Boot and Shoe was the subject of a major article in the San Francisco Chronicle by Janelle Bitker on July 10. While the headline was about owners Jen Cremer and Richard Clark changing the restaurant name to “Sister” (following the example of Rico Rivera who renamed Penrose, Almond & Oak), the bigger revelation was that they’ve made numerous other changes. Namely, most of the staff is new, including the addition of bar manager Alex Phillips, who previously worked at Camino. The culture is new as well with an emphasis on mutual respect and an expectation that harassment of any sort will not be tolerated. And finally, the menu has been tweaked and (as we reported previously in the Splash Pad News), they’re also now baking their own breads – which are available for purchase.
Alyce on Grand has a pop-up shop scheduled for this Friday from 3 – 6 pm. Show & Tell is a concept shop, gallery, and gathering space that has, for the past eight years, served as a platform for sustainable and socially responsible apparel, accessories, and gift items. According to their Facebook page and poster, the two pop-ups this weekend will be their final farewell.
After some twenty years as Manager of the Grand Lake Ace Nursery, Tom Nelson has recently retired. We wish him well. Splash Pad’s connection to Tom and, by extension, to the nursery goes back to circa 2002 when the Splash Pad Neighborhood Forum was making plans for landscaping the original California Native Plant Garden. Tom, along with Tora Rocha and Michael Sasso, was one of the mentors who drew up the plant list. I’m confident that his replacement as Manager, Eric Dam, and Asst. Manager Troy Stephens will continue the long tradition of supporting the local community and providing the expertise and choice of plants that you won’t find in the big-box stores. On a personal note, my own epiphany came about more than a decade ago when I was purchasing quantities of soil amendments for my back yard from Home Depot to save a buck or two. That ended abruptly when a Google search revealed that Kellogg’s “Organic” soil amendments were sourced from sewage treatment plants in Los Angeles and were heavily contaminated with toxins.
Risa Nye’s Berkeleyside article this past week about The Alley was the best and most comprehensive I’ve seen yet. My previous knowledge about the bar’s history began and ended with the late Ron Dibble but Nye’s reporting begins with The Alley’s opening shortly after the repeal of Prohibition and includes this information from the 1940’s:
Part of the “Golden Age of Radio,” there were live performances broadcast on Sunday mornings from 1946-1948. Ella Fitzgerald and Merv Griffin (on piano) performed at The Alley, as did many stars of the day including Peggy Lee, Lionel Hampton, Donald O’Connor, Eddie “Bozo” Miller (a singer, but well known back in the day as an “oyster-eating record holder”), Sally Rand, Stan Kenton and the casts of several Broadway shows, among many others.
I‘m usually delighted to see local businesses undertaking improvements but, in the case of the 7-11 and the Melomelo Kava Bar (which is moving into the Grand Bakery space), I do have a few qualms. With regard to the former: yes, the corner does look cleaner and neater but I would suggest that much the same (at a lesser cost) could have been achieved without removing seven very mature Washington Palms. For the record, this was done legally by the property owner with permits from the city. As for the Kava Bar, I’m absolutely delighted to see that this long-vacant storefront will soon be occupied and am amazed at the amount of interior space that was previously hidden behind an interior wall. The reservations I have are based on the fact that it currently looks like they’re going to end up with an aluminum-framed facade that would look at home in Emeryville’s Bay Street. One of this block’s most valuable assets, in my opinion, is its historic architecture. I hope that more efforts, in the future, will be directed towards its preservation and, if necessary, I’d recommend that the area zoning be upgraded to ensure design review. On a more positive note about Melomelo: if you look closely at the photo on the right, you can make out a countertop made from two massive slabs of lumber. I’m hopeful that this an indication that the end result is going to make up for any deficiencies.
The Corepower Yoga studio, in the ill-fated Grand Fare Market space opened on July 25 and, by happy coincidence, that’s just about the time that the renovation of the Green Monster at Lake Merritt was completed – allowing one of their instructors to shoot this video.
