Mar 312016


The Fabulous Fior –Over 125 Years In An Italian Kitchen

“One of the best books I’ve ever read,” according to Robert S. Pastorino, former US ambassador, referring to the history of Italian immigrants in United States.

This acclaimed history of the Italian colony and Italian cuisine in San Francisco, California, is now available for free download on the author’s website.

The Fior d’Italia still exists in North Beach since its founding in 1886. In 1998, the then-ownership commissioned Brevetti to trace its history and capture the many stories and anecdotes of its founders and their family who carried on the tradition of Northern Italian cuisine.

Brevetti, at the time a business journalist for the Oakland Tribune, interviewed over 75 people to re-create the life of the Italian colony at the turn of the former century. The story continues through the Italian immigration to California, World War I, Prohibition and World War II.   She also describes the internment and restrictions placed upon Italians and Italian immigrants during World War II.

But through it all shine the lives of the founders and their descendants and their passion for authentic, Northern Italian cooking.

This second edition also includes the history of the San Remo Hotel where the restaurant currently resides at 2227 Mason St.

The Fior’s chef and its current owner, Gianni Audieri, added recipes to accompany every chapter.

The original print edition (The Fabulous Fior –Over 100 Years In An Italian Kitchen) still exists in the San Francisco history section of the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library. The first edition is now out-of-print but collectors can find used copies on

This second, e-book edition can be read from Brevetti’s website on your computer without resorting to an e-reader such as Kindle or Nook.

The Fior carries its history with it.  Even its phone number, 415-986-1886, echoes the date of its original founding.

Francine Brevetti is an author, ghostwriter, book coach and a native of San Francisco.


Mar 302016
By Francine Brevetti, For the Contra Costa Times

Posted:   03/22/2016 01:25:41 PM PDT | Updated:   2 days ago
Plaintiff Betty Dukes stands outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, March 29, 2011, after attending a case of women employees against Wal-Mart.

Plaintiff Betty Dukes stands outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, March 29, 2011, after attending a case of women employees against Wal-Mart. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) ( Jacquelyn Martin )

PITTSBURG — The woman who faced down Walmart is carrying on her battle for workers’ rights now that she is no longer an employee of the largest retailer in the world.

“Now I can talk about how I felt,” said Betty Dukes, who worked for Walmart for 21 years, seven months and six days. She will appear at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to kick off her push for equal rights for all employees and the freedom to unionize.

“The D.C. event will be the launching, the nucleus for going forward for women’s equality and a workers’ rights movement,” said Dukes, who spent her career at the Pittsburg Walmart store.

The March 29 date will mark the fifth anniversary of the largest civil rights class action lawsuit ever brought before the Supreme Court.

Betty Dukes, of Pittsburg, is photographed on Tuesday,  April 19, 2011 in Antioch, Calif. Dukes, who currently works as a greeter for Walmart, is suing

Betty Dukes, of Pittsburg, is photographed on Tuesday, April 19, 2011 in Antioch, Calif. Dukes, who currently works as a greeter for Walmart, is suing Walmart for gender discrimination. (Susan Tripp Pollard/Staff) ( SUSAN TRIPP POLLARD )

Dukes was the lead plaintiff in the case, Dukes v. Walmart Stores Inc., that represented 1.6 million women. However, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case as a class action.

Plaintiffs settled individually with Walmart, as did Dukes who left the retailer’s workforce on Dec. 31, 2015.

By establishing The Betty Dukes Foundation, she hopes to create a national campaign and is planning to appear in other cities to rouse support. She was not ready to announce the other cities on her agenda.

“What you know, Walmart knows,” she said, explaining her hesitance to show her hand.”I’m trying to create a movement that could change the lives of many.”

Dukes is passionate about protecting low-income workers who, she says, have been marginalized as a viable part of society.

Her issues are both equal pay for women and the freedom to unionize.

President John F. Kennedy signed a bill assuring equal pay for women. “But,” she observed, “it still has not happened in all of the 50 states.”

Her goal is to strengthen survival of the next generation. “So many jobs are outsourced. There’s not much work left in United States.”

“The National Labor Relations Board says that every worker has a right to unionize without retaliation. But not everybody is aware of that.”

Dukes hopes her foundation and her campaigns will educate workers of these rights.

According to the American Association of University Women, at the time the Equal Pay Act was signed into law, requiring employers to give equal pay for equal work, women received 59 cents for every dollar men were paid. In 2015, that figure was 79 cents.

 Posted by at 8:32 pm
Mar 082016

By Francine Brevetti

Posted:   02/02/2016 03:37:09 PM PST |
Leer Vineyards of Byron includes 44 acres, an event center and tasting room, and a house, among other features.

Leer Vineyards of Byron includes 44 acres, an event center and tasting room, and a house, among other features. ( Leer Vineyards )
Click photo to enlarge

Stefan Leer, left, owner of the Leer Vineyards, visits with customers in… ( DAN ROSENSTRAUCH )

BYRON — Representatives of prospective buyers have come from all over the world, China and New Zealand included, assessing the Leer Vineyards’ compound in Byron, a property that is now for sale and that East Contra Costans will likely feel the loss of.

