About Us: The Splash Pad News is published around the first of each month. You can sign up for our blast email notice by clicking on THIS LINK.
As I mentioned in last month’s News, we’re deeply indebted to Anca Mosoiu (owner of Tech Liminal) and Web Designer Eve Lurie for the faster downloads and major improvements to the Splash Pad website. The thirty-five new subscribers that we’re welcoming this month is the biggest single indicator that these changes were well-received. That’s the largest monthly jump in our audience in history. The only time we came close was way back in 2009 when we announced that Lanesplitter and Pizzaiolo were both coming to the neighborhood. We now currently have 1,345 subscribers and our next immediate goal is 1,500. How about showing us a bit of love by forwarding the Splash Pad News to friends and neighbors and, if you haven’t already done so, take a minute to like our Facebook page.
As predicted in last month’s Splash Pad News, Peet’s on Lakeshore reopened in April in its renovated, expanded space! The lengthy expansion project included taking over the space next door (formerly The Burrito Shop) and removing the dividing wall.
But that bland recounting does not convey the full scope of the remodel. The coffee ordering and preparing counter is now on the opposite side of the space, and is set up in such a way as to better accommodate the usual long lines than was previously the case. The bright walls and large windows create a space full of natural light that is enjoyable to be in.
LAKESHORE AND LAKE PARK AVENUE
A complete list of Oakland Magazine’s Best of Oakland honorees is on THIS LINK. The Lakeshore Avenue award-winners are:
- Best Bakery – Arizmendi
- Best Doughnuts – Colonial Donuts
- Best Shoe Repair – Ike’s Shoe and Luggage Repair
- Best Yoga Studio – Namaste Yoga + Wellness
- Best Coffee House – Peet’s
- Best Happy Hour – Shakewell
- Best Gift Shop – Urban Indigo
At Bay-Made, Sarahjane Bernhisel has scheduled, for the month of May, a show of paintings by Joevic Yeban and Germaine De Luca that feature images of Lake Merritt and the surrounding architecture. The shop will be open to 8 pm tomorrow in connection with the Grand Avenue First Thursdays event.
As an aside, Bay-Made was the second stop on Abel Guillen’s Saturday tour of local businesses, in honor of Small Business Week. His first stop was at The Main Squeeze where Omar revealed that business has been very good and they are about to open a second outlet in Alameda. He also put in a plug for the revival of Lakefest – the Lakeshore Avenue street festival last held in 2008.
Michel Bistro closed, as scheduled on April 14th, and remodeling is currently underway. I spoke with owner, Seth Bregman yesterday and he’s anticipating that they’ll be re-opening as Bardo Lounge and Supper Club in two to three months. It sounds like the decor will be mid-century modern with a bit of 1960’s influence thrown in. As for the atmosphere, he said that their goal is to “create a restaurant that will be a harmonious addition to the community…a space conducive to conversation and socializing”. If you’re interested in getting more details, see this article in SF Eater. That’s in addition to four other articles that we linked to in last month’s News.
Hipline has a well-earned reputation for doing things in a big way based, in large part, on their annual Shimmy Pop-A-Thon and their Halloween Thriller Flash Mobs. This year’s 4th Annual Shimmy Pop-A-Thon is scheduled for Saturday, June 2 and it’s expected to be bigger and better than ever, with four straight hours of non-stop dancing. The event is a fundraiser (with a $15,000 goal) for MISSEY, which provides services in support of sexually exploited youth. You can sign up and/or make donations online. All the details are in their event Press Release.
We’re sorry to report that two Lakeshore Avenue businesses closed this month. The Pura Vida Plant and Flower Shop at 3247 Lakeshore did so several weeks ago and that space is now available and listed with LCB Associates.
As for the Moroccan Palace, I was greatly disappointed to learn that they had closed their doors this past Sunday. They are really good people and I especially appreciated the work they did – beautifying the interior and also taking the initiative to keep the street out front clean. I talked with one of the owners yesterday morning – a conversation I’ve come to dread. Although he was philosophical about what’s happened, he also noted that the spiraling rents ($12,000 per month in their case) makes it very difficult to succeed – especially since competition has become increasingly fierce. That said, the space is already spoken for. I’m told it’s going to be “American food” – but have no details at the time of publication.
I’m much happier to report that what may be the final stumbling block delaying construction of affordable housing on the Kwik Way/Merritt Bakery site has been resolved. Yesterday, Charles Hahn announced in an email that Bank of America had reduced their demand for onsite parking from thirty to twenty – a number that EAH Housing can apparently accommodate.
