GRAND AVENUE MERCHANT NEWS
After a brief meeting with Doug Washington last week, I’m extremely pleased to report that Grand Fare Market should be reopening sometime soon under the same ownership. In order to better serve the Grand Lake community, the following changes are being contemplated:
- A simplified layout
- Far fewer grocery items
- Focus on prepared foods – eat in or take out
- A lower price point
- Far more seating inside and out
- A canopy outdoors for inclement weather + heat lamps
- A second entrance
- Traditional American pastries and coffee
- Beer on tap and possibly, wine as well
There’s one additional item that Doug broached that has me absolutely salivating. He’d love to have a parklet out front and, with 50 plus feet of unused curb space, it’s the ideal location. The City would approve this in a heartbeat but Doug, if possible, would also like to move their streamlined Spartan trailer out to the curb and park it adjacent to the parklet.
For the latter, the City will have to be convinced that it would be a huge boon for the shopping district and that the proposal has the overwhelming support of neighborhood residents and fellow merchants. Like the sign in the Grand Fare window says, “STAY TUNED” for future developments.
Last Friday, I also met briefly with the owners of “The Libertine” – Aric Yeverino and Matt Winger. Both are experienced bartenders and Matt already had a neighborhood connection thanks to his stint working with Temoor Noor at Grand Tavern.
Asked about their goals, Matt said they’re in the process of creating a welcoming space that offers “affordable luxury”. They have half a dozen, locally brewed craft beers on tap and more in bottles. They make a nice craft cocktail and have hundreds of whiskeys to choose from.
Now that they are settled in, Aric and Matt want to get more involved in the community. This Thursday, they are participating in the First Thursdays art walk for the first time – showcasing fabulous photographs by Josh Stevenson that are printed on aluminum. Sometime soon, they hope to be scheduling comedy nights and spoken word events.
In addition to The Libertine, All About Pets has signed on as a First Thursdays participating merchant – as has Ruth Stroup’s Insurance Agency at 3560 Grand. Next month, once their new office next to Camino is open, look for Better Homes and Gardens Realty to participate as well. In broader terms, thanks to an infusion of “new blood”, I suspect that the long-inactive Grand Avenue Business Association (GABA) is about to experience a revival.
Work on the One Medical Group clinic is nearing completion. When I stopped by this past Friday, they were pouring concrete in the adjacent parking lot and repaving the sidewalk along Grand Avenue. Opening date is March 7 with office hours scheduled for Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Walk-In lab hours are Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. and Noon – 3:00 p.m. Initially services will be limited to Primary Care and onsite lab work. Starting in May, they will be adding Pediatric services.
A couple of weeks ago, our grand-daughter was visiting from San Diego and, given a choice of restaurants, she chose Ikaros. Why? She had just read a book about Greek mythology and wanted to learn some Greek words. Zach, who is a sweetheart, gladly obliged.
The big news at Studio Grand is that flamenco dancer (and former Grand Avenue resident) La Tania has signed on for a one-year residency. Her first performance/workshop this past Sunday was sold out well before the event – but watch for additional flamenco classes and performances. Studio Grand’s event calendar lists eight concerts in March beginning with Miguel Inzunza in concert on Wednesday, March 2.
Kebabs are back at Camino served with chiles and flatbread every Monday in March and April.
All About Pets celebrates its Grand Opening on Saturday, March 19 with treats for guests and their pets.
LAKESHORE/LAKE PARK MERCHANT NEWS
Several weeks ago, subscriber Paul Wagner alerted me to the removal of the iconic Kwik Way neon sign. I’ve since learned, from a source in the Oakland Heritage Alliance, that it’s safely ensconced in a local sign shop. Don’t be surprised if it eventually reappears in a public location.
For the historical record, when we were lobbying ten years ago for construction of a mixed use development on that site, two preservationists noted that the concrete block building had no redeeming features with the exception of the sign.
The original signage has been replaced by a more contemporary Merritt Bakery sign. While the bakery is obviously committed to staying for the long term, I’m still hoping to see us resume a discussion about a mixed-use development for this property.
