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If aliens were sending us signals, this is what they might look like
For more than 60 years, scientists have been searching the cosmos for possible signs of radio transmission that would indicate the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI). In that time, the technology and methods have matured considerably, but the greatest challenges remain. In addition to having never detected a radio signal of extraterrestrial origin, there is a wide range of possible forms that such a broadcast could take.In short, SETI researchers must assume what a signal would look like, but without the benefit of any k...
For more than 60 years, scientists have been searching the cosmos for possible signs of radio transmission that would indicate the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI). In that time, the technology and methods have matured considerably, but the greatest challenges remain. In addition to having never detected a radio signal of extraterrestrial origin, there is a wide range of possible forms that such a broadcast could take.
In short, SETI researchers must assume what a signal would look like, but without the benefit of any known examples. Recently, an international team led by the University of California Berkeley and the SETI Institute developed a new machine learning tool that simulates what a message from extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) might look like. It's known as Setigen, an open-source library that could be a game-changer for future SETI research.
The research team was led by Bryan Brzycki, an astronomy graduate student at UC Berkeley. He was joined by Andrew Siemion, the Director of the Berkeley SETI Research Center, and researchers from the SETI Institute, Breakthrough Listen, the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics, the Institute of Space Sciences and Astronomy, International Center for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), and the Goergen Institute for Data Science.
Since the 1960s, the most common method of SETI has involved searching the cosmos for radio signals that are artificial in origin. The first such experiment was Project Ozma (April to July 1960), led by famed Cornell astrophysicist Frank Drake (creator of the Drake Equation). This survey relied on the 25-meter dish at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, to monitor Epsilon Eridani and Tau Ceti at frequencies of about 400 kHz around 1.42 GHz.
These searches have since expanded to cover larger areas of the night sky, wider frequency ranges, and greater signal diversity. As Brzycki explained to Universe Today via email:
"In the 1960s, the idea was to focus on a region around a well-known frequency where neutral hydrogen emits radiation in interstellar space, 1.42 GHz. Since this natural emission is prevalent throughout the galaxy, the idea is that any intelligent civilization would know about it, and potentially target this frequency for transmission to maximize the chance of detection. Since then, especially as technology has rapidly advanced, radio SETI has expanded along all axes of measurement.
"We now can take measurements across a bandwidth of multiple GHz instantaneously. As storage has improved, we can collect huge amounts of data, allowing higher resolution observations in both time and frequency directions. By the same token, we've done surveys of nearby stars and other direction in the galaxy, to maximize exposure to potentially interesting directions in the sky."
Another major change has been the incorporation of machine learning-based algorithms designed to find transmissions amid the radio background noise of the cosmos and correct for radio frequency interference (RFI). The algorithms employed in SETI surveys have fallen into one of two categories: those that measure voltage time-series data and those that measure time-frequency spectrogram data.
"The raw data collected by a radio antenna are voltage measurements; a radio wave induces a current in the antenna, which is read out and recorded as a voltage," said Brzycki. "A radio telescope is really just an antenna augmented by a parabolic dish to focus a larger area of light, increasing resolution and brightness. It turns out that intensity is proportional to voltage squared. Further, we care about the intensity as a function of frequency and time (the when and where of a potential signal)."
To get this, says Brzycki, astronomers start by employing algorithms that calculate the power of each frequency being observed towards the input time series data. In other words, the algorithm transforms radio signal data from a function of space and/or time into a function dependent on spatial frequency or temporal frequency—aka. a Fourier Transform (FT). By squaring this, astronomers can measure the intensity of each frequency over the data-collection period.
"To get a full spectrogram, an array of intensity as a function of time and frequency, we take a section of the voltage-time series, get the FT, then repeat this process over the entire observation so that we can effectively stack a series of FT-data arrays on top of each other in the time direction," Brzycki added. "[O]nce you decide on a time resolution, we figure out the number of time samples needed and calculate the FT to see how much power lies in each frequency bin."
