GRAND AVENUE MERCHANT NEWS
Grand Avenue is changing so rapidly, it’s hard to believe that five years ago, when we conducted a neighborhood survey under the auspices of the Grand Lake Retail Advisory Group, there were about fifteen vacancies – not to mention, numerous properties that were underutilized and in disrepair.
Many of the “wants” that were verbalized in that survey have already been realized and now, we’re very close to checking off yet another. A pub to be called “E. W. Trapp’s, Jenny Wren” is in the offing at 3320 Grand Avenue. Co-owner, John Quinn made a detailed presentation at the last Grand Lake Neighbors meeting and he just emailed me to advise that the city has approved their application as well as their plans for facade improvements.
Parenthetically, “Jenny Wren” is the name of the grocery store that opened in this building in 1926. It was one of fifty-four locations in the Bay Area that entrepreneur, E. W. Trapp opened over a very few years. According to Quinn, their plans are to faithfully restore the facade. Reed Hearon is part of their design team and he’s proposed a menu that will include pizza and barbecue. Snacks will include the typical beer nuts but also atypical items such as “bonne bouche with honey and walnuts” and “fra mani sopressata with figs”.
There’s equally big news across the street. Grand Fare Market is on track to open in late September. I had a chance to speak with owner, Doug Washington on Saturday. Doug’s wife, Freya, will be operating the florist shop adjacent to the patio entrance. Inside, there’s going to be a bakery, oyster bar, cheese and charcuterie. Also, sandwiches and other prepared foods and a separate section with rotisseried chicken and porchetta.
Doug’s vision is for folks to drop in for food to take home or to eat outside in the patio which has, as it’s main feature, a 1948 Spartan trailer where you can purchase ice cream and coffee. As you can see in the photo that Doug provided, the trailer was hoisted up and over the high stucco wall just this past week.
More about that wall: as I mentioned to Doug, I was a bit put off by its construction but, now that I’ve had a chance to see it, in context, I’ve had a change of heart. It’s totally analogous to architectural traditions in Mexico and Spain where beautiful courtyards are totally screened off from the street. Doug concurred noting that he wanted a hidden space that would “surprise” people when they entered. Not yet completed, it’s still apparent that this will be a magical retreat and almost certainly, a huge success.
A few doors down from Grand Fare, Boniere Bakery has closed – ending a run that began in 1876 in Alameda. I reached Andrew by phone yesterday and he noted, with some melancholy, that he’s been baking for forty years and has some health issues. With their lease up for renewal this week, he and his mother, Diane, decided it was a good time to retire.
The space has already been leased – again for use as a bakery, but so far I haven’t been able to pin down a name. There is a rumor floating around that Grand is going to be getting a French Bakery – but rumors are just that.
The office space just up the street at 3335 Grand (next door to Smitty’s) has also recently been leased. The property owner wasn’t at liberty to divulge his new tenant but another rumor says it could be a nail shop – which would please absolutely no one, but then again, until confirmed, it’s just a rumor.
Meanwhile, Better Homes and Gardens, which will have to re-locate in roughly two months, won’t be the new tenant across the street but it sounds like they are close to signing elsewhere on the Grand Avenue corridor.
Late in the evening, after the First Thursdays event in August, Sole Space was a beehive of activity with a DJ doing her thing. Owner Jeff Perlstein introduced me to Aaron De La Cruz who posed for me in the front of the mural he’d created. Just the other day, I returned and photographed the cartoon- themed kids shoes that are also available in adult sizes. I was a bit amused to see the men’s version displayed just a couple of feet from wing-tips that looked almost identical to the ones I wore more than forty years ago when I got married – but the new ones are about half the weight and are almost certainly, far more comfortable. For the record, my vintage wing-tips are still in the back of my closet gathering dust. Yes, I’m still hoarding.
Along with a friend, this Saturday, I’m doing a Sidewalk Sale in front of Red Wagon Collectibles. The two of us will be bringing several hundred vintage/antique prints and paintings plus an assortment of quality frames. I’ll also be heavily discounting prices on many of the paintings and prints I already have displayed at Red Wagon. Hours are 9:00 – 6:00 p.m. Address is 3654 Grand – next to Galleria Scola.
