Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Parker Road a 'hidden' gem in Fairfield

Parker Road a 'hidden' gem in Fairfield

By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas | | December 10, 2010 19:27

Periodically, we visit the nooks and crannies of Fairfield in search of the unique and innovative. Many readers have probably never had reason to visit some of Fairfield's 'hidden' industrial and commercial areas.

This week, we are visiting a commercial area tucked away in the far northeastern corner of the city: Parker Road. Unless one is associated with Travis Air Force Base (admittedly a large population), many Fairfield residents have probably never visited Parker Road, which is a short, dead-end commercial street immediately west of the main gate on Air Base Parkway. Yet Parker Road is full of interesting restaurants, shops and services which attract far more than just Air Force personnel and contractors.

The first thing one notices when visiting Parker Road is that this corridor contains a mix of buildings representing decades of development. Travis Shopping Center, with its jaunty arrow sign, dates from the 1960s. Some of the older buildings may be a little tired or shabby-looking, but they are an interesting collection of structures that provide affordable space to newer and smaller business.

There has been some new investment as well. The building housing Subway and Fire Wok was completed in 2004. Other buildings were completed during the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, contributing to the diversity in the corridor.

Parker Road's main role continues to be serving the Travis community. There are a broad range of services, including a self-storage facility, car and truck rental, auto parts, auto repair, towing, dry cleaners and several barber shops. Interestingly enough, there are three small taverns tucked away in corners of the older shopping centers. There is even an Elks Lodge.

The corridor's commercial zoning allows for this variety of land uses and businesses.

Tenants aren't limited to commercial users. The Word of Faith Christian Center occupies a former supermarket. In addition to the church, it operates a campus of the We 'R' Family Christian Academy for fourth, fifth and sixth grades. At the very end of Parker Road is the Air National Guard facility for Solano County.

Parker Road serves a large population from the base -- and beyond -- many of whom have served overseas where they developed a taste for exotic cuisines.

The corridor offers several taquerias, a Korean barbecue, an Asian market, Southern barbecue and fish, and Ohkura Sushi, a long-time favorite of the area.

We spoke briefly with John Liu, owner of Fire Wok Restaurant at 628 Parker Road. Fire Wok serves carefully prepared Chinese cuisine with an emphasis on healthy vegetables and fresh meat. Fire Wok features an open kitchen, so diners can watch as the chefs prepare their food. And Fire Wok offers the always-popular Mongolian barbecue, where you can put together your meal to suit your own tastes.

Liu noted that about 85 percent of his business is Travis Air Force Base personnel, with the biggest crowds appearing during weekday lunch hours.

When asked what could be done to make Parker Road more successful, particularly in becoming more visible to the broader community beyond Travis, Liu said that 'public investment and improvements, like those completed downtown, might attract new customers.' He wants people to recognize that Parker Road offers a broad range of restaurants and services that will be appealing to the broader community beyond Travis.

One interesting fact is that while Travis has been a developed commercial area since the 1940s, one 4-acre parcel remains vacant. With the existing commercial zoning, this parcel could support a variety of commercial, office and institutional uses.

Hopefully, this column will help get the word out about Parker Road.

Economic Notes is an update from Fairfield City Hall written by Brian Miller and Karl Dumas of the Fairfield Planning and Development Department. They can be contacted at 428-7461 or e-mail at or