The primary search algorithm used by SETI researchers is known as the "incoherent tree deDoppler" algorithm, which shifts the spectrum of radio waves to correct for frequency drift and maximizes the signal-to-noise ratio of a signal. The most comprehensive SETI search program ever mounted, Breakthrough Listen, uses an open-source version of this algorithm known as TurboSETI, which has served as the backbone of many "technosignatures" searches (aka. signs of technological activity). As Brzycki explained, this method has some drawbacks: "The algorithm makes the assumption that a potential SETI signal is continuous with a high duty-cycle (meaning that it's almost always 'on'). Looking for a continuous sine-wave signal is a good first step since it's relatively easy and inexpensive in power for humans to produce and transmit such signals.
"Since TurboSETI is targeted for straight-line signals that are always 'on,' it can struggle to pick up alternate morphologies, like broadband and pulsed signals. Additional algorithms are being developed to try to detect these other kinds of signals, but as always, our algorithms are only as effective as the assumptions we make of the signals they are targeted for."
For SETI researchers, machine learning is a way of identifying transmissions in raw radio frequency data and classifying multiple types of signals. The main issue, says Brzycki, is that the astronomical community doesn't have a dataset of ET signals, which makes supervised training difficult in the traditional sense. To this end, Brzycki and his colleagues developed a Python-based open-source library called Setigen that facilitates the production of synthetic radio observations.
"What Setigen does is facilitate the production of synthetic SETI signals, which can be used in entirely synthetic data, or added on top of real observational data to provide a more realistic noise and RFI background," said Brzycki. "This way, we can produce large datasets of synthetic signals to analyze the sensitivity of existing algorithms or to serve as a basis for machine learning training."
This library standardizes synthesis methods for search algorithm analysis, especially for existing radio observation data products like those used by Breakthrough Listen. "These come in both spectrogram and complex voltage (time series) formats, so having a method of producing mock data can be really useful for testing production code and developing new procedures," Brzycki added.
Right now, algorithms for multi-beam observations are being developed using Setigen to produce mock signals. The library is also being constantly updated and improved as SETI research progresses. Brzycki and his colleagues also hope to add support for broad-band signal synthesis to aid search algorithms that target non-narrowband signals. More robust SETI surveys will be possible in the near future as next-generation radio telescopes become operational.
This includes Breakthrough Listen, which will be incorporating data from the MeerKAT array in South Africa. There's also the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a massive radio telescope project that will combine data from observatories in South Africa and Australia. These include the MeerKAT and Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA) in South Africa and the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) and Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) in Australia.
Alas, there's is still the most limiting factor regarding SETI, which is our extremely limited frame of reference. When it comes right down to it, astronomers have no idea what an extraterrestrial signal would look like because we've never seen one before. This, paradoxically, makes it harder to tease out evidence of technosignatures amid the background noise of the cosmos. As such, astronomers are forced to take the "low-hanging fruit" approach, which means looking for technological activity as we know it.
However, by establishing parameters based on what is theoretically possible, scientists can narrow the search and increase the odds that they will find something someday. As Brzycki summarized:
"The only potential solution to this is some sort of unsupervised machine learning survey that minimizes our assumptions; work is being done on this front. Setigen certainly relies on this assumption—the synthetic signals one can produce are heuristic in nature, in that the user decides what they should look like.
"At the end of the day, the library provides a way of evaluating our existing algorithms and creating datasets of potential signals to develop new search methods, but the fundamental issues of where and when will always remain—the best we can do is to keep on looking."
At times like this, it is good to remind ourselves that the Fermi Paradox only needs to be resolved once. The moment we detect a radio transmission in the cosmos, we will know for certain that we are not alone in the Universe, that intelligent life can and does exist beyond Earth, and is communicating using technologies we can detect.
More information: Bryan Brzycki et al, Setigen: Simulating Radio Technosignatures for SETI. arXiv:2203.09668v1 [astro-ph.IM], doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2203.09668
Provided by Universe Today
Boyd, Covenant combine to face WCMS
Boyd Christian School and Covenant Academy’s tennis teams came together on Friday to face the WCMS Pioneers in a local matchup. The Broncos and Lions have separate teams but scheduled a scrimmage against WCMS to gain experience against bigger teams.The Lady Lions did really well against the Lady Pioneers winning all their singles matches. Many of the matches were evenly matched with a few games going to a deuce.Abby Graves and Addison Steakley of WCMS faced off against Covenant’s Abigail Netherton and Anslee McCrary...
