GRAND LAKE MERCHANT NEWS
Thanks to an email from Maggie Kostoff, I can report that half of the Ford’s Fine Furniture space has been leased to a shop called Knimble which has two stores currently — one in San Rafael and the other in Corte Madera. I talked briefly to the Store Manager, Brittany Allinger, an Oakland resident who says they are hoping to open by the middle of June. She also indicated that they are looking to buy clothing which will constitute the majority of the inventory. In addition, they will also have a gift department, work by local artisans and vintage furniture. Hours are 11-7 seven days a week.
If their dream comes true, the other half of the Ford’s Fine Furniture space will be leased by Peter Mustacich and Tova Herman as the home of an artisanal wine and spirit shop to be called Santé. The details are all included in the aforementioned survey along with a detailed prospectus posted on the Grand Lake Neighbors site.
Word from Richard Weinstein is that Penrose and Sons Fine Meats and Spirits is not likely to be ready in time for the announced June 21 Grand Opening — but they are making spectacular progress inside and out. Late last week, I took this photo of a tile setter at worker. I’m really impressed and appreciative of their efforts to match the original tiles.
Next door, Monkey Forest Road has just unveiled a large patio in the rear corner of their parking lot. As you can see from this photo, Chris and Arnel (not surprisingly) did it with style.
If you need yet another reason to hang out at Monkey Forest Road, Jim Grantham’s Jazz Quartet will be performing every Thursday evening from 7:00-10:00 pm starting May 9. This is the same group that used to play in front of the Coffee Mill on Sundays.
Some of the credit (or blame depending upon your point of view) for the growing throngs at MFR may be attributed to this very complimentary article in the Piedmont Patch.
Zach and Lavender, the owners of Ikaros Greek Restaurant were floating three feet off the ground when they pointed out the Michelin Guide recommendation proudly displayed on their front window.
In a nice example of serendipity, I searched online in vain for the Michelin recommendations and eventually decided they’d really prefer that you buy their book. Nevertheless, in the process, I happened across Trip Advisor’s rankings for 479 restaurants in Oakland. Two weeks ago, Arizmendi was ranked #1. They have, however, since fallen to #2 just behind Commis.
In the past couple of months, I’ve confessed several times to knowing far less about the Grand Lake shopping district than everyone gives me credit for. This week I outdid myself when i ventured up the stairs to 452 Santa Clara and introduced myself to Miguel Lopez — the owner of Boxing for Health. Turns out he’s been open for three years.
Miguel is an impressive guy. He says he developed high blood pressure when he was seven and turned to boxing as a way to stay fit. In 2000, he won the Golden Gloves competition in the welterweight division and qualified for the Olympics in 2004 — but was disqualified for being three ounces overweight.
Although some of the patrons of the gym are professional fighters, most are there to take advantage of the fitness and cardio programs. Their Boxing Boot Camps are especially popular. They also have well-attended classes for kids and teens.
A GALLERY CORNER
Plans for a monthly First Thursdays on Grand have come together very quickly over the last week or so. The first incarnation with four participating galleries begins this Thursday, May 2 from 6:00-9:00 PM.
The main impetus for this event came from Rebooty’s Kathy Jensen. She will be serving refreshments and the work of artist Sam Raske will be featured. I checked out his website and I’m quite impressed by his ingenuity. If you have kids, be sure to take a look at his playhouses and kid’s furniture. For more information, check out Rebooty’s Facebook Events page. By the way, be sure to compliment Kathy and Jesse for their new store sign.
Panorama Framing will be showcasing the work of Momoku Sudo. If you’re a Farmers Market shopper, you’ve undoubtedly seen her marvelous linescapes for sale at the market. If we’re lucky, she’ll bring an easel Thursday night and show you how it’s done — with an attention to detail and a remarkably steady hand. Owner Patrick Cheatham tells me that he is now offering a 20% discount on framing services for artworks purchased from each month’s featured artist.
This month’s featured artist at Oak Common’s Backstock Gallery is Jenny Sharaf.
Galleria Scola will be open late and, if you haven’t been inside, do check out Elida’s collection of vintage paintings and prints. I always find the reproductions of early Oakland posters and advertisements especially appealing.
To make First Thursdays more of a district-wide event, a number of businesses have signed on offering a variety of discounts from 6:00 – 9:00 pm to anyone with proof that they first visited one of the four participating galleries. The discounts are good for Thursday evening only and may not be combined with any other promotional offers. Here’s the list to date:
- · Miss Saigon restaurant — 15% off your total bill
- · Newfangles Tall Fashions — Owner, Alyce Preston is offering 20% off regularly priced merchandise
- · Cafe Romanat — One free beverage with purchase of one entree
- · Grand Flowers — 15% off on minimum $10 purchase
- · Connie’s Cantina — Free chips and salsa with purchase of one entree
- · Walden Pond Books — 10% discount on all merchandise
- · Grand Tavern — Happy hour prices extended to 9:00 PM
- · Left Coast Power Yoga — Heated Power Yoga class from 6:00 -7:00 followed by a free clothing swap
MERCHANT NEWS IN BRIEF
- · In the “My, How Time Flies” Department, Camino will be celebrating it 5th Anniversary on May 18. Dinner that evening is sold out but they will be serving paletas from 11-4 and cocktails, wine and negronis with free snacks beginning at 5:30.
- · Michael Mischer Chocolates was profiled in this March 30th article in the Piedmont Patch.
- · The opening of Star on Grand has again been delayed slightly. Latest prediction from Susannah Blumenstock is the first of June. You can keep track of their progress on their Facebook page.
- · Grand Tavern owner, Temoor Noor has been extremely busy on other fronts as he’s recently opened two new restaurants (Tribune and Lungomare) in partnership with the owner of Chop Bar.
- · An article in the Piedmont Patch dated April 4 reported that someone won a $207,000 jackpot from a lottery ticket sold at Colonial Donuts. Nope, not me! If it were, I’d be in some tropical paradise sipping a good beer. On the other hand, relaxing on the deck at MFR doing the same is not too shabby — particularly in the warm weather we’re enjoying this week.
- · Lake Veterinary is tentatively scheduled to re-open circa June 1. I know that their closure riled a lot of folks and not a lot is being said about the circumstances. Sorry, but I’m not privy to the inside scoop.
- · The Pilates ProWorks studio at 3303 Lakeshore is scheduled to open to the public on May 28 but sample classes will be offered during the preceding week.
- · BAR Method Fitness on the second floor at 3298 Lakeshore has a Grand Opening slated for this Thursday, May 2. They have a special offer for new students — 30 days of unlimited classes for $50.
- · Landscaping is popping up all over. David at Oak Common just put in a succulent garden in the tree well in front of their shop while The Alley went with petunias in theirs.
- · Speaking of landscaping, a couple of weeks ago, I wandered into Grand Lake Ace Nursery just after they received a big shipment including some aquatic plants that I needed for my pond. Since I was on my bike — I was delighted to find that they provide free delivery if your purchase is sufficiently large. Talk to Tom or Kevin for details.
- · Earlier this month, Pamela Drake wrote about Silver Moon and Dima’s mother, Linda Hubbard in her Drake Talk blog.
SPLASH PAD PARK
With nearly thirty volunteers on Earth Day, we got a ton of work done including a large section of the California Native plant bed that was totally refurbished. Since they all worked so hard, please allow me to list the volunteers by name:
Susan and David Elliott, Carol Wright, Frank Kusiak, Nicole Medina, Julius Hampton, Jeffrey Feldman, Jonathan Stewart, Mark Luis, Gordon Shell, Nancy Friedman, Jennifer Ting, Bob Archibald, Mary Ellen Navas, Sandy Torma, Nadine Ong, Pamela Clarke, Jesse Jensen, Ken Kukulka, Irving and Rosa Willis.
Several of our volunteers deserve a bit of extra credit. Eric Hughes provided transportation to and from the park and cleaned out the gravel bed to the left of the parking lot entrance. Jerry Barclay picked up the tools from the City and his wife, Karin returned them. Mary Jo Sutton purchased all the new plantings and decided on their placement. Katie Derrig (whom you may know as the incredibly reliable volunteer who staffs the Information table at the Farmers Market) was responsible for all the printed materials. Jessica Stewart is our Facebook guru and she also documented the work day with this set of photos.
Thanks, as well to our Grand and Lakeshore neighbors who generously kept us hydrated and incredibly well fed. They included Lin Jia, Yayu Ethiopian, Cana, Ikaros and Ken Betts Chevron which donated enough bottled water for the next several work days. The Farmers Market chipped in as well with donations from Happy Boy, Hamada, Ledesma, Twin Girls, County Line and Nago’s Miso salad dressing.
Next time, you’re in the park, do check out the new landscaping, as well as all the plants that are currently in bloom including the California Native Iris, the Ceanothus and the fremontodendron.
Our next work day is scheduled for Sunday, May 19th starting at 9:00 AM with lunch served at Noon. I can’t promise a spread akin to what we served for Earth Day — but you can count on pizza, dessert, a salad and more importantly, you’ll go home with a real feeling of accomplishment.
Vesta Flatbread has sold its truck and the owners are now taking a break while looking for a brick and mortar location — hopefully, in Oakland. This is a bittersweet farewell for us since we’ve always valued the market’s role as a small business incubator. Vesta is following in the footsteps of two earlier success stories — Souley Vegan and Phat Matt’s Barbecue, both of which started at the Grand Lake Market.
Vesta’s curb space won’t be vacant for long as it’s about to be filled by Gail Lillian’s, Liba Falafel truck. Gail is one of this year’s nominees for an Indie Award and according to a profile in the most recent edition of “Edible East Bay”, she is also looking for a brick and mortar space in Oakland.
Peggy and Helen from Kassenhoff Growers were recently the subject of a very flattering article in Oakland Local.
Newly in season are the first of the year cherries at the Twin Girls booth. More will be showing up in the next week or two — as will be the case with the first of the season, blueberries.
ODDS AND ENDS
If you missed it, there was a very nice article in the Montclarion about Barbara Newcombe and the Cleveland Cascades.
Although I’m expectantly awaiting the opening of Penrose and Sons, I’m one of those people who regretted the loss of Jenny’s Cafe. All Jenny’s fans will be pleased to know that they have opened a new location downtown at 578 14th Street. It’s now called Cafe Jenny.
I already mentioned that the California Native plant bed at Splash Pad is currently in full bloom and the same applies to my own yard. One flower that’s about a week or two away from fully opening is my Dracunculus vulgaris or what is commonly known as a Voodoo Lily. Here’s a photo I took last year. If you’d like to be alerted when it blooms again, send an email to email@example.com with a message saying “I love the smell of rotting meat”.
Elida Scola has a one-woman show at Tech Liminal that’s up through the end of May. She will be exhibiting more of the assemblages she had hung at Rebooty but will also have a selection of her monotype prints. Visit her Facebook Events page to view an invitation to a May 3 reception.
The annual Easter Parade seemed a bit smaller than usual but the line for corn dogs was just as long. There were two photos I took that morning that I especially liked. This one of Marcia Lam and her daughter, Keira and this one of Easter Bunny Alvin (Manager of the Cheese Steak shop), Rev. Hopkins and Abebe, the Lakeshore Security Guard.
Pat Kernighan’s City Council resolution deservedly honoring Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church and Rev. Hopkins went very well — as did the reception preceding it. If you look at the collection of photos I took that evening, please take particular note of the flowers which were donated by Western Sun Floral (a Farmers Market vendor) and the cake that came from Boniere Bakery. The image on the cake is an exact copy of the church’s Names in Light at the park.
As noted in last month’s newsletter, Monkey Forest Road and Urban Indigo have been nominated for the 7th Annual Indie Awards. Local establishments and individuals that have since been nominated include Arizmendi, David Sturdevant (from the Medicine Hat Band), Galleria Scola, Heart and Dagger Saloon, Hipline Dance Fitness, Oakland Acupuncture Project and Ron Dibble. The event is scheduled for May 30 and advance tickets ($10) are available online.
Here’s a recent Huffington Post article about visiting Oakland that included a tour of FDR’s yacht, the Potomac. Coincidentally, I took advantage of a discounted two-hour cruise on the Potomac following the conclusion of the Oakland Boat Show and had a great time and highly recommend it.
There’s a ton of bicycle rides in the next couple of weeks revolving around Bike to Work Day on Thursday, May 9. I’m not totally sure of the schedule but I do know that there will be Energizer Stations at Ace Hardware and, for the first time, at Arizmendi. I believe the latter is serving coffee and maybe, more. The Mayor of Piedmont is scheduled for a stop at the Energizer Station at Ace Hardware and then will likely stop at the Grand Lake Theatre to form a Pedal Pool for a group ride to Frank Ogawa Plaza.
On Sunday, May 5, I’m signed up for a twelve-mile tour of San Francisco with the San Francisco Bicycle Ballet and Martin Krieg on his high-wheel bicycle. This starts at SF City Hall at 10:00 AM and should be a lot of fun.
On Saturday, May 11, there will be a Memorial Ride honoring the late Ron Bishop. Amongst many other accomplishments, Ron founded the Easy Riders Bicycle Group. Details on this ride are posted here on the New Easy Riders website.
