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Editor’s Note: The September Splash Pad News was particularly newsworthy, featuring:
- A lengthy profile of Perfusion Vineyard owner, John Bry
- Our introduction to Rico Rivera, the new owner of Penrose
- A detailed report on past and current plans for the Kwik Way
If you were out of town for the Labor Day holidays and missed the above reporting, it’s always available at THIS PERMA LINK.
Long term, the biggest news on Grand was a merchants’ meeting at Aisle 5 this past Thursday hosted by owner Michael Graves and coordinated with support from Councilmember Abel Guillén. This was the first such meeting in several years,and it will hopefully presage the revival of the Grand Avenue Business Association (GABA). Approximately 20 merchants attended, along with the councilmember and representatives from OPD, Public Works, and the Transportation Department. Several of the merchants in attendance expressed a willingness to take active leadership roles, and Michael has already begun planning for a follow-up meeting.
After the gathering, I asked Michael for an Aisle 5 update, and he reported that they’ve just rolled out a brand new menu with several new entrees and appetizers including a very popular, build-your-own mac-n-cheese entree that allows customers to add their choice of several different types of house-smoked meats and vegetable toppings. They’ve also introduced a house-smoked BBQ burger and house-smoked Ruben sandwich – both of which have been very well received. In addition, their new NFL Sunday Ticket is further enhancing their reputation as a go-to destination for taking in sporting events. During the football season, they’ll be broadcasting every single NFL game from around the country.
A couple of weeks ago, I discovered the infinite joys associated with the turkey panini sandwich that owner Gerry Mogg serves at Modigliani Cafe. The turkey breast is complemented with tomato, melted brie, and an absolutely delicious, home-made pepper jam – and then toasted in their grill. The final result ranks, in what’s left of my memory bank, as one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. It’s right up there with the Triple-Deckers I used to devour as a kid, sitting at the food counter in our local Kress & Co. dime store – while simultaneously checking out the parakeets and canaries in the nearby cages waiting to be adopted.
How along ago was this? Let me just say that, after lunch, my brother and I would often wander into the shoe store around the corner where we’d stick our feet into a strange contraption that would x-ray our feet. I’m pleased to say that the Kress building is now owned by the Riverside campus of the University of California and it houses their California Museum of Photography. I’m even more pleased to report that shoe stores, to the best of my knowledge, are no longer exposing their customers to harmful radiation.
But I digress. If you look at Modigliani’s 250 Yelp reviews, you’ll find mostly fives and lots of “best sandwich ever” comments. While waiting for your order to be served, I’d highly recommend reading the lengthy (and sometimes profane) review posted to the right of the cash register.
CorePower Yoga is in the midst of retrofitting the Grand Fare Market space, and it looks like it will be a fairly long process. Meanwhile, Freya Prowe, the owner of Brother and Sisters Flowers is absolutely delighted to have full use of the patio. She says that it will be ideal for their purposes, once a greenhouse that is currently under construction is installed. You can already see the garden taking shape as a verdant and eclectic refuge from the traffic on Grand Avenue – not to mention, a fantastic source for cut flowers and potted plants. Some of those flowers come from the same Oakland non-profit, WOW Farms, that’s used by Rico Rivera, the new owner of Penrose.
Grand Tavern has a new mid-week event called WORLD-A-Music scheduled every Wednesday from 6 – 9 PM. It’s a weekly excursion into the vintage sounds of the tropics from Jamaican Rock Steady to Psychedelic Peruvian Chicha, all played from their TriciCool Sound System! The event also features a Happy Hour & tropical drink specials.
Urban Furniture and Boutique is hosting their first ever, Women’s Clothing Exchange on October 7 from 6 – 9 PM. Proceeds will go to Urban University’s Single Moms at Work Program, on-the-job training, housing, and supportive services for single mothers departing from poverty. Small bites, dessert, wine, and refreshments will be served.
