The Lakeshore-Lake Park News is a monthly feature authored by Pamela Drake, the Director of the Lakeshore Business Improvement District.
The Lakeshore BID
The Lakeshore Avenue Business Improvement District is the oldest BID in Oakland-a vehicle that property owners use to tax themselves to pay for improvements to the retail district they are part of. Our BID funds sidewalk and gutter cleaning, our security officer/ambassador, gardening in our tree wells and planters, holiday banners and decorations, advocacy, marketing, and community events designed to lure our neighbors from near and far to our district while giving back to our community.
How important is neighborhood retail? Well, a number of years ago during the infamous parking fee debacle, during which the City attempted to charge for evening parking, I helped organize two citywide retail events (with the support of city staff, thank you Samee Roberts) to repair the damage done to our retail psyche in Oakland. The slogan was “We’re here for you” and that’s true for every retail district, no matter how large or small. We are where you live in your neighborhoods, where you hang out and relax with family and friends, and we want you to feel welcome in your local town centers. So special events like Easter and Halloween Parades are part of what we’re happy to provide with the additional funding.
I really hope you didn’t miss the holiday festivities on Lakeshore this year. For the fourth year in a row, the Lakeshore Avenue BID sponsored free carriage rides, face painting and Santa visits. As some of you may remember, last year one of the Saturday afternoon events got rained out. There was no chance of that this year as there was, and still is, no rain in the forecast, but we did hold the event a little earlier in the season as a result. Additional holiday event photos are posted here.
Some of you may know that Oakland Grown is a local non-profit that supports small local businesses in many creative ways. For instance, they sponsor the Plaid Friday campaign that aims to lure shoppers away from the big box stores to our local guys and gals. Plaid Friday reflects the diversity of Oakland’s population and entrepreneurs including the many artists whose wares our shopkeepers sell. In addition to events, they also offer a gift card that can be loaded with cash and used at any business that’s signed up including a rewards system designed to increase shopper loyalty. You can buys goods and eat out using the card and you can gift the card to friends and family in the Town.
Mayor Visits, Shops Lakeshore
Oakland Grown kicked off the holiday shopping season before Thanksgiving right here on Lakeshore Avenue. A press conference was held with Mayor Jean Quan, Council Member Pat Kernighan, Oakland Grown founder Erin Kilmer Neel. Other speakers included Elida Scola of Galeria Scola and yours truly of the Lakeshore BID. After the press conference the Mayor visited various shops including Silver Moon Kids and Urban Indigo to kick off her own holiday shopping.
Mayor Quan also dropped by the carriage rides last weekend and said hello to the families waiting there. She has led our Easter Parade whenever she can squeeze it onto her busy schedule and documented our events on her facebook page. As always, we appreciate her shining a light on all our retail districts.
Also worth a mention, the Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church assists the BID whenever possible by staging fall and spring festivals in conjunction with our merchant events. They are also the newest members of the BID.
New Year for New Businesses
We never have a vacancy for long on Lakeshore-two spaces recently opened up and two merchants moved right in. Where the the sleep stores once plied their natural wares, a new hair salon is remodeling that site in the Wells Fargo building and planning on opening soon.
The shop with the new all-in-one exercise machines (3411 Lakeshore) has given way to a store that offers a new habit called “vaping,” taking in some level of nicotine and other flavors in an electronic “cigarette.” There are pros and cons to this business but an important aspect of this shop, called Refined Deliverance, is that it is not promoting smoking or vaping in public spaces and is tastefully run by Michelle Clevenger.
Some cities have banned the use of these devices in public but not the shops selling them nor their use within their confines. Stay tuned, as it seems this topic is still open for further discussion and possible regulation.
Mezze Closes, Shakewell to Open
So one dining chapter closes on Lakeshore and soon another one will begin. Maurice Darwish, a Trestle Glen resident, is not retiring but will instead spend more time with his wife, Solange, helping to run The Cove Cafe, their restaurant in San Francisco’s Castro district.
We have enjoyed the lovely and well-prepared meals and the refined but friendly ambience of this establishment and will miss it. There, one could get a top notch meal at a reasonable price or a good drink with friends at the bar. On December 18th Mezze was so packed for the Farewell Dinner, there was not a seat left in the house for a hungry BID director so I took some photos, chatted with the diners and Maurice, and enjoyed the live holiday music.
But, we are excited to add a new interesting bar and restaurant to the long list of creative establishments in bustling Oakland. The Shakewell Bar and Kitchen, according to their Facebook page, is a new “Americlectic” restaurant and bar with its roots in Mediterranean cuisine. Shakewell’s vibrant and social bar will be the center of the restaurant where our guests will meet to share seasonal food and drink.” It got an initial boost from a Kickstarter campaign and we can’t wait to sample the drinks and exciting menu.
Yayu Closes, Emilie to Open
We’re sorry to report that Yayu closed Monday after four years of serving delicious Ethiopian specialties in a very welcoming environment. Masai hinted that a new location may be in the offing at some future date and he promised to keep us advised.
We’ve just learned that the space has been leased by Germain Michel who owns a wine bar called Amelie with locations in San Francisco and New York. He has indicated that they intend to create a French bistro in their new Lakeshore location and will be serving lunch, dinner and a weekend brunch. Enhanced lighting and other minimal infrastructure improvements are planned. Opening will tentatively be sometime in March.
Germain is scheduled to meet on Thursday with representatives from the BID, Grand Lake Neighbors and nearby residents to discuss his application for a new alcohol license and his overall plans in more detail.
Unleashed by Petco
One more business that does not seem new anymore even though they have not yet opened, is Unleashed by Petco-building out where the old Blockbuster was. Unleashed is sort of the boutique version of Petco. This one is expected to have dog washing areas which may be one of the reasons it has taken them so long to remodel the site. They were slated to open last weekend but look to be ready to open their doors as soon as they can get their stock on the shelves.
Chao Thai (one of the oldest, continuously operating restaurants in the Grand Lake District) has a new owner. Khamleck Vilayhan also owns and operates “Davan Thai Cuisine” on 19th Street in downtown Oakland. In the few short weeks since they assumed ownership, they’ve implemented quite a few improvements including the new signs pictured here plus new exterior lights and umbrellas. Long term, Khamleck is hoping to make major improvements to the seating area in the entrance patio.
On a less cheerful note, as Ken Katz has already explained, our new trees, part of the Complete Streets Project, are mostly gone (5 out of 9) and some of the remainder are leaning perilously. I have asked that our Council Member’s office look into this and agree with Ken that it may be contractor negligence; they have promised to ask Public Works to check out the contract requirements. So I’m still hoping that by spring we will have new healthier trees in those barren tree wells.
From our shops, services, restaurants, and sunny outdoor tables to you and yours-Happy Holiday-whichever ones you celebrate-and a vibrant and, hopefully, rainy New Year!