Thursday, May 2, 6:00 – 9:00 pm: First Thursday on Grand
Thursday, May 2, 5:30- 8:00 pm: A Taste of Spring — Lakeside Garden Center
Friday, May 3, 6:00 – 9:00 pm: First Friday Art Murmur in the Uptown District
Friday, May 3, 6:00 – 9:00 pm: Reception for Elida Scola’s solo show at Tech Liminal
Sunday, May 5, 10:00 am: Tour SF with the SF Bicycle Ballet
Monday, May 6 at 8:00 pm: Eric Hughes and his Foggy Gulch Band at Freight and Salvage
Thursday, May 9: 8:00 am: Bike to Work Day
Thursday, May 9: 7:00 – 10:00 pm: Jim Grantham’s Jazz Quartet at Monkey Forest Road — every Thursday
Saturday, May 11, 10:00 am: Ron Bishop Memorial Ride
Sunday, May 19, 9:00 – Noon: Splash Pad Volunteer Work Day
Sunday, June 9: Celebration of the completion of the 12th Street Project.
Sunday, October 20: Splash Pad’s 10th Anniversary Celebration.
Those of you who attended the last couple of Grand Lake Neighbors meetings know that a new wine and spirits shop is proposed for half of the old Ford’s Fine Furniture space at 3256 Grand Avenue. Don’t confuse this with the Red Whale, a wine bar opening next to Michael Mischer’s Chocolates. This is a different shop that will focus on artisnal wines and spirits.
Below is Peter and Tovah’s proposal for thier new store. Please participate in our survey and express your opinion about this potential addition to Grand Avenue.
Santé Artisanal Wines & Spirits - 3256 Grand Ave
With a rise in local restaurant and cocktail culture, Oakland residents are becoming increasingly savvy and discerning when it comes to what they drink. Many of the successful neighborhood bars and restaurants have fully embraced the growing craft cocktail enthusiasm of the local community, yet many of the key ingredients in these much loved drinks can’t be found at general liquor stores or supermarkets. Santé will provide premium artisanal wines and spirits to satisfy this growing demand in a stylized atmosphere where customers feel encouraged to learn and explore. The selection will be highly curated, promoting locally produced wines and spirits with an emphasis on natural, organic, and biodynamic varieties. As residents and true lovers of the Grand-Lake neighborhood we look forward to collaborating with as many other local small businesses as possible to continue Grand Avenue’s fantastic renaissance.
We propose to be located at 3256 Grand, one-half of the space previously home to Ford’s Fine Furniture. The location is approximately 1,500 square feet of ground floor and an additional 1,500 square feet upstairs. We plan to use the ground floor for retail and the upstairs as an art gallery with limited weekly wine tasting and communal events. Following in the footsteps of the Saribalis family, who has recently renovated the building façade, we will return the interior to its former glory by exposing original brick walls, reopening the second floor skylight, and featuring products in unique vintage display cases.
We will offer a variety of rare and interesting spirits and liqueurs very much in-line with the craft cocktail movement popular at Boot & Shoe Service, Sidebar, Camino, and many others. Locally produced wines and spirits will be featured whenever possible, such as St. George Spirits in Alameda, Anchor Distilling Company in San Francisco, Donkey and Goat Winery in Berkeley, and Dashe Cellars in Oakland.
Santé is owned equally by Peter Mustacich and his fiancé Tova Herman, who will be the only two employees in the retail portion and will share all responsibilities equally. Tova has over 7 years of experience in the wine industry and has managed 3 retail wine boutiques including Wine.com in Berkeley. She was previously lead curator for ClubW, a successful online wine club based in Los Angeles. Peter Mustacich spent the last 5 years working as a mechanical engineer in San Francisco, where he developed a love for rare craft spirits not easily found in Oakland. Tova and Peter have lived in the Grand-Lake neighborhood for several years now and draw their inspiration from the growth and development they’ve witnessed in this blossoming neighborhood.
Proposed hours of operation:
Monday and Tuesday: closed
Wednesday – Saturday: 11am – 8pm
Sunday: 12pm – 5pm
We will not carry or sell any of the following items:
- Tobacco products
- Lottery tickets
- Miniature bottles of hard liquor intended for immediate consumption
- Wine full-priced at under $5 per 750 ml bottle (not including promotions)
- Hard liquor full-priced at under $10 per 750ml bottle (not including promotions)
A big welcome to all our new subscribers and, in keeping with a request from Eren Berkenkotter, we’re also welcoming back the “vintage” black and white photo of Splash Pad Park on our masthead. I pulled it six years ago over concerns that the photo (all 69 kbs of it) would impede downloads but that doesn’t seem to be much of an issue any more.
SPLASH PAD PARK:
This month, the main focus of SplashPad.org’s 10th Anniversary Celebration Committee is on Oakland’s Earth Day. Citywide, it’s being celebrated on Saturday, April 20 — but in deference to the Farmers Market, we’ll instead be hard at work from 9:00 to Noon on Sunday, April 21.
A fun and rewarding morning is on tap. Volunteers will be greeted with coffee roasted and brewed on-site by Ambessaw Assegued and Dagmawit Bekele, our good friends from Anfilo Coffee, and we’ll be serving lunch at Noon. The particulars are not yet settled but, last year, Ikaros, Boniere Bakery, Kwik Way, Lanesplitter, Lin Jia, Anfilo Coffee and several farmers market vendors provided delectable treats.
We’ve yet to finalize a list of projects — but it will almost certainly include weeding, pruning, cleaning and at least some landscaping. Regarding the last item, Mary Jo Sutton and Jennifer Ting (the committee’s in-house plant experts) are putting together a shopping list. Tentatively, it will include another Manzanita and/or another Ceanothus. In addition, we’re going to be planting, for the first time, quite a few California Native annuals which will provide a big explosion of color come bloom time.
Last year, we had thirty-five volunteers. This year, I’m hoping for fifty to seventy-five. Volunteers of all ages and skill levels will be warmly welcomed. If you’re incapable of physical labor, you can help at the sign-in table or with serving food. If you can’t distinguish weeds from more desirable plant life, we’ll hand you a broom with which you can do minimal damage. We do insist that kids under 16 work under adult supervision and all volunteers should wear close-toed shoes. I personally, recommend against shorts.
If you’re able to join us on April 21, PLEASE sign up in advance using our SplashPad.org events page on Facebook. If you’d like to help us with organizing in advance of this event, please email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Between now and then, do check out the California Native Plant bed that our volunteers almost (but not quite) completely weeded at our last work day on March 17. Volunteers that morning included Jennifer Ting, Mary Jo Sutton, Jeff Sobul, Amanda Brown-Stevens, Eric Hughes and his sister from France, Greta Hughes.
Lunch was pizza from Arizmendi plus a mixed-greens salad donated by Happy Boy, sweet, young carrots donated by Capay Valley and Mandarins donated by Twin Girls. While we all enjoyed the unseasonal warm weather and the Native Iris in bloom, we had decidedly mixed reactions when Mother Nature displayed its crueler side. As Amanda’s young daughters rode their bicycles on the Plaza, a Coopers Hawk swooped down and killed a pigeon — its way of saying, I was here first and never forget it.
GRAND LAKE MERCHANT NEWS
Richard Weinstein emailed me saying that Penrose and Sons Fine Meats and Spirits (across the street from Boot and Shoe Service — the other Weinstein/Charlie Hallowell venture) is slated to open on June 21. Rumor has it that the line for a table will start forming on June 18 — if not sooner. OK. I did make that up but, with their track record, I’ll guarantee that Penrose and Sons is going to draw people to Grand Avenue from far and wide.
One of those individuals is David Moore, one of this month’s new subscribers. David wrote:
I live in Upper Rockridge and enjoy heading over there for many reasons. Adding in Star on Grand and Penrose and Sons will only increase the frequency!
Left Coast Power Yoga at 3702 Grand (between DeKors Interiors and Rasul rugs is planning a Grand Opening for April 6. They will have free, fitness-based Vinyasa Yoga classes from 11 to Noon and again, from 6:30 to 8:30. Music, snacks and fresh squeezed juice from Native Juice will be served from 7:30-10.
When I stopped by yesterday afternoon and took this photo, owners Wendy Medeiros and Rachel Rajput weren’t around but I did talk to their contractor who allowed me a quick peek into the interior. It’s an intimate but very attractive space and, for new students, they will be offering 10 days of unlimited yoga for only $20.
Ruth Stroup (who has the Farmers Insurance office at 3560 Grand) has recently upgraded the exterior of her building with a new paint job and new awnings should be installed shortly. The upstairs office in her building has been occupied by Platt Realty for about a year and a half. They’ve recently affiliated with Harcourt’s and have just hung out their new “shingle”.
Claire Fredericks (who owns the adjacent property) has followed Ruth’s lead — but with a different color palette. The results as shown in this photo, are quite pleasing. Claire’s second-floor space is the home of Merrymakers — a toy business she’s operated for some twenty years. Her downstairs space was remodeled last year when it became Grand Lake Dental.
Last month, I reported that Little Star on Grand hoped to be open by the end of March. Latest prediction on their Facebook page is now mid-April. A couple of weeks ago, they put out a call for job applicants and were “hiring for all positions”. If you or anyone you know is in the job market, email them at “email@example.com“.
Much the same applies to the Pilates ProWorks studio scheduled to open in the Juniper Tree space once major remodeling is completed. The sign in their window indicates that they are looking for qualified Pilates, Barre and/or TRX instructors with auditions to be conducted April 3 at their San Francisco Marina studio. The Lakeshore studio will be Pilates ProWork’s eighth location.
Across the street, major renovations are underway on both levels of the building that was occupied by Blockbuster. I wrote last month about Petco leasing the large, first floor space. The signs I photographed yesterday in the upstairs windows trumpet the imminent arrival of a BAR Method Fitness studio. According to their website, the owners of the Lakeshore franchise will be Chelsea Glavinovich and Audrey Mao who already operate a studio in Walnut Creek.
Bar Method will be occupying the majority of the upper floor, but after a three-month exodus to allow for major construction, local artists Judy Levit and Jane Norling will return to their sunlit studio on May 1. Jane (who illustrated several of the works on display in the Oakland Museum’s 1968 Poster show) told me they will be celebrating a Grand Re-Opening as part of the Pro-Arts Open Studio tour on the first two weekends in June.
The space to be occupied by Bar Method had been the home of Ken Pitts Martial Arts Academy for eighteen years. I talked to Ken yesterday afternoon and he’s very pleased to have found a ground-floor storefront at 468 Santa Clara — that was long ago the Rock Shop. There’s some minor remodeling in the works but he hopes to be open by April 15 with time to spare for their May 4 graduation ceremonies. In the meantime, the academy is sharing a space on Park Blvd. at Wellington.
Last month, I included a photo of the Saribalis Building covered with scaffolds. This month, I’m extremely pleased to post this photo of the totally revamped facade. A few days later, Eric Hughes posted a similar photo on his Facebook page — but with the new Mijori sign in place. Pretty classy, is it not?
I’m not sure of all the details but the partitions are up on the interior — creating two retail spaces, each with two floors. From what I’m hearing, there’s tons of interest and they won’t be vacant for much longer.
In the rush to get out last month’s newsletter, I neglected to include this photo of Kingman Yee in front of Kingman’s Lucky Lounge. They were then in the middle of an extensive interior remodel that should now be complete.
Here’s what the Chron said about this establishment in their list of Grand Lake attractions:
This bar has a Zagat rating, and a pretty good one at that. It seems we’ll all have a Zagat rating soon, but the Lucky Lounge deserves it. Oakland’s famously diverse population actually mixes here, hanging on the couches and listening to the nightly DJs spin jazz, house, hip-hop and more. It’s a fine place to just be whatever it is you are.
Super Spa has just opened at 3600 Grand specializing in Foot Reflexology. This photo of the exterior highlights a sandwich board offering a 30-minute foot massage for $15 on Mondays through Fridays. By the way, watch for a night photo of the neon sign in the window in next month’s newsletter. It’s pretty cool even during daylight hours.
While on yesterday’s rounds, I stopped by Urban Furniture and admired this Chinese bench just inside the entry. Although I was in the antiques business for many years, I know virtually nothing about furniture from the Far East. Still, despite some wear and tear, this looks like a bargain at $125. Moreover, if it doesn’t sell in the next few days, the price drops to $109 on April 1 and that’s no April-fooling.
The Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a fundraiser in support of Urban University’s workforce development program. “An Evening with the Stars” will be held at Urban Furniture on Thursday, April 18 beginning at 6:00 pm. Food and beverages will be served. Your $25 donation is tax deductible.
Panorama Framing at 3350 Grand had its Grand Opening on St. Pat’s Day which owner, Patrick Cheatham observed by happily dispensing bottles of Guiness. Before departing, I took this photo of the interior through the front window.
Although Patrick’s focus is going to be mainly on framing, the space will double as a gallery. On March 17, there were fine ceramics in the window and matted prints neatly displayed in one section. The majority of the gallery space was, however, devoted to large format photographs by Kevin Berne. A couple of his works can be seen in the background of this photo. On April 4, Panorama will host a special reception for Kevin that’s open to the public.
In addition to free brews (and wine), attendees at Panorama’s Grand Opening were treated to some wonderful music provided by cellist and guitarist, Joshua McClain. Joshua has recently moved to Grand Avenue a few doors from Panorama and he’s looking for gigs. Here’s a link to his website. By the way, Joshua has a second vocation. He provides instruction in self-defense through the martial arts. I wouldn’t, however, ask him to break a concrete block with his bare hands as it would represent a definite conflict of interests.