Boot and Shoe Service celebrated its Grand Reopening on September 23. A very thoughtful August 29 article in Eater SF details some of the emotions and complex decisions that new owners, Jen Cremer and Richard Clark, have been working through in order to create “a healthy and fun workplace where everyone is learning and growing.” The good news is that they’ve successfully transferred the liquor license, hired a new chef and bar manager, and very recently opened the cafe doors and are once again serving coffee and pastries from 8 AM to noon, Tuesdays through Sundays.
I‘m not sure of the reason, but we haven’t seen this many commercial vacancies on Grand for quite some time. Just in the past several months, four businesses have closed:
- Cycle for Lyfe, after exactly one year.
- Fog City Bakery, which opened under different ownership in January 2016 as La Parisienne. Prior tenants have included Boniere Bakery and Good Chemistry (Gluten-Free) Bakery, and before that a donut/chocolates shop.
- Davis Cleaners at 3233 Grand moved to 600 Grand – where they are apparently now operating Young’s Dry Cleaning.
- McMullen (next to Ace Hardware) just relocated to 2257 Broadway, next to Brown Sugar Kitchen.
Two other properties have remained vacant for much longer:
- Bob Jaffe’s Grand Bakery closed in January of 2017 and, although the interior has been totally revamped, there aren’t yet any takers.
- Jerry Kuroda operated Queen (next door to Connie’s Cantina) beginning in 2000 and finally closed up shop about a year ago. His soft home furnishings are still available through his “Queen at Home” website.
LAKESHORE AND LAKE PARK AVENUE
A Warm Welcome to Rico Rico Taco
by Kira Pascoe
“We are looking forward to the upcoming opening of Rico Rico Taco at 3205 Lakeshore! The owners – Ricardo Montero (whose family owns Tacos El Gordo) and his wife Marisol Montero (whose family owns Taqueria Sinaloa) – are creating a delicious menu that will feature tacos al pastor, fish tacos, and tortillas made by hand on a very large comal. Members of both families will be doing the food preparation. We can’t wait to taste these scrumptious dishes!”
Other stories in the Lakeshore BID’s Latest News Blog include:
- Saturday’s soft opening at 3344 Lakeshore of Ten11, a sneaker and clothing boutique that was previously located in a storefront adjacent to the Leaning Tower of Pizza – the subject of a blog by Sheila McCormick published in the June 2017 Splash Pad News.
- Bardo Lounge and Supper Club is poised for its Grand Opening.
- Fall Festival and Halloween Parade
- Special Events at Good Vibrations
- Forever Beauty and Nails opens
- And much, much more.
Kira Pascoe, the co-director in charge of social media for the Lakeshore Business Improvement District (BID), updates their Facebook and Instagram feeds on a daily basis. Carol Knight is the co-director of operations and special events. You’ll see her on October 27 at their annual Fall Festival and Halloween Parade supervising assorted witches, goblins, and the occasional butterfly.
I‘m beginning to sound like a broken record (which, considering the subject matter, is a very apt analogy) but I can’t get over the quality of music that the Grand Lake Farmers Market has been featuring of late.
The Alameda-based Crying Uncle band, whose members range in age from 12-16 played at the market last month. Two of the members, Teo and Miles Quale, are state and national champions on the mandolin and fiddle. A couple of weeks ago, Crying Uncle played at the Pickin in the Pines Bluegrass Festival in Arizona where they were awarded First Place in the prestigious band contest. Here’s a link to a video of their final set. And, if that’s not sufficiently impressive, the latest news is that they have just released their First CD.
At the September 15 market, I shot this video of the The Void playing “Tell Me a Bedtime Story.” The group consists of Ben Ard on drums, Malcolm Best on alto saxophone, John Kaster playing piano, and Jack Riley on bass. Three of the four went to Crocker and the fourth, to Glenview, and all four just graduated from Edna Brewer – but not before being named by Downbeat Magazine as the Best Middle School Small Group Jazz Combo in the United States – with a tip of the hat to Brewer’s Music Director, Zach Pitt-Smith, the OUSD Teacher of the Year in 2014. Currently, three of the four are attending Oakland Tech. The fourth is at Skyline and, unless he’s allowed to transfer, they can’t perform as a school group.