When I went upstairs at Alchemy Bottle Shop to photograph Kim Snyder’s wildfowl paintings, I couldn’t help but focus simultaneously on the three large bottles of beer at the far end of the counter. They’re from the Bruery in Orange County – a top notch brewer.
Jeremy has departed as the Gallery Manager at Panorama Framing and his replacement is Hall Felker – an artist in her own right, who earlier this year exhibited at Alchemy Bottle Shop.
The hard-working volunteers at Studio Grand are taking a well-deserved vacation for the month of September. Although adult music and dance classes will continue through the month, no concerts have been scheduled. Come October, however, their concert schedule is already nearly filled and they’re now booking for November.
Charlie Hallowell’s Pizzaiolo will be hosting another in a series of fundraisers billed as Sunday Suppers on September 20.
On August 26, the Grand Lake Theatre played host to the First Annual (Maybe) Block n Roll Film Festival. If you attended, please post some comments at the bottom of this page.
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LAKESHORE/LAKE PARK MERCHANT NEWS
“The Main Squeeze” at 3445 Lakeshore (next to Lin Jia) should be opening this week. As I wrote in July, 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.
Speaking of Flipside, I picked up a hamburger a few days ago and was delighted to see beers on the shelf behind the counter. Omar says that they obtained a beer and wine license a month ago and are now awaiting delivery of a refrigeration unit. Plans are to have bottled beers and beers on draft.
I was equally delighted to see a nice selection of Modarri Cars in the window at Adventure Toys and Learning Center. My nephew, David Silverglate, designed the ubiquitous “O-Ball” and this is his latest product. No, this is not a paid advertisement – but, in the interest of full disclosure, we do own stock in the company.
Lakeshore Produce’s move up the street to 3312 Lakeshore – next door to Colonial Doughnuts is still in the works but may be delayed slightly. Look for their re-opening in their new location is September or October.
If you’re not already aware of this, Arizmendi is open until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays through Saturdays until further notice.
The Kwik Way/Park Way building is currently Merritt Bakery’s only operating facility as the original location on E. 18th Street is closed. Back in December, the East Bay Express reported that they’d be closed for three months to install a sprinkler system but I’m not sure what’s happening.
LZ’s GRAND AVENUE – WEST OF 580 BLOG
LZ has outdone herself with her latest blog reporting on Enssaro Ethiopian Restaurant and their plans to move to a much larger location across the street within the next couple of weeks. Click on THIS LINK to access the September blog and be sure to check out the offer of a free draft beer for Splash Pad Newsletter readers. This archive includes all the blogs LZ has posted over the past two years.
FIRST THURSDAYS ON GRAND
This month’s First Thursdays Art Walk takes place September 3. Hours are 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. unless otherwise indicated.
Panorama Framing will be hosting a reception for the opening of “Urban Alternatives” – bright acrylic paintings by Debra Jan Bibel. Refreshments will be served and music will be provided by Oluyemi Thomas on saxophone and bass clarinet.
San Francisco Fiber at 3711 Grand extends an open invitation to try your hand at weaving and spinning. Sock yarn in variegated colors is discounted 50-70%.
Studio Grand is closed for the month of September – aside for regularly scheduled music and dance classes.
Alyce on Grand will be open late and Alyce is offering a 15% discount on all regularly priced merchandise.
GRAND LAKE FARMERS MARKET
The Grand Lake Market continues to offer an EBT market match ($20 in tokens for $10) in effect until the funds run dry. Market Manager, Chris Blackburn, says that the knife sharpening service is gone and, for the time being, they won’t be replaced. Your other local option is the truck that parks at Grand Lake Ace Hardware on a regular basis.
SPLASH PAD PARK
Splash Pad Grand Crew’s next 4th Sunday work day is scheduled for September 26. Now that the new beds are fairly well established and all are pruned and weeded, we’re starting to focus on our next project – expanding into the much larger, abandoned Dogwood bed at the eastern edge of the plaza.