A new sewer line is in but otherwise, construction at Cholita Linda (3256 Lakeshore) has yet to begin. When they do open, expect a line out the door.
The 29th Annual Easter Parade and Spring Festival will be celebrated on Saturday, March 26 beginning at 10:30 a.m. at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church. The parade starts at 11:30. Derby hats for decorating can be purchased in advance at Silver Moon or Adventure Toys or, on the day of the event, at the Festival.
Tim and Jen are shaking things up at Shakewell. Latest offerings are:
- First Thursday dance party from 10:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m. with DJ Kinkaid and Friends
- Tuesday Night Family style Fried Chicken Dinners for 4-6 people. Free churros and buttermilk sauce for early diners.
- Tuesdays – Thursdays, 50% off bar bites from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
- 20% off wines for Weekly wine Wednesdays or zero corkage fees
As I mentioned last month, the New Easy is about to change ownership. That news prompted Eileen Morentz to inquire about the bar’s prior incarnation. The answer: The Fifth Amendment. Why the Fifth Amendment? It’s logo was an inebriated gentleman standing atop a fifth of whiskey.
LZ’s GRAND AVENUE – WEST OF 580 BLOG
When I moved to Oakland nearly 20 years ago, a vacant 0.31 acre lot sat at the corner of Bellevue and Grand Avenues. In 2006, a developer proposed building market rate condominiums, but discarded the notion when the city required inclusion of some affordable housing units and would not allow the building height the developer said he needed to make the development pencil out.
Today, residents are moving into AvéVista, the beautiful, new Mediterranean-style building at 460 Grand Avenue. The building features four levels of residential apartments above 2900 square feet of first floor commercial/retail space. There’s also a landscaped courtyard, a community room, on-site laundry, on-site property manager and 97 parking spaces for residents of the sixty-eight 1, 2 and 3-bedroom units.
GRAND AVENUE FIRST THURSDAYS
Showers are possible in the morning but clear skies are predicted for this month’s First Thursdays Art Walk that features three new gallery spaces – The Libertine, All About Pets and Ruth Stroup Insurance Agency. Hours are 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. unless otherwise indicated.
San Francisco Fiber: (3711 Grand) Lou Grantham extends an open invitation to try your hand at weaving and spinning.
Urban Furniture: Opening night reception for ”The Roar of Women’s Silence” – collages, custom earrings, repurposed boxes by T. K. Butler aka Tru_Focused. Refreshments and spoken word performance by T.K. at 7:00 p.m.
For additional information, visit the Grand Avenue First Thursdays website.
GRAND LAKE FARMERS MARKET
According to Market Manager, Chris Blackburn, Cowgirl Creamery’s wholesale operations up and down the coast are so successful, they’re no longer selling at farmers markets. For their Grand Lake Market customers, that’s unfortunate – but it’s actually a good thing and another example of the way that farmers markets serve as a business incubator. This is totally analogous to what happened on a smaller scale at the Grand Lake Market – the original venues for Phat Matt’s Barbecue and Souley Vegan.
Cowgirl Creamery’s former spot at the Grand Lake Market is now occupied by Scott Shacklett, aka The TomatoMan. Scott has been selling tomatoes for twenty-four years and he’s doing so in a rather unique fashion. All the tomatoes are planted in the ground but grown in greenhouses in Inyokern in the high desert East of Bakersfield. When most farms are harvesting tomatoes in September, Scott is just beginning to plant seeds. Harvest begins in December and, in a good year, ends in late June.
When I introduced myself to Scott last weekend, I apologized for not bringing my camera. No problem! I can instead link to this Frescheta Pizza commercial in which he plays a lead role.
SPLASH PAD PARK
Next time you’re at Splash Pad, check out the California Natives – many of which are currently in bloom and attracting various pollinators as evidenced in the above photo of one of the many salvias.
By this time next year, we’re hoping that the now bare, 800 square foot expansion bed adjacent to the East end of the Plaza is in bloom as well. Our next step is to put together plans for infrastructure and landscaping improvements. If you know California Native plants and/or have landscape design experience, we’d love to have your input. This coming Sunday, we’re going to meet briefly at the park at Noon for an onsite walk-through and then adjourn for pizza and beverages and some brainstorming. Please RSVP me at email@example.com.