I’ve seen Jonah Melvon and his group performing at the market on two occasions. The first time, I walked up just as he was talking about how pleased he was to be playing at his farmers market, the one where he routinely shops and where he brings his kids who splash in the fountain. If you’d like to see Jonah performing at an indoor location, they’ll be at Yoshi’s Oakland on October 17.
Market Manager Jon Ruiz was one of the attendees at the Grand Avenue merchants meeting discussed above, at the behest of Abel Guillén and AIM CEO Andy Naja-Riese. Jon talked about efforts that will benefit local businesses and help offset any negative impacts attributed to the market. One measure that is already in the works is the distribution of postcards at the market that list local businesses. There are also tentative plans to provide a space that can be utilized by area businesses on a rotating basis.
Two new vendors have joined the market in the past month. Tom Behr offers a wide variety of award-winning jams, jellies, and syrups made from wild-picked huckleberries. The other new vendor is Dawn Yun, owner of Creativ Cashew Cream – a highly versatile dairy substitute.
An up to date list of all the Grand Lake Farmers Market vendors is available on THIS LINK.
ODDS AND ENDS
Muralist Daniel Galvez has a special place in the hearts of the Splash Pad community. Back in 1984, he and fellow-artist Keith Sklar were the lead artists responsible for the “Grand Performance” mural across the street from the park. Sixteen years later, Daniel served on the Splash Pad Park volunteer design team that put together recommendations – many of which were later adopted by Walter Hood.
On Sunday, he celebrated completion of his latest project – a 36′ x 9.5′ mural on canvas that will be installed in the Library at McClymonds High School later this year. The student body played a major part in determining the subject matter and also contributed dozens of aphorisms – each of which are six words-long that are woven across the face of the mural. Three other photos are included on this Splash Pad Facebook post along with descriptions that identify many of the individuals pictured and help explain their relevance.
As an aside, we first began talking about restoring the “Grand Performance” mural about the time the new park opened in 2003. I’ve heard from a couple of people of late who are seriously interested in finding funding for the restoration. Please stay tuned.
Last week, a small group of community stakeholders met in Abel Guillén’s office with EAH Housing Vice-President Welton Jordan, as well as Project Manager and neighborhood resident, Tessa Quintanilla, to discuss their recent purchase of the Kwik Way property. The discussion covered a lot of ground including some info about EAH. They’re celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year and during this period, they’ve built, owned, and continued to manage ninety-five properties with a total of eight thousand units. In addition, they manage another ten thousand affordable units that are owned by other entities. The bulk of these properties are in California and Hawaii.
In order to accommodate Bank of America, twenty parking spaces on the ground floor will be designated for their use. Twenty-four spaces on the second floor will be reserved for tenants. When the Hahn family was proposing to build market-rate housing, the maximum height was limited to five stories, but affordable housing developments get special dispensation in order to enhance the project’s feasibility and, as a result, a sixth floor is being added. Plans call for fifty-four units, of which two will be studios and twenty-seven will be two- or three-bedroom units. To qualify, tenants can earn a maximum of 20 – 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI). To cite one example, a family of four can earn a maximum of $23,240 to qualify for the 20% AMI; their monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment would be $523. At the 80% AMI level, the maximum income for the same family would $92,960 with rent set at $2,092.
A 3,000 square foot ground-floor retail space remains in the plans. What came as a big surprise was that the Hahn family insisted that, as a condition of sale, they would have the opportunity to purchase the retail space at cost. As documented in last month’s News, community pressure previously blocked Mr. Hahn’s efforts to grant leases to MacDonald’s, Fatburger and most recently, Dunkin’ Donuts. I’m hoping against hope that we won’t have to fight that battle again.
