Our apologies for a somewhat skimpy newsletter this month. LZ, our intrepid Grand Avenue West of 580 blogger, is on vacation and I’ve been preoccupied with other obligations. You’ll also note that we’re publishing a couple of days early in order to provide some last-minute publicity for three neighborhood events on Saturday.
GRAND AVENUE MERCHANT NEWS
Earlier this week, the much anticipated re-opening of Grand Fare Market finally became a reality. I went there for lunch on Tuesday and enjoyed a smoked turkey sandwich washed down with a spectacular Oyster Stout while sitting in the courtyard. It’s far more lush than previously and it is “ornamented” with quirky touches including my favorite – antique urinals that were converted to planters and then mounted on Penrose & Sons’ brick walls. The linen napkins and vintage silver-plate flatware are a nice touch but what’s most striking is the extent to which the high stucco walls shut out the hustle and bustle on the adjacent avenue. It’s easy to imagine that, instead of Oakland, you’re in an out-of-the-way destination in Spain or Colonial Mexico – and after lunch, looking forward to an afternoon siesta.
As promised, the overall operation is much simpler and the kitchen (overseen by Chef Chris Fernandez whose resume includes Oliveto) is producing a wider variety of foods with a somewhat lower price point. All the staff I encountered were efficient and super friendly. During the day, you order and pay at the counter and your purchase will be brought to your table. During evening hours, I believe they’re offering a more formal wait service. According to a sign in the window, fresh baked goods are available for purchase beginning at 7:00 a.m. and the market, as a whole, opens at 9:00.
By the way, the transformation is not quite complete. On my visit on Tuesday, they were still painting the sign on the front facade and paintings by Doug’s wife and business partner (Freya Prowe) are yet to be hung but will be up in time for August’s First Thursday art walk. One last note: Grand Fare Market continues to receive lots of press, including most recently, this article in the San Francisco Business Times and this one in Berkeleyside.
Studio Grand’s month-long salute to music and dance with roots in Vera Cruz, Mexico concludes this Sunday with “Encuentro De Son Jarocho Oakland” beginning at 5:30. If it’s half as joyous as the San Jarocho Fandango at Studio Grand on July 3, I’d heartily recommend attending. San Jarocho is an extremely high-energy music form. It consists almost entirely of stringed-instruments and dancers who provide a flamenco-like beat. Photos that I shot on July 3 are available on this link.
If you’re going to join me on Sunday, this article in the New York Times about the “Fandango Fronterizo” should be required reading. Although it’s not mentioned in the NYTimes article, approximately twenty musicians from Oakland (including Luis Baltazar from Spettro Restaurant) participated in the annual gathering at the border fence that separates San Diego from Tijuana.
Studio Grand has been planning a pop up market for Saturday, August 20 that will feature art, books, and designer clothing. Lou Grantham at San Francisco Fiber decided to follow suit and she’ll be discounting prices on select books, yarns and textiles. In the spirit of the occasion, Panorama Framing will move some print bins outside and Ruth Stroup Insurance will be giving away “Insurance Lady” shopping bags. Don’t be surprised if the actual number of participants doubles between now and then and may even include a sampling of the vintage artwork I have stored in my basement. The pop-up hours are 12:30 – 5:30 p.m.
I‘m pleased to report that Alyce Preston is back on her feet and working at her Alyce on Grand shop every other day. According to her assistant and art curator, Kalkidan (Kalu) Gebreyohannes, Alyce will be there on Saturday, July 30 for their monthly “Sip and Shop” event. On this occasion, the event will double as an opening afternoon reception for an exhibit of photographs depicting the Little Box Theater ballet dancers, who will also be in attendance. The event, which runs from 12:30 – 5:30 will also include a trunk show for New York-based Jembere Eyeware, as well as a DJ and free mimosas.
Alyce on Grand’s own pop-up (on Saturday, August 13 from 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.) will be a collaboration between Alyce, Kalu (who has her own clothing line) and artist, Mahader Tesfai. Mahader has been hand-painting clothing, belts, handbags and other accessories specifically for this event and Alyce will again be pouring free mimosas.
Urban Furniture Director, Tracey Weaver, is busy making arrangements for their 2nd Annual Single Moms at Work Fundraiser and Auction on Saturday, August 13. This is what she had to say about the event:
“Last year, more than 125 people attended. We are looking for volunteers and donations for our auction. Some people are donating events (a luncheon on Jack London Square), some are donating time shares and others are donating tangible items. We’ll have live music (local musician Rafael Ramirez – afro Cuban trio), food and a bar.”
