GRAND AVENUE MERCHANT NEWS
Grand Flowers, under a succession of owners, has occupied the same small space in the Grand Lake Theatre building since 1987. For the past six years, Lidia Wallenburg has been keeping that tradition alive but she and her dog (Conan) are about to move to Argentina where she plans on opening a “Glamping” resort featuring air-conditioned yurts that are luxuriously furnished and most likely, festooned with fresh flowers.
Fortunately, Grand Flowers will continue operating but do so under the ownership of Parisa Hemmat. Parisa confided that she began helping out in a flower shop owned by a friend of the family when she was just an adolescent. It quickly became apparent that she had a great eye for color and the ability to assemble striking floral arrangements and assuming ownership of Grand Flowers is a dream come true.
Lidia’s going to stick around until Mid-July to help Parisa with the transition. Please take this opportunity to offer her your good wishes while simultaneously welcoming Parisa to the neighborhood.
Heavy construction is still ongoing at Grand Fare Market. The walls for the restrooms are up at the rear of the parking lot and inside, the vending counters are beginning to take shape. If they don’t hit any snags with the permitting process, there’s a good chance they could open sometime in August.
My first couple of weeks at Arvi Dorsey’s Red Wagon antiques shop at 3654 Grand has been quite successful. I’ve posted an album of my current inventory on this Facebook link and will regularly replenish merchandise as space becomes available. Red Wagon is open Thursdays through Sundays from Noon to 6:00 p.m.
In addition to Arvi’s regular hours, another neighborhood antiques dealer and I will have a big sidewalk sale in front of Red Wagon on Saturday, July 11 from 9-4 and that day only, everything in my room inside will be discounted 15%.
Coincidentally, a subscriber to the Grand Lake Neighbors Yahoo Group independently started organizing a “Neighborhood Block Sale” for July 11 centered around her home at he corner of Wickson and Walker. If you live between Lakeshore and Grand from 580 up to Sunnyside and want to be added to the list of participating garage sales, give Raquel Contreras a phone call at 510 418-1495. If you want to shop instead, look for signs posted in the neighborhood on the day of the sale.
The future of the Shell gas station across from Ace Hardware is currently up in the air. Owner Jeff Hansen is looking to either rebuild the existing station or, as seems more likely, replace it with a 3-story mixed use development on the corner of Grand and Wildwood. If the latter is approved, it would be a first for the City of Piedmont. The proposal is on the agenda for a July 6 joint meeting of the Piedmont City Council and Planning Commission.
This month, Studio Grand’s event calendar features nine concerts – as always a wonderful mix of jazz, ethnic and electronic music along with a tempting array of classes. If you have free time you’d like to dedicate to very worthy cause, they’re frequently in need of volunteers for whom admission is free. Right now, there are two slots open for the SLV record release concert on July 11. Sign up on THIS LINK.
Alchemy Bottle Shop will have an opening reception of paintings by Kim Snyder on Saturday, July 11. Kim, who is based in Carpinteria, has been working on all new paintings specifically for this show which will feature wildlife and particularly, birds.
Urban Furniture is hosting a fundraising dance party at the Lakeside Garden Center on two successive nights – Saturday and Sunday, August 29 and 30 from 7:00 p.m. until Midnight. Details are on the Evite invitation.
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LAKESHORE/LAKE PARK MERCHANT NEWS
The space vacated by Scarecrow Popcorn at 3445 Lakeshore (next to Lin Jia) is about to be resurrected as “The Main Squeeze”. Offerings will include juices and smoothies made from organic fruits and veggies plus Acai Bowls – the South American berry that’s called a “super food”. The Achai will be available with granola, yogurt and other toppings. Principals are James Gatts, who was the Bar Manager at Shakewell, along with Nimer Musleh and his brother, Omar from Flipside. Loook for “The Main Squeeze” to open within the next couple of weeks.
Speaking of Shakewell, the July issue of Oakland Magazine has not yet been published, but the Shakewell Facebook page is trumpeting their award as Best New Restaurant for 2015. I don’t know where the time went, but that “new restaurant” is just about to celebrate it’s First Anniversary on July 9 with festivities that begin with a Happy Hour and a cold glass of cava. Reservations are available at the Shakewell website.
As I reported last month, Lakeshore Produce will be moving up the street to 3312 Lakeshore – next door to Colonial Doughnuts at what is currently a PCS Metro outlet. According to property owner, Barry Gilbert, Peet’s Coffee intends an expansion into the adjacent Lakeshore Produce space. Peet’s is interested in doing the same with the Burrito Shop – but apparently, that’s not yet a done deal.
