world travelers. They do their own baking from scratch and smoke the meats on the premises. They create delicious recipes to ensure the tastiest worldwide culinary experiences.

Comfort inside and out, offer a special dining delight. The inside design has a collection of posters and knick-knacks from their world travels and have added customer travel photos, too. The dog friendly outdoor patio is a perfect spot for pet lovers.

High quality is tops with the Traveler Café patrons, new customers and anyone who walks through the friendly doors.

Traveler Café initially featured an eclectic menu. A new expanded menu, now offered to all by their best professional staff of cooks, bakers and friendly servers. They cannot thank enough, their dedicated staff and employees for making Traveler Café a success.

Traveler Café is and continues to be a wonderful and heartwarming success.

On April 28 , 2-4pm Ventura Food Coop will present a free workshop “Living Food” at Harvest Café. Discussion led by Michelle Lopez Dohrn and Susan Cousineau.

Do you want to start a business?

Are you ready to become an entrepreneur, or expand your existing small business? Afraid to “go it alone,” or unsure how to proceed? WEV’s training programs guide you in taking the next step. Attend a free 1-hour orientation, where you’ll meet a WEV representative that will help you determine if SET, EXPLORE, or another WEV program is right for you!

WEV’s business training classes are offered in English and Spanish throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. Free orientations are held throughout the year and are required for enrollment in a training program.

Exact locations given at registration. Free but registration is required

Orientation locations are subject to change. For more information, dates and to register for an upcoming orientation, visit WEV’s Web site at

Women’s Economic Ventures is dedicated to creating an equitable and just society through the economic empowerment of women. WEV provides training, consulting and loans to help entrepreneurs start, grow and thrive in business. While WEV targets its services toward women, it serves men as well, and provides many services in English and Spanish.

Since 1991, WEV has provided business training and consulting to over 14,000 women and men throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, and made more than $4 million in loans, assisting over 4,000 local businesses. WEV is a U.S. Small Business Administration’s Women’s Business Center, and a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).

To learn more, visit

Award-winning fish taco eatery to open second location

Ventura favorite Spencer Makenzie’s Fish Co. is opening their long-anticipated second location in Camarillo next month. The original is a beloved coastal institution. They’ve racked up national accolades from FiveThirtyEight, Business Insider, the Chive and Foursquare, amongst others, for their delicious, hand-crafted fish tacos, burritos, ‘sushi grade’ ahi tuna burgers, and more.

The new location will be at 311 Carmen Drive, and will open in early May. The new restaurant features a large outdoor patio, tailor-made for enjoying idyllic California evenings.

Spencer Makenzie’s entire line of sought-after sauces will be available for purchase at the Camarillo location, including Caribbean Blaze and Little Sweet, Lotta Heat. Fifty cents from the sale of each of its famous Sweet Chili Fire sauce will go to the family of fallen firefighter Cory Iverson, who lost his life fighting the Thomas Fire.

Spencer Makenzie’s is also nationally famous for its annual End of Summer Block Party and “Throw Down” cornhole tournament. `

Ventura’s Spencer Makenzie’s Fish Co. is located at 806 East Thompson Blvd. For more information, please visit

CryoWorks celebrates ribbon cutting

Photo by Michael Gordon

On March 15 a Ventura ribbon cutting was held for CryoWorks located at 3004 Telegraph, 676-0856.

They provide a holistic whole body cold immersion modality called cryotherapy which significantly reduces inflammation in the body, eases joint pain, improves sleep, and many more health benefits.

Oxnard Childrens Dental Group: Continuing a legacy of smiles

Dr. Cathy Chien remembers having a great pediatric dentist growing up and aims to give the same memorable experience to her young patients.

by Mira Reverente

Remember those childhood trips to the dentist? It was make or break, smile or cry for most people. They either left a positive impression or went the complete opposite way.

Blast from the Past

For these two pediatric dentists of Oxnard Childrens Dental Group (OCDG) otherwise known as the “spaceship dentists,” positive childhood influences and experiences definitely played a significant role in their choice of career.

She always knew that the healthcare profession was for her but the decision-making was shaped by a positive childhood experience. “I had a great pediatric dentist growing up,” says Dr. Cathy Chien, a native of Thousand Oaks.

Dr. Betsy Kaplan, has been in practice for 19 years, recently seeing more second generation patients.

For Dr. Betsy Kaplan, it was an unusual fascination with dental visits in her hometown of Waterford, Connecticut. “I always liked going with relatives to see the dentist,” says Dr. Betsy, who has been in practice for 19 years.

Second Generation Patients

“We have a big family environment here,” says Dr. Betsy of their practice comprised mostly by women and moms of varied ages and backgrounds like her and Dr. Cathy.

The family environment has also attracted a second generation of patients whose parents used to see Dr. Betsy and the other staff who have been with the practice for two or three decades. “One year they’re in elementary school and suddenly they’re in college or married, and we’re seeing their kids,” she says.

“It doesn’t feel like work,” says Dr. Cathy, a mom of three boys, who also serves on the board of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Oxnard and the Santa Barbara-Ventura County Dental Foundation.

The Tooth Fairy Reaches Out

If the popular legend was to be believed, the tooth fairy would be in several places at the same time, 365 days out of the year. Not quite to that extreme but OCDG’s very own tooth fairy does make the rounds.

According to Dr. Cathy, the tooth fairy does oral hygiene education talks at local schools, health fairs and even at the local Barnes & Noble bookstore. “Dr. Betsy and I, along with the other dentists, also do free, year-round dental screenings in our offices, for kindergartners,” she says.

