Holtville Man Looks To Start Wine Wholesaling Business Here

By Luke Phillips
The Holtville Planning Commission voted Monday to move forward with issuing a business license for Macgalies Wine & Spirits, operated by resident James Horn, but some conditions will have to be met.
Horn is currently looking for office space in Holtville to run book-keeping and records-keeping for a business he’s had in the works for nearly a decade. He plans to import fine wines from Southern Africa to sell nationwide.
Horn already has deals with wine producers in Paarl Valley, South Africa, an area that has been compared to the famous wine-producing region of Bordeaux, France, and warehouse space set up in Los Angeles, but wants to run his office operations out of Holtville.
It has been a struggle for Horn to get a business license in the city because his business is technically a wholesaler, which is not allowed in Holtville’s downtown business district. Horne took the issue to the Holtville City Council in May and has been working with city manager Laura Fischer and the planning commission to work around the technicality. Horn needs the approval of the city before he can move forward with an application for a license from the California Alcoholic Beverage Control Department.
“All I want to have here is a desk, a computer, and a phone,” Horn said. “It’s been very, very complicated and taken a long time to figure out.
The planning commission voted unanimously to move forward with Horn’s license, assuming he is able to meet the conditions set forth including notifying the owner of his office space that he will be running a business that sells alcohol, and agreeing not to store or sell alcohol of any kind at  the office.
Horn says he’s been working to set the business up for the past eight years, and the end is finally in sight.
“After all these years, I’m so close,” Horn said.
Horn says he will be importing only the finest quality wines and isn’t interested in the so-called ‘entry-level’ wines.
“I want to bring quality wines to the Imperial Valley,” Horn said. “I only want the best quality, so I can build my reputation.”
The wine will be imported from De Zoete Inval Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa, a wine producer that he has been working with for the past five years. Horn says he discovered the area, and it’s great wine, after three scouting trips to South Africa. He says it will be the first time wine from the region has ever been brought to  the U.S.
“I’m trying to start a very large operation,” Horn said. “I hope to do well.”
Horne says he already has deals with several casinos and fine restaurants including the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas and several upscale eateries along the coast.
“They’re just clammering to get their hands on this stuff because it’s so rare,” he said.
Horn says if his operation is as successful as he thinks it’s going to be, he eventually wants to move his whole operation to the Imperial Valley, and with the newly built Highway 7 leading directly from the border, Horn says Holtville will be a likely location.
“I’d like to open a Type 9 warehouse, which is something that’s never been done in the Imperial Valley,” he said. “And I’d like to see it happen in Holtville. Why should it be in Calexico or somewhere else? Why not Holtville?”

Summer Restaurant Review: The Best Steak In The Imperial Valley

By Phil Mestomack
(This week, the Weekly-Chronicle’s resident gastronome Phil Mestomack starts the latest summer restaurant survey.  Whose cuisine will reign supreme this year?)
If there’s one thing that is resoundingly American, it’s the steak.  A slab of finely selected beef, sometimes aged to bring out more flavor, fire grilled, usually finished on a broiler to a perfect medium rare.
Accompanied by a simple green salad, a baked potato and a ramekin of au jus, the meal is as extravagant as it is simple, yet so difficult to accomplish well.
This year, the Imperial Valley Weekly – Calexico Chronicle – Holtville Tribune will be in the search for the best steak in the Valley.  There are four restaurants we will be testing, but which ones will be a closely guarded secret.
This survey will focus on one of the more popular cuts available, the Rib eye steak, which is the bovine equivalent to the pork chop.  If a restaurant does not have a rib eye steak on the menu, the closest equivalent will be judged in its place.
All steaks will be requested at medium rare doneness, considered by many to reflect enough cooking time to properly cook the steak, while still retaining enough of the original flavor of the meat.
Criteria for judging –
Meal Quality:  What the meal comes with, how well the steak tastes, and how close to medium rare was the steak will be included in this category.
Service:  How well were we served, how well did the staff serve other customers, how fast requests were dealt with.
Atmosphere:  Does the restaurant environment contribute or subtract from the steak eating experience.
Price and value:  While steaks are traditionally among the more expensive items available on a menu, price will be a factor in determining how well a steak is compared to lesser and more expensive items.  In other words, a good steak at a reasonable price will be valued higher than a really good steak that is really expensive.
With the criteria out of the way, let’s begin.
The Town Pump, located in Westmorland at 200 West Main Street, has a long standing reputation as one of the best restaurants in the northern half of the county.  The restaurant, once located next to the Westmorland Fire Department building, specializes in steaks and seafood, much like steakhouses on the East coast.
Recent changes to the Town Pump include a dance floor and one of the few full service bars north of Keystone Road.
Our party didn’t have reservations, which is what the restaurant prefers, but we arrived early and were seated with little delay.  Within thirty minutes, two very large parties of more than 10 arrived and service was naturally focused on them.  Still, our entrées meals arrived hot.

Investors Recover $1.4 Billion Under Settlement

Attorney General Edmund G. Brown announced today that 3,500 investors, whose holdings in auction rate securities were frozen in the financial crisis of 2008, have recovered $1.4 billion through a settlement the Attorney General hammered out with Wells Fargo affiliates.

“We went to bat for people who believed their investments were like cash,” Brown said, “but discovered after the financial meltdown that they couldn’t get their hands on even a dime of their money for two long years. Now, because of the settlement, they have all of their money back.”