Center Stage Salon is supporting a Dollars for Scholars fundraising campaign on Sunday, July 5 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Event includes a hair braiding workshop, lunch and photo shoot. Stop by for details or phone 510 465-9552. Center Stage is also a sponsor of the Oakland Teen Empowerment Program that culminates in a pageant on July 25. For more information, visit their website.
Arizmendi is closed and won’t reopen until July 6. They’ve done so, I’m told, to complete repairs and refinishing of their concrete flooring. When it comes to artistic window displays, it’s hard to compete with Silver Moon. As Dima would freely admit, she’s lucky to have an extremely talented mother.
“On Feb. 15, 2015, Karen Hester launched Bites at the Lake in the Lakeview Library parking lot (between Lakeshore & Grand Ave.). While soccer teams play at Astro Park and parents supervise their 2 to 5 year-olds enjoying the play structure, a rotating series of food trucks serve park visitors every Sunday from noon to 3 pm, in sunshine or light drizzle. (If we ever get a real downpour on a Sunday afternoon, consider visiting anyway to perform an anti-drought happy dance in the lot, with or without food trucks.) The nearby park restrooms are open for your comfort needs.”
READ MORE including reports on the Municipal Band Concerts, Working Body’s new location and Ahn’s Burgers.
FIRST THURSDAYS ON GRAND
This month’s First Thursdays Art Walk takes place July 2. Hours are 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. unless otherwise indicated.
Panorama Framing will be hosting an opening night reception for “MACROCOSMS” – Acrylics & Monotypes by Irene Nelson. Refreshments will be served.
Urban Furniture is hosting a reception for Tyler Morgan’s show of scented candles housed in recycled containers. Light refreshments served. 10% discount on store merchandise.
Baraka Gallery (432 Santa Clara) features textiles and other ethnographic arts. 6:30 – 9:00pm only.
San Francisco Fiber at 3711 Grand extends an open invitation to try your hand at weaving and spinning + 50-70% off striped and variegated super sock yarn.
GRAND LAKE FARMERS MARKET
It’s my favorite time of year at the farmers market with fresh-picked corn and a cornucopia of stone fruits calling my name. The apricots I purchased last week from EGB Farms were especially succulent and compared favorably with the ones from the tree in our back yard growing up in Riverside.
I confess that I have far less pleasant memories of, on a whim, trying my hand at harvesting apricots in Hemet during my college years. By 9:00 a.m., the temperature was likely approaching 90 degrees and I was working on a case of sunstroke. After two hours, I’d picked two lugs of fruit and gave up. My check for $1.98 arrived a few days later – all of which helps explain why I hold farm workers in such high regard. It’s very hard work – often under extremely trying conditions.
There’s a 15 year-old named Carver Fitzgerald (with more sense than I) who followed a similar whim and recently decided to volunteer at the Grand Lake Market. Carver lives a couple of blocks up Grand Avenue and says he’s been coming to the market for as long as he can remember which would likely coincide with the opening of the park in 2003.
A student at the College Preparatory School, Carver was interested in learning more about the market operations and is currently helping out in the Information Booth where he’s selling EBT tokens, writing receipts and doing whatever else is required. In a couple of weeks, he’s also going to do a volunteer stint at the Inzana Ranch booth.
The market has a new Assistant Manager. John Ruiz similarly used to volunteer at the Agricultural Institute of Marin’s market in Stonestown. When the position opened here in Oakland, they offered him the job and he happily accepted. John is an Oakland resident.
Last week, the farmers market management hired a janitorial company to power wash the plaza and it looks much improved. Lucero Brothers and Siong Farms have both returned to the market.
EBT has another market match ($20 in tokens with a $10 purchase) in effect until the funds run dry. The market will be open this Saturday, July 4.
SPLASH PAD PARK
We had another good turnout for our volunteer work day this past Sunday. Almost all the native plant beds were weeded and the last of the cardboard weed barrier went in on the largest of the original beds. We’re now beginning to think seriously about expanding into the even larger adjacent Dogwood bed.
Biggest problem we’re having now is a lack of funding for improvements. The last of the original cash from our 2003 fundraising campaign, supplemented by donations from the Fiber Festival and from a Keep Oakland Beautiful grant, have been exhausted and plans to install decomposed granite pathways are temporarily stalled.
This past week, I emailed Councilmember Abel Guillen with a request for his support in arranging for the Splash Pad group to lease the Lakeview School parking lot and playground on Saturdays for use as paid parking. The two areas combined can accommodate at least 125 vehicles. Moving farmers market vehicles there would free up several dozen spaces on the street and under the freeway – with lots of parking spaces remaining on the school grounds for the general public.
