Editor’s Note: As the New Year approaches, I’d be remiss if I failed to mention that 2019 marked the 20th anniversary of the very first meeting of the Splash Pad Neighborhood Forum in what is now Walden Pond’s Rare Book Room. Back then, no one (especially me) could envision that the new park (that opened in 2003) would be hosting the most popular farmers market in the East Bay – nor the extent to which it would help spark a renaissance in the Grand Lake shopping district that continues to this day. It’s been an eventful two decades capped with Landscape Architect Walter Hood receiving three major awards in the past six months (a MacArthur Genius Award, the Gish Prize, and the Knight Foundation’s Public Spaces Fellowship), partly on the basis of the extent to which the park serves the local community.
The biggest news on Grand this past month was the completion of a stunning new mural commissioned by Rochael and George Adranly, the owners of Ikaros Greek Restaurant. The mural was completed in two days by muralist and “magic maker” Bunnie Reiss, who said that the theme is her spin on what a modern Mediterranean ceramic tile would look like. When you’re in the neighborhood, please step inside and thank George and Rochael for helping beautify Grand Avenue.
Alyce on Grand is having a Sip Mimosas While You Shop, 20% Off Sale on Saturday, December 14 from Noon – 5 pm.
The newly remodeled 510 Brand is featuring new artwork for this Thursday’s art walk but they’re also planning a big holiday party for December 15. Keep an eye on their Facebook page since details have not yet been finalized.
Ordinaire Wine is hosting a wine tasting event on December 14 that will feature five different wines from the Stirm Vineyard in Monterey County. Price is $10. Similar tastings are scheduled on most Saturdays.
The Libertine, at 3332 Grand, is hosting an incredible show of artwork by Bay Area tattoo artists. We recommend that you check out the show during The Libertine’s daily Happy Hours (Monday through Friday, 4 – 7 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 2 – 5 pm), so you can take advantage of their beer/wine/cocktail specials.
Aisle 5 continues to sponsor Trivia Tuesdays from 7:30-9:30 pm. Participation is free and beer and pizza are awarded as prizes. On Wednesdays, kids eat free from 5 – 8pm, if accompanied by an adult purchasing a minimum $15 meal. Also on Wednesdays, you’re welcome to join the East Bay Gamers Guild Meet-Up group beginning at 6 pm.
Dozo Ramen (at 3415 Grand) opened very quietly, with no fanfare, on Thanksgiving Day. Since they’re hoping for the softest of openings, I agreed not to take any photos of the interior or staff but the above photo is of my steaming bowl of ramen, which I thought was quite good and especially appropriate while the temperature outside hovered around 50 degrees. They are open for lunch Tuesdays through Sundays from 11:30 – 3:00 pm and reopen for dinner at 5:00 pm. Closed Mondays.
As I mentioned last month, in honor of Connie Perdomo’s twenty-three years on Grand Avenue without a vacation, I volunteered to help her spruce up the back patio that features two Peter Lee murals. We’ve tentatively agreed to a work day on Sunday, December 8 – if it’s not raining. If you have a couple of hours free that morning, I’d love to have some company. Please email email@example.com if you plan on volunteering or have plants and/or decorative containers that you want to donate.
The holiday season opened on Lakeshore with Thanksgiving followed by Plaid Friday and Small Business Saturday. On December 12, please join us at Lakeshore’s Shop, Stroll and Dine event. Keep your eye out for even more events, such as Hipline’s Holiday Bazaar on December 15th or Bay-Made’s classes, which will include a Family Ornament Night and a Kids Holiday Craft Party!
As the year comes to an end, we are looking at accomplishments, community engagement, and fun facts about Lakeshore. It has been an exciting year and with so much to report on our community, we are inspired and eager to see what next year will bring.