Boyd Christian School and Covenant Academy’s tennis teams came together on Friday to face the WCMS Pioneers in a local matchup. The Broncos and Lions have separate teams but scheduled a scrimmage against WCMS to gain experience against bigger teams.
The Lady Lions did really well against the Lady Pioneers winning all their singles matches. Many of the matches were evenly matched with a few games going to a deuce.
Abby Graves and Addison Steakley of WCMS faced off against Covenant’s Abigail Netherton and Anslee McCrary in a tough match that ended with Graves scoring the winning point in odd fashion with the ball glancing off her body and making it across the net.
“It counts,” said WCMS assistant coach Susan Barrett.
The Pioneers didn’t have as much luck against the Broncos or the Lions winning only one match over the private schools. Covenant’s Brett Peterson and Boyd’s Clay Akers teamed for a few doubles matches having never played together. The duo won both matches and their singles matches.
“We want to promote tennis in Warren County with our local schools,” said WCMS coach David Dunlap. “We are trying to make sure they all get a chance to play.”
Lady Pioneers beat
the Lady Broncos
and Lady Lions, 7-5
No. 1 – WC Abby Graves falls to CA Abigail Netherton, 7-5
No. 2 – WC Addison Steakley beats BC C.J. Perry, 6-2
No. 3 – WC Miya Rowland falls to CA Anslee McCrary, 7-5
No. 4 – WC Ashlynn Graves falls to CA Leah Mara, 6-3
No. 5 – WC Izzy Pitts beats BC Dara Stubblefield, 6-0
No. 6 – WC Alyssa Parsley beats BC Raylee Vinson, 6-1
No. 7 – WC Natalie Payne beats BC Brit Ralph, 7-6
No. 1 – WC Abby Graves/ Steakley beat CA Netherton/ McCrary, 7-6
No. 2 – WC Rowland/ Parsley beat BC Perry/ Stubblefield, 7-5
No. 3 – WC Pitts/ Ashlynn Graves fall to CA Netherton/ McCrary, 6-0
No. 4 – WC Kelsi Caten/ Payne beat BC Vinson/ Ralph, 6-3
No. 5 – WC Anna Graves/ Ella Kesey fall to BC Perry/ Stubblefield, 6-2
Broncos and Lions
beat Pioneers, 10-1
No. 1 – WC Joshua Caten falls to CA Brett Peterson, 6-3
No. 2 – WC Britton Mayfield falls to BC Clay Akers, 6-0
No. 3 – WC Bryan Smith beats BC Eli Vassar, 6-1
No. 4 – WC Mordecai Haddock falls to BC Bryant Ralph, 6-1
No. 5 – WC Ledger Higgins falls to BC Akers, 6-1
No. 6 – WC Sutton Martin falls to BC Ralph, 6-2
No. 1 – WC Caten/ Mayfield fall to CA Peterson/ BC Akers, 6-1
No. 2 – WC Smith/ Haddock fall to BC Vassar/ Ralph, 6-3
No. 3 – WC Higgins/ Martin fall to CA Peterson/ BC Akers, 6-0
No. 4 – WC Thomas Carter/ Sabastian Campos fall to CA Peterson/ BC Akers, 6-0
No. 5 – WC Shuta Hatanaka/ Braylon Powers fall to BC Vassar/ Ralph, 6-3
Fullerton City Council Members Finalize New Election Map Despite Resident Pushback
Fullerton City Council members on Tuesday adopted a new voting map that will impact elections in the city for the next decade or so, despite community support for other maps.At their city council meeting on Tuesday, council members voted 3-2 to adopt the map dubbed 114 with no discussion.“It’s the clearest in terms of geographical contiguous, has two clear Hispanic districts, one very cle...
Fullerton City Council members on Tuesday adopted a new voting map that will impact elections in the city for the next decade or so, despite community support for other maps.
At their city council meeting on Tuesday, council members voted 3-2 to adopt the map dubbed 114 with no discussion.