Oak Common at 3231 Grand will also be featuring, on a rotating basis, local artists in what they’ve dubbed their Backstock Gallery. Their current, guest artist, Adrienne Heloise, posed for this photo at her exhibit’s opening night on March 8. The show, which continues through April 10, consists of meticulous, cut-paper portraits of soldiers in the Napoleonic Wars.
These two newly opened galleries are part of an ongoing trend which would ultimately make Grand Avenue a more active partner in Oakland’s vibrant art scene. One possible scenario (advocated by Cathy Jensen from Rebooty) would call for a First Thursday version of the Uptown Art Murmur.
Merchant News in Brief:
- Kristen Thompson, who was featured in the Newsletter last year, has moved imBRACE to 618 Grand on the other side of the freeway.
- According to Red Whale’s Facebook page they’ve cleared zoning and remain on track to open a boutique wine shop and wine bar at 3354 Grand next to Michael Mischer Chocolates.
- Grand Tavern was named one of the ten best East Bay Brunch locations by the East Bay Express.
- Mezze will be offering a special Easter Dinner menu on Sunday starting at 4:30.
- Cardboard-artist extraordinaire, Charles Granich, has come up with this creative solution to save the petunias in front of Top Dog.
- Checking out the Monkey Forest Road website, I just discovered a collection of press clippings including articles from Nosh, California Home + Design and Daily Candy.
- Construction is finally underway at Scarecrow Popcorn at 3435 Lakeshore next to Lin Jia. Since it’s a very small space, I’d imagine they’ll be opening fairly soon.
- Our condolences to long-time Splash Pad supporter, Lou Grantham, whose father passed away well into his 90′s. While she deals with his estate, Lou has temporarily postponed the full opening of her San Francisco Fiber studio.
Regarding the above “Merchant News”, I don’t know about you but there’s so much going on, I’m exhausted. The best news is that there are currently no ground-floor vacancies on Lakeshore or Lake Park and the number on Grand has dwindled drastically.
Unfortunately, two new vacancies on Grand were totally unexpected. Destino closed, under difficult circumstances, and is again up for lease. Gary Rizzo continues to operate Kwik Way and I’m pleased to see that the Grand Lake community continues to support him. I can’t over-emphasize how critical his refurbishing of the once graffiti-ridden shell of a building was to the revitalization of Lake Park. I’ve been doing my part — mostly in the form of chicken sandwiches on a french roll with spicy cole slaw. That and the Cobb Salad are top-notch.
Along with all the other members of the Grand Lake Neighbors Yahoo Group, I was alerted to the closure of Lake Vet Hospital earlier this week via an email from Jana Hardy. She says that Dr. Dunn and Dr. Knobel are attempting to re-open under their management or ownership. If that fails, they will be looking for a new location in the immediate vicinitiy. In the interim, if your pet needs care, Dr. Dunn has a mobile license and can be reached at 510-206-9477.
That said, the overwhelming trend is hugely positive. You may have already noted that about 90% of these new businesses are food/drink related or alternately, yoga/fitness related. My assumption is that folks are eating and drinking far too well and are doing their damnedest to minimize any ill effects.
New or returning vendors include Yurosek Farms (with Pistachios), Healing Spirits (with plant starts) and RM Farms (with strawberries).
In addition to strawberries, newly in season are asparagus, kiwi and some tomatoes.
Entertainment for the month of April includes:
Drew James on April 6 plus Vocal Rush, the A Cappella Championship group from the Oakland School for the Arts. Keven K on April 13. Suzanne Holland on April 20.
ODDS AND ENDS
Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting with two staff members from Visit Oakland — Kim Bardakian (Director of PR and Partnerships) and Lindsay Wright (PR/Communications Manager). They wanted to hear the latest news about the Grand Lake shopping district but, as it turned out, Kim had much bigger news than I. Spirit (Southwest Airlines in-flight magazine) will have a 10 page spread about Oakland’s many attractions in their June issue.
While I do my best to cover happenings in the Grand Lake district, if you want to keep tabs on the entire city, I’d highly recommend subscribing to the Visit Oakland newsletter. By the same token, don’t forget to share the Visit Oakland website with out of town visitors.
Although the Morcom Gala Preview of the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show wasn’t as profitable as the Deadheaders had hoped, it was a huge success in terms of publicity. Lots of folks from throughout the Bay Area who had never heard of the Morcom Rose Garden are almost certainly coming for a look and, when they do, they’ll have a far better grasp of all that Oakland has to offer. This photo of Tora Rocha is one of many that I took that evening.
On June 9, the City of Oakland is organizing a big party to celebrate the completion of the 12th Street project–arguably, the most significant of the many improvements funded by Measure DD. I had the good fortune to attend a press preview on February 22.
Replacing the 12th Street roadway with two bridges that arch high above the channel opened the first 750 feet of the channel and, in the process, doubled the tidal flow into Lake Merritt. Next on the work list is a comparable bridge over 10th Street. Here’s one photo I took at the press preview.
For more photos and lots of fascinating, background information, I highly recommend this blog post from Gene Anderson’s OurOakland.net.
Speaking of the 12th Street bridges, the pedestrian span was one of the reasons that I dragged myself out of bed last Sunday and made it down to Snow Park in time for the start of the Half Marathon at 9:15. I was rewarded with a series of photos of the runners showered with confetti. Here’s one example.
Immediately, afterwards I headed for the Pedestrian Bridge that was, for the first time, part of the route traveled by the Marathon and Half Marathon competitors. It probably wasn’t the best location to photograph the runners — but it was quite likely, one of the most scenic. Here’s what I think is the best of the 26 photos in this Flickr set.
On Tuesday, April 16, District 2 Council member Pat Kernighan will be introducing a resolution commending Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church for contributing to a better Oakland by virtue of:
- Its leadership in welcoming to their congregation, members of the LGBT community as well as people of all races and ethnicities.
- Its efforts to feed the hungry by maintaining a food pantry and through its sponsorship of an annual “Hunger Walk”.
- Its willingness over many years to provide free meeting space to an incredible array of community groups.
The council meeting begins at 6:00 pm but it will preceded by an informal reception with cake and punch in the Mezzanine outside the City Council chambers beginning at 5:30. If you can arrive a bit earlier to help with serving, please phone me at 510 451-6537.
Yet another example of how Lakeshore Baptist serves the community is the Lakeshore Easter Parade and Derby Decorating Contest which kicks off tomorrow at 10:00 am. All the details are in the Lakeshore BID Easter poster.
Thus far, nominees for the 7th Annual Indie Awards include Cynthia Bragdon’s Urban Indigo and Chris and Arnel’s Monkey Forest Road. Deadline for additional nominations is this Sunday, March 31.
Last month I wrote about Donald and Era Farnsworth visiting the White House where Era got a hug from President Obama. I’ve since learned that sales of the Chuck Close photo prints and tapestries that were produced by Magnolia Editions grossed $2.5 million for the Presidential re-election committee.
Regarding last month’s report, Donald may be a bit ticked off since I mentioned Era’s hug but failed to note the exuberant face-licking he received from Bo, the White House dog.
There’s a public meeting on Wednesday, April 10th from 6:30-8:30 pm at the Lakeside Garden Center, 666 Bellevue to discuss tentative plans for a dog park in Snow Park. Both an unfenced and a fenced dog run will be presented. I’ve exchanged a number of emails with Mary Ellen Navas on this subject and we’d both love to see a dog park that incorporates creative landscaping, fencing and artwork that will be an asset to the neighborhood. Whatever your own viewpoint, this will be the perfect opportunity to be heard.
Mandana Avenue neighbor, Patricia Durham has been a long-time advocate for Oakland’s less privileged public schools. In her own words, her latest campaign is “to bring the effective San Francisco-based Spark Program to Oakland for the benefit of our young people and our community, to combat the unacceptably huge school drop-out rates in our City”.
Apprentices will be coming from Frick and Westlake Middle Schools via public transportation. Patricia indicates that apprenticeships can be with retired individuals, consultants, people working from home or their places of business. If you want to volunteer or need more information, please contact Patricia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The twice-annual Lakeshore Plant Exchange, which begins this Saturday, March 30 at Noon, got two well-deserved plugs in the local press. From the Piedmont Patch, this one and the second, an audio report from KGO radio.
Saturday, March 30, 10:00 am: Easter parade and Derby Decorating Contest at Lakeshore Baptist Church.
Saturday, March 30, Noon: Lakeshore Spring Plant Exchange.
Friday, April 5, 6:00 – 9:00 pm: First Friday Art Murmur and Opening of Uptown Art Park beginning at 6:30.
Wednesday, April 10, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm: Oakland Earth Expo in Frank Ogawa Plaza.
Wednesday, April 10, 6:30 – 8:30 pm: Snow Dog Park design discussion in Lakeside Garden Center.
Tuesday, April 16, 5:30 pm: Reception in City Hall prior to reading of a City Council resolution honoring Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church.
Saturday, April 20: Earth Day volunteer celebrations throughout Oakland including Morcom Rose Garden and Lakeside Park.
Sunday, April 21, 9:00 – Noon: Earth Day celebration at Splash Pad Park.
Monday, May 6 at 8:00 pm: Eric Hughes and his Foggy Gulch Band at Freight and Salvage.
Sunday, June 9: Celebration of the completion of the 12th Street Project.
Sunday, October 20: Splash Pad’s 10th Anniversary Celebration.
GRAND LAKE MERCHANT NEWS
With this month’s newsletter, we’re introducing a number of changes. For starters, we now have a motto: “All the news that fits”.
In addition, instead of the Splash Pad Neighborhood Forum (the community group that facilitated the park improvements), we’re now simply “SplashPad.org”.
The most pressing need, however, was for a new feature we’re calling “Corrections”. Fortunately, nothing we’ve said in the past few years constituted woeful slander or anything else that would prompt the involvement of the California Department of Corrections, but we have more than occasionally erred.
The most recent example in last month’s newsletter was with reference to The Red Whale — the wine shop and wine bar in the works for 3354 Grand. The information that Eric Hughes provided me was totally on point. Unfortunately, I had met a few weeks previously with a couple who had a similar concept — but in a different location and I conflated the two.
The real inspiration behind the Red Whale, Bradford Taylor, spoke about his plans at last week’s meeting of the Grand Lake Neighbors. They will be specializing in small production California wines and will also likely be serving cheese as an adjunct to the wine bar.
Bradford is a grad student at Cal majoring in English literature and the shop name is a tribute to Melville’s Moby Dick. I have not yet seen the interior — but those who have, say it looks great. An application for the necessary variance has been submitted and is working its way through the Planning Department. For the record, those attending the GLN meeting voted unanimously in favor of Bradford’s proposal.
The other error in last month’s news was in the online version which was picked up by the Piedmont Patch. Feel Good Fitness is next to Mezze at 3411 Lakeshore — not Grand.
Monkey Forest Road has recently added a wine bar and on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, their hours are extended until 10:00 p.m. They offer 16 wines by the glass, including 8 reds and 8 whites plus a couple of sparkling and dessert wines. Notably represented are wines from the Sierra Foothills, plus several Italian wineries.
As you’ll surmise from the photo I took on February 9, they also offer a small selection of good quality, bottled brews. More importantly, the charcuterie plate was as good as it looks and just as artfully arranged as the Monkey Forest Road interior.
In the interest of full disclosure, my 69 year-old taste buds found the pickled veggies and mustard to be a bit on the spicy side — but so tasty, I nevertheless ate the very last bite. In retrospect, I think the internal heat may have warmed my creative juices as I subsequently took a number of photos I especially like including this one in the MFR foyer. This one of the MFR exterior. And, finally this one of the Brite Lights on Grand Avenue.
Last month, I revealed that “The Star on Grand” had leased the Milano space and would be offering the same cornmeal crust pizzas as the “Little Star”. In answer to my query this morning, Operations Manager Susannah Blumenstock emailed me saying that they hope to be open by the end of March. She added that Ryan Murph from Cafe Rouge was working on their cocktail list and that Easy Lounge was contributing a “custom cocktail”. She also noted that they are in the final stages of developing a gluten-free crust.
Lou Grantham has nearly finished working on the interior of the new San Francisco Fiber studio at 3711 Grand. For the time being, she’s teaching classes there and is open limited hours. Here’s a photo I took this afternoon through the front door.
Judging by the glowing Michael Bauer review in the Chronicle, Boot and Shoe Service hasn’t lost its shine (pun intentional).
Meanwhile, the Richard Weinstein/Charlie Hallowell project across the street is making steady progress as is evident in this photo taken early this afternoon showing the exterior almost fully restored. Judging by the interior, I’d guess that Penrose & Sons is still at least a couple of months away from opening.
The facade of the building that houses Mijori and, until last month, Fords Fine Furniture is now covered with scaffolds and drapes as shown in this photo. Nick Saribalis who owns the building, along with his brother George, kindly gave me a tour a few weeks ago. He told me that his father had personally restored much of the fancy interior plasterwork and that he and his brother felt that they too were custodians of an historic property. Their plans are to restore the exterior facade and spruce up the interior with fresh paint and other improvements.
