As I’ve noted previously, internet blogs have pretty much made soft openings for new restaurants a virtual impossibility. That was certainly the case when my wife and I (accompanied by our six year-old grand-daughter) showed up on July 7 for the opening night dinner at The Star on Grand. When I had phoned half an hour earlier, I was assured that a reservation wouldn’t be necessary — but at 6:15, there was a thirty minute wait for a table.

I admit I wasn’t too pleased — but the wait was well worth it. This is one great pizza with luscious fillings — but it’s the crispy, corn-meal crust that makes it really unique. In addition, the service was impeccable. We were waited on by Casey, who is a Grand Avenue resident and, from what I’m told, also an artist.

As an aside, our grand-daughter had a lower front tooth that was hanging on by a thread and she opted for meatballs instead of pizza — one of which promptly claimed the tooth. When Casey brought the leftovers back to our table, the box containing the meatballs (minus the tooth which was safely ensconced in a napkin) was decorated with a drawing captioned “Happy Tooth Day”.

Yes, they’re most definitely living up to the Star’s kid-friendly credentials starting from Day One. FYI: Here’s a photo of the interior and an East Bay Dish review.

Just down the street, a lot of progress is being made at Penrose & Sons Fine Meats and Spirits — but lots of work remains to be done. In response to my email inquiry, Richard Weinstein wrote: “My best guess, and I’m usually wrong: September?”

Congratulations to Bradford Taylor and The Red Whale. At long last, they’ve obtained the last of their permits. Bradford says it will take awhile to get their inventory in place — so he’s not sure when they’ll be open. Your best bet is to continue monitoring The Red Whale’s Facebook page.

Boot and Shoe patrons were heard loud and clear in the annual East Bay Express annual poll allowing Charlie Hallowell’s wait staff to walk off with the award for best restaurant service.

Monkey Forest Road was honored this month by the East Bay Express for their gluten-free baked goods selected by their readers as the best in the East Bay. MFR also announced that they were organizing a curated exhibit of Grand Avenue photos from 1900 to the present. They are requesting photo submissions that tell personal stories and honor the neighborhood’s roots. More information is available on this link.

Temoor Noor’s Grand Tavern received this glowing review in the July 18th Chronicle. Please note that, if you’re not a subscriber, you may not be able to open the entire article but the photo of the burger is, in itself, worth the price of admission.

Oak Common made the Chronicle’s list of the Top 100 Shops in the Bay Area. Details are on their Facebook page.

In addition to great clothing, they are also stocking the “Cat Tipi”. The store sample I photographed last week is not for sale as it’s been claimed by David and Jeffrey’s DOG. Yes, “Pancho” is cute as hell — but it’s apparently in the midst of an identity crisis — either that or the product is mislabeled.

Last month, I linked to this blog post by former Grand Avenue resident, Jennifer Pahlka who is the founder of Code for America and currently the Deputy Chief Technology Officer of the United States. Jennifer’s post, extolling the virtues of an old-fashioned, bodega or neighborhood grocery, prompted me to introduce myself to Saroj Ary All — the owner of the Grand Lake Market at 3217 Grand.

In the past, Saroj has tried adding milk and eggs to his inventory but there wasn’t nearly enough turnover to make it work. I suspect that’s due, in part, to a lack of adequate publicity. In any case, if you’re a supporter of independently-owned, neighborhood businesses and, if you like the bodega concept, please send me a list of items that aren’t otherwise available or don’t warrant a trip to Safeway or Trader Joe’s. Better yet, stop by and talk to Saroj. He’s a really thoughtful guy and I’d like us to help him better serve neighborhood residents.

The Planning Commission hearing regarding a Major Conditional Use Permit for the Alchemy Bottle Shop (which has signed a lease for the space next to Knimble at 3256 Grand) was postponed and rescheduled for Wednesday, August 7 at 6:00 pm on the first floor of City Hall. If you can’t attend in person, comments should be directed to Dave Valeska ( For more background information, please see this article in the Piedmont Patch.