“It’s the clearest in terms of geographical contiguous, has two clear Hispanic districts, one very clear Asian district, is compact, has easily identifiable boundaries, does not discriminate, nor does it favor a political party,” Mayor Fred Jung said about the map at a public hearing held last week.
The decision on the map was made despite residents routinely showing up to public hearings voicing support for a community driven map, dubbed map 110. Some also showed support for a map called 112.
Some residents said they feel like they’ve been completely ignored throughout the process, echoing concerns raised by many during Fullerton’s initial switch to district voting in 2016.
“The community was significantly undercut with this entire process and the adoption of map 114. I think it does a better job of representing communities than the last map, but it still falls short of truly representing the communities of interest in Fullerton,” said resident Ameena Qazi in a Wednesday phone interview.
Tony Bushala, a longtime Fullerton resident and business owner who sat on the city’s redistricting commission, said in a Wednesday phone interview that map 114 gives East Fullerton residents, who live near the 57 freeway, a voice that map 110 doesn’t.
“All those people who live on both sides and 57, they get the smog, the sound, the lights, the noise. That’s a real community of interest,” he said.
Bushala said it was a special interest group made up mostly of people who didn’t live in Fullerton that showed support for map 110 in an effort to keep Councilman Jesus Silva in office. He said they have created a false narrative that they’re not being listened to by commission or the city council.
“They created a map for one person so that he could run for reelection because map 114 put Jesus Silva into a district that’s not up for reelection for two more years,” Bushala said.
Qazi said the map community members had fought for was created after months of discussion and work but they felt dismissed by the decision makers from the very beginning.
“They called us a pressure group,” Qazi said. “There was nothing we could say or do, no amount of organizing and coming together to persuade some of these council members that we had valid voices that needed to be considered.”
She also said that the process felt political.
“There was no deep discussion of the maps and the lines and the communities and how we can improve them,” Qazi said. “There was never that concerted, deliberative process that we were expecting. It was just so imbued with politics.”
Bushala called map 110 political.
“When you’re looking at district elections, you can’t favor one party over another. You can’t favor a candidate over another candidate, you can’t carve out areas so that a candidate can stay in office,” he said.
Councilmen Silva and Ahmad Zahra voted against the map’s adoption.
“There’s merit in their concerns about being ignored,” Silva said in a phone interview Wednesday.
“We as a council will have to do a little more listening to the residents, because again this is a huge process – the redistricting and a huge outcome that impacts residents for another 10 years.”
For Silva, the new map means he’ll be barred from running again for a city council spot until 2024 – two years after his current term ends this year.
“I was disappointed because the (redistricting) advisory committee did in essence, submit three maps to the council to choose from,” he said, adding that map 112 would have kept him in his current district and was supported by the community.
The new map moves Silva out of district three and into district two, the same district as Councilman Nick Dunlap, who was elected in 2020 to a four year term.
Dunlap did not return a request for comment Wednesday.
Councilmember Bruce Whitaker voiced support for Map 114 at a meeting last week and acknowledged that the map would move Silva out of his district.
“I understand the one shortcoming here, I think of map 114 is that it does change the residence of one of the sitting council members and I think that’s unfortunate but I think that was a factor of our original map,” he said at the meeting last week. “This map is an attempt to correct that.”
At that same meeting last week, an attorney from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called into a public hearing on redistricting and shared concerns about the map selection process.
“It seemed to be an effort to remove one of the more progressive council members, in terms of myself and Zahra,” Silva said in the Wednesday phone interview. “I know that the concern that the ACLU had was that it was diminishing representation in the community.”
Silva said this is not the first time he has been impacted by the redistricting process and that he plans to run again in 2024.
“I’ve been impacted by this redistricting twice, in a short time of four years,” he said. “They did the same thing to me back in 2018.”
Silva was elected in an at-large election in 2016, but after the city transitioned to district elections found himself having to run again.
He said he felt the previous map was gerrymandered to include former city councilman Greg Sebourn in district three.
“That was, I think, intentional on the prior council, when Mayor (Jennifer) Fitzgerald put that map together,” he said.
Sebourn sat on the redistricting commission that recommended the maps to the city council.