Construction is ongoing at 3320 Grand – the former home of Better Homes and Gardens Realty and the future home of E. W. Trapp’s Jenny Wren Pub. Last week, they removed the false front that covered the original facade. Unfortunately, some of the decorative terra cotta appears to be damaged but hopefully, it can be restored which, in my book, is always a huge plus. I also peeked inside the building but the interior is still virtually an empty shell. Out in back, laborers were moving big chunks of concrete out to a trailer parked in the parking lot. My assumption is that E. W. Trapp’s will boast a patio to call their own.
Grand Lake ALL ABOUT PETS is currently in the midst of a five-week long Bravo Pup puppy training class that filled up quickly. A new series will begin, Tuesday, August 16 and prior sign-ups are required. For more information, visit the Bravo Pup website.
Uhuru Furniture & Collectibles is having a “Student Sale Open House” on Sunday, August 21 from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Purchase of two or more pieces of furniture (which are already discounted 15% during their summer sale) will earn an additional $5 discount. The open house event will also include refreshments and a raffle drawing.
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LAKESHORE/LAKE PARK MERCHANT NEWS
Approximately forty neighbors attended the meeting on July 18 where Lowney Architecture unveiled their plans for a mixed-use development on the Kwik Way site. Here are some of the key points:
- The building will be 60 feet tall with two stories of indoor parking and three stories of housing.
- Fifty residential units are proposed and each will be assigned one parking space.
- A final decision has yet to be made as to whether the housing will be rental apartments or condos.
- Either way, the housing will be market-rate but the developer will be required to pay $10,000 per unit into the City’s affordable housing fund.
- The small back parcel on Cheney will be leveled and turned into a landscaped driveway that provides garage access for tenants.
- According to Code, a 50 foot high, 7 unit building could be constructed on the above parcel. Instead those units are being shifted to the structure that faces Lake Park.
- Twelve off-street parking spaces are set aside for Bank of America customers.
- The residences will be a mix of studios and one and two-bedroom units.
- The wavy exterior on the front facade was inspired by Kwik Way’s “winged” sign and also mimics the bend in the roadway.
- No decision has been made about a tenant for the 4,000 square foot retail space but preference is for a business that helps energize the block.
- The name for the building has yet to be finalized but two early suggestions were “500 Lake Park” and “Grand Lake Gateway”. The latter was unintentionally transposed in the architect’s rendering to read “Grand Lake Getaway” which may be the strongest contender thus far. In any case, according to Senior Designer, Jesse Duclos, they will “go through a more public and inclusive process to name the building”.
So far, overall feedback has been decidedly mixed which I found quite surprising given the near unanimity that greeted a similar proposal circa 2005. My guess is that attitudes have been shifting for a variety of reasons. Even folks who have only been here in the neighborhood for three or four years are complaining about increased traffic and a lack of adequate parking. Another major factor is the lack of provisions for affordable units at a time when lower and middle-income residents are being forced out. That said, the arguments in favor of a mixed-use project on this site are equally compelling. If you’d like to share your own two cents, please fill out the neighborhood survey described below under Odds and Ends.
Just this afternoon, I received a very timely email from Hana Hayashi resolving a mini controversy about the name of the bar she and Hortensia Mitura are planning for the New Easy space. Here’s what she had to say:
“Thanks for thinking of us! Yes, you are right- the name is “The Cat House” (not to be confused with the Cat Club in SF). We are aware that the name could raise some eyebrows, but rest assured, no lewd connotation intended; we are just cat lovers and our logo will be a black cat in reference to the Old Tom cat fixtures that were commonly mounted outside 18th century bars to lure passersby into places of libation. The Cat House will be a cocktail bar with no food, and we want to offer quality spirits, beer, and wine for a reasonable price in a beautiful but comfortable space. As far as an update, the purchase process took much longer than anticipated- we just got our liquor license and closed escrow this week and have our heads down and work gloves on every day in hopes to open very soon!
We, the owners, (Hortensia Mitura & Hana Hayashi) are two seasoned bartenders who have worked for Charlie Hallowell’s establishments (The Boot & Shoe Service and Pizzaiolo) for years. Hortensia managed the Boot & Shoe bar program for the past five years and I bartender at Pizzaiolo for five years and then at The Boot & Shoe for another five years. Now it’s time for us to work for ourselves! We can’t wait to continue serving our beloved neighborhood regulars!”
Repairs at Mary’s Cleaners and UA Nails have been delayed due to a couple of structural issues including removal of vintage tiles that contained asbestos and a requirement for automatic door openers.
