GRAND AVENUE MERCHANT NEWS
On January 19, brothers, Khalid and Najib Elferrouj opened La Parisienne Cafe and Boulangerie at 3249 Grand with Chef Karim Bedda at the helm . A Yelp review by a guy named Don said what I wanted to say – but much better:
Oakland has a French bakery that (brace yourself) is actually run by … a French chef and staff. Grand Ave is still Grand Ave, but if you close your eyes and rely on taste and smell, brother, it’s cheaper than plane fare. Bienvenue, La Parisienne!
Albertino’s equally glowing (but much longer) review includes a big batch of photos that are the next best thing to being there. Unfortunately, they’re a poor substitute for actually tasting what’s transpiring in the kitchen. Their secret is in the ingredients – at least some of which (including the flour) is imported from France. More importantly, Chef Karim Bedda has an amazing resume which you can read on the About Us page on their website.
I’d add, from personal experience, that the Almond Croissants are amazing and the tarts equally so. I’d also hasten to point out that La Parisienne is billed as a boulangerie and cafe. Currently, they serve coffee and tea and also quiche, which comes with a salad. Over time, however, look for an expanded food menu.
Later this week, Grand Avenue will be welcoming another new business – Bell & Iron Tattoo at 3512 Grand. Three tattoo artists will be working there including the owner, Joe Paul, who has a strong background as a fine artist. Amongst other media, he worked in bronze including a stint on the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.
Asked about his tattoo specialty, Joe said he personally is known for highly detailed works of body art but his biggest goal with this venture is to create a family-friendly studio with a welcoming environment. For the record, since I enjoy senior citizen status and am who I am, I was a bit leery about a tattoo studio in the neighborhood. That said, I’m very reassured after meeting Joe and particularly so, after learning that he’s on the Board of the 43rd and 44th Street Community Garden. Once he’s painted the exterior and settled into his new space, I expect he will become a very active member of the Grand Avenue community.
By the way, Joe is hosting a soft opening party this Saturday, February 6 from 7:00 – 11:00 p.m. and you’re invited.
The big question mark still hanging over Grand Avenue is the eventual fate of Grand Fare Market. Once again, I don’t have much to report. Their website is still up as is the “Stay Tuned” sign in the front window. The one juicy tidbit I can add is that I peeked through the window on Saturday and took note of blueprints spread out on a counter. Someone, hopefully Doug Washington, is preparing to make changes and re-open and hopefully, in time to put that lovely patio into use once Spring weather returns.
Meanwhile, we’re seeing our normal share of winter rains. On one such rainy day last week, I was out and about without an umbrella feeling wet and miserable when I spied the sandwich board in front of Modigliani that said, “Italian Wedding Soup. $3”. It was an invitation I couldn’t resist. Ingredients that day included meatballs, slices of chicken, chard and a hearty broth. It’s an “old family recipe” according to Gerry and I highly recommend partaking.
Studio Grand’s February event calendar covers a wealth of great music including four CD Release Parties. Another highlight will be be a performance and flamenco dance workshop presented by La Tania, who, until recently, was a Grand Avenue resident.
If you attend any of their upcoming concerts, be sure to check out their current exhibit of photographs by Chose entitled “Where I’m From”. There’s also a possibility that the doors will be open for the First Thursdays art walk on the 4th.
Contractors are making steady progress on the One Medical Clinic on the corner of Grand and Boulevard Way. Interior partitions are all up and when I stopped by on Saturday, floors were being laid.
Across the street at 3923 Grand (next to Camino), Better Homes and Gardens Realty now has their shingle hanging. Their Office Manager, Melissa Case, tells me that they expect construction to be completed by the end of February and, if so, they’ll be hosting an Open House in April.
LAKESHORE/LAKE PARK MERCHANT NEWS
Just for the record, I don’t tweet – but, fortunately, my wife does and last week she shared some information she picked up on Twitter. Councilmember Abel Guillen had posted that Cholita Linda was going to be the new tenant at 3256 Lakeshore (next to Peet’s). This locally-owned restaurant had humble beginnings as a food truck, but it’s since expanded to a brick and mortar location on Telegraph Avenue in the Temescal plus spaces at three local farmers markets.
I shared Abel’s scoop with the Grand Lake Neighbors Yahoo Group and also on our Splash Pad Park Facebook page. The story was then picked up by Luke Tsai who fleshed out the details in his column in the East Bay Express. If you’re plugged in electronically, chances are you’ve already heard about this since Cholita Linda obviously has a huge fan base. The Splash Pad Facebook post was shared at least a dozen times and reached over 800 individuals and Pamela Drake (the Lakeshore BID Director) said her post saw similar results.
