Marcie Laws-Hayes said she had been waiting for property like the former 1.2-acre RTC Nursery to be available to realize her vision – to create a farmer’s bazaar, mini golf and an outdoor bowling alley in one location.
“I’ve always wanted to do this, basically my dream came true,” said Laws-Hayes, owner of STEM Studio and Generations Day Care in Ramona. “I always kept my eye open to find the right place.”
Starting in mid-April, STEM Studio, which offers youth enriching activities in science, technology, engineering and math, as well as arts and music, and Generations Day Care, which serves as a daily program for adults with disabilities, will be able to enjoy the outdoors. Learning gardening and other skills and working with animals – and getting some sunshine in the process, she said.
The property at 319 Rotanzi Street, behind the Pinto Thai restaurant, is rapidly being converted from a kindergarten to a multi-purpose venue for business and recreation, according to Laws-Hayes. She bought the kindergarten’s assets, including several greenhouses, and will lease the property from the landlord starting March 31, she said.
The new property is just a few miles down Main Street from the STEM Studio and Generations Day Care combined building at 850 Main St., Suite 103.
Laws-Hayes hopes to have the expansion up and running by April 15.
One of its main goals will be to offer adults with disabilities at Generations Day Care the opportunity to experience nature in a therapeutic setting where they can learn life skills, receive professional training and experience integration into the community.
“We’ll continue to be open to the public as a kindergarten, but we’re also adding a lot of elements,” Laws-Hayes said. “Some will be there daily as a program location, others can go there one to three days a week as an outdoor activity.”
The plans include generating income by selling fruits and vegetables from a garden and selling eggs from a chicken coop. The adult day care customers can sell dog biscuits that they make by hand, she said. And along the way, they can learn gardening skills, look after the chickens, and experience the thrill of selling what they produce, she said.
Laws-Hayes plans to invite other vendors to sell their products, handcrafted items, jewelry, and handicrafts during a farmers bazaar that has been set up on the property one night a week plus one Saturday per month. Regardless, Ramona High School students can sell snacks on the property twice a month to learn professional skills, have the opportunity to interact with the community, and make some money, she said.
Several greenhouses on the former RTC Nursery property will remain on site, along with a mini golf course and bowling alley.
On-site recreational activities include six mini-golf courses, a life-size chess game, an outdoor Connect 4 set, and an outdoor bowling alley, complemented by a sandpit with buckets, shovels, and wheelbarrows. Missionaries from the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have already started building the mini golf course, she said.
Laws-Hayes also plans to create a series of STEM Studio outdoor courses for children and a summer program for children ages 6-12.
She has plans for a 10 to 12 week program to teach teenagers about life, including maintaining a yard, using tools and doing small woodworking projects, painting and staining a fence, and caring for animals. Girls and boys would be divided into separate groups where they would be taught social skills, such as the importance of arriving and being on time, working together in small groups, and solving problems.
The property has an accessible U-shaped pathway that wheelchair users can use to navigate the grounds, and a sensory corner with a bench and rocking chair to give attendees a moment of calm when they need a break.
At the weekend, she imagines employees selling coffee from Packard’s café, popcorn, balloons, and other items while families walk around to buy eggs, visit the bazaar, and let their kids play chess, mini golf, and bowls.
“The options for activities are endless,” Laws-Hayes said, noting that she may be selling an annual pass for the organized activities.
The bonus is generating income from the activities that help pay for the lease, overheads, kindergarten inventory, staff, and other bills related to running the programs, she said. A portion of the proceeds will also be used for STEM Studio Scholarships that help low-income families.
“I’m super excited,” said Laws-Hayes. “It’s something Ramona needs and what the kids who were cooped up last year need. I’m just looking forward to opening it up. “
For more information on vacancies, vendor sales, and program enrollments, contact Laws-Hayes at 1-858-208-3678.
Reds, Whites & Brews reopened
Reds, Whites & Brews customers can offer a toast to the bar’s opening this Friday, February 26th, when the outdoor deck called Hay Barn welcomes guests again.
Peter Bidegain, owner of Reds, Whites & Brews, has been closed since the coronavirus pandemic began almost a year ago, with the exception of a brief period in July. He strives to have limited sales of beer, cider, wine, and sangria from his back patio.
Currently, the store on 629 Main St. is open every Friday from 5pm to 11pm, with one final call for food at 9pm
Reds, Whites & Brews partners with Marinade on Main to offer food truck pizza and desserts with alcoholic beverages.
The Friday-only format coincides with the availability of marinade on the main restaurant’s new food truck. The restaurant partners with Reds, Whites & Brews as San Diego County’s public health diners require bar patrons to purchase a real meal when ordering alcoholic beverages at establishments like theirs, Bidegain said.
Jessica Slama, co-owner of Marinade on Main, said a variety of bar items are served from his food truck at Reds, Whites & Brews, although pizza specialties and desserts are offered as menu items.
Allie Rae Ferguson, general manager at Reds, Whites & Brews, said the bar hopes to expand service to Thursday and Saturday in the near future. One of the company’s goals is to open Thursday evening, once the Ramona American Graffiti Cruise’s night cruises begin their seasonal parade down Main Street in April.
When restrictions on food pairing with alcohol were lifted, Bidegain said he will rebuild Reds, Whites & Brews to be open seven days a week.
Allie Ferguson, general manager of Reds, Whites & Brews, left, and Letitia Peterson, assistant manager, will serve food and drink.
Another restriction preventing indoor dining in the state’s purple COVID-19 level means Reds, Whites & Brews will only be seated on the Hay Barn patio for the time being.
Bidegain said even if the number of coronavirus cases declines and the state moves color-coded coronavirus restrictions to the red level, the bar will remain limited to outdoor seating. That’s because the red tier only allows customers up to 25 percent of seating capacity, he said, adding that he prefers to open up indoor seating when the capacity constraints are at least 50 percent.
Peter Bidegain, owner of Reds, Whites & Brews, is eager to open his Hay Barn terrace on Friday night.
(Sentinel file photo)
Reds, Whites & Brews follow coronavirus safety protocols, including keeping customers 6 feet apart and requiring customers to wear masks when not at a table. Although upgrades are in the works, including improving the accessibility of the American with Disabilities Act by adding 6 inches to a door on their building, Bidegain said the company has all the temporary permits to legally operate the Hay Barn.
Ferguson said seats are almost booked out this Friday night and she strongly recommends customers make reservations on the redswhitesandbrews.wine/ website. She said the availability of walk-in apartments is very limited but will be accommodated when space is available.