The commission has drawn criticism from residents for including Sebourn as well as Shawn Nelson, another former city council member and current chief assistant district attorney.
Fullerton Moves to District Voting After Lawsuit
In 2016, a majority of Fullerton voters decided to adopt district elections.
The vote stemmed from two lawsuits filed against the city alleging officials were violating the California Voting Rights Act by disenfranchising Asian and Latino voters and a settlement was reached in 2015.
Council members ended up picking a map submitted at the last minute in anticipation of the ballot measure.
It received backlash from residents who had advocated for a community driven map, which had gone through numerous public hearings and forums.
A motion was even filed in court over the map council members picked in 2016 and an OC Superior Court Judge ordered the city to hold one more public hearing before adopting the map to attach to the ballot question.
Last year, residents and advocates began calling on the city to create an independent redistricting commission to help with the process and make the final decision.
Instead, the council opted to have a redistricting advisory commission, made mostly of people appointed by city council members, to conduct two public hearings on the process and make map recommendations to the council.
Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him @firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.
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California company seeks more solar-related permits
Shortly on the heels of receiving its first permit needed for a prospective small solar project, a California company is making two more bids for potential Chaves County projects.Cenergy Power of Carlsbad, California, also known as BAP Power Corp., has applied for two more special use permits on separate properties in Chaves County as first steps toward developing community solar farms on those leased agricultural tracts.On March 15, Cenergy’s application for a special use permit for property north of Roswell, off of the ...
Shortly on the heels of receiving its first permit needed for a prospective small solar project, a California company is making two more bids for potential Chaves County projects.
Cenergy Power of Carlsbad, California, also known as BAP Power Corp., has applied for two more special use permits on separate properties in Chaves County as first steps toward developing community solar farms on those leased agricultural tracts.
On March 15, Cenergy’s application for a special use permit for property north of Roswell, off of the Roswell Relief Route near the U.S. 70-U.S. 285 cloverleaf, was approved by the Roswell-Chaves County Extraterritorial Zoning Commission.
The company plans to operate a 2.5 megawatt community solar project on about 10 or 11 acres of leased land owned by Ben and Valarie Thomas, at least as a first phase. Any such project would require the authorization of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, which is expected to make its first decisions about approved projects statewide later this year.
Cenergy is now seeking permits from the Chaves County Planning and Zoning Commission for two other tracts. One is at the corner of Seminole and Cedarvale roads and is owned by a trust involving Laurene and David Eastham, and the other is at 1907 White Mill Road and owned by a trust involving Leonard and Joanne Blach.
A public meeting to consider the permits has been scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Chaves County Administrative Center.
According to documents filed with the county, if approved by state regulators, the community solar projects would each generate about 4.95 megawatts a year, as measured in alternating current.
Cenergy has entered 18-month leases with the trusts and property owners, which would convert into leases with initial terms of 26 years if the projects are approved and able to connect with Xcel Energy lines to provide electricity.
Representatives with Cenergy did not return phone calls by press time.
State legislation that allows community solar projects was signed into law in April 2021. Community solar farms are intended to allow people who do not own property or cannot afford their own solar installations to subscribe to community projects that are expected to reduce their electricity costs by at least 10% a year. It also allows consumers to support renewable energy efforts.
According to rules adopted Thursday by the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, community solar projects statewide will be capped at generating 200 megawatts a year until 2024, when the PRC is due to reevaluate the situation. Southwestern Public Service Co., which operates as Xcel Energy, has been allocated 45 megawatts for the initial term.
Individual projects are capped at 5 megawatts a year. Each project must have at least 10 subscribers, with 30% of the subscriber base reserved for low-income residents. The solar projects will be chosen through a competitive bid process to be handled by a third party.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, 1 megawatt of solar energy in New Mexico can power about 250 homes a year, with the national average being about 180 homes a year.
Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at email@example.com.
Exploring the Green Book through the Dunlap's Dining Room in Oak Park | Race and Culture
Dunlap’s Dining Room did not have a menu. The three classic entrees were chicken, fried or smothered, baked ham, or T-bone steak.SACRAMENTO, Calif. — During the segregation era, discriminatory laws and practices made traveling by car a dangerous experience for Black people across the United States.Along the nation’s highways, Black travelers were routinely denied access to essential services like gas, food, restrooms and lodging. If Black people stopped or visited an unfamiliar place, they carried the risk of ...