The Splash Pad volunteer work days are typically on the 4th Sunday of every month. Since the 4th Sunday in March is Easter, we’re gathering a week earlier on March 20. The 4th Sunday in April, the 24th, coincides with our annual Splash Pad celebration of Earth Day. This is our biggest event of the year and, thanks to support from Beatie Street Preschool, we can count on a big turnout of adults and kids. If you can volunteer only one day a year, this should be it. Lots of fun. Lots of good food thanks to donations from local restaurants and from farmers market vendors. We’ll be undertaking some major projects including installation of a cardboard weed barrier in the expansion bed.
ODDS AND ENDS
If you follow local news, you’re already aware that the City Council, back in July, approved an exclusive negotiating agreement with Orton Development for proposals to totally revamp the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center or what we used to call the Oakland Auditorium. Last week, I took advantage of a tour of the convention center hosted by the City and led by Orton staff and their architect, who is working with Splash Pad Landscape Architect, Walter Hood’s office.
I’d love to see the chief focus on ways to make the facility a major attraction – perhaps as a Hall of Nations that celebrates all the various cultures that make Oakland such a wonderful place in which to reside. Parks Supervisor, Tora Rocha, has previously remarked that Lake Merritt is our Golden Gate Park and following that train of thought, the Convention Center could complement the Oakland Museum much as the Academy of Sciences complements the DeYoung Museum. Moreover, Lake Merritt and its environs have tons of resources that, with sufficient planning and funding, could rival Golden Gate Park in a unique urban setting.
In support of this approach, I assembled a couple of documents including a cover letter and the adjacent map that pinpoints existing and underutilized resources. In its directive, the City Council insisted that the Calvin Simmons Theater be restored and maintained for public use. It sounds likely that the Arena will also be set aside for public use - but exactly how, is not yet apparent. Beyond that, it may take tons of lobbying to get far more public access. On the bright side, Orton has a spectacular track record for doing right with historic properties and, one way or the other, the building is going to be thoughtfully restored and will re-emerge as a community asset. Will it be all that it could be? That’s yet to be determined.
As an aside, in the process of researching Lake Merritt resources, I found two wonderful websites: an Illustrated Guide to Lake Merritt and an art project by Scott Oliver, that includes an audio tour, entitled, “Once Upon a Time Happily Ever After“.
Back in 2013, the City Council approved variable parking rates on a trial basis for Montclair. Three years later, despite repeated requests, that program has yet to be implemented citywide nor, more specifically, in the Walker Avenue and Lake Park lots which continue to charge $2 per hour. Five days a week, the lot under the freeway is about 85% empty and most of the cars that are there probably have monthly permits. The situation in the Walker lot is fairly similar. The net result is a loss of parking revenue for the city and, more importantly, demand for street parking on Lakeshore and Grand that far exceeds supply. The solution is simple, reduce the rate to $1 per hour on weekdays to encourage heavier use and do it now – not later still.
The next Grand Lake Neighbors meeting will be held at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 16. Agenda will include a monthly police activity report and most likely, continuing discussion of Airbnb problems and proposed changes to the City’s parking requirements with regard to in-law housing and new construction.
In addition, there’s a Community Meeting to discuss Secondary Units and Possible Designation of MacArthur-Oakland-Santa Clara Area as a Transit Hub on Monday, March 21 from
6:30 – 8:00 p.m. at Plymouth United Church of Christ, Fireside Room, 424 Monte Vista. Council members, Guillen, Kalb and McElhaney will all be in attendance.
Absence may make the heart grow fonder – but not in the case of the three USAgain clothing collection bins that were removed two weeks ago from the gas station on Lakeshore at Lake Park. Preliminary indications are that the various bin operators are complying with the City’s order to remove un-permitted bins, which is a bit surprising since a similar ordinance in San Jose was largely ignored. Kudos to City staff and to the Council for persevering on this issue. Also a reminder: if you have clothing or books or household miscellaneous you want to donate, please use the DonateOakland.org website as your guide. They’ve just added the Oakland Women’s Center to their list of approved Oakland non-profits and a listing from the Reuse People of America is in the (recycled) pipeline.