As always, our work day starts at 9:00 a.m. and ends at Noon with lunch. This past month, I made egg salad sandwiches and Mary Jo brought dill pickles canned by her husband, Terry. What on the next menu? Please join us on Sunday, September 27 to find out. RSVP’s to firstname.lastname@example.org would be appreciated.
Walk Oakland Bike Oakland’s 3rd Annual Love Our Lake Day is Sunday, September 20. “This free event offers two car-free miles of human powered fun! Walk, bike, skate, dance, stroll, play and experience Lake Merritt – the nation’s first wildlife refuge – in a new way. The route wraps around the southern flank of Lake Merritt from Lakeshore Avenue, around Lake Merritt Blvd and on to Snow Park. Full details including contact information to volunteer are on this link.
Since 1967, Clausen House, which has offices at the corner of MacArthur and Grand Avenues, has been providing supported employment and educational services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They have a couple of big events in the works beginning with an art show of their clients’ art work on Friday, September 18 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. The art will be for sale but there’s also going to be a silent auction and raffle and refreshments will be served. All the details are included in their event postcard. Please note and give a round of applause to the event sponsors which include Arizmendi, Chipotle, Trader Joe’s, Oaktown Spice Shop, as well as Patrick at Panorama Framing and Elida at Galleria Scola.
The other upcoming event on October 10th is Clausen House’s 3rd Annual Walk for Independence fundraiser. You can help out by becoming a walker or supporter.
ODDS AND ENDS
Last month, I expressed some reservations about the proposed “road diet” for Grand Avenue. I’ve since been reassured that any subsequent infrastructure improvements need not conform to the current re-striping proposal. I’m also hopeful that, based on input from the community, the final re-striping plans will incorporate some additional safety features. Irregardless, this will represent a major step in the process of making the Grand Avenue commercial district safer and more pedestrian-friendly.
Thanks to our council member, Abel Guillen, for sharing on Facebook this article in the San Jose Mercury News about the rental crisis that’s squeezing out the middle class. Here’s what they reported regarding the big new housing development on Grand at Bellevue.
“Joe McCarthy, senior project manager for San Francisco-based Bridge Housing, didn’t know what to expect when the affordable housing developer opened the application process in June for 68 units at the new AveVista Apartments on Lake Merritt in Oakland. For two weeks, lines circled the block as more than 3,700 people applied to live in the apartments, half of which will rent for between $785 and $1,399 per month. The other half, governed by Section 8 subsidies, will rent for about 30 percent of a resident’s income.”
David Gans probably doesn’t require an introduction but he’s a Haddon Hill resident, regular performer at the Grand Lake Farmers Market and, host of the Grateful Dead Hour on NPR. There are nineteen days remaining in his Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a new album he’s planning to release in November – coinciding with an oral history of the Grateful Dead that he’s written.
The Oakland Unified School District has moved their offices out of the Lakeview School location and it’s just been leased to American Indian Public Charter Schools.
Next meeting of the Grand Lake Neighbors group will be Wednesday, September 16 in the Lakeshore Baptist Church Library beginning at 7 p.m.
- Thursday, September 3, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m: Grand Avenue First Thursdays
- Friday, September 4, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m: Oakland Art Murmur
- Saturday, September 12, 10:00am – 1:00pm: Volunteer Fair at Lakeview School
- Saturday, September 12, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m: Volunteer Work Party and Morcom Rose Garden
- Wednesday, September 16, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m: Grand Lake Neighbors meeting at Lakeshore Baptist Church
- Sunday, September 20, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m: Love Our Lake Day at Lake Merritt
- Sunday, September 27, 9:00 a.m. – Noon: Splash Pad Park Volunteer Work Day
- Saturday, October 10: Clausen House Walk for Independence
- Friday and Saturday, October 16-17, 6:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m: Lakeside Gardens Autumn Lights Festival
- Saturday, October 17: The Oakland Plant Exchange, 2619 Broadway.