Without the tooth fairy this time, the staff has also embarked on a number of dental missions to Guatemala. Initiated by founding partner Dr. Mark Lisagor, the team takes basic dental hygiene supplies to an underserved community in Rio Dulce, Guatemala and also offers routine dental treatment to children in a rural clinic setting.

For the past five years, a $500 college scholarship has been awarded to a graduating high school senior. For this year, the requirements are: the applicants must be graduating from high school in 2018, must be current patients who are are planning to attend a post-secondary institution and the application must be turned in by August 17. “We choose one winner every year,” says Dr. Betsy.

On to Ventura

The Ventura Children’s Dental Group is slated for a mid-April opening, bringing a touch of its family atmosphere and community involvement to the Ventura College area. Look for the same team of warm, smiling faces!

For more info, visit or like them on

Woodcraft has new owners

Alicia and Jeff Wagner dons many hats.

by James Francis Gray

Las Vegas residents, a young, full of energy, entrepreneurial couple, Alicia and Jeff Wagner bought the Woodcraft franchise store in Ventura in November, 2017. This is a family business, so Alicia’s mother and father-in-law will be working with them to handle the everyday operations. They divide their time between Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Ventura.

The couple dons many hats. Jeff, an architect, has a small architectural practice in Las Vegas. He is also the Director of Construction for the Clark County School District, managing the construction of new schools and renovations. The Clark County School District in Nevada is the fifth largest in America. His job as manager, keeps him busy overseeing one of the largest school building programs in the nation. Jeff recently left a position as a tenured professor at the College of Southern Nevada; he taught evening classes for almost ten years.

Alicia is an interior designer, working for Westfield (the shopping mall company). Westfield has an in-house design and development team; Alicia leads the Aviation Design practice area. Her work is Los Angeles based with weekly commutes between Las Vegas, Ventura and Los Angeles. It keeps her busy.

She sometime jokes about Jeff’s inability to sit still—he often has two or three fulltime jobs at once.

The Wagner’s were exploring business opportunities. They honed in on a Woodcraft franchise store and started discussions about opening a store in Las Vegas. They took a trip last May to the Woodcraft headquarters in Parkersburg, Virginia, learning about the woodworking business franchise. During the visit, Woodcraft mentioned there was a possibility of purchasing the Woodcraft franchise store in Ventura. They lived in Las Vegas, so opening a store in Ventura would be quite an adventure.

Opportunity abound as Alicia and Jeff Wagner are assembling their plans. With the Maker Movement in mind, turning consumers into makers, they deal with the problem directly. Woodworking is seeing an uptick in a time when most retail businesses are struggling against online platforms. They adhere to the educational component of the business (most Woodcraft stores teach classes three or four days a week). The Wagner family adheres to the belief of continued learning and growing.

The Wagner family has big plans for the Ventura store. The current dedicated staff was a deciding factor in purchasing the store. The knowledgeable people in place now work hard to bring their passionate woodworking skills to the public and are there to assist. Woodworking classes will continue in their Ventura store.

They took over in November, are having fun revamping their store to increase merchandise levels, and bring in new product. They have worked with the team to change class schedules and offer new classes.

“It’s been very rewarding to grow the business and see how excited customers are when they walk into the store now,” said Alicia Wagner.

“We’re spending most weekends in Ventura and have also enjoyed exploring the town and surrounding area. While we are not fulltime members of the community yet, we’re looking forward to seeing more this spring and summer.”

Ventura Chamber Ribbon Cutting was held at J Wolf Catering and BBQ

On March 6 a Ventura Chamber Ribbon Cutting was held at J Wolf Catering and BBQ at 2271 N. Ventura Ave. They are committed to serving their guests as much farm to table, organic and non-GMO foods as possible and locally sourced meats and produce.. They are a certified green business.

Ernest Romero- chef/owner was on hand to greet all.

Hours are Tuesday through Friday 8 AM -5 PM, Saturday 8 AM – 2 PM (unless catering) and Sundays and Mondays closed. 628-9416

Lynn’s Consignments Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting and Grand Opening

Photo by Deena Gledhill

Lynn’s Consignments had an official Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting and Grand Opening on Thursday, March 1st. Owner, Lynn Dralle, friends, family, Chamber Members, and community supporters, joined her for this special occasion. Lynn’s new show room is 4000 sq. feet and she features high-quality, very unique furniture and home decor and sells it all on consignment.

Lynn just moved to Ventura and got her love for fun home furnishings from her grandmother who had antique stores in Washington State, which was originally where she thought she would open as well. This special day of March 1, was chosen by Lynn to honor her father who would have turned 84 on that day. Everyone that attended her grand opening received a free copy of her first book “The 100 best things I’ve sold on eBay”.

Store hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10am-5pm .1975 E. Main St. 628-3289

Kirby Kia of Ventura celebrate opening of redesigned dealership

Photos by Bernie Goldstein

On Feb.22 a Ribbon Cutting and Mixer was held at Kirby Kia of Ventura to celebrate the opening of their newly redesigned Kia dealership. Kirby Kia’s new state-of-the-art facility features a beautiful indoor showroom, 20-bay service department, dual lane service drive up area, Kia loaner cars, complimentary car wash area and a premium customer hospitality center.

It was hosted by Ventura Chamber Young Professionals Group and Ventura Chamber of Commerce. Chamber members, City dignitaries and well-wishers attended the Ribbon Cutting.

Kirby Kia is located at 6424 Auto Center Drive, in the Ventura Auto Center.