Lakeshore’s Shop, Stroll and Dine – 12/12
Lakeshore’s Shop, Stroll and Dine is an enchanting winter evening featuring carolers, merchant specials (and extended hours), a raffle with wondrous local goodies, gift baskets, and more! Discover gift ideas, savor gourmet seasonal cuisine and festive cocktails and enjoy a fun and relaxing evening stroll. Lakeshore’s Shop, Stroll and Dine is a fun, celebratory event to support local businesses and give back to the community with a fundraiser and food drive for the Alameda County Community Food Bank. There will be a raffle with local prizes for participants who support local businesses or the Lakeshore Giving Back fundraiser. Stroll hours are 5-8 pm. We will meet next door to Peet’s Coffee (3258 Lakeshore Ave) at a table outside. For more information, go to the Facebook Event or www.lakeshoreavenue.com.
GRAND LAKE FARMERS MARKET
Back in July, we reported on the farmers market debut of “Stone Root Field & Sea” – created as a merger of Doug Stonebreaker’s Prather Ranch Meat Company and Gary Root’s Same Day Seafood. It had as its core a 5,500-acre ranch in the Green Valley above Fairfield, where Doug is continuing to raise grass-fed beef, heritage pork, and pasture-raised lamb.
For the first five months, prospects looked golden, but in October, Marin Sun Farms, which owns a slaughterhouse in Petaluma where they process their own line of meats and those of small-scale private ranchers, announced (as reported in this SF Chronicle article) that, come January, outside sources could no longer be accommodated. This article in the Argus Courier has even more detail regarding the impact on local producers – many of whom will be forced to abandon their direct farm-to-plate policies.
According to Stonebreaker, that means that cattle he currently processes at the slaughterhouse in Petaluma will have to be trucked to Eureka instead, a 14-hour roundtrip drive. The closest destination for pork processing is in Orland, which is approximately 125 miles each way. Their lambs are already processed in Dixon, a relatively short drive from Fairfield, and that will continue to be the case.
If the Good Food Foundation isn’t already on your radar, they sponsor an annual nationwide awards program that honors producers of “food and drink – from spirits to cheese to coffee” who are “at the vanguard of deliciousness and social and environmental excellence.” The foundation wasn’t actually on our radar until the Agricultural Institute of Marin proudly announced that four of their vendors were 10th Annual Good Food Awards finalists – two of whom, Lucky Dog Hot Sauces and Pt. Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company are regulars at the Grand Lake Market.
Blue House Farm in Pescadero is a new, permanent addition to the Grand Lake Market. The chard I bought from them last Saturday was so beautiful, I considered putting it in a vase on the kitchen counter. I chose instead to put it in the refrigerator, but the leaves were so long it wouldn’t fit in the produce drawer until I removed the stems and bagged them separately.
Oakland resident Latisha Baker, one of our favorite artists at the Grand Lake Market, was just the subject of a LOVELY PROFILE on the Crucible’s website. Latisha also donated two pairs of her “cookie earrings” to the Cleveland Elementary School Auction that ends tomorrow. Look for auction details below on the “Happenings” page.
A list of Grand Lake Farmers Market vendors is available at THIS LINK.
SPLASH PAD PARK
At the suggestion of Diane Hicks, the Splash Pad Grand Crew’s hardest-working volunteer, City Gardener Christian Boyle, delivered four cubic feet of compost (courtesy of Waste Management) to the Splash Pad last week and then stuck around for a bit to help load it into a wheelbarrow. At the 4th Sunday work day, volunteers did quite a bit of weeding and managed to get most of the compost distributed in the California Native plant beds where it will help keep down weeds, hold in moisture, and provide additional nutrients.
Christian also shot this photo of Crystal Chadwell, one of the Public Works Department’s new part-time employees, reacting to his complimenting her “edge work.”
Due to the holidays, the Splash Pad December work day may be cancelled. If so, the next work day will be January 26, 2020.
FIRST THURSDAYS ON GRAND
The galleries listed below have varying hours and not all will be open late for the First Thursdays event.
The Libertine has a spectacular show of original artwork by several dozen Bay Area tattoo artists. Their work will be on view during regular hours through the month of December. The show is organized and curated by Joe Paul, owner of Bell and Iron Tattoo.