Grand Avenue was also well-represented in Oakland Magazine’s 2018 Readers Choice Best of the East Bay Awards. Winners included:
- Best Frame Shop – Galleria Scola
- Best Hardware Store – Grand Lake Ace
- Best Greek Restaurant – Ikaros
- Best Manicure or Pedicure – Natural Nails Plus
- Best Avant-Garde Jazz Music – Oakland Freedom Jazz Society
- Best Wine Bar – Ordinaire Wine
- Best Insurance Agency – Ruth Stroup
My search for a Grand Lake Ace Hardware website or Facebook page came up empty but I did find a Yelp review that expresses my own observations quite succinctly:
My wife purchased her home nearby a quarter century ago. These craftsman style homes always need repairs and may have special nuances due to the local hilly clay soil and settling. The depth and breadth of the team’s knowledge is amazing! From drainage to roof repairs or plumbing to electrical or paint or tools, their crew has always helped! In the 90’s & 2000’s, the dogs would join us when visiting. Recently, my ambitious 10 year old son has benefited from their sage advice in building his first lemon battery. Thanks Deandré for your help on Saturday! No doubt we will be back soon and often.
Returning to Abel Guillen’s small business tour on Saturday, his third stop was a visit with Chris and Sarah Wilde at their recently opened Wilde Brothers Coffee Shop at 3206 Grand. After obliging me with a group photo shot, Chris told me they were excited about the Mochi Muffins made with rice flour that are now being supplied by Third Culture Bakery. The muffins are described as, “Crunchy on the outside, chewy, squishy Mochi goodness on the inside”.
Abel’s fourth and last stop, Walden Pond Books, was by far the most appropriate since, Saturday, in addition to marking the start of Small Business Week, also happened to be Independent Bookstore Day. After forty-five years in the same location, Marshall Curatolo and his son, Paul couldn’t be more deserving of the Official Proclamation that Abel read and presented. Especially noteworthy is that Marshall just turned 90 in March and still works four days a week and that Chris and Sarah Wilde from Wilde Brothers went there on their first date. Also, please note that the photo above on the far right was taken in Walden Pond’s second-floor Rare Book Room – where the very first meeting of the Splash Pad Neighborhood Forum (the precursor of SplashPad.org) was held eighteen years ago.
By the way, in observance of Small Business Week, Abel is visiting local businesses throughout District 2 and you can follow his itinerary on his Facebook page.
Last week, I was quite pleased when owner Thieny Hoang offered me a brief tour of her Thien Lake Acupuncture clinic at 3654 Grand. That building and I have a long history as my friends, the late Catherine Larsen and the late Margaret Wetherill were long-time tenants, as owners of The Time Was Antiques. Later on, another good friend, Arvi Dorsey leased the space for his Red Wagon collectibles shop and for approximately six months, I sub-leased one of the rooms.
The interior has now been totally transformed under the supervision of Thieny’s husband, David Choi, who is now serving as the Business Manager, but he too is now studying to later practice Acupressure and Tui-na massage.
Interior partitions have been created to create a reception area, a waiting room and one room set aside for treatments. All in all, it’s a quiet and serene environment. I confess that I knew zilch about acupuncture and Thieny began by explaining that she spent four years in medical school and, in addition, is educated in Chinese herbal medicine. Her educational experience entitles her to serve as a Primary Care Provider practicing integrative or holistic medicine and also to order diagnostic lab work.
Thieny has had an office on Grand since 2016 and moved into this space in January. On Saturday, May 12 from 12-3 pm, they’ll be celebrating their formal Grand Opening with a raffle, refreshments, cupping and acupuncture demonstrations and much more.
Alchemy Bottle Shop’s new show of 3-D collages by Sarah Misra is genuinely special and I’d highly recommend that you check it out. Entitled “Selections from the Herbarium”, it consists of copies of antique botanical prints that Sarah altered through meticulous use of a scalpel to create beautifully-hybridized plants.
Since I’m supposed to be keeping tabs on the neighborhood commercial district, I’m embarrassed to admit that I was totally clueless as to what’s been happening, for the past couple of weeks, at Boot and Shoe Service. The first hint came when Jeff Perlstein from Sole Space emailed that the restaurant had reduced their hours and they were only serving dinners. On Saturday, I heard from Chris Wilde that the business had been sold and only learned yesterday that the sale had been widely reported in the local press. This April 18 article by SF Eater.com is one of many such reports.