They’ve already removed the Mijori neon sign and the plywood covering the clerestory windows above their doorway. When the painting and repairs are complete, the facade is going to be a unified whole and look much like the original.
As I’ve said in the last couple of newsletters, Grand Avenue is suddenly a hot destination and lots of potential tenants have inquired about the vacant space. The likeliest scenario is that it will be split into two units — each with two floors.
Before moving further up Grand, I feel obliged to thank Richard Weinstein and the Saribalis brothers for the care and added expense they’re putting into their vintage properties. This doesn’t happen with absentee landlords or chain stores. Grand Avenue has a definite charm — much of which is attributable to the architecture. It doesn’t look like a mall and we’re happy to keep it that way.
K.A.S. Beauty Supply has opened at 3740 Grand but it may yet be on a hit and miss basis. When I went by this afternoon, I had to settle for this shot of the exterior.
Dr. J’s Closet, the delightful consignment shop next door, is having it’s first store-wide sale through March 30. Everything in the shop is marked down 25 to 30%. They don’t yet have much of a web presence but they do have two Yelp reviews — both 5 stars. Here’s an excerpt from one:
“I am someone who both has expensive tastes and loves a bargain. Imagine my delight when I walked into Dr. J’s Closet, a high-end consignment shop. I found extremely cute clothes (a skirt, blouse, and scarf) all for about $70 dollars, all name brand, and all in good condition. “
Panorama Framing which moved into the space last occupied by Weight Watchers is now open but with only limited hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Up the street, Elida Scola now has a half dozen of her assemblages on display at Rebooty, Galleria Scola’s next door neighbor. Here’s a photo of my favorite.
Over on Lakeshore last week, I dropped by FlipSide for one of their delicious (and very filling) burgers with fries and had a nice long talk with owner, Abe Aljouny who was about to celebrate one full year on Lakeshore. He said he’d like me, on his behalf, to thank all his loyal patrons for their support.
Subscriber Chris Frey inquired last month about the status of Scarecrow Popcorn which is slated for the space next to Lin Jia at 3435 Lakeshore. A few weeks ago, I finally met the owner as she was concluding an interview with a prospective contractor. Her name is Trish Moore and she seems quite nice and capable.
In preparation for opening Scarecrow, she interned in a Chicago popcorn shop — mastering the art of mixing popcorn with cheese and other flavorings. So far, very little has been done in the way of construction but the blueprints will apparently call for the restoration of the clerestory windows above the doorway — and yet another three cheers for that.
Shirley’s Designs at 3405 Lakeshore will be hosting a Trunk Show from Friday, March 1 through March 6 featuring a clothing line called Etcetera. According to owner, Veda Ambeau, similar Trunk Shows are going to be scheduled more or less quarterly. Please phone 510 836-3062 for reservations.
As a personal aside, Veda has a special place in my heart. Years ago, when I was about to start packing for a trip south for a big high school reunion, I pulled out my suit and found a very conspicuous moth hole in the lapel. Veda repaired it with time to spare — saving me the kind of embarassment that was a regular occurrence as a student all those years before. The icing on the cake came when I discovered that our Student Body President had a receding hairline and the beginnings of a pot belly.
SPLASH PAD PARK:
The committee planning park improvements, a 10th Anniversary Celebration and provisions for long-term maintenance has met twice and already made major strides. Thus far, members include Jerry Barclay (Chair of the Splash Pad/Farmers Market Advisory Committee), Eric Hughes (head of the Grand Lake Improvements group), Katie Derrig (a regular volunteer at the Farmers Market Info Booth), Jessica Stewart, Lila MacDonald, David and Susan Elliott. The latest addition to the committee is Mary Jo Sutton who works for the Oakland Museum and is their California Native Plant guru. Please let us know if you’d like to join the committee.
If you’re interested in the details, here’s a link to a tentative list of improvements that was drafted by Ashley Cruz from Ashtree Designs. Once we get down to specifics, we’re pleased that Walter Hood’s office will be reviewing and drawing up working plans for all major improvements.
We’ve already had our first work day this past Sunday. When you next visit the park, check out the spruced up area to the left of the parking lot entrance and also, the California Native bed that was extensively weeded and pruned. Volunteers included Jerry Barclay, Eric Hughes, Susan and David Elliott, Mary Jo Sutton, Diana Kampa, Brian Scharf, Jennifer Ting and myself. At the conclusion of the work day, we feasted on pizza from Lane Splitter and a mixed salad donated by Happy Boy Farms with Mandarin Oranges donated by Twin Girls for dessert.
Our next work day will be Sunday, March 17 from 9:00 to Noon. Please email us at email@example.com if you want to join us on the 17th so we can ensure that we have enough tools as well as refreshments.
We’re also formulating major plans for our Earth Day Celebration on Sunday, April 21. Watch for details in next month’s newsletter or watch for our SplashPad.org table at the Farmers Market starting late in March or early in April.
Thanks to Jessica Stewart, we now have a Splash Pad Facebook page that’s going to give the park a much bigger presence online. If you appreciate my newsletter or, more importantly, if you love our neighborhood park, please open up our page and “like” us. I don’t mean to imply that there is a rivalry going on but my wife (who is the director of the East Bay Children’s Book Project currently has 758 fans and we’ve only got 68.
There are a number of new vendors at the market as of last week. They include strawberries from RM Farms; freshly milled spices from Novato-based, Local Spicery and fresh squeezed juices from Extreme Juice.
Peggy and Helen from Kassenhoff Growers return this Saturday to the market. It’s too early for tomatoes but they’ll have tons of greens including five kinds of kale plus cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, peas and Fava beans.
Entertainment for the month of March includes:
Oscar Reynolds on March 2. Billy D on March 9. Tom Duarte on March 16. Fred McCarty on March 23.
Ambessaw Assegued and Dagmawit Bekele, who operate the Anfilo Coffee booth at the Farmers Market, have just opened a brick and mortar space at 35 Grand Avenue which is next door to Farleys East. They were profiled in a very complimentary review in the East Bay Express. I stopped by for their Grand Opening during last month’s Art Murmur and the space looks great. In addition to teas and coffees, they have a limited menu including a number of Ethiopian specialties.
ODDS AND ENDS
The Opening Night Sneak Preview of the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show on March 19 may be your first and last opportunity to sport Granny Glasses and a formal tux accented with a tie-dyed cumberbund.
In her February 24 column in the Tribune, Annalee Allen talks about this major fundraising event as well as the 80 year history of the Morcom Gardens. Additional details are posted on the Morcom Rose Garden Friends home page.
My Balfour Avenue neighbor, Carol Ladewig has an art exhibit that just opened at Slate Contemporary Gallery at 473 25th Street. Here’s a preview of her work from Slate’s web site.
Prior to the last year’s election, I wrote about the Chuck Close portraits of President Obama that were printed in Oakland at Magnolia Editions. Earlier this month, owners Donald and Era Farnsworth joined Close at the White House to witness the President hand-signing select prints and tapestries.
Era writes that, when she greeted the President, she said that she was from Oakland and he replied, “I love Oakland”. Era added that all the artists in Oakland loved him as well and wanted to give him a hug. The President happily obliged. Here’s a photo of Era in the White House posing with an Obama tapestry.
If you’ve been on Lakeshore in the last month or so, you’ve almost certainly noticed this bike rack in front of the burrito shop. It’s the fifth Bicycle Corral in Oakland — but the first outside of the downtown district.
Kudos to Jennifer Stanley (Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities Coordinator) and to Jason Patton (Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager) and to the City of Oakland Public Works crews that did the installation. Since there’s a shortage of bike parking at the Saturday Farmers Market, we’re currently discussing a similar installation to the left of the parking lot entrance.
Tomorrow, (Friday, March 1) is the first Art Murmur since the tragic murder of an 18 year-old young man. I was there last month. Saw some excellent art work and met a lot of really nice people. I’m hoping against hope that Art Murmur won’t suffer the same fate as the much-loved and missed Festival of the Lake. I hope to see you there.
Friday, March 1, 6:00 – 9:00 pm: First Friday Art Murmur.
Sunday, March 17, 9:00 – Noon: Splash Pad Volunteer work day.
Tuesday, March 19: Opening Night Sneak Preview of the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show benefiting the Morcom Rose Garden.
Sunday, March 24: The Oakland Running Festival.
Saturday, March 30, Noon: Lakeshore Spring Plant Exchange.
Saturday, April 20: Earth Day volunteer celebrations throughout Oakland.
Sunday, April 21, 9:00 – Noon: Earth Day celebration at Splash Pad Park.
GRAND LAKE MERCHANT NEWS
A few years ago, I began to develop delusions of grandeur, convinced that I did know everything that was going on in the Grand Lake commercial district. That is, until I heard about what (in polite circles) they call a “house of ill repute” that had been doing a thriving business on Grand Avenue for many, many moons.
I experienced a similar epiphany immediately after publishing last month’s newsletter. One of our subscribers inquired about Milano’s closure and I confessed total ignorance. The next day, Marcia Lam emailed to say the new tenant was going to be Little Star — a restaurant that specializes in deep-dish, Chicago-style pizzas. A couple of weeks later, their Operations Manager, Susannah Blumenstock, confirmed the details.
The restaurant will actually be an offshoot of Little Star to be called “The Star on Grand”. According to Susannah, they will be serving the same cornmeal crust pizzas but the menu will be expanded. She says they’re really excited to have found this spot on Grand–particularly since it’s their first location with a full bar.
Based on the first three emails I received after posting the news on Facebook, neighbors are overjoyed.
1. Stu Sweetow: “Oh, No! Little Star walking distance from me?? Call the cardiologist!! I love that place. “
2. Anne Ronan: “Yay!! a Little Star within walking distance from my house. Very excited.”
3. Eileen Morentz: “Me, too! I love Little Star pizza!”
I share their enthusiasm. The reviews I read online are all quite complimentary. In addition, their game plan for Grand Avenue should fill one of the remaining voids defined in the 2008 GLRAG survey in which a substantial number of respondents expressed a yearning for a kid-friendly pub serving quality food. With 1/2 dozen local brews on tap plus a good selection of bottled, domestic and imported beers plus a focus on a family-friendly environment, I predict The Star will do extremely well. Did I mention that they also have the adjacent parking lot, seating for roughly 140 hungry/thirsty patrons and a mnemonic phone number (510 THE-STAR)?
The Star is yet one more indication that Grand Avenue is enjoying a Renaissance. Up and down the avenue, change is palpable:
When I saw Lou Grantham last week, she was re-painting the interior of the space at 3711 Grand that will soon open as the new home of San Francisco Fiber. Her weaving and textile arts studio will provide hands-on instruction in weaving, spinning, basketry, felting, knitting, and surface design. In addition, a wide selection of looms, spinning wheels, yarns and other supplies will be available for purchase. Space is also being set aside for a gallery, meeting room and production studio.
Here’s a photo of Lou I took on New Years Day as she posed in front of her new storefront. Just minutes earlier, the Loom Parade had survived the perilous trek down Boden Way. This particular New Year’s Day event admittedly lacked the pageantry of that morning’s Rose Parade but the terrain was more challenging and not a single gardenia, gazania or Vanda orchid was sacrificed in the process.
Across the street at 3602 Grand, Brian Tran has opened a new salon called L’Amor. Here’s a photo I took on Monday of Brian and one of his clients. I love the interior. It’s very tastefully decorated with bold colors, nice accessories and great lighting. If you check out my photo of the exterior, you’ll see a banner above the doorway offering a Grand Opening Introductory Special–20% off services.
The long vacant space at 3740 Grand between Uhuru and Dr. J’s Closet is also about to be filled. I introduced myself to the new tenant last week and she told me they will be selling beauty supplies. More details next month.
The vacant space at 3350 Grand should be occupied soon as well. Parenthetically, you just had to know that the previous tenant, Weight Watchers, was doomed from the start by the location. You can’t realistically expect folks to lose weight when their weight-loss studio is next to Michael Mischer Chocolates.
The new tenant at 3350 is going to be Panorama Framing. Owner Patrick Cheatham told me they’re hoping to be open by Valentine’s Day. He has a long resume as a framer but also as a professional photographer. Here’s a quote from his website: “Now I’m in Oakland, living large, and there is an energy here that is infectious (in a good way). I’m proud to be part of the burgeoning local, small business scene.”
Just minutes ago, Eric Hughes emailed me saying “Hold the presses!” He did, in fact, have news that merited doing just that. It turns out that the vacant space on the other side of Michael Mischer at 3354 has also been leased. It’s to become a wine shop/wine bar called The Red Whale.
The one question they’ll have to answer to my satisfaction is, “Why Red Whale?” We already have Red Crow Yoga down the street. Can the Purple Loon be far behind?
Ford’s Fine Furniture doesn’t have a lot of merchandise left but their liquidation sale continues through tomorrow. I’ll really miss Corella as she was, for a long time, one of the few merchants who cared enough to keep her sidewalks swept and her window displays, inviting. Here’s a photo I took this afternoon of her waving goodbye after 23 years. Corella did promise to come back, for a visit and to see what changes transpire in her absence. I’m optimistic that she and I will both be pleased with the results.