Grand Avenue News in Brief
- Riding down Grand Avenue on Tuesday afternoon, I spied Almond & Oak owner Rico Rivera helping to unload produce – demonstrating that the chef who is deft with a carving knife is equally game when heavy lifting is required. P.S. The upper box contains stone fruit from Kashiwase Farms, one of the Grand Lake Farmers Market vendors.
- A new antiques shop called “Collected at Four 32” is in the offing for the storefront at 432 Santa Clara – where Santa Clara curves to the right just past Point of View Salon.
- The Oakland Acupuncture Project, which used to be located at 3718 Grand, has moved to 440 Santa Clara – right next door to the above storefront.
- As we go to press, Ordinaire doesn’t have any special events planned for August, but they are continuing their regularly scheduled Saturday afternoon tastings from 1 – 5 pm featuring guest winemakers.
- Taylor & Thornburg Physical Therapy, which has occupied a second floor office at 3718 Grand for some twelve years, has recently expanded into Suite 1, which was vacated by the Acupuncture Project.
- Urban Furniture has announced a special event Thursday evening from 6 – 9 pm to reveal a totally revamped interior. They’ll have a guest artist who specializes in clothing and jewelry. Food and drink will be available along with a presentation from Vita.
- A two-story office space is available at the rear of Aisle 5. According to LCB broker Brad Banker, both levels are brick and timber with wood floors and a total of 2,970 square feet. They are available separately or together for $2.50 per square foot. A big plus: tenants won’t have to leave the building to get a great lunch and/or dinner and may be able to sneak out the back with a beer in hand.
- This week, Alchemy Bottle Shop‘s Saturday afternoon tastings event (from 2 – 5 pm) will feature three Australian products: two malt whiskeys from Starward Nova + Mr. Black Coffee Liqueur.
Anniversaries, Accolades, and Readers’ Poll for
Best of East Bay
Shakewell Celebrates 5th Year Anniversary
Happy Birthday to Shakewell! Shakewell celebrated its five-year anniversary this month, and we wish it the happiest of birthdays! A big congratulations to Tim Nugent, Jen Biesty, and all the Shakewell staff. Be sure to stop in to wish them a happy anniversary and have handcrafted cocktails, tapas, paella, oran amazing brunch while you are there!
Rico Rico makes the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100 Restaurant List
Rico Rico Taco was named one of the top Affordable Places to Eat for Under $20 in the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100 Restaurants on June 27, 2019. The writeup notes that Rico Rico’s “fresh-pressed yellow corn tortillas are among the best of the Bay Area” as are the sharp pickled carrots and carnitas. Not only their food but also their decor made the article, especially the dining room wall that is upholstered with embroidered Otomi craft textiles. A big congratulations to Ricardo and Marisol!
Readers’ Poll for Best of the East Bay
It takes exemplary merchants and a supportive community to make and keep a neighborhood as special as Lakeshore! Several merchants were voted Best of the East Bay in the 2019 East Bay Express Readers Poll. All nominees are community suggested and the community votes on the winner.
Best Place to Find a Fabulous Gift: Urban Indigo
Best Bakery and Best Slice of Pizza: Arizmendi
Best Place to Dazzle Your Sweetie on Date Night: Bardo Lounge and Supper Club
Best Place to Day-Drink: Cana
Best Neighborhood to Spend an Afternoon: Grand Lake, Oakland
Best Farmers Market: Grand Lake Farmers Market
For a list of all the upcoming Lakeshore Avenue events and other news (including a new house cat at Bay-Made named HeiHei) CONTINUE READING HERE. For the latest updates, be sure to follow their Facebook and Instagram pages.
GRAND LAKE FARMERS MARKET
They’re a bit hidden in the parking lot behind the Feral Heart Farm booth, but do check out the wonderful selection of flowers that they grow on their farm in the Sunol Agricultural Park adjacent to the Sunol Water Temple.
Simurgh Bakery (pictured to the right in the Grand Lake Market) was the subject of a delightful and very positive profile in a July 11, Berkeleyside article. Given the current state of American politics, I’d love to see more such stories about individuals who continue to be part and parcel of the ongoing saga in which immigrants come to the U.S. where they build successful careers and enrich our culture.