Yesterday afternoon, Jen Cremer gave me a phone call. She and her husband, Rick Clark, are the new owners – although escrow isn’t yet complete. She advised that the shortage of staff is what generated the cut-back in hours and, once new employees are hired, they’ll resume serving brunches. She also indicated that the menu will remain largely unchanged and focused on serving high quality organic foods in a casual environment. It will be wonderful to see normal operations restored – even if it does mean that the current availability of on-street parking will likely be short-lived.
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In an April 18 Press Release, the Agricultural Institute of Marin announced the appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer – effective May 7. Judging by his work and educational background, Andy Naja-Riese should prove to be a much better fit for the Grand Lake Market and the City of Oakland. He has a Master’s degree in Society, Human Development, and Health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and served as Chief of the Program Integrity Branch of the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, Western Region. In that position, he was responsible for the implementation and oversight of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly called Food Stamps and now known as CalFresh in California). He also worked as a Senior Manager with Oakland-based Resource Development Associates and as a Public Health Analyst at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, where he was a U.S. Presidential Management Fellow. Currently Naja-Riese serves as the Secretary of the City of San Rafael’s Citizens Advisory Committee on Economic Development and Affordable Housing.
We’re pleased to extend our congratulations to Andy on his appointment and congratulations, as well, to the Grand Lake Market, which once again was voted Best Farmers Market in Oakland Magazine’s Readers Choice poll. One final note on this subject: we’re very appreciative of the fact that Interim Director, Beth Schecter opened up a dialogue with Jerry Barclay and myself and we are looking forward to Andy continuing this conversation, at some point in the near future, with our Grand Lake neighbors.
For more info about AIM’s new CEO, please see this article in the Marin Independent Journal – which is also the source for the Baja-Riese photo posted above.
Last month, I failed to include a photograph I’d taken of Rick Lafranchi, the owner of Nicasio Valley Cheese Company, who was making a visit to the Grand Lake Market. The Lafranchi Dairy in the beautiful Nicasio Valley is about to celebrate its 100th Anniversary next year.
The Grand Lake Market has two new vendors. Both of whom I photographed on April 14. That was Lissa Herschbel‘s first day at the market and I was immediately drawn into her booth by the truly unique ceramics – particularly the dramatic sculptured masks. We had a very long talk and, since I didn’t take notes, I’m providing a sketchy summary based on memory. I do remember very distinctly that Lisa is a graduate of Oakland’s College of Arts and Crafts and know that she’s been doing quality work in various media for a fairly long time – but that ceramics has become her main focus in only the last year or two. She also said that she lived in the Grand Lake District a couple of decades back – just off Lakeshore or Grand. If you’re reading this, Lissa, welcome back to the hood – every two weeks.
The other new vendor is Peach Farms, which is something of a misnomer since their main crop is tomatoes that Ed George grows in Winters, CA. Currently, their tomatoes are hot-house grown but come July, they’ll have an extensive variety grown outdoors – staked and drip-watered. I asked if any of their tomatoes are grown from seed supplied by Brad Gates from Wild Boar Farms. Old-timers (like me) remember Brad setting up under the freeway in the Grand Lake Market’s earliest incarnation circa 1998 when most of us had never heard of heirloom tomatoes. It turns out that Brad used to lease acreage that’s now part of Peach Farms and appropriately enough, his “Berkeley Tie-Dyed” is one of the varieties they should be offering this summer.
SPLASH PAD PARK
Last month, I wrote about our proposed Earth Day project – installation of some decomposed granite in and adjacent to the Plaza. Even though the work was scheduled for a week day, which is problematic, I was surprised and disappointed that our call for additional volunteers here and elsewhere was for naught. Nonetheless, members of our regular Grand Crew volunteer team, including Diane Hicks, Eric Hughes and Jerry Barclay came through in a pinch, with an assist from Peter and my next-door neighbor, Doug Chin, and an even bigger assist from Christian Boyle, the City of Oakland Crew Leader, who showed up with a bobcat that he used to move 2.5 yards of decomposed granite.
Thanks also to Parks Supervisor, Lydia Swann, who facilitated the project and to the Public Works Department for footing the bill for the materials and for delivery. And lastly, kudos to the Oakland Tool Lending Library, which I visited for the very first time in need of a couple of additional tampers. The library is a wonderful resource if you’re ever in need of specialty tools. Did I mention that the service is free?