Up the street, Rebooty — Oakland’s only gallery specializing in furniture, art and clothing repurposed from other objects has issued its very own newsletter. Highlights include cessation of the abbreviated hours necessitated by the arrival of Baby Colin, a furniture sale with savings of up to 50% beginning Tuesday, January 29 through Sunday, February 3. Owner Kathy Jensen also noted that their list of participating artists will soon include Galleria Scola owner, Elida Scola who, in her free time, creates assemblages made from found objects.
The artists currently exhibiting at Rebooty include Brittany Barrett who made these Feather earrings and Chrissy Wagner who turned a leather coat into this Koi habitat.
In other Grand Avenue news, Next Level has moved to 3530 Grand, Suite 3 — above Cycle Sports.
Around the corner on Lake Park, Yusef and Daniel at Cana are convinced that lightning does, in fact, strike twice and have leased a space in San Francisco for another Cuban themed restaurant. Speaking of which, Robin Hong just sent me a link to his short video capturing some of the flavor of the Paella Cookoff that took place on Cana’s “front patio” several months ago.
There’s lots of action on Lakeshore, as well.
Feel Good Fitness has opened at 3411 Lakeshore — next door to Mezze. I took this photo of co-owner Nick Myerhoff demonstrating the “Bird Dog” on one of their Power Plate vibrators. As noted by the sign in the window, they’re currently offering a Grand Opening Special — three classes for $35. In addition, Nick said they’d be happy to do free demos between classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11-2 and on Saturdays from 9-2.
Down the block, the 1600 square foot former home of Juniper Tree is slated to become another exercise studio with limited retail.
According to BID Director Pamela Drake, the equally large space vacated by Blockbuster Video is being leased by Petco. It is, unfortunately, yet another giant out-of-state chain store but, looking at the bright side, at least they won’t be selling cell phones.
One last note about Lakeshore: Pecan Bourbon Pies were apparently flying out the doors at Arizmendi in preparation for Xmas. I wasn’t willing to brave the lines but it sounded scrumptious — especially the bourbon part. For future reference, somebody out there please let me know if the pie was as good as it sounds.
The Farmers Market is in its Mid-Winter, leafy greens’ doldrums with not a lot of news to report. I would, however, note that the bag of Navel Oranges I bought last week was super sweet. I heard recently that it takes some cold weather to bring out the sugar content and the previous week was certainly more than cold enough.
Unfortunately, at least some of the farms selling at our Grand Lake Market suffered frost damage but the situation down in the Coachella Valley was even worse. Abe Ajlouny, the Flip Side owner, told me that the price for a crate of iceberg lettuce had quadrupled overnight and that was assuming you could find a supply.
Latisha Baker and Stephen Bruce (Oakland artists who are regulars at the Grand Lake Market) will be participating in the “Art of Living Black” show in Richmond through March 8. They were interviewed on Channel 5′s Bay Sunday last Saturday. The tape of that broadcast is available here.
SPLASH PAD PARK:
As I mentioned in the December Newsletter, we’re beginning to formulate plans for the Tenth Anniversary Celebration of the renovated Splash Pad Park. A key component will include some major infrastructure improvements — much of it consisting of delayed maintenance but also, encompassing new California Native landscaping. Tentatively, we’re talking about launching this effort with an Earth Day volunteer project on Sunday, April 21. This will be high on the list of subjects included in our first formal planning session on Monday evening beginning at 7:00 p.m. but we also want to discuss fundraising and describe, in broad terms, what we envision in the way of entertainment and special events to commemorate the October 20th anniversary.
From past experience, I know we can count on volunteers for a special work day — but what we really need at this point, are folks to help with the planning process. If you’re a skilled landscaper or landscape architect, have community organizing or event planning experience, grant-writing expertise, fund-raising capabilities, public relations experience or any other relevant skills, we’d love to get you involved. The meeting Monday will be at my home and a light meal will be served. If you’re interested, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speaking of volunteers, I was quite pleased on Monday (MLK Day) to happen upon a small group of kids armed with grabbers — busily picking up litter throughout Splash Pad Park. They’re all enrolled in the Kinship Support Services Program which has offices on Grand Avenue in the Adams Point district. Program Manager, Juan Rodriguez, told me the program provides tutoring and other valuable services but also includes a work component. Here’s the photo I took that morning.
The Thursday Night Food Pod at Splash Pad has been discontinued. According to the folks at Vesta Flatbread, the critical mass to cover parking and other fees never materialized. I’m hoping that, at some point, an effort will be made to resurrect this during warm weather months — maybe, scheduling live entertainment along with the food trucks.
Last month, I predicted major changes to the Splash Pad web site. Unfortunately, Raul Audelo and I were both sidetracked by the holidays and by the virus that was making its rounds. We did, however, get together this past weekend and, if Raul gets his way, I’m going to be very soon dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. I’ve even, reluctantly, agreed to learn how to use WordPress. As much as I’m bound to complain, everyone including me is going to be pleased with the new website — as well as a new format for this newsletter.
ODDS AND ENDS
The dedicated Deadheaders have scored a major coup. The Opening Night Sneak Preview on March 19 of the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show at the San Mateo Event Center will benefit Oakland’s own Morcom Rose Garden. Early bird pricing for tickets ends on February 15. Details are posted on the Morcom Rose Garden Friends home page.
Peter Lee used to be the neighborhood’s most prolific artist. His murals dot restaurant interiors and exterior walls all over Grand and Lakeshore. After moving to Southern California, Peter began concentrating on small canvases and rumor has it, he actually hired a sales rep. In any case, I was pleased to find a gallery of his work online. Here’s the the link.
Phatt Matt’s Barbecue was successfully launched at our very own Grand Lake Market. After a few years, they opted to trade a pop-up canopy for a brick and mortar space and ended up on 34th and Telegraph next to Neldam’s (now Taste of Denmark) Bakery. Late last year, The United States of Bacon paid a visit and watched Matt prepare Bacon Wrapped Burnt Ends. The resulting video is not suitable viewing for vegetarians, those of you who keep kosher or anyone with excessively high cholesterol levels.
Anfilo Coffee (the ever-so hospitable, Ethiopian coffee vendors) also started at the Grand Lake Market and, like Matt, they’ve now leased a permanent storefront. The Opening Night Celebration for their space at 35 Grand Avenue will be Friday February 1.
Monday, January 28, 4:30-6:30 pm: Meeting at Lakeside Garden Center to discuss alternative location for proposed dog park. See Oakland Tribune article for details.
Monday, January 28, 7:00 pm. Splash Pad 10th Anniversary Planning Session. RSVP to email@example.com.
Tuesday, March 19: Opening Night Sneak Preview of the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show benefiting the Morcom Rose Garden.
Saturday, March 30, Noon: Lakeshore Spring Plant Exchange.
GRAND LAKE MERCHANT NEWS
Shortly after the November Newsletter “went to press”, subscriber Aaron B emailed to alert me to a new barber shop called Slick and Dapper at 3619 Grand Avenue. Aaron said he got a great haircut and described owner Nick as a “really nice guy”. A Yelp search quickly revealed equally positive reviews including this one from Audio Visual Consultants’ owner Stu Sweetow:
“Nick gave me a great haircut, and several weeks later it is still looking good. I have what they call ‘flyaway hair’. Most of it flew away a long time ago. Nick knows how to do the best with the least!”
This afternoon I stopped by and took this photo of Nick at work. It’s what I’d call a classic barber shop decorated with lot’s of kitsch collectibles. I’d predict they’ll do quite well in this location.
Just up the street, Lou Grantham is very close to finishing remodeling of a storefront at 3711 Grand that will provide a new home for San Francisco Fiber.
The new location will include a weaving production studio, classes, and retail space. Fabric arts will include weaving, spinning, yarn and fabric dying, surface design, felting, kumihimo, shibori, basket making, tapestry, rug making, knitting, and crochet. The retail portion will offer equipment including an array of looms, yarns, books, and supplies required for the various classes that will be open to adults and children. Eventually, Lou plans on a series of shows featuring her own weaving as well as the work of other textile artists.
As an aside, I’d like to note that Lou already has strong ties to Grand. When we were tasked with raising funds for the Splash Pad, Lou took responsibility for the area above the theater and she’s personally responsible for a substantial portion of the Names in Lights donations that helped fund the fountain. More recently, she also surveyed the entire avenue in preparation for an updated Grand Avenue Business Association directory that conveniently will include both San Francisco Fiber and Slick and Dapper.
This afternoon, I also took this photo of the exterior of what’s slated to become Penrose & Sons Fine Meats and Spirits–the latest Richard Weinstein/Charlie Hallowell venture. The plywood was down at least temporarily for re-installation of the windows and window framing. Inside, new posts and beams have been installed and interior partitions are being framed across the rear of the space. In addition, trenches have been dug for new drains. As reported last month, Richard is predicting opening by late Spring or early Summer of next year.
Across the street, Corella is continuing to liquidate the contents of Ford’s Fine Furniture with prices reduced 20-70 per cent. As demonstrated by this photo, there’s all kinds of wonderful furnishings and accessories still available.
If you’re looking for holiday ornaments and gift wrap at bargain prices, check out the overflowing Christmas table at Urban Furniture. You might also find the perfect present at the right price–the hand-hooked throw rug for $15 perhaps?
Speaking of presents, I have a confession to make. I’m not big on buying presents for adults. Nonetheless, when my wife noted pointedly that she was the only one in the family that didn’t have a present to open for Hannukah, I enlisted my six year-old Grand-daughter’s help with a shopping spree on Lakeshore. We bought some cool, inexpensive gift items for friends and other family members from Urban Indigo and, at Buckingham Wine and Spirits, scored two bottles of St. George Spirits’ gin from their Alameda distillery.
Finding an appropriate gift for my wife was a whole lot tougher since she is quick to admit that she really doesn’t need anything. Eventually, I settled on one of these beautiful silk scarves from Rose Quartz fashioned in-house from recycled kimonos by owner Yvette Chamberland. As it turned out, the present for me was a second pair of therapeutic, compression stockings. Needed, yes! Wanted, not particularly! On the other hand, I got a new telephoto lens for my birthday–so I dare not complain.
My compliments to Eric Hughes for posting on Facebook this article in The City Traveler. The section for the Grand Lake District extols Camino, Sidebar and Boot and Shoe Service.
After attending the Menorah Lighting Celebration at the Splash Pad on December 9, my wife and I adjourned to Lin Jia for dinner. Since I was equipped with my camera, we sat at the counter where I could photograph the chefs in action and watch the food being artistically plated. Here’s a composite of three photos that I took that night. Although I ended up ordering the delectable Hot and Sour Soup, I was tempted by their seasonal Quacker Soup which was just featured in article on SF Gate.
In the last newsletter, I neglected to mention that Mezze was offering an “Arabian Nights” Prix Fixe meal during the last weekend in November. To assuage any feelings of guilt over this oversight, I downed a fabulous four-course meal at Mezze’s bar while also taking in a special appearance by a shapely belly-dancer named “Tabitha”.
Owner Maurice Darvish was quite pleased with the favorable response and will likely be scheduling “Arabian Nights” encores. Also on tap tomorrow, December 19, is a fundraising dinner for the “Team Splurge Rickshaw Run”. Reservations are requested.
Incidentally, if you’re annoyed that you didn’t hear about the first “Arabian Nights” dinner in advance, consider subscribing to the Piedmont Patch. On a daily basis, Editor Dixie Jordan is doing a remarkable job covering local events–including a plug for the “Arabian Nights” dinner plus coverage of breaking news stories.
Heart and Dagger Saloon continues to get lots of local press–most recently, this December 12 article in the East Bay Express.
The review in the Express also had good things to say about Destino and the positive reviews on Yelp continue to accumulate.
In the November Newsletter, I mentioned that I had seen Warriors’ Guard Klay Thompson inside Chipotle. A couple of weeks later, I received this photo of Klay taken in front of Yayu Restaurant with Tsegereda and Andu Bekele’s two sons. By the way, the second-year Guard had a very good week including 27 points in the Warriors victory over Miami–the reigning NBA champions.
The Lakeshore BID’s annual Holiday Celebration takes place this Friday and Saturday, December 21 and 22 from 4-6:00 pm. Offerings include free carriage rides and face painting by the incomparable Jessica Gates.
Since I share with Zero Mostel’s Tevye a love of tradition, you shouldn’t be surprised that I once again braved the cold night air to take photos of the holiday windows on Lakeshore Avenue. As usual, Silver Moon’s window set a very high bar but Izek Day Spa Salon’s display came in a close second.
Regrettably, I didn’t venture over to Grand Avenue until this afternoon. Elida Scola did, however, provide this photo of one of the two windows decorated by a talented high school student named Mica Matsuno. Speaking of Galleria Scola, next time you’re over that way check out the four large planters that they have curbside. Here’s a photo of one but all four are amongst the best in the commercial district.
Back on Lakeshore while shooting holiday windows, I also took this photo of the interior of the Power Plate fitness studio that Rick Kellner (co-owner of Feel Good Bakery) will be opening shortly at 3411 Lakeshore.
Last month, I mentioned that Namaste Yoga had placed Charles Granich’s Ganesh in their front window. This afternoon I was informed that Ganesh and Ganesha are two separate Hindu deities and the one in the window is actually the latter. Namaste has also since added a second Granich cardboard sculpture of Shiva to their inviting retail space.