The tentative timeline anticipates approval from the Planning Department this month. The next eighteen months will be largely devoted to rounding up financing – some likely from Oakland’s Measure KK that was overwhelmingly approved in 2016 and, hopefully, more from California State bond measures 1 and 2 if both pass. Either way, construction is not likely to begin for another two years with completion anticipated for 2022. Stakeholders and Heart and Dagger Saloon owners Eric and Allison Sagauskas did express concern at the meeting about construction noise and dust and the likelihood that their business would be negatively impacted if the new building blocks out the afternoon sun in their back patio.
Yours truly, has all too frequently bungled shop names as was the case with the barber shop on Grand that I called “Slick and Dagger”. Last month, I unfortunately referred to the vacant space as “Grand Lake Kitchen” – when I obviously meant, “Grand Fare Market”. Thanks to the eagle-eyed reader who caught my mistake and I’m very happy to report that not only is Grand Lake Kitchen far from closing, they’re actually about to expand to a 5,500 square foot space in the Fruitvale on the corner of MacArthur and Dimond. Nobody is happier than Peggy and Helen from Kassenhoff Growers who live nearby.
FIRST THURSDAYS ON GRAND
This month’s First Thursdays on Grand takes place on October 4 from 6 – 8 PM.
Panorama Framing is hosting a group show about intimacy entitled, “This Must be the Place.” Look for refreshments and live music.
Urban Furniture and Boutique‘s Opening Night Reception in September for a solo show of works by Jennifer Lugris entitled, “Offering a Possibility” was so successful, Tracey Weaver has scheduled an encore. Beverages and small bites will be served.
510 Brand will be featuring new works by Aaron Mountain, Rachel Dobos, Natalina Simi, Shelia Schroeder, Seluster Lane, and more. Culling Cahayag memorial t-shirts will be available. Music by DJ Pauleytek. Food and beverages will be served.
San Francisco Fiber‘s owner, Lou Grantham, will be doing a hands-on demonstration of a variety of weaving and spinning techniques.
The Libertine has an ongoing show of nude photographs printed on aluminum by Josh Stevenson.
Beginning October 8, volunteers will be working with our City Gardener, Christian Boyle, to remove and replace the ferns in the two beds close to the freeway. Our next regular volunteer work day will be on Sunday, October 28 from 9 – noon. If you want more information or would like to volunteer for either work day, please email Mary Jo Sutton at MJmatrix2@gmail.com.
Although the native garden is slowly slipping into its annual autumn/winter slumber, the California fuchsias (Epilobium cana) are in peak bloom. In addition to being beautiful and extremely drought-tolerant, they also self-sow quite readily as evidenced by the fact that the many Epilobiums in the park are descendants of a single volunteer from elsewhere that we put in the ground about two years ago.
This year marks the 7th incarnation of the annual Autumn Lights Festival in The Gardens at Lake Merritt in Lakeside Park. Over the years, it’s grown exponentially in size and creativity. In the process, it has become one of Oakland’s most popular festivals, while simultaneously providing funding for major improvements including new landscaping in front of the Garden Center and new handcrafted gates at the entrance to the gardens. Discounted tickets are available online.
Here are a few highlights from this month’s Event Calendar:
- The October Grand Avenue First Thursdays event takes place on the 4th from 6 – 8 PM.
- Grand Lake Neighbors meeting, October 17 from 7 – 8:30 PM at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church
- Autumn Lights Festival, Thursday – Saturday, October 18 – 20 from 6 – 11 PM.
- 52nd Annual Otsukimi Moon Viewing Festival, Sunday, October 21 beginning at 5:30 PM in Lakeside Park.
- Lakeshore Fall Festival and Halloween Parade, Saturday, October 27 from 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM.
- Splash Pad Work Day, Sunday, October 28 from 9 – noon.