By the way, one detail, in particular, caught my eye – the possibility that outdoor seating could somehow be incorporated. I’m fairly confident that the adjacent concrete pad at the corner of the parking lot (where musicians frequently perform) could be readily expanded for this purpose. With some landscaping thrown in, it would be a definite asset for a community that always welcomes additional outdoor seating.
My email alert to the Grand Lake Neighbors Yahoo Group in which I said that Cholita Linda was a better fit for the neighborhood than the Burrito Shop did draw a bit of flak. I’m still of the same mind based on the results of the survey that GLRAG did seven years ago as well as the outpouring of popular response over the past week. However, I should hasten to add that the forced exodus of the Burrito Shop and Lakeshore Produce, after decades in residence, was highly problematic. One way or the other, it’s important to maintain a diversity of choices including affordable dining options. As the price of commercial space inexorably increases, it’s going to be increasingly difficult for most independent, locally-owned businesses to survive.
Happily, Lakeshore Produce was able to relocate on the same block and Saturday, they celebrated their grand re-opening next to Lakeshore Doughnuts. The owners were welcomed with hugs and big smiles. Yes, the space is somewhat smaller and tapers towards the back, but the shelving that used to run down the middle of the old location has been removed. The result seems to be a space that is far more open and welcoming.
Arizmendi’s new hours went into effect January 18. They are now open from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. and closed on Mondays.
The New Easy is about to change ownership. I had the pleasure of meeting Daniel Schultz, the new proprietor, last week. He said that it will likely be two months before the title changes hands and, hopefully, we’ll have more info about his plans in time for the next newsletter. My Number One Question: “Will The New Easy become The New New Easy?”
See what’s new at Kitchen 388
What images does the word “brunch” conjure in your mind? Long lines? Limited hours? Only breakfast menu items? Nothing for Uncle Harold who can’t eat sweet dishes and doesn’t like eggs? Last June, when Phillip Thoman and his husband, Daniel Rodriguez, became the new owners of Kitchen 388, they purged the word “brunch” from their menu on purpose to move away from the negative expectations it sometimes invokes. Everything on their menu is available at all times. In the mood for a pulled pork sandwich at 9 a.m.? No problem. Sleep in and want an egg sandwich at 1:45 p.m. No problem. Want anything on the menu as carry-out? No problem. All menu items are served all day, every day, for dining in or carrying out. Kitchen 388 also accommodates requests from all third-party delivery portals, so if you don’t see the Kitchen 388 menu offered, ask to have it added. CONTINUE READING…
GRAND AVENUE FIRST THURSDAYS
Overcast skies (but no rain) are predicted for this month’s First Thursdays Art Walk. Hours are 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. unless otherwise indicated.
San Francisco Fiber: (3711 Grand) extends an open invitation to try your hand at weaving and spinning.
Sole Space: Opportunity to purchase limited edition prints of the new mural by Jet Martinez with all proceeds benefiting the North Oakland Community Charter School. DJ in the house. Complimentary beverages. 20% off all shoes.
For additional information, visit the Grand Avenue First Thursdays website.
GRAND LAKE FARMERS MARKET
Last week, I realized that the Farmers Market page at SplashPad.org that includes a nearly complete list of the vendors had somehow disappeared. With a little assist from Raul Audelo, all that information is now back on line.
If you’re a relatively new subscriber, you’re likely not aware that Raul is the webmaster for Earth Justice and, in his spare time, he built the new Splash Pad website and (what was much more challenging) taught me how to use WordPress.
Coincidentally or not, a couple of weeks ago Earth Justice published this in-depth feature on the California Drought – a hot-button issue which will continue to plague us even if this year’s El Nino lives up to its hype. California farmers are, of course, most heavily impacted and one of those interviewed for their response was Noel Ledesma from Ledesma Farms – one of a handful of farms that have been represented at the Grand Lake Market since its inception in the late 1990’s. Of necessity, Ledesma and many other farms are using drip irrigation and other forms of water conservation.
Jay Gascon from Gascon Farms purchased a Domain Name last year but has yet to get a website up and running. One of the hang-ups is an appropriate logo. If you’re a graphic artist who’d be interested in trading your services for some produce, please stop by and introduce yourself at the market on Saturday.
Success Valley Farms has just returned to the market with the first of the year strawberries from Oxnard. Within the next couple of weeks, we’ll also start to see asparagus.