Fido’s Fondue is one of several gift-giving ideas cited by Helen Krayenhoff in the Winter Edition of Edible East Bay which is always distributed free at the farmers market. Helen (whom you should know as one half of the dynamic duo that makes up Kassenhoff Growers) also included on her list the Oaktown Spice Shop at 530 Grand. I’ve been trying to avoid expanding our newsletter coverage of the neighborhood commercial district on the other side of the freeway–but Oaktown Spice would be high on the list of reasons to do so. Another new-comer I’ve been hearing about is a deli called Grand Lake Kitchen at 576 Grand.
SPLASH PAD PARK:
Jerry Barclay’s Splash Pad/Farmers Market Advisory Group met December 12th. One of the items on the agenda was the status of the Agricultural Institute of Marin’s negotiations with the city over the terms of a new lease agreement. From what Market Manager Chris Blackburn and Pat Kernighan’s Chief of Staff Jennie Gerard said, it sounds like they are pretty close to finalizing a contract. Our expectations are that it will include a monthly lease fee in addition to restoration of the decomposed granite walkway that has been heavily eroded by farmers market patrons.
We had an impromptu volunteer work day on Saturday, November 24. Lou Grantham, Susan Elliott, Eric Hughes, Jennifer Ting and I took advantage of the marvelous (for November) weather to weed just about all of the California Native plant bed. This was one of the very few times that we’ve scheduled a work day that coincided with the Farmers Market and it turned out to be a great idea. We got lots of thanks and, more importantly, two new volunteers plus complimentary teas from Anfilo Coffee plus a $20 donation towards new plants from Ray Perman–our newest, Newsletter subscriber.
We’re tentatively scheduling a meeting this coming month to formally launch our 10th Anniversary Celebration campaign. If you’d like to be part of this effort, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add you to the contact list.
On Farmers Market days, much of the park is obscured but at any other time, it’s obvious that the park is looking far better than it has in the last several years. This is due, in large part, to the efforts of Gardener Don Noble working under the supervision of Supervisor Tora Rocha. We’ve just learned that Don has accepted a transfer to East Oakland and has been replaced by Christian Boyle. Christian had worked previously at the Rose Garden where he was involved in the initial revitalization efforts. Tora has the utmost faith in his skills and dedication which is good enough for me.
As an essential prerequisite to my retiring from the antiques business after 25 years, I’m mounting a series of “My Wife Says, ‘It Goes or You Go’ Garage Sales”. At the one the weekend before last, I was really pleased to get acquainted with a number of my neighbors who turned out to be newsletter subscribers.
I was especially pleased to meet Raul Audelo who is the Web Administrator for Earth Justice. Raul has kindly offered to revamp our Splash Pad website to make it more user-friendly and presentable. If all goes well, you should be seeing major improvements fairly soon.
ODDS AND ENDS
Chabad of Oakland’s annual Menorah Lighting Celebration at Splash Pad Park on December 9 was, perhaps, the best yet thanks to some unseasonably warm weather and a new wrinkle in the candle-lighting–individual candles for all those in attendance.
Of the nine new Hanukkah celebration photos that I uploaded to Flickr, my favorite is this one. If you look closely, you’ll see Council member Pat Kernighan and her husband, Paul Gordon, on the far left. Pat was one of the guest speakers along with Mayor Quan and newly elected District 1 council member, Dan Kalb.
Friday and Saturday, December 21-22, 4-6:00 pm: Lakeshore BID’s annual Holiday Celebration
Saturday, January 12, 9-12:00 Noon: Pruning demonstration at the Morcom Rose Garden
GRAND LAKE MERCHANT NEWS
As I’ve reported previously, the building next door to Monkey Forest Road is being revamped by property owner Richard Weinstein and Chef Charlie Hallowell–the dynamic duo that’s made Boot and Shoe Service a huge success.
Richard emailed me last week with an update saying that their bar/restaurant will be called PENROSE & SONS FINE MEATS AND SPIRITS. The original plans for inclusion of a butcher shop have been shelved. Opening is anticipated for late Spring or early Summer of next year.
I rode by a couple of days ago and marveled at the transition on the exterior. The awnings have been removed and the paint on the windows and sheet metal facade are being hand scraped–restoring the building to its original elegance. Richard’s previous remodeling projects in the Grand Lake including Boot & Shoe, Sway, and the Kid’s Gap space (now occupied by Namaste and Silver Moon) have been exemplary and I’m confident we’re going to be seeing more of the same at Penrose & Sons.
Across the street, Ford’s Fine Furniture has initiated a store liquidation sale after twenty-one years in the same location. If you’re looking for quality furniture and/or decorative accessories at a steep discount, this is your golden opportunity. More importantly, if you know of anybody who might be interested in buying the business including the inventory, Corella says she’s open to offers. This is really a great storefront with marvelous windows and a fabulous interior on a street with Grand prospects.
Over on Lakeshore, the space between Mezze and Greetings has apparently been taken for use as a Powerplate exercise studio. According to Pamela Drake, the Blockbuster Video store (which is also having a closing sale) is tentatively slated to become a Petco pet supply store. She also told me that there’s interest in the equally large Juniper Tree space but nothing’s yet definite.
On November 1, Namaste and 7th Heaven reported that they have merged to create the largest yoga and wellness resource in the East Bay. According to their press release, 7th Heaven was opened in 1997 by Jodie Evans–the co-founder and co-director of CODEPINK.
The October 24 edition of the East Bay Express included an article about the evolution of eats being served in local bars including the New Easy on Lakeshore. Owner Kolin Better is quoted as saying that he knew he had space for either a dance floor or a kitchen, but not both. He chose the kitchen: “It was about prioritizing what we thought was more critical to our customers. For us, if we’re using all these fresh, seasonal ingredients in our cocktails, it wouldn’t make any sense to use crappy bar food. It was just a natural extension of what we were doing with drinks.”
Speaking of beverages, Miss Saigon likely has the biggest selection of brews in the hood as partly demonstrated by this photo of owner Timmy Nguyen with approximately ninety-eight different beers arrayed behind him. They have everything from Bud Light to Chimay but the big emphasis is on craft brews and quality imports. By the way, Miss Saigon is open to midnight six nights per week–a pledge that was forever etched in steel in their Names in Light plaque at the Splash Pad. In addition, Timmy tells me has just opened a more upscale Miss Saigon location in Oakland’s Chinatown at 417 7th St.
Oak Common‘s debut on Grand has been very well received. For more information, please see this article on Oakland Local.
According to a report in the Piedmont Patch, the Grand Lake Ace Garden Center is part of a program that encourages the use of Integrated Pest Management. If you’re already a Garden Center customer, you already know that they’re also part of the county-wide program that encourages planting of drought-tolerant landscaping.
To the recent list of celebrity sightings in the Grand Lake, I can now add Warriors Guard Klay Thompson whom I saw dining in Chipotle–all 6’7″ inches of him. When I pointed his presence out to Abebe (the Security Guard funded by the Lakeshore BID) he opened up his smartphone and showed me his photo of Klay that had been taken months earlier at Yayu Ethiopian. Apparently, Klay lives in the neighborhood and is a regular visitor on Lakeshore.
Free horse-drawn carriage rides, face painting and a visit from Santa are in the works for the Lakeshore BID’s annual Holiday Celebration on Friday and Saturday, December 21 and 22 from 4-6:00 pm.
Peggy and Helen from Kassenhoff Growers are likely to be absent from the market for the next few months but they do have a new website.
Brent’s Christmas Tree lot has their fences up and will most likely have Christmas trees available by this weekend. As in the past, a number of farmers market vendors will be temporarily re-located for the month. If you can’t find them, please check at the Information booth.
SPLASH PAD PARK:
KALW’s Hear Here Project is documenting what residents of San Francisco and Oakland consider to be their favorite neighborhood locations. My abbreviated history of Splash Pad Park is one of several oral contributions that are available on this link. As I understand the concept, eventually KALW is going to expand upon these original snippets by visiting the individual sites where they will record more lengthy accounts with the ambient sounds as a background. Those descriptions will, in turn, be available by clicking on map-based links.
Jerry Barclay’s Splash Pad/Farmers Market Advisory Group will be meeting on Wednesday, December 12th at 7:00 p.m. at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church. The agenda will include:
1. Chris Blackburn’s Market Manager report. 2. A update on negotiations between the City Administrator’s Office and AIM regarding the intent to implement repairs to the park and related encroachment permit conditions. 3. Planning for a celebration of the 10 year anniversary of the park.
We’re having an impromptu volunteer day tomorrow (November 24) at Splash Pad in order to thoroughly weed the California Native Plant Bed before the heavy winter rains set in. The weather is supposed to be clear and sunny. Please join us anytime between 9:00 and Noon. Bring gloves and weeding implements (if you have them) but we will have extras to share.
Splash Pad Park is once again the site for Chabad of Oakland’s annual Menorah Lighting Celebration. Date is Sunday, December 9 beginning at 5:30. Details are in this flyer.
ODDS AND ENDS
In last month’s newsletter, I neglected to mention this photo I took of Charles Granich at the Farmers Market playing the clarinet accompanied by Ganesh–one of his fabulous cardboard sculptures. I was delighted to see that Ganesh has since been adopted by Namaste Yoga where it’s occupying a place of honor in the front window.
The City of Oakland’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Office is planning on installing a bicycle corral in the street on Lakeshore in front of the Burrito shop in the space frequently occupied by the EMT’s. Racks will hold up to sixteen bicycles. This is part of a city-wide program and the one on Lakeshore will be the first to be installed outside the downtown district.
I can’t take credit for the bike corral but I did insist on a single rack that was installed earlier this year where I really needed it–the one directly in front of Buckingham Wine & Spirits. For the record, I used to say that I got my exercise by riding my bike four blocks to Colonial Doughnuts but my tastes have since evolved.
One more item related to the subject of bicycles: Although, this policy has been in place for a while, I just noticed that Arizmendi’s 10% discount for Senior Citizens now applies to helmet-clad cyclists, as well.
When President Obama visited the Bay Area back in October, he apparently ate very, very well as noted in this article in SF Gate online. The local chefs who prepared the repast included Camino’s Russell Moore and Charlie Hallowell.
In an article in Oakland Local Fairyland’s C. J. Hirschfield writes about a film called East Side Sushi–a good portion of which was shot on Grand Avenue. Primary locations included Working Body Fitness, Coach Sushi and Mijori. Since the film was shot on a shoestring budget, a number of local restaurants including Boot and Shoe, Sorella di Zza and Sidebar donated meals to the cast and crew. Kudos also to Elida Scola from Galleria Scola for helping round up the donations.
Although it’s outside “my designated service area”, I’ve got to mention in passing the newest venture of my friend and neighbor, Andrea Tyler who has just opened a tea shop on Webster near 17th Street. “Tea Here Now” was reviewed in this blog post.
Last month’s Autumn Lights Festival in Lake Merritt Gardens was a huge success with roughly eight hundred attendees invariably describing it as magical. The various artists who were involved are already talking about what they’re going to do next year to make it even bigger and better. If you missed the inaugural edition, check out the photos that I took that night but keep in mind that they are a pale substitute for the original.
Wednesday, December 5, 5:30 pm: Council District 2 Town Hall Meeting with Mayor Quan at Brewer Middle School.
Sunday, December 9, 5:30 pm: Menorah Lighting at Splash Pad Park
Wednesday, December 12, 7:00-8:30 pm: Splash Pad/Farmers Markets Advisory Committee meeting in Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church’s library.
Friday and Saturday, December 21-22, 4-6:00 pm: Lakeshore Holiday Celebration.
GRAND LAKE MERCHANT NEWS
Headlining this month’s merchant news is an email I received from Gary Rizzo late last night. He reports that his newest project at 3909 Grand (next to Camino) is slated to open this weekend. Fare will be large and small plates of authentic Mexican cuisine under the stewardship of chef Mariso del Rio. Gary notes that del Rio grew up in Morelia and initially learned cooking from her grandmother before enrolling in the culinary program at CESSA in Mexico City.
According to Gary, entrees will include deep fried artichokes with chickpeas, grilled baby squid with onion confit, empanadas, tequila prawns, Argentinian style steak, spicy burger with chipotle mayo, chili relleno with green mole sauce and a smokey chili cod filet.
The lead bartender will be Alex Aguilar whose Martini was cited as the Best in Oakland in last summer’s Oakland Magazine poll. Specialty cocktails will include Peruvian Pisco Fix, La Otra Paloma, Sezarac Cocktail, Caribbean Hemingway and a Cucumber Cocktail.
Gary’s plans to close Somerset on College and reopen on Grand were previously reported in an August 30 blog post in the San Francisco Chronicle. Check out the photo of the exterior that SF Gate included and then compare it to the one I took August 6. When I first saw the revamped exterior, I didn’t recognize it. It’s amazing how big a difference a new paint job and landscaping can make.
I’d also note that the want list from the GLRAG survey done three years ago noted an absence in the neighborhood of a high quality Chinese or Mexican restaurant. Lin Jia has spectacularly filled that void and Destino will prove equally successful if they can deliver on the latter.
Mondays in October at Camino will be celebrated with a special Octoberfest Menu that sounds fabulous. In the spirit of the occasion, diners wearing a dirndl or lederhosen or dressed as Struwwelpeter will be treated to a complimentary pilsener.