This past Saturday, AIM CEO Andy Naja-Riese joined Jerry Barclay (Chair of the Farmers Market Advisory Committee) and me for what turned out to be a three-hour tour of the Farmers Market. Before I discuss the purpose of our tour, let me add that that was three hours more than his predecessor spent in Oakland in the previous twelve years. His active involvement in all of AIM’s markets also helps explain why we are now much more optimistic about the future of the Grand Lake Market. As for the content, we talked mostly about booth layout, congestion, and wear and tear to the park. Andy was very sympathetic about our concerns and, working with Market Manager Jonathan Ruiz, we expect to see some immediate changes and others that will be implemented over the longer term. Will keep you advised and welcome your input.
A list of Grand Lake Farmers Market vendors is available at THIS LINK.
SPLASH PAD PARK
The Grand Crew’s regular 4th Sunday work day last weekend was a big success thanks to an unexpectedly large turn-out including three new volunteers from Distru.com, including CEO Blaine Hatab. They’re a start-up company that provides “everything from seeds to software” for cannabis distributors. A good time was had by all thanks to hard work and fresh air, with no added inducements. The next work day will be August 25. In addition to weeding and cleaning, we’ll probably install some more bamboo fencing to protect the California native plant beds.
Friday morning, I caught this City of Oakland Public Works employee painting over graffiti. When asked his name, he replied, “Eraser! That’s the name everybody knows me by, including the Mayor.” Eraser has been doing just this in Oakland’s 150 parks for thirty years. He says that there used to be three employees assigned to this job. Now he’s the only one.
On Sunday during the Grand Crew work day, Taurus Ringold showed up unexpectedly to hose down the fountain and check the chlorine levels. He and Stennis Raymond are now regularly servicing the fountain at least twice a week and, as a result, it’s cleaner and more reliable than has been the case for the last several years. What should be obvious is that preventive care is cheaper in the long run than having to replace a pump or settle a lawsuit.
On Tuesday, I happened to meet City Electrician Anthony Quintana while he was trying to figure out why the lighting around the perimeter of the park wasn’t working. Unfortunately, I failed to get a photograph of Anthony, but I’m pleased to report that my SeeClickFix complaint was closed the following day. As an aside, Anthony reminded me that there are only three electricians for the entire city. They’re responsible for repairs and new construction in 150 parks and 250 buildings.
On Tuesday, I also took note of the fact that City Gardener Christian Boyle, had removed all the stuff the Grand Crew had piled up two days before, including a huge pile of palm fronds, five bags of green waste, and a couple of bags of trash. I don’t know how he managed to do so since he’s also responsible for Mandana Green, the Rose Garden, and all the surrounding street medians. All this while currently working alone since the City lacks the wherewithal to hire part-time assistants over a three-month period.
I’ve written about this previously but, one way or the other, the City Council and the City Administrator’s office have to find the means to provide the Public Works Department with additional staffing.
FIRST THURSDAYS (and Saturdays) ON GRAND
This month’s First Thursdays event falls on the 1st, but some of the galleries are now celebrating on Saturday as well.
This is arguably the best show that Panorama Framing has ever hosted. The quilts, designed by middle and high school students in workshops coordinated by the Social Justice Sewing Academy, are absolutely gorgeous and couldn’t be more topical or more provocative. As the Sewing Academy argues in their mission statement, “In our quilts, art becomes a shield and a weapon, a megaphone for unheard voices, a bridge to unite communities.” The reception with wine and small bites will be this Thursday AND Saturday from 6 – 8 pm and the show will remain hanging through the month of August. FYI: Shop owner Patrick Cheatham is tentatively planning a special event later in the month that will include some of the student artists.
Alchemy Bottle Shop‘s Second-Floor Gallery is hosting a show of watercolors by Molly Champlin titled Signs and Signals. The above painting (titled Lake Tower) is in keeping with her artist’s statement:
My art explores the disconnect from the physical world caused by a deepening reliance on technology. Presently, the primary subjects of my paintings are abandoned and outdated technology: old TVs, circuit boards, recycling centers, junkyards, and cluttered storefronts.
