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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.