This would be a win/win situation for obvious reasons but two questions are paramount. One, would folks willingly park there to avoid the congestion under the freeway and to help support Splash Pad improvements? Two, can we line up enough volunteers to staff the lot during market hours? I’m looking at this as a temporary arrangement as I’d previously urged Abel and School Board member, Aimee Eng, to pursue this idea long term as a source of funding for Oakland School groups.
Next work day is Sunday, July 26 from 9:00 until Noon.
A member of the Oakland History Facebook group recently posted this 1936 photo of Boy Scouts camped in Lakeview Park. It confirmed a story I’d heard years ago from a Piedmont resident who recalled camping in what is now Splash Pad. He said they pitched tents; dug trenches to keep out rainwater and cooked over camp fires. A lot of things have changed in the interim. For starters, they had to contend with rain.
Are you looking for an outdoor, overnight adventure for you and your kids, the first of four Summer Sleepovers at Fairyland begins July 11. Admission includes rides, special performances, dinner and a continental breakfast. More information and tickets are at THIS LINK.
If you ride a bike; if you’d like to ride a bike; if you like to watch people riding bikes; if you like to listen to music played on amplifiers powered by volunteers pedaling bikes; if you’re cheap like me and want to have a great time without having to spend a dime – you have to check out Pedalfest at Jack London Square on Saturday, July 25. All proceeds benefit Bike East Bay.
The National Night Out celebration takes place on Tuesday, August 4 – typically from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. If you don’t already have one in your immediate neighborhood, take the initiative to start one. It’s a lot of fun and there’s no better way to become acquainted with your neighbors. Register your block party HERE. P.S. If you ask nicely, you may get a fire engine to visit or, at a minimum, a city representative.
The Second Annual Town’s Half Marathon is August 15th. This year, the Oakland-based organizers are also introducing a Better Health East Bay 5k.
Due to a scheduling conflict, Councilmember Abel Guillen had to reschedule the community forum to discuss the proposed road diet for Grand Avenue from Elwood up to the Piedmont city line. New date is July 8 from 6:30 – 8:30pm in Barnett Hall which is up the driveway behind Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church.
The initial proposal from the City’s Traffic Engineering Department is available on this informational flyer posted by Walk Oakland/Bike Oakland. Bike advocates will also be at the farmers market on July 4 to answer questions about the city’s proposal – along with a couple of modifications that they’d like considered. For some more background information, see this report from KTVU.
While I have very strong feelings regarding this issue, I’ll bite my tongue for the time being in deference to the Grand Lake Steering Committee which is focused largely on ensuring a big turnout of neighborhood stake holders representing a range of opinions. Please do attend this important meeting.
The free block party in early June that was part of the Megapolis Music Festival was incredible. It featured the Kitchen Sisters and Glynn Washington from Snap Judgement but the big draw was Fantastic Negrito (winner of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert competition). If you have an opportunity to see this group anytime in the future, don’t miss out.
The annual East Bay Express “Best of” poll wraps up July 5. If you have 5-10 minutes to spare, give a shout out to your neighborhood favorites. The poll is six pages long and EBX registration is required. Here’s a link.
Next meeting of the Grand Lake Neighbors group will be Wednesday, June 17 in the Lakeshore Baptist Church Library beginning at 7 p.m. OPD will be there to discuss recent crime statistics and answer questions.
The Warriors NBA Championship parade and rally had to be the best documented event in the entire history of the East Bay. Knowing that I’d never get within 100 yards of the stage on the day of the event, I ventured out on Thursday night to photograph the set-up process and got some good photos of the blue and gold lights and, on Friday, some not-so-good photos of the parade. One downside to what was otherwise a fabulous event is that ten days later, the porta-potties at the foot of 1200 Lakeshore had not yet been removed. If the Warriors could move mountains to win the championship, surely someone, somehow could move those porta-potties.
- Thursday, July 2, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m: Grand Avenue First Thursdays
- Friday, July 3, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m: Oakland Art Murmur
- Saturday, July 11: First of 4 Summer Sleepovers at Fairyland
- Wednesday, July 15, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m: Grand Lake Neighbors meeting at Lakeshore Baptist Church.
- Saturday, July 25, 11:00am – 7:00pm: Pedalfest in Jack London Square
- Tuesday, August 4, 7:00 – 9:00pm: National Night Out Celebration
- Saturday, August 15: Town’s Half Marathon
- Saturday and Sunday, August 29-30: Urban Furniture’s Dance Party Fundraiser at Lakeside Garden Center
- Saturday, September 12, 10:00am – 1:00pm: Volunteer Fair at Lakeview School
- Saturday, October 17: The Oakland Plant Exchange, 2619 Broadway.