510 Brand will be dedicating an entire wall to artwork by Stitch along with new works by shop manager Natalina Simi + a late addition, Michael Johnson. Thursday night from 6 – 10 pm look for a nice spread with complimentary drinks, snacks, and a DJ. They’ll be open Saturday night until 10 pm as well.
The Libertine is continuing to feature Josh Stevenson’s nudes printed on aluminum that focus on the interplay between light and shadows.
ODDS & ENDS
The Splash Pad News Facebook page scooped everybody else in reporting the closure of KFC within just a couple of hours, thanks to an email from Ernie Grafe, one of our subscribers, who sent us an email that said in part:
Today (July 5) at about 4:30 I was standing at the unattended counter in the Kentucky Fried Chicken on Lake Park for several minutes. There seemed to be a meeting going on in the back. Finally someone came to say that he couldn’t take my order because “We’re closing for good. We’re no longer in operation.”
It sounds like this came as a big surprise to the staff, but it was obviously a measure that was well planned in advance. By the next morning, all the exterior KFC signage had been removed, the windows were papered over, and an announcement was posted on the door. Carol Knight, the Lakeshore BID Co-Director, has reached out to various KFC offices but has yet to get any response. My phone calls and a text message also went unanswered.
My theory as to why they closed so abruptly is based on their Yelp ratings, which includes thirty one-star reviews out of a total of sixty-six. The most damning complaint suggested that staff and/or management were in cahoots with a towing company poised to swoop down and remove vehicles when the drivers headed anywhere other than KFC. This was confirmed by one of our Splash Pad volunteers who said a tow truck was backing up to her car two minutes after she pulled into the parking lot. I’m speculating that KFC could no longer tolerate its good name being smeared and either fired the manager and staff or voided their franchise – whichever was necessary. As to what’s planned for the space, I’m guessing that it won’t reopen as a KFC unless they can somehow delete all the reviews and start from scratch. Meanwhile, as long as it’s vacant, it’s going to be a magnet for graffiti, which was the subject of the text I sent to their real estate division on Tuesday.
Pedalfest, produced by Bike East Bay, takes place this Saturday at Jack London Square from 11 am – 5 pm. It’s a ton of fun and, if you’re sufficiently daring, you can test your mettle in the Whiskeydrome. Only trust me: don’t try to do so while riding a tandem bike like subscribers Kurt and Susi Vogler did when I took the photo on the left. Six years later, I swear they still have scars to prove it.
Thanks to Splash Pad News editor and contributor Sheila McCormick for alerting us to a pair of author talks at the Lakeview Library branch. The first talk, scheduled for Saturday, August 10 will feature Penn Hughes, the author of Back to Oakland. Two weeks later on August 24, Lisa Braver-Moss’s talk will be about Shrug, her novel set in Berkeley in the 1960s.
The hugely successful Autumn Lights Festival returns to the Gardens of Lake Merritt Thursday, October 17, through Saturday, October 19.
This coming Sunday, August 4, the Oakland Municipal Band’s annual summer concerts at the Edoff Memorial Bandstand concludes its 2019 season. If you haven’t already been, it’s also the perfect opportunity to check out Lake Merritt’s Green Monster.
The Grand Lake Neighbors Crime Prevention Council won’t be meeting in August. Meetings will resume on September 18.
- First Thursdays on Grand Art Walk – Today and again on Saturday, August 3, 6 – 8 pm
- Show & Tell Pop Up, Alyce on Grand – Friday, August 2, 3 – 6 pm
- Oakland Municipal Band Concert, Edoff Memorial Bandstand – Sunday, August 4, 1 – 3 pm
- OHA Tour – Haddon Hill Homes – August 10, 1 – 3 pm
- Lakeview Library Talk, Saturday, August 10, 12 pm
- Lakeview Library Talk, Saturday, August 24, 12 pm
- Splash Pad Volunteer Work Day – Sunday, August 25, 9 am – Noon
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