Dunlap’s Dining Room did not have a menu. The three classic entrees were chicken, fried or smothered, baked ham, or T-bone steak.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — During the segregation era, discriminatory laws and practices made traveling by car a dangerous experience for Black people across the United States.
Along the nation’s highways, Black travelers were routinely denied access to essential services like gas, food, restrooms and lodging. If Black people stopped or visited an unfamiliar place, they carried the risk of humiliation, threats or racial violence.
Black people relied heavily on the Green Book to find safe and friendly accommodations. The Green Book was a pocket-sized travel guide created by Victor Green, a Black postal worker, entrepreneur and innovator. It listed thousands of establishments across the nation, such as motels, restaurants, service stations and other accommodations, that either served Black people or were Black-owned businesses.
George T. Dunlap owned and operated The Dunlap’s Dining Room. Born in Sacramento in February 1884, Dunlap made a distinct contribution to local and regional history as a successful Black entrepreneur in the food service industry.
Over the years, Dunlap gained food service experience while working as a chef for the Southern Pacific Railway. He worked on private cars, serving Southern Pacific superintendents. While on a trip in Oakland, Dunlap met and fell in love with a woman named Annie Louise Butler.
The couple married in 1907 and started a family in Sacramento, including two daughters, Audrey and Doris Dunlap. That same year, Mr. Dunlap built a four-room cottage, becoming one of the first African-American families to build in the Oak Park neighborhood.
Two of Mrs. Dunlap’s nieces eventually came from Oakland to live with the Dunlap family during World War I. Additions were made to the house to accommodate the growing family. The house went from a four-room one level structure to an eight-room two level structure.
As the Dunlap family grew, so did business. Dunlap eventually started a private catering venture and operated two restaurants in downtown Sacramento. The first restaurant was at 621 J Street and the second restaurant was at the Capitol Hotel. But, the Dunlap's most cherished restaurant was the Dunlap's Dining Room. Together, Mr. and Mrs. Dunlap opened the fine dining restaurant on Mar. 29, 1930 in their home at 4322 Fourth Avenue.
The Dunlaps transformed the entire first floor of their home into a well-organized and smoothly operated business. For 38 years, Dunlap’s Dining Room attracted distinguished families, social clubs, business organizations, religious groups and prominent people throughout the Greater Sacramento region.
Even though Dunlap’s Dining Room was Black-owned and served people of color, the restaurant primarily catered to middle-class white people due to economic reasons.
When the restaurant opened in 1930, Sacramento County only had about 1,485 Black people out of a total population of 141,999. During these times, many local Black businesspeople, including Mr. and Mrs. Dunlap, geared their products and services toward the white majority to survive in a depressed economy with an extremely small Black population.
Dunlap’s Dining Room did not have a menu. The three classic entrees were chicken, fried or smothered, baked ham, or T-bone steak. The restaurant also offered a soup of the day, with no recipe, and a variety of desserts, like Bavarian creme, lemon ice-box cake and angel food supreme.
The restaurant operated as a significant eating establishment in Sacramento until Mr. Dunlap’s retirement in 1968. The Dunlap family home is still standing in Oak Park. In 1992, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For many older Sacramentans, the house is a reminder of Black history, culture and traditions. The house is now operating as an Airbnb space, open to the public.
By the time Dunlap reached his late 60s, he received a number of awards and honors in recognition of his successful career.
In 1949, he received a coveted award for "Outstanding Performance, Food Service" at the California State Fair. Dunlap's first contract for the food service concession at the California State Fair began in 1917 and his service there was operated for 41 years. In 1958, when Dunlap retired from participating in the state fair, he was given another award for his years of successful food service at the statewide event.
In 1952, Dunlap was appointed to the California State Agricultural Society. His membership included serving as advisor in the development of food service displays and operations as a representative of the Society. Dunlap and his daughter, Audrey, were also special guests at the dedication and opening of the California State Railroad Museum.