In addition to the two original locations pictured below, surplus DG was used to level the “mud puddle” that I described last month as “a poor substitute for the fountain that was then dry”.
I’m happy to report that the “mud puddle” is no longer required as the fountain is once again working. The story behind its repair (and much more) begins with a late-night email from Councilmember Abel Guillen to the Public Works Director expressing concerns over the hazard posed by a broken grate in the fountain’s bottom. That prompted an inspection from Facilities Director, Stephen Curiel, who had a crew on site within an hour to abate the hazard temporarily. The next day, the City removed the stub of the street luminaire that had been destroyed in an accident and by week’s end, the broken grate had been repaired; the fountain was up and running (just in time for summer splashing); and the rat infestation had been addressed with about a dozen traps that we’re hoping will minimize – if not totally eliminate the problem. In addition, work orders have been issued to restore the lighting inside the park and to repair the sunken decking adjacent to the Name in Lights panels. Hallelujah!
In celebration of the garden in full bloom; the DG project completed; and the fountain restored – the Grand Crew volunteers got together for a pot-luck dinner this past Sunday and a good time was had by all. Rumor is that a dim sum luncheon is in the works sometime in the next couple of months. To earn an invitation, volunteers will be expected to pull ten pounds of weeds in the interim. The next work day is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, May 27. Please email Mary Jo Sutton at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you’d like to volunteer.
ODDS AND ENDS
In March of last year, Splash Pad News contributor, Keila Diehl, wrote an article about Anfilo Coffee founders, Ambessaw Assegued and his wife, Dagmawit Tasfaye entitled, “A Moment of Awareness About Migrants, Including Coffee“. It’s their company that serves Ethiopian coffee at the Grand Lake Market and they also operate a restaurant on Grand near Farley’s East. I’m very pleased to report that Ambessaw is now, himself, in the reporting business as he’s writing regular columns for a publication in Addis Ababa. His most recent article details the precarious state of forest-grown, Ethiopian coffee.
Congratulations to Edna Brewer Middle School and the Grand Lake Montessori School – both of which were selected by the Oakland Magazine readership as best in their respective categories. Also, a tip of the hat to Cleveland Elementary, which according to this article in the East Bay Times, was just recognized as a “Distinguished School”.
This past Sunday, the Grand Lake Improvement and Beautification Committee, led by Eric Hughes, sponsored a Spring clean-up on Grand Avenue between the theater and Mandana. Those planters that were in need of TLC were all refurbished; lots of weeds were removed; and the area adjacent to the parking lot entrance was spruced up with new landscaping. Hats off to Eric and to the fourteen other neighborhood residents who showed up to volunteer. Also, thanks to Oakland Parking Partners for cleaning up the rest of the parking lot earlier in the week.
This April 11 Hoodline article by Nathan Falstreau announced the Grand Opening of a new Korean/Japanese eatery at 366 Grand called the Dosirak Shop.
Neighborhood resident Jana Hardy recently shared some good news that’s well worth repeating:
Due to the insistence of the Police Chief and the Mayor, the equine unit has made a return to our community.They live in the stables at Lake Merritt as they did before they were removed from service 12 years ago. I met Eric who was riding Pepe, a 12 year old. Pepe has tap shoes on so can walk the streets in comfort. Daniel was riding Spirit. Spirit is 14 and has one blue eye (on the left) and one brown eye (on the right). Spirit was wearing black leather boots, so he can walk our streets. Both Eric and Daniel are police officers. Only about 3 or 4 cops have the skill set to ride horses per Eric. Eric wants to expand that and add horses. A third horse is due to arrive soon.
When you see our newly added Equestrian Unit around the lake or downtown, be sure to have a carrot at the ready !!!!
We’ll be updating our new WordPress Calendar on a regular basis. If you have local events you’d like listed, please email email@example.com. Listed below are a few highlights:
- The May Grand Avenue First Thursdays event on May 3 features new shows at Panorama Framing, Bay-Made and Alchemy Bottle Shop.
- Best of Oakland Magazine Party – May 3.
- Fiesta Sin Fronteras 2nd Annual “Dining For Justice” Fundraiser – May 4 – 6. Participating restaurants here in the neighborhood include Lin Jia and Grand Lake Kitchen.
- Bike to Work Day – May 10.
- “TURN THE PAGE” – Fairyland’s 3rd Annual Children’s Book Festival – May 19