For the uninitiated, Struwwelpeter is a German children’s book from the Victorian era and is replete with horrific morality tales in which kids who behave badly come to an untimely end. The book’s namesake is depicted on the book jacket with a head of hair that nearly matches my own–in and of itself qualifying me for that free brew. For the historical record, I confess that I read Struwwelpeter maniacally to both my kids at a very young age and take full responsibility for any and all resulting personality disorders.
Mezze has scheduled a Single’s Mingle event for the evening of October 16. It will feature wine tasting, two complimentary drinks and a fabulous array of their Mediterranean specialties. It’s geared for singles in their thirties through fifties. Unfortunately, I’ll have to pass since I’m not single and barely remember my fifties.
Speaking of memory issues, I just signed up for an online research site that will monitor long-term behavioral changes in senior citizens and lied in my application when I said I wasn’t worried about dementia. The fact of the matter is I’ve long had problems remembering names and faces and it’s getting ever more problematic. Under these circumstances, try to imagine how pleased I was to walk up to the owner of Red Crow Yoga the other day and greet him with a big “Hi, Ray”–only to have Andy diplomatically inform me that I got his name wrong in the plug I gave Red Crow in the August newsletter. I guess it’s asking too much to expect credit for remembering a name I got wrong in the first place.
On the other hand, Andy does get credit for reporting that actress, Frances McDormand showed up for lunch at Boot and Shoe Service a couple of months back which trumped the Valentine’s Day appearance earlier this year by Cameron Diaz. By the way, I just loved McDormand in “Fargo”. The wood chipper scene actually rivaled the fate suffered by “Little Tom Suck-a-Thumb” in the above-mentioned, Struwwelpeter.
In other Grand Lake business news, Oak Common had its Grand Opening in mid-September. Here’s a photo through the front windows that I took this past week. I’ll have to return sometime soon to photograph the interior which incorporates rough-sawn woods and antique furnishings.
Rebooty owner, Cathy Jensen, just gave birth to a 7 pound-10 ounce baby boy. Mother and son are doing great but Cathy warns that the shop will be open only sporadically for the next few weeks. If you’re looking for that special something, you can call 415 994-4230 to make an appointment.
Over the past couple of months, the Grand Lake District has been featured in a variety of print and online media. Supposedly, there’s no such thing as bad publicity but this article in the Sacramento Bee about Oakland’s four hippest neighborhoods reminds me of the refrain from the “Music Man”: “But you have to know the territory”–which reporter Sam McManis seemingly doesn’t.
He does earn points for touting Camino, Boot & Shoe Service, Walden Pond Bookstore, the Grand Lake Theatre, Michael Mischer Chocolates, Rod Dibble at the Alley and Bob Jaffe’s Grand Bakery.
But McManis gets two big demerits for dismissing Monkey Forest Road as an “uber-expensive urban designer” and two more for including a photo of the Smoke Shop that’s almost never open rather than one of the interior or exterior of MFR which Grand Avenue chiropractor Robert Townsend described as a “piece of Union Square dropped into the middle of Grand Avenue.
I’d give McManis yet another demerit for describing “city government as our common foe” but a pass for dismissing “Lakeshore Drive (sic) on the other side of Lake Merritt (sic)” for its chain stores–a subject I’ll be addressing shortly.
Monkey Forest Road did receive a more positive review late last week as a result of a report on the Grand Lake Neighbors’ Yahoo Group that OPD had arrested someone attempting to break in. ListServ subscriber Eileen Morentz noted that “He was after the lemon basil muffins. Addiction is such a terrible thing.” All Monkey Forest Road addicts will be happy to know that the burglar did no damage and, more importantly, Chris and Arnel have applied for a beer and wine license and will likely be expanding their food menu as well.
Rod Dibble was also in the news–featured in this in-depth article in the Piedmont Patch which also mentions an hour-long documentary that’s in the works. Here’s a link to a four-minute trailer.
Paragon Kitchen and Bath’s fifth anniversary at the corner of Trestle Glen and Wesley Way was the occasion for this article in the September 28 edition of the Montclarion.
Heart and Dagger Saloon wrapped up the publicity sweepstakes with this profile of Allison and Erik Sadauskas that documents their efforts to build the neighborhood bar they’d long envisioned.
There have been a multitude of changes at the Saturday market.
The most surprising of which was Oaklandish’s decision to give up their always popular booth. Owner Angela Tsay cited a couple of reasons including a slight drop in farmers market sales since they opened their flagship store at 1444 Broadway. The other equally important consideration was that the Oaklandish van is getting up in years and Angela noted that it’s almost impossible to get parts. Though Oaklandish won’t be selling at the market, they do plan on setting up an info booth on the third Saturday of each month to publicize their store, the community projects they support as well as the special events they sponsor.
One of those special events, the Radio Regatta at Lake Merritt, was August 26. I took a 20-minute tour boat ride compliments of Oaklandish that I’d very much recommend for the historical narrative and also for the photo opportunities it presents. Here’s one of a slew of photos that I took that afternoon.
The other vendor that gave up their booth was Pizza Politana. According to Chris Blackburn, the Market Manager, they lost one of their employees and getting folks over to Oakland was problematic.
The newest addition to the market is Nana Joe’s Granola Here’s a photo I took of their booth on their first day at the market. Although their main focus is on granolas, their product line also includes Tony’s Trail Mix named in honor of Michele’s father who died from brain cancer. All proceeds from its sale are donated for brain cancer research.
One of my favorite booths at the market is Siong Farms which always has an interesting array of veggies at reasonable prices. Currently, that includes raw peanuts but I also look for the mild peppers while studiously avoiding the ones that make me sweat just looking at them. The space is typically staffed by Tuxa who is a member of the Siong family. In his almost always chilly mini-climate under the freeway overhang, he never sweats and seldom smiles. In this photo from last month, I was pleased to see him do the latter.
This past weekend, I was equally pleased to see that Jay Gascon from Gascon Farms had returned. I especially like their selection of yams and sweet potatoes but they also carry a wide range of seasonal vegetables. Originally, they were here at the market filling a temporarily vacant space but Jay says they’re now here permanently–but not necessarily in a permanent location.
SPLASH PAD PARK::
In my last newsletter in early August, I wrote about the major improvements Don Noble (the city gardener newly assigned to the Splash Pad) had made in a very short period of time. My comments prompted the following email Lisa Young sent to the Grand Lake Neighbors Yahoo Group on August 16 plus a follow-up email she sent me the same afternoon:
Dear Neighbors–in Ken’s Splash Pad Newsletter, he mentioned that Don Noble is now in charge of Mandana Plaza Park, reporting to Parks Supervisor Tora Rocha. I live across from the park and am beyond thrilled that Don has taken this assignment. The park hasn’t looked this good in years. Don has been hard at work multiple times a week, for about a month now, edging, mowing, and repairing. If you see him out there, please stop by to thank him. If you’re on the list serve Tora–please know that Don is bringing new life to Mandana Plaza!
Ken, The only thing as important to me as public education is parks and rec. OK. Art too! All of us who live near the park, or use it (and there are many of us from dawn til late in the evening) are grateful for Don’s expert work. He’s a change agent whose hard work has made a positive difference in many lives!
As much as I’d love to report that our troubles are permanently resolved, they aren’t. Don is just one person stretched far too thin with responsibility for maintaining (under Tora Rocha’s supervision) Splash Pad Park, the Mandana Green, and most importantly, the Morcom Rose Garden. During the past couple of months, the bulk of his energy and that of his staff and volunteer “Deadheaders” were dedicated to rectifying delayed maintenance at Morcom in preparation for a visit from the American Rose Society which was threatening to revoke the garden’s accreditation.
During that period, Splash Pad was temporarily neglected and, as a result, Chris and Brian frequently arrived at the park early Saturday mornings to find trash cans overflowing and trash strewn all around–a problem complicated by the fact that homeless individuals have been camping there.
The news isn’t all bad. Ten part-time employees have recently been added to the gardening crews and the rose garden didn’t lose its accreditation. It remains on probation pending installation of additional plant identification tags and continuation of the efforts to bring the roses back to top-notch condition. I’d also note that the department has just also instituted requirements for continuing education–particularly for gardeners looking for promotion.
On the other hand, the news isn’t all good since those ten new employees can work a maximum of 1,000 hours. This is an expediency that the city has used for years to minimize costs by eliminating payment of benefits. I’ve said this many times before and I’ll say it once again. Oakland’s parks, medians and tree-lined streets are doomed to mediocrity until the powers that be recognize their importance in creating an environment that’s more attractive to tourists, businesses and residents new and old. It’s totally unreasonable to expect volunteers to pick up all the slack when the parks and tree services divisions have been cut to a fraction of what they used to be.
ODDS AND ENDS
With the presidential election in full swing, Don and Era Farnsworth (who own Magnolia Editions in West Oakland and are my Balfour Avenue neighbors) are an essential part of a very special Obama fundraising campaign. As this article in the New Yorker reports, the President posed for photos taken by their friend and client, famed artist Chuck Close. The resulting art work has been published by Magnolia in the form of prints and tapestries with proceeds benefiting the Obama Victory Fund. While the tapestries are being finished at Magnolia, they were woven in Belgium using a computer code and processes that Magnolia originally pioneered several years ago for tapestries that were hung in the new Catholic Cathedral in LA.
I‘m sorry to report that Joanne Karchmer has resigned as a community liaison in Pat Kernighan’s office for a new position at the Port of Oakland. Joanne worked with the Grand Lake community on a host of vital issues and impressed everyone with her work ethic, intelligence and grasp of details. For the time being, Pat’s Chief of Staff, Jennie Gerard will be assuming most of Joanne’s responsibilities.
Parklets were a hot topic in the news on September 21 as the world celebrated International PARK(ing) Day. There were about a dozen one-day parklets in Oakland including two on Grand Avenue on the 22nd. The one in front of Monkey Forest Road was furnished by Urban Furniture and staffed by parklet advocate, Erika Gosser and several Grand Lake business owners including Ruth Stroup, Marcia Lam and Scott Yundt whose wife operates Awaken Chiropractic.
The other Grand Avenue parklet was jointly furnished by Rebooty and Galleria Scola and staffed by Micah Ruiz and Cathy and Jesse Jensen. Thanks to all the folks who volunteered at the two parklets and particularly to Cathy who delayed giving birth until after International PARK(ing) Day had concluded.
As mentioned in a number of previous posts, our proposal for a permanent parklet on Lakeshore Avenue was one of seven approved by the city as a pilot project. Haddon Hill resident Chris Farley just celebrated the opening of Oakland’s first permanent parklet in front of Farley’s East at 33 Grand Avenue and Sal Bednarz at Actual Cafe on San Pablo is close behind. Meanwhile, Lakeshore has been hanging in limbo.
Even though the parklet will be placed on the street on public property, the city requires that the owner of the property which it abuts provide proof of insurance. The owner of the building that houses Arizmendi quickly complied. The owner of the adjacent building that houses Foot Locker and Chipotle has not.
In addition, Chipotle’s architects expressed some reservations about provisions for their trash cans if and when the parklet is constructed. We responded noting that the plans left more than adequate space for trash receptacles and the parklet was designed to screen them when viewed from the sidewalk. We didn’t receive the courtesy of a reply to that email or to a follow-up note setting a deadline.
Much earlier in this piece, I noted that the reporter from the Sacramento Bee dissed Lakeshore for the prevalence of chain stores. From a community organizing standpoint, the biggest problem they pose is that they’re invariably, not engaged and this stalemate with Chipotle and the company that manages the property is a perfect example. At this point, we’re reluctantly preparing to file our formal application with the city but with the intention of initially building just the half in front of Arizmendi where we’ve been greeted with open arms. Look for a fundraising campaign to begin in the next couple of months.
You may recall that last month, I posted a photo of one of the trees at Splash Pad that had a couples of nickels affixed with chewing gum. Subsequently, I was invited to add it to this Chewing Gum Tree Flickr Group which is on a par with the “Girls Gone Wild” videos. Aren’t you glad our local artists are so much more refined?
Last but not least, I have to report on the Oddest End to this Odds and Ends segment: “Gardening May Be Hazardous to Your Health”. I didn’t give much thought to the subject until I came down with a nasty case of cellulitis on my lower leg. After five weeks on four different antibiotics, I’ve learned about a host of bacteria and fungi that thrive in trash, soil, pond water, fish and fowl, manure and organic material (particularly rose thorns)–not to mention, the insects and other vectors that harbor the little beasties.
Although, I’m not reduced to using full body armor, I promise that shorts are hereafter out while boots and gloves are most definitely in.
Wednesday, October 3, 7:00-9:00 pm at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church: Candidates Forum on Public Safety–organized by Pueblo, the ACLU and an assortment of Democratic party clubs.
Sunday, October 7: Crocker Highlands Home and Garden Tour showcases six neighborhood homes and gardens as a benefit for Crocker Highlands Elementary school, where the PTA raises nearly $350,000 each year in order to support the physical education, music and computer programs, a librarian, and other necessary resources no longer funded by the school district.
Saturday, October 13, 6:00-10:00 pm: Autumn Lights Festival in the Gardens at Lake Merritt is a fundraiser for the lake gardens sponsored by the City of Oakland, East Bay Express and Zip Car.
Tuesday, October 16, 6:00-9:30 pm at Mezze: Single’s Mingle event.
