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Over the past several months, we’ve been providing a running summary of the business closures on Grand Avenue and, unfortunately, that toll has continued to rise. The most recent casualties were Sole Space and Taylor J, who shared the storefront at 3304 Grand, next to Boot & Shoe Service. Sole Space owner Jeff Perlstein will be continuing to operate his flagship store at 1714 Telegraph where, in addition to offering a wide variety of shoes, they also host artwork and special events on a regular basis. According to the signs in the window, Taylor Jay is “Moving on up from (their) small brick and mortar to a pop-up tour and online exclusive.”
Unfortunately, the reality is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for retail to survive in brick and mortar shops. That was the message that Splash Pad News editor and contributor Keila Diehl conveyed in her February 2017 blog about Collage Clothing. That reality is also evidenced in the new businesses that have already occupied vacant spaces or are poised to do so.
To wit, Connie at Connie’s Cantina (more about her shortly) tells me that the vacant space next door, which had Queen at Home as a long-time tenant, will become a doctor’s office. The small home at 3671 Grand that once housed a gem store and then a psychotherapist’s office is now the Golden Finger Massage parlor – complete with a red neon sign above the doorway. Alyce Preston, owner of Alyce on Grand, the always fashionable boutique at 3223 Grand, told me on Saturday that the Davis Cleaners space (three doors up Grand) has been leased and she vaguely remembers that the new business involves lashes, or maybe brows.
The one new addition to the neighborhood that will surely draw your attention, while potentially later easing your anxieties and relieving your aches and pains, is a second outpost of the MeloMelo Kava Bar on University Avenue in Berkeley. Last night I reached the Berkeley manager by phone and he noted that they’re very excited to be moving into the Grand Bakery space at 3264 Grand, tentatively within the next six to nine months. The Berkeley Bar, which opened three years ago, has built an extremely loyal following and they’ve earned 4.5 ratings from both Google and Yelp. In addition to kava, their menu includes international teas, sipping chocolates, elixirs, and kombucha on tap. What it doesn’t include is food but, according to their website, patrons are encouraged to bring in foods from elsewhere, which will be good news to restaurants and bakeries up and down the street, especially their nextdoor neighbors.
I‘m referring, of course, to George and Rochael Adranly, the new owners of Ikaros Greek Restaurant. I spoke to Rochael over the weekend and she reminded me that they are now serving brunch “with a Greek twist” on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 AM – 3 PM. Asked for examples, she mentioned their omelets, which are made with spanakopita. Their Greek version of French toast is made by stuffing the bread with Greek Kasseri cheese. In addition, Ikaros has also added a number of seafood dishes – the most popular of which, Branzino, is cooked whole on the grill and usually sells out.
If you’re a fan of locally made beers and would relish an opportunity to meet their brewers, Thursday night’s at Aisle 5 from 6 – 8 PM is the place to be. On January 3, they will be featuring Blindwood Cider, followed by South City Cider on January 10 and Gilman Brewing on the 17th.
On the 4th, 17th, and 25th, live music will be provided by Jacob Levine from 6:30 – 9:30 PM. Brainstormers Trivia continues every Tuesday night. The newest addition to their event calendar is a GAME NIGHT every Wednesday, organized by the East Bay Gamers Guild – beginning January 9 from 6 – 10 PM. For regular updates, check Aisle 5’s Facebook Page.
When I stopped by 510 Brand on Saturday, shop manager Natalina Simi shared their latest coup. Donald Penn, a key member of the Oakland Raiders offensive line, placed an order for t-shirts that Natalina designed. They were distributed at a pre-Christmas Charity event during which twenty-five youngsters from the East Oakland Youth Development Center each received a $300 gift certificate from Walmart.
As we go to press, Studio Grand hasn’t yet fully updated their monthly calendar but the Freedom Jazz Society is performing on Thursday evening, January 7. That would be the perfect opportunity to view their current art exhibit entitled, “How We Remember.” Capoeira classes are held Monday evenings, a six-week Group Voice class begins January 4, and a “Yoga Class for People of Color” is Saturday mornings.
As promised above, here’s the latest about Connie’s Cantina. Connie says that she has a tentative agreement with her landlord, who would agree to a more affordable rent increase if she is willing and able to make some improvements to the property including the back patio. If push comes to shove, I told her that we could probably get some of our neighbors to provide volunteer labor in recognition of all the years that she has served the community. I’m hoping that wasn’t a false premise.
