Casa de Fruta is King of the kitsch
“Who wants to stop at Casa de Fruta?”
“Because it is real Americana.”
For those of us who remember the original Nut Tree on Hiway 80 in Vacaville, Casa de Fruta is no Nut Tree, thank goodness. Casa de Fruta is a glorified fruit stand turn family amusement park. But what makes this place work is they still put the fruit stand as the front and center business.
Casa de Fruta is somewhere between I-5 and Monterey. It is a wide spot in the road that is authentic. Whereas the Nut Tree started out as a fruit stand and then evolved into marketing concept along the heavily traveled I-80 between Sacramento and San Francisco. As a little kid our family would always stop at Nut Tree to eat at the cafe and ride the train.
As I got older there was less of reason to stop at the Nut Tree even to relive old family memories. They still had the little narrow gauge train and an aging, albeit midcentury modern designed, cafe, but there was little reason stop. Casa de Fruta has the narrow gauge choo choo train, petting zoo, carousel and picnic areas.
This ain’t D-land or 6 Flags
Casa de fruta also has a decidedly casual non-corporate environment. The folks at Disney would have a heart attack to see a peacocks wander through the eating area. Some of the bathrooms have the hand washing facilities outside. If you have ever been on farm or worked in the fields, you understand they are not bowing to suburban corporate sensibilities.
Old trucks and tractors from a previous era are scattered around the grounds and serve in various capacities. Sometimes the historical farm equipment is for show but it my serving a purpose like part of the fruit stand or fence. Unlike the Nut Tree, Casa de Fruta has stayed true to it roots. It is fairly obvious that they have not hired any slick marketing people to brand new items they bring market. Everything from nuts to wine to trains is Casa de ______ fill in the blank. This is total kitsch and I love it.
It’s all about the de Fruta
One shameless plug is that Casa de Fruta has the best selection of dried fruits and nuts I have ever seen or tasted. My measurement hinges on the type and quality of Dates. The medjool dates I purchased were near perfect. How many places can you take your kids, let them run around at no charge and buy them healthy snacks and food? In a world of contrived marketing experiences, Casa de Fruta is one of the more authentic commercial establishments that has not grown tired.
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