LZ’s GRAND AVENUE – WEST OF 580 BLOG
LZ is taking a well-deserved summer vacation and will be back with another report next month. In the meantime, all her previous blogs are archived and available on this link.
GRAND AVENUE FIRST THURSDAYS
This month’s First Thursdays Art Walk on Grand Avenue takes place August 4. Galleries are open to 8 PM unless otherwise specified.
San Francisco Fiber: (3711 Grand) Lou Grantham extends an open invitation to try your hand at weaving and spinning.
SPLASH PAD PARK
This past weekend, we once again had a great turnout for our monthly 4th Sunday Grand Crew work day. The existing beds were extensively weeded and the 500 square foot expansion bed will almost certainly be ready to plant by October when the rains should be starting. For our next work party on Sunday, August 28, we will be laying the last of the cardboard weed barrier and topping it with compost and will also continue weeding and dead-heading the existing Native Plant beds.
As is usually the case, work starts at 9:00 a.m. with lunch served at Noon. New volunteers are always welcome regardless of experience but RSVPs are requested.
Last month, I shared a fairly long list of vendors that had dropped the market for a variety of reasons. Considering how successful this market is, we shouldn’t be surprised that those spaces have or will soon be filled.
Here’s what already in:
- Crane Creek: Sunflowers, tulips, chrysanthemums, cucumbers, tomatoes, pumpkins.
- Beber: Almond Milk
ODDS AND ENDS
A Grand Lake Neighbors survey that went online on July 15 consists of 20 questions regarding strictly local issues. Three are at the behest of the new Farmers Market manager. One is about the Grand Avenue “Road Diet” and a couple are about the 50-unit mixed use building proposed for the Kwik Way property. Plus, lots more!
Your input helps influence the shape of things to come. So please do take five to ten minutes to fill out the survey, which is available on this link through Tuesday, August 9 when the survey closes. To date, some of the responses to individual questions have been surprising. Some, a bit disappointing. One totally astounding – but in a good way.
The earliest preliminary summary of the results will be available for sharing in time for the Wednesday, August 17 meeting of the Grand Lake Neighbors group in the Family Room at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church beginning at 7:00 p.m. Other items on the agenda include, in part:
- A presentation from Farrah Hussein, an attorney with the City of Oakland’s Neighborhood Law Corps
- Crime reports (and daily crime reports issues)
- Kwik Way project status and issues
- The status of proposed AirBnB regulations
According to Richard Raya, (Abel Guillen’s Chief of Staff) the group coordinating plans to totally revamp the Astro Tot Lot will be on site beginning at 10 AM on Saturday, July 30. They’ll be answering questions, raising funds, recruiting volunteers and raffling off a pair of A’s tickets! Simultaneously, The Lakeview Library will be hosting a Bubble Party for children. You can learn more and donate online via their Facebook page.
Pedalfest was as successful as always but the amphibious bike race much less so. This may have been due at least in part to the addition of a 4-mile lap around Lake Merritt that was a bit daunting. Just past the Bellevue Club, the race winner broke a drive chain but fortunately, Charlie Cho, owner of Lakeview Bicycle, came to the rescue with the loan of a chain puller. Ten minutes later, they were back on the road – heading for the finish line at Jack London Square.
The 8th Annual Volunteer Fair is scheduled for September 10 at Lakeview School from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
The Oakland Municipal Band‘s concert series continues through August 7. This Sunday’s program includes the mandatory Sousa marches plus Broadway show tunes plus a taste of the Star Trek theme and lots more. All concerts begin at 1:00 p.m. As an aside, when I looked at the program, I was pleased to see so many of our neighbors listed as sponsors, donors and/or committee members including Bruce De Benedictis, Ken and Carla Betts, Liane Zimny and Gordon Shell.
- Sunday, July 31, 1:00 -3:00 p.m. – Oakland Municipal Band at the Edoff Memorial Bandstand
- Thursday, August 4, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m – Grand Avenue First Thursdays
- Friday, August 5: Art Murmur Uptown District
- Sunday, August 7, 1:00 -3:00 p.m. – Oakland Municipal Band at the Edoff Memorial Bandstand
- Saturday, August 13, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. – Second Saturday Work Day at Morcom Rose Garden
- Wednesday, August 17, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. – Grand Lake Neighbors meeting at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church
- Sunday, August 28, 9:00 a.m. – Noon – Splash Pad Volunteer Work Day
- Saturday, October 8 – The Plant Exchange at Ability Now Bay Area on Lincoln Avenue
- Saturday, September 10, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. – Volunteer Fair at Lakeview School