LAKESHORE AND LAKE PARK AVENUE
by Kira Pascoe
NEW YEAR’S CELEBRATIONS
Lakeshore will be ringing in the New Year with style at Bardo’s mid-century New Year’s Eve celebration with the Calvin Keys jazz quartet.
Heart and Dagger Saloon will be offering some festive drinks, movies, and a champagne toast at their NYE Bash and they will be open on New Year’s Day as well!
Namaste is ringing in the New Year with the Warm Hearts Benefit class from 11:30 – 1:30 – taught by Sita Devi. All proceeds are going to the Camp Fire Relief fund through United Way of Northern California.
“New Years Day is one of the most powerful days to practice, self reflect and heal. The intentions we set today will carry with us throughout the whole year. In this practice, we will begin with a deep meditation and intention setting for the New Year.”
LAKESHORE IN THE NEWS
UPCOMING NEWS ON LAKESHORE
Arizmendi is renovating until January 14th 2019. We will all be craving their delicious pizza and pastries until then.
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 preparing the food. We cannot wait to taste these scrumptious dishes in 2019! P.S. The Sinaloa brick and mortar in Berkeley was recently added to the latest Michelin Guide.
GRAND LAKE FARMERS MARKET
Two new vendors debuted at the market this past month, including Lucia’s Pizza, which serves Brooklyn style Neapolitan pizza cooked at up to 900 degrees in a mobile, wood-fired oven that looks like it was built by a community of extremely resourceful and creative hobbits. Who actually built it is an entirely different matter with relevant details provided in this November 13 column in SF Eater. As for Lucia’s, they have a very popular brick and mortar Italian restaurant on Shattuck in Berkeley.
The other new vendor, Obour Foods, offers gourmet hummus and tahini that is handcrafted in San Francisco using all fresh ingredients with “No citric acid, potassium sorbate, or any other preservatives or colorings or additives.” Elliot Sharifi, Obour’s “Chief Hummus Officer” founded the company in “August of 2017 after years of dissatisfaction with the mass-produced hummus that was out there on shelves.”
There are also a couple of returning vendors, including the Sharp Brothers. Even if you don’t currently have knives to sharpen, stop by for a conversation during which they’re sure to hone in on the essence of any given topic. KGB Farms has also just returned to the market with a big crop of Asian pears – as well as Fuyu persimmons, mandarins and Meyer lemons.
On January 26, AIM is launching another in a series of new community benefits – a speaker series called “Harvest Talks.” The first talk, at the Grand Lake Farmers’ Market from 10 – 11 AM, will be in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Harvest talks will feature farmers, food producers, and others working in local food policy sharing their stories about creating a more equitable food system. Stay tuned for speakers’ bios on the AIM website and Splash Pad News Facebook page.
Negotiations over the proposed agreement between AIM and the City of Oakland are still in flux as quite a few details have yet to be resolved – some of which involve City responsibilities, in addition to those that will be required of the Farmers Market management. Jerry Barclay, the Chair of the Farmers Market Advisory Committee, is hoping to announce a date for their next meeting sometime soon.
Those of you who have been shopping the Grand Lake Market for many years may remember when Drakes Bay Oyster Company was one of the vendors. As you may already be aware, their operations were closed by the Interior Department, despite a countersuit that eventually reached the Supreme Court. As reported in an article in the Pacific Standard entitled “Are Organic Farms Ruining California’s Rural Coast?”, efforts are currently underway that threaten “two-dozen dairy and meat farms that have produced some of the most beloved artisanal brands in northern California.” If you buy dairy products and meats at our local market, you should probably be concerned.
An up-to-date list of all the Grand Lake Farmers Market vendors is available on THIS LINK.
FIRST THURSDAYS ON GRAND
This month’s First Thursdays on Grand takes place on January 3. Hours are 6 – 8 PM unless otherwise noted.
Panorama Framing is hosting their 3rd Annual Clausen House art show featuring highly original artwork by adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Complimentary wine and cheese will be served.
Jau Jou Studio’s current exhibit of work by Joanna Ruckman perfectly fits the venue. The artist says this about her work: “Hair Stories is an ongoing interactive portraiture and oral history project. It is a platform for women and gender non-conformers to share individual hair experiences and perspectives. Slowing down to listen and create this archive, intentionally and methodically, has become a foundational part of my art practice.”