SPLASH PAD PARK
By popular demand, the Grand Crew has decided to schedule a special work day from 9:00 a.m. until Noon on Super Bowl Sunday, February 7. While running backs will later be attacking the line, Mary Jo and her cohorts will be tackling Oxalis and Bermuda and, during time outs, planting some more California Native Iris and Festuca. It’s not necessary, but if you have gloves and hand tools, please bring them. As an added incentive, Mary Jo and I are potting up some California Native Lupines and Tarweeds in 4 inch pots that volunteers are welcome to take home for their own gardens.
The Superbowl Sunday work day will be in addition to the regularly scheduled one on February 28.
As I’ve mentioned repeatedly, the Grand Crew is preparing to further expand the California Native Garden into an adjacent bed that’s approximately 800 square feet. If you’re a California Native plant person and/or have drafting experience, we’d welcome some short-term assistance in designing infrastructure improvements and also determining what to plant where. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested.
ODDS AND ENDS
In last month’s Newsletter, I included a small section of a vintage road map showing the roadway that cut diagonally through what is now the new Splash Pad Park. By a happy coincidence, Eric Hughes posted a photo of that same area that he found on the Grand Lake Neighbors Facebook page. I’ve added labels identifying the two remaining buildings that I recognized – Heart and Dagger Saloon and the Sprint outlet.
The GLN Facebook page was likewise my source for Bon Appetit’s “11 Reasons to Eat and Drink in Oakland Right Now“, which heaped praise on local favorites including Camino, Boot and Shoe, Starter Bakery, Alchemy Bottle Shop, Bay Grape and Grocery Cafe. And my source, as well, for the Thrillist list of brunch spots in the East Bay which highlighted Boot and Shoe, Grand Lake Kitchen and Michel Bistro.
Michel Bistro was also honored with the distinction of being featured as the “cover photo” for Oakland’s inclusion in the New York Times List of 52 Places to Visit in 2016. We’re listed as #39 and that, I might add, was before we were graced with La Parisienne.
In order to address the growing shortage of housing, the California legislature recently passed a measure that would facilitate the construction of more in-law units statewide. Individual cities are being required to implement this program but they do have some leeway apparently in terms of precise regulations. The proposal here in Oakland has begun to generate quite a bit of controversy over a couple of specific concerns. 1. One proviso would have eliminated the requirement for off-street parking for new in-law units within 1/2 mile of a transit hub, which was to include the corner of Lakeshore and Lake Park. 2. Homeowner associations are also worried that the state/city regulations would override their own construction guidelines.
This issue was to go to the City Council tomorrow, but in response to lots of emails and phone calls, Councilmember Guillen will ask his colleagues to pull this item from tomorrow’s agenda. He has also scheduled a community-wide meeting to address these issues. It’s scheduled for Monday, February 8 beginning at 7:00 p.m. at Barnett Hall which is to the left of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church and up the driveway.
The next meeting of the Grand Lake Neighbors group will be Wednesday, February 17 in the Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church Family Room beginning at 7 p.m. The agenda will include a police crime report and most likely, a discussion of the above meeting as well as continuing complaints about a 4-bedroom home on Winsor that’s being used as an Airbnb hotel.
I’m pleased to report that Recycle for Change’s lawsuit requesting a preliminary injunction to stop implementation of the City’s new ordinance regulating donation/collection bins was rejected by the Federal Court in San Francisco. Thus far, none of the bin operators have applied for permits and, unless that situation changes, all 150+ bins in the city should be removed by February 17. If any permits are issued, those bins should bear an official seal issued by the City of Oakland. Otherwise, after the 17th, complaints should be filed against any remaining bins.
For future reference, DonateOakland.org lists most of the local non-profits that welcome donations of clothing, books and household furnishings and also explains why donating elsewhere typically means lining the pockets of unscrupulous for-profit businesses with little, if any, net proceeds going to a genuine charity.
- Thursday, February 4, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m: Grand Avenue First Thursdays
- Thursday, February 4 – February 6: Oakland Public Design Fair at Frank Ogawa Plaza
- Monday, February 7, 7:00 p.m.: Abel Guillen Meeting to Discuss In-law Units at LABC Barnett Hall
Saturday, Feb 13, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m: Rose Garden Volunteer Day
- Wednesday, February 17, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m: Grand Lake Neighbors meeting at Lakeshore Baptist Church
- Sunday, February 7, 9:00 a.m. – Noon: Special Splash Pad Park Volunteer Work Day
- Sunday, February 28, 9:00 a.m. – Noon: Regular Splash Pad Park Volunteer Work Day