Owners of the 44-acre property, including vineyards, residence, sports fields and entertainment center, are asking $5.2 million for a business that has produced prizewinning wines and brought popular entertainment to East County in merely two years.

Stefan and Tanisha Leer bought the property without the intention of creating the now-elaborate center. But through their efforts and investment, it was transformed into a complex offering a tasting room, softball and bocce ball courts and a venue for corporate events, weddings and concerts.

It will take awhile for it to be clear whether any of the prospective investors will step forward, their broker Lori Abreu, principal of Delta Ranches, explained. On Jan. 26, the Leers, with Abreu, held an open tour of the expansive property for brokers in the hopes that they would attract interested investors.

More than 200 people came to the event, they said, and six interested investors made themselves known.

Tanisha Leer was at pains to explain why this attractive property was up for sale after they had made it, by all appearances, a great success and a significant benefit to the community.

“We have put a lot of money into this place. We’re not trying to flip it. It would be nice to make money, but that’s not our main focus. It took nine months just to get the permits for our events and that (alone) cost thousands of dollars,” she recounted.

“We put $650,000 into the house itself.”The Leers have also recently relinquished their half share in Brentwood-based wine bar, Vine and Grain.

So what is the power couple thinking? It turns out, she explained, they have too much on their plate. They are planning to leave Northern California and will be concentrating on their core business and family.

Stefan Leer is the principal of Kinetic Insurance Solutions in this state as well as in Texas.

“That’s what pays the bills,” Tanisha Leer said.

The couple has been running the 44-acre Byron operation as well as participating in the late-night events at Vine and Grain from their principal business.

In addition, they’ve recently adopted a child who requires their attention.

“It was not an easy decision to make,” she said. “We put blood sweat and tears into this.”

They came to the breaking point after their attempts to hire staff to give them more time at home did not pan out.

Although they had hired a couple to run the vineyard and the events, the Leers found that the number of regular customers to their wine-and-song complex subsequently dropped off.

She also hired a nanny for son Keegan, but decided she “did not want to watch someone else raise my child.”

The co-proprietor revealed the thinking process that went into setting the asking price.

“We didn’t have any reference point or any other place like ours to compare.”

The nearby Brentwood vineyard and winery Hannah Nicole, which also offers picnic venues and musical entertainment, was also sold by a local family a few years ago.

Abreu was also the broker for that sale at the price of $9.5 million.

However, that complex is approximately twice the size of Leer Vineyards.

Three years ago Hannah Nicole was bought by Chinese investors operating under the name of JINTA Winery for a price that the previous management described as “compelling.”

Since the Leers have publicized their asking price, several people have commented that it is underpriced, Tanisha Leer said. “Only one person has said that it was overpriced.”

She insisted she would not let go of booking events and weddings until and even after a sale is finalized.

“Several brides have come to me to book their wedding here and I will come back if we are out of the area to be here for that event, ” the co-owner said.

They will also maintain control of the inventory of their two prizewinning labels, Heroic Red and Valiant White.

Regular customers say this sale could be a big loss to the community since the leaders brought entertainment and communal events to an area of Contra Costa that tends to be somnolent at night and on weekends.

The Leers insist that they will look for a buyer who will continue to further their vision of bringing entertainment and community events to East County.

Two Discovery Bay residents and regular customers of Leer Vineyards feel the loss of the Leer family’s stewardship sharply. Both Michelle Campos and Shelley Nelson expressed their appreciation for the Leers.

The Leers “brought the community together. The sale is a big deal in this area,” Michelle Campos said.

Of course, there is no sale yet.

Such transactions may take anywhere from six months to a year, Tanisha Leer speculated.

 Posted by at 10:48 pm
Mar 042016

Even if you’re not a writer

stock-photo-6352760-reinspiredBusinesswoman Terri came to me asking how to market her book about her company. Problem was, she hadn’t written it yet.

“Oh, I have notes all over the place,” she assured me.

On the other hand, Richard had written 800 pages on a business subject and wanted to know how to market his gargantuan tome.

Both of these talented people (not their real names) had conceived worthy and useful projects that they wanted to write, publish and sell.

But they didn’t get very far.

What they were missing was the guidance and the structure to make that happen. Here’s where I can help. In this book I shall lead you through choices you have to make to write your book:

  • how to actually start writing; how to generate content so that you turn readers into clients or customers;
  • how to find support for writing your book and finishing it.
  • And so many other pointers that you can’t find in books targeted for “Idiots” or “Dummies.”  Although helpful, such books generally discuss publishing and marketing your manuscript. They don’t talk much about writing it. Mine does. Besides, you are neither an idiot nor a dummy.

This blog is meant as an introduction to an upcoming e-book entitled,

5 Steps to Write the Book about Your Business

–Even If You Are Not a Writer –

This e-book will sell for $9.95 upon publication.

Or you can order it now for only $7.75.


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I offer anyone who asks a 20-minute complimentary consultation. Just ask.

I am Francine Brevetti, an author, journalist, ghostwriter and book coach. My website is