The walls at 510 Brand are brimming with new works by Steven Haman, Viktor Castro, Aaron Mountain, Natalina Simi, Jeremy Reule, Loren Fizer, Thndur 1, Benny Muir, Eugene Spinks, and photographer Kris Fernald, who also works at Walden Pond Books. Free drinks and free snacks. 6 PM – 10 PM.
The Libertine‘s walls are currently hung with approximately fifty pieces of original artwork by a couple dozen Bay Area tattoo artists including Bell & Iron Tattoo owner, Joe Paul.
The Grand Crew volunteer work day this past Sunday was quite productive, and we were pleased to welcome a new volunteer, Paschal Nnaji – especially since he has extensive experience in construction and landscaping and works incredibly hard. Paschal is currently looking for permanent employment or for odd jobs and we can highly recommend him. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want more information.
One of the projects we completed on Sunday was a new fence along one end of our largest California native bed. It’s constructed of bamboo that my nextdoor neighbor and I had to remove when new fencing was installed. I’m very pleased to see that so much of what we’re doing involves recycling in one form or another. Mary Jo is providing compost she makes from green waste from her own garden and she’s also cultivating many of the plants that end up in Splash Pad. If you’re good about filling Waste Management’s green composting bins, you’re doing your part as well, since the City’s contract allows Christian Boyle, the city gardener who maintains Splash Pad, to pick up and deliver soil amendments by the truckload when needed. Most recently, that was just after the ferns were removed from the two large beds that we’ll be re-landscaping during our 4th Sunday volunteer work day on January 27. We’d love to see some additional volunteers. Hours, as always, are 9 to Noon.
ODDS & ENDS
C.J. Hirschfield’s December 18 Fairyland blog is about an outdoor ice rink in Old Oakland that will be open through January 6. This is a bit further afield than the Splash Pad News usually ventures, but there’s a neighborhood reference that’s totally within our bailiwick, namely this:
A 1955 article in the Oakland Tribune with the headline “New Ice Rink in Park All Ready for ‘Gay Blades’” boasted about the 35-by-40-foot rink in Eastshore Park at the junction of Grand, Lakeshore, and MacArthur, near where Splash Pad Park is now.
A pop-up care village that was organized by Lava Mae, with funding from the Curry Family Foundation and from Kaiser Permanente, took place in the Kaiser Convention Center parking lot on Friday, December 21. Steph Curry and his wife, Ayesha, were briefly the center of attention, but the big attraction for the homeless and low-income attendees was an abundance of food and clothing plus backpacks, hot showers, haircuts, vaccinations, and social services. We’re hoping to see this event repeated here in Oakland on a regular basis. Additional photos and more background information are posted on our Splash Pad Facebook page.
Just before publication, we received a very gracious letter from Sara Dubois, a parent volunteer who co-chaired Cleveland School’s annual auction fundraiser. She reports that thanks to the generosity of lots of people (including thirty Grand Lake businesses), they raised $18,884 – well over their $10,000 goal. Congratulations and thanks to everyone involved. The complete text of Sara’s letter including a list of all the local donors is at THIS LINK.
One of the often unsung benefits of having a farmers market here in the neighborhood is that it offers community groups an unparalleled opportunity to publicize events and, when necessary, “rally the troops.” That was certainly the case six months after the new Splash Pad Park opened and an ad hoc group managed to gather 3,200 signatures over two Saturdays in opposition to a McDonald’s drive-thru across the street. That’s the thought that crossed my mind a couple of weeks ago when I saw the table publicizing the Women’s March in Oakland on January 19. Hope to see you there.
The Morcom Rose Garden Deadheaders volunteer every Wednesday from 9 AM – 1 PM including this week – a great way to get some fresh air and recuperate from your New Years Eve parties. On Saturday, January 12, they’ll have a special work day (with the identical hours) during which the East Bay Rose Society will be offering pruning instructions.
On January 21, Oakland will be celebrating its 17th Annual MLK Day of Service. The City Website has an extensive list of volunteer opportunities.
Here are a few highlights from this month’s Event Calendar:
- Grand Avenue First Thursdays art walk – January 3, 6 – 8 PM
- Community Meeting with Nikki Fortunato Bas – Cleveland School, January 5 at 11 AM
- Grand Lake Neighbors Meeting – Wednesday January 16, 7 – 8:30 PM, Lakeshore Baptist Church Family Room
- Women’s March Oakland, January 19: 10 AM – 3 PM
- Harvest Talks at Grand Lake Farmers Market from 10 – 11 AM on January 26
- Splash Pad Work Day, Sunday, January 27, from 9 – noon