Wednesday, October 17, 7:00-8:30 pm in Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church Family Room: Grand Lake Neighbors Meeting with agenda that includes the recent shooting on Vermont Avenue and a rash of commercial break-ins on Grand and Lakeshore.
Saturday, October 27, 10-1:00: Lakeshore Fall Festival and Halloween Parade beginning at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church.
GRAND LAKE MERCHANT NEWS
The big news this past month was, of course, the opening of Chipotle which seems to be bustling. The even more welcome news on the retail front is that two storefronts on Grand have been leased and both are (or will be) offering products that ranked in the Top Ten of the “Want List” compiled almost four years ago as part of the Grand Lake Retail Advisory Group survey.
The first is a women’s clothing consignment shop called Dr. J’s Closet which is at 3738 Grand. I stopped by earlier this week and took this photo of the exterior and then introduced myself to owner Jan Bowman. Jan reminisced about her first job (at fourteen) working in a women’s clothing store where she assisted with sales and with window dressing. She says this sparked a life-long passion for fine clothing that eventually culminated in her opening this–her first retail shop.
Jan describes Dr. J’s Closet’s inventory as new and gently used “Urban Chic” women’s clothing consisting of good quality silks, cottons and woolens plus select shoes and bags. She accepts consignments on Sundays from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. and on Mondays, by appointment only. The shop is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.
The other addition to the rebirth of independent retail on Grand is scheduled to open sometime this Fall. It’s at 3231 Grand–just a couple of doors up from Newfangles and will be called Oak Common. I haven’t been able to contact the owners but the information on their website and Facebook page indicate that they will be offering men’s and women’s clothing including the following labels: Mink Pink, Cheap Monday, Comune and BB Dakota.
As an indication that the rebirth of retail is not limited to the Grand Lake District, a shop with somewhat comparable offerings called OakNWood is opening on August 11 at 45 Grand Avenue near Farley’s East.
The prospects for new retail on Lakeshore are, unfortunately looking far dimmer particularly on the heels of Juniper Tree’s departure for less expensive digs in Alameda. Dick Odenheimer who serves as the Property Manager for the very small space at 3411 Lakeshore that has been vacant for many months is disappointed that it has not attracted any viable retail proposals. To his credit (and our benefit), Dick says he’s turned down dozens of offers from hair and nail salons as well as food-related enterprises that would entail extensive remodeling.
The one serious offer currently on the table is for a fitness studio called Power Plate which employs machines that provide “whole body vibration”. Rick Kelmer (the proposed tenant who also own Feel Good Bakery in Alameda) attended the last Grand Lake Neighbors meeting to talk about his plans and how he chose the Lakeshore location. Since he’ll need a Conditional Use Permit from the city, Rick was interested in getting feedback from the community. Based on the emails generated on the Grand Lake Neighbors’ Yahoo Group, the response thus far has been largely favorable.
Other additions to the Lakeshore and Grand commercial districts might better be classified as history–not news. Red Crow Yoga at 3234 Grand opened way back in January but for one reason or another, owner Ray Maginot and I were unable to connect until earlier this week. Ray posed for some photos in his studio and I ended up with this composite photo showing what he looks like standing up but also while twisted into a shape that looked so impossibly painful, I went home and took an extra-strength Tylenol.
Ray has been practicing Yoga for twenty-two years and teaching for ten. His studio specializes in Shadow Yoga but they do offer instruction in other disciplines as well. Red Crow currently has a special offer for new students–three classes for $30 and they have some special programs in the works for this month including talks on Diet Ayurveda and women’s health.
We’re also months late in reporting on Hipline Dance Fitness which originally built a big following in Rockridge. In February, they opened their second location in a large, second-floor space at 3270 Lakeshore which is up a flight of stairs at the end of the walkway between Top Dog and the Beauty Center. They also have a special rate for first-time participants–four classes for $25. If you missed the Hipline Flash Mob at the Saturday farmers market on June 30, they will be doing an encore tomorrow, August 4 at 11:30 a.m.
Speaking of the walkway that connects Lakeshore to the parking lot, kudos to Top Dog for undertaking some welcome improvements including tables, chairs, two trash cans and a couple of new flower pots. For future reference, some of the volunteers who have been working on the parklet proposal for Lakeshore (in particular, Jeffrey Lim) have also been talking in the long-term about major infrastructure improvements for this space building on what Top Dog has already initiated.
Kimberly Leo at Namaste Yoga asked that I remind my readers that they have a “sacred cinema” program at the Lakeshore studio on the 3rd Friday of every month and also a free yoga class at Splash Pad Park on August 19 from 3:00 to 4:00 PM.
The Chronicle’s list of Best Food-centric bars includes Boot and Shoe Service. As an aside, I took a peek into the Richard Weinstein/Charlie Hallowell project across the street and they’re still in the process of gutting the interior including removal of plaster to expose the underlying brick.
In late-breaking news, I just learned Wednesday that the Good Nature Deli next to Lin Jia had closed quite unexpectedly the day before. According to property owner and Lakeshore BID Treasurer, Steve Banker, the new tenant will be offering candy and Chicago style popcorn which I’ve learned, through a Google search, is a mixture of caramel and Cheddar Cheese flavors.
SPLASH PAD PARK
Until recently, Splash Pad Park has failed to realize its full potential as a community gathering place and special events venue–aside from its role as host to the Saturday Farmers Market. This past month has seen a decided and welcome transformation as evidenced by the following:
The Fiber and Textile Arts Festival which was again organized by Lou Grantham and Bente Petersen was well attended and hugely successful. Accompanied by our 5-year-old grand-daughter, we intended to stay an hour or so before heading over to the Temescal Street Fair–but never left. Turns out Sami’s a natural-born weaver and we didn’t want to tear her away from the loom and other “make and take” stations. I’ve added twenty photos to my Flickr set from last year.
Lou also wanted me to publicly acknowledge the volunteers who showed up on the eve of the festival to help her spruce up the park. Their numbers included Eric Hughes, Jennifer Ting, Susan Elliott, Anjuna Lohnes and her son, Bodie.
The Salsa Festival just one week later was equally successful with several hundred dancers and spectators in attendance. I added thirty-five new photos to the Salsa Festival set that includes images from the 2009 incarnation. Kudos to Angela Tsay and Oaklandish for organizing and funding this event with very little fanfare as yet another way in which they give back to the community.
In addition to these two major events, every Thursday night, food trucks are creating a weekday buzz and (as mentioned under Merchant News) Namaste is offering free outdoor Yoga sessions.
The all-volunteer, Tenth Anniversary Celebration Committee had its first meeting this past week and Landscape Architect Ashley Cruz from Ashtree Designs has compiled a lengthy list of improvements that we may want to implement by October of 2013 in time for a community-wide party. The big ticket item would likely entail stabilizing or replacing the gravel beds that alternate with the asphalt and decomposed granite that parallel the freeway. Also on the list is a proposal for a kiosk or the equivalent that would help publicize businesses in the Grand Lake district along with some major re-landscaping of the two Dogwood beds that have become weed infested. One other area the committee wants to explore is ways in which infrastructure improvements could encourage more regular use throughout the week.
If you have ideas for park improvements or want to point out specific maintenance issues, please email me at email@example.com and I’ll forward your comments to the committee members.
While reporting to Parks Supervisor, Tora Rocha, Don Noble is now responsible for overseeing the maintenance of Splash Pad Park as well as the Morcom Rose Garden. With only a couple of other gardeners assigned to him, he’s got a nearly impossible task but nonetheless, I’ve seen some concrete improvements in just the first couple of weeks including lawns that have been edged, weeds that have been weed-whacked and trash that has been promptly removed. Rumor is that a goodly number of part-time employees are in the pipeline for the parks department and they are sorely needed.
This past month, I was dumbfounded by all the hits on my Flickr photo of one of the yarn bombs on the columnar Maples at Splash Pad Park. In retrospect, I suspect the phrase, “the park had been bombed” jumped off the page and folks clicked on the link without reading the clarification in the following sentence.
For the historical record, I did a bit of sleuthing and was informed of the identity of the perpetrators on the condition that I keep that info secret. Nothing anyone says or does will get me to violate that oath–unless, of course, it entails a frosty brew and a light repast from one of the Grand Lake districts many fine establishments. By the way, the collection of seven yarn bombs and the two metallic bombs that flank them are still up in the row of Columnar Maples that parallel the freeway. I’ve just posted a photo of one of the latter on my Splash Pad Flickr set.
The list of articles about Walter Hood that we link to on the Splash Pad website now includes a, July 20 article on Oakland Local by CB Smith-Dahl.
As veteran market patrons and faithful newsletter subscribers already know, Brad Gates introduced the East Bay to the joys of heirloom tomatoes about a dozen years ago. Now recognized as a preeminent grower and hybridizer, Brad’s Wild Boar Farms will be hosting four “Tomato Tours beginning August 12. The $25 fee per adult includes tastings and a gourmet lunch.
If you were at the market last Saturday morning, you likely witnessed a video being recorded by Spencer Gillette who is best known as “The EcoFoodist”. Her blog describing her interview in the Anfilo Coffee and Lucero Farms booths is available on this link.
In last month’s newsletter, I included Grumpy Goats Farm on the list of vendors that had joined the market in the previous two months. Turns out that sales have been so good that Pamela and Stuart were worried about exhausting their current inventory until Chris came up with the perfect solution. Grumpy Goats will be at the market every other Saturday alternating with the market’s newest vendor, Good Faith Farm which sells raw organic olives and olive oil from their farm based off Highway 5 between Orland and Red Bluff.
David Little’s Little Organic Farm has just returned to the Grand Lake Market with its usual array of dry-farmed potatoes plus other seasonal specialties. I took a quick look at their website and noted with interest that they have an internship program that provides room and board plus $500 per month with a crash course in organic dry farming thrown in free of charge.
Earlier this month, I was impressed by how calmly and professionally Market Manager, Chris Blackburn and Operations Manager, Brian Boone handled a medical emergency after a market patron took a very nasty fall. When I complimented Chris the following Saturday, he noted that, in such circumstances, the Grand Lake Market is probably the safest in the Bay Area since he is a former fireman and Brian was formerly employed as an Emergency Medical Technician. Dick, if you’re reading this, I hope you’re on the mend.
ODDS AND ENDS
Work on the Lakeshore Complete Streets improvement project is progressing pretty much on schedule. The most recent photo that I’ve posted on my Flickr set shows concrete being poured in front of Heart and Dagger Saloon. All the badly deformed concrete with major tripping hazards has been removed and the new sidewalks will extend out an additional six feet. I was particularly excited to see this happening as it will provide a far more attractive and pedestrian-friendly connection between Lakeshore and Grand as originally proposed by Walter Hood as an essential element of “Phase 2″ of the Splash Pad Project. As mentioned many times previously, the sidewalk widening will also allow AC Transit to more readily pull their buses in flush with the curb.
There was a minor delay in construction last week as a result of objections from Caña over the placement of one of five street trees directly in front of their parlor. An informal meeting on Tuesday resulted in a compromise that reduced the number of street trees along this stretch to four. The fifth tree is to be planted around the corner on Rand in an empty tree well in the foreground of this photo.
What may not be readily apparent is what’s missing from the above image. If Rand looks barren, it’s because a city crew allegedly removed the street tree in front of Holy Land after the owner complained it was blocking their signage. I’ve just filed a complaint using SeeClickFix.com noting that pruning would have been the wiser approach. You can comment on my complaint and follow its progress via this link. For the record, Public Works has seemed far more responsive since installing the ClickFix service.
A report in Punk Rock Gardens details how the Morcom Rose Garden is benefiting from an infusion of much needed nutrients donated by Malibu Compost. Their products include Biodynamic Compost and Bu’s Brew Compost tea. Malibu will be returning to the gardens on Saturday August 11 for a second tea application. Additional volunteers are always welcome. Incidentally, Malibu Compost is now available at Grand Lake Ace Garden Center.
After an initial cautionary warning, an Associated Press report published in the July 31 New York Times has nothing but nice things to say about visiting Oakland. The list of lake district highlights include Camino, the Grand Lake Theatre, Gondola Servicio and Fairyland.
Dixie Jordan, the Editor of the Piedmont Patch has been helping to boost our newsletter circulation on a regular basis and I guess it’s only fair that I return the favor especially since she does on a daily basis what I struggle to do monthly. You’ll also find that her reporting covers a much larger geographic area. Here’s their link.
Art Murmur today. Bigger and better than ever. I like what Jon Carroll wrote in the Chronicle: “Art Murmur is plucky and heartening, just like Oakland”.
Art and Soul Festival–August 4 and 5. Extended hours. Advance tickets online are $10 and only $5 for Seniors and for teens. 12 and under is free.
National Night Out–August 7. If an event isn’t already planned for your block, I’d highly recommend searching out a NNO party in the immediate neighborhood. After paying a visit, I promise you will be hooked and want to organize your own next year.
Pedalfest–August 18 at Jack London Square organized by the East Bay Bicycle Coalition. Last year’s Pedalfest was a blast. I was particularly enthralled by the Whiskeydrome which I was sorely tempted to ride. Fortunately, the fear of being humiliated by a ten-year-old kid who had immediately mastered the art (not to mention the fear of being maimed) eventually prevailed.