Bunya nut tree

Nut Tree

Nut Tree is a mixed-use development in Vacaville, California near the intersection of Interstate 80 and Interstate 505. It opened in 1921 on old U.S. Route 40. It was created by Helen and Ed "Bunny" Power as a small roadside fruit stand, and built near the site of Helen's childhood home (dating from 1907), which she and her husband purchased from her parents not long after their 1921 marriage.

The Nut Tree grew as US 40 became Interstate 80. At its peak, it contained a restaurant, an outdoor eatery, a bakery, a gift shop, a toy shop, a small gas-powered train which offered rides, and an airport, which is now owned and operated by Solano County. It was a welcome rest stop on the road between Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area. Throughout the year, kids enjoyed giant frosted gingerbread cookies (names added on request), the numerous "Hobby Horse" rocking horses and riding the train.

It welcomed several celebrities, including Ronald Reagan when he became California governor in 1967, Queen Elizabeth II, Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby, among others.

For several years during October the Nut Tree was home to the Pumpkin Patch. Pumpkin Patch attractions included a scarecrow contest, a display of giant pumpkins and pumpkin carving contests.

The Nut Tree Restaurant was an early pioneer of California cuisine, with fresh fruits and vegetables featured in the recipes. By 1978, it was identified as "the region's most characteristic and influential restaurant. It also featured small loaves of wheat and rye bread, cooked fresh each day on the premises. A notable feature of the restaurant was its large indoor birdcage, which had glass walls extending from floor to ceiling. Nut Tree knives and cutting boards, as well as books on aviation, were sold in the gift shop. A recipe book was printed by the Vacaville Museum in 1997.

The Nut Tree ceased operations in 1996 due to financial issues brought about by increased competition and changing tastes. The main Nut Tree buildings were demolished in Fall 2003. The Coffee Tree restaurant across the I-80 freeway, another part of the original Nut Tree holdings, was demolished in late 2005. The old original Harbison house was donated to the Vacaville Museum in 1998 and is being restored in a new location 1000 feet from the original site.

Nut Tree reopened in 2006 as a mixed-use development of Snell and Co. It contains Nut Tree Family Park (children's amusement park), Nut Tree Bocce Grove (bocce ball venue), Nut Tree Village (restaurants and stores) and Nut Tree Complex (retail, hotel, offices, residences). Retailers operating at opening were Best Buy, Sport Chalet and BevMo!. The restored Harbison house (which the Nut Tree had open for public tours during its final years of operation) will be a major centerpiece of the development.

Between the time that the Nut Tree closed and its building was demolished, the Northern California Renaissance Fair was held on its grounds for several years running.


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