Neighborhood resident, Jennie Gerard, officially retired yesterday. She served as Chief of Staff for Pat Kernighan and, for the first year of his term, as Chief of Staff for Abel Guillen. Jennie was never big on taking personal credit for what she quietly accomplished but word is that Measure DD may have otherwise been a minor achievement – not the 198 million dollar windfall that totally transformed Lake Merritt; renovated Studio One; built the East Oakland Aquatic Sports and Recreation Center and much more.
In her retirement, Jennie says she’s going to travel; spend more time with her grandchild and, once a month, she’ll be volunteering with the Lake Merritt Weed Warriors which she co-founded.
Another of the non-profits on the DonateOakland.org recommended list is the annual Oakland Museum White Elephant Sale which wraps up this coming weekend. Hours are 10:00 – 4:00 p.m. both days. Sunday is bargain day. At some point, most of the merchandise will be discounted 50% and clothes and books will be sold by the bag.
The 3rd Annual Eastlake Music Festival is scheduled for Saturday, May 28. As was previously the case, the free festival is slated for the amphitheater at the south end of the lake with food trucks and additional activities located across the street in the Kaiser Convention Center parking lot. Reservations and donations to help underwrite the event are welcomed. For the record, this event is totally driven by volunteers and incredibly well organized. Having been there and done that (not nearly as well), I salute you all.
Speaking of successful, volunteer events, Odette Pollar staged the very first Neighborhood Plant Exchange in 2007 on Lakeshore in her yard and driveway. Nine years later on Saturday, March 26, they’ll be utilizing, for the first time, a new location on Lincoln Avenue where they have permanent storage facilities. All the details are on their flyer.
Thanks to my neighbor, Kathy Ko Chin for publicizing a special exhibit at the African History Museum and Library entitled “Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement”. It consists of a collection of appliqued coats created by Master Quilter, Patricia Montgomery. On view through July 16th.
Oakland’s EARTH DAY Celebration is scheduled for Saturday, April 23. Citywide, there will be several hundred projects to choose from including, in the immediate vicinity, big projects at the Rose Garden and Lake Merritt. As noted above, Splash Pad Park’s celebration is on the following day.
A special showing of “Cracking the Codes” is scheduled for Wednesday, March 2 at the Grand Lake Theatre. The film, followed by a community dialogue, is being hosted by Oakland Neighbors Inspiring Trust – a group that was organized in reaction to complaints that some NextDoor members were engaged in racial profiling. Details and background information are available in this Mercury News article. Click on THIS LINK for online ticket purchases.
Oakland Running Festival – March 20. Six different races ranging from the Full Marathon to a Kid’s Fun Run.
- Thursday, March 3, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m: Grand Avenue First Thursdays
- Saturday, March 5, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m: Oakland Museum White Elephant Sale
- Sunday, March 6, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m: Oakland Museum White Elephant Sale
- Saturday, March 12, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m: Rose Garden Volunteer Day
- Saturday, March 12, 8:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m: Studio Grand Opening Reception for “When She Rises, Celebrating Women’s Resistance”
- Wednesday, March 16, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m: Grand Lake Neighbors meeting at Lakeshore Baptist Church
- Saturday, March 19: All About Pets Celebrates its Official Grand Opening
- Sunday, March 20, 9:00 a.m. – Noon: Splash Pad Park Volunteer Work Day
- Sunday, March 20: Oakland Running Festival
- Monday, March 21, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m: Community Meeting at Plymouth Church to discuss secondary units and transit hub
- Saturday, March 26, Noon – 4:00 p.m: Neighborhood Plant Exchange
- Wednesday, April 6, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.: Oakland Earth Expo at Frank Ogawa Plaza
- Saturday, April 23: Citywide Celebration of Earth Day
- Sunday, April 24, 9:00 a.m. – Noon: Splash Pad Celebrates Earth Day
- Saturday, May 28, 1:00 – 9:00 p.m: Eastlake Music Festival