The staff at 510 Brand is still recovering from a major remodel – not to mention the huge re-opening party that followed. Accordingly, their First Thursday’s event on December 5 may be a bit tamer than usual. The featured artist will be Justin Metoyer Mullon. Also known as “Jamm the Artist,” he’s the coordinator and lead muralist for the non-profit Attitudinal Healing Connection. Also look for “Fluid Dreams” by Jodi Parker and new artwork by Nina Simi, who is also the artist responsible for 510 Brand’s line of Cranedeer merchandise. Hours are 6 – 9 pm. Complimentary beverages and snacks will be offered.
Urban Furniture and Boutique will be hosting an Opening Night Artists Reception (this Thursday, December 5 from 6 – 9 pm) for an exhibit of paintings by Marisa Kindsvater. Marisa is a graduate of the California College of the Arts, and she teaches glass-blowing at the Crucible. Complimentary small bites and beverages will be served.
Due to staffing issues, the East Bay Photo Collectives show of photographs at Panorama Framing most likely won’t be open during evening hours, but it’s a wonderful collection. If you’re looking for a very special piece of art for holiday giving, check it out during their regular business hours.
Bay-Made (3295 Lakeshore) has a new show opening this week featuring gorgeous landscapes by self-taught Oakland artist, Dean Holland. Open for viewing during regular shop hours. Opening Day Artist’s Reception, Saturday, December 7, 1 – 5pm
Jau Jou Studio has a new show of abstracts by Berkeley artist Gabe Weis. The show is available for viewing whenever the salon is open, but hours vary.
Earlier this month, Alchemy Bottle Shop celebrated the opening of an exhibit of artwork by Berkeley painter, illustrator, and print maker Sanaa Khan. Alchemy’s second-floor gallery is open until 8 pm during regular hours, unless a class or other special event is scheduled.
Alyce on Grand is continuing its exhibit titled “Rhythm Constellations II.” It features pen on digital prints by Oluwafemi and digital photo collages by Jamica El. Open for viewing during regular shop hours.
ODDS & ENDS
Last month we posted the photo to the right along with a description of the many underground obstacles that the contractor installing the EvGo Electric Vehicle charging stations had encountered under Lake Park Avenue. What they didn’t know at the time was that an underground gasoline storage tank was in close proximity to the electric vault they had already installed adjacent to the Vegan Mob parking lot entrance. As a result, installation of the charging stations remains on hold while the city determines who is responsible for its abatement.
Last month we enumerated a host of challenges facing locally owned small businesses, including competition from online retailers, the difficulty in finding and keeping employees who can’t afford to rent (let alone buy) in the immediate Bay Area, the high cost of commercial rents, automobile break-ins that scare away customers, property vandalism, and a plague of shop windows that have been broken or scarred with acid-etched tags.
To that list, we need to add restaurant break-ins which, according to THIS ARTICLE in the SF Chronicle is the reason that “No one wants to open a restaurant in San Francisco.” Unfortunately, it’s happening here as well. To wit, earlier this month, someone went through the roof at “Sister” and stole their safe. George Adranly reminded us that the week he and his wife assumed ownership of Ikaros, someone broke the back door and stole their safe.
The above summary of challenges facing existing businesses unfortunately has a corollary that applies to entrepreneurs hoping to open a new business. Parenthetically, if you’re not already aware of this, the CVS on Lakeshore is slated to close early next year. A top-notch, commercial designer with whom we’re acquainted has a client who was very interested in the property. However, after talking to the property owner and crunching some numbers, we received this message:
It is a great property and I hope a local business can afford to take it on, but it’s a big ask. It’s quite difficult for a small business to follow-in the footsteps of corporate retail. The metrics are completely different. And the cost of construction in the Bay Area right now is running at a 30% premium due to the combination of a labor shortage and all of the rebuilding in the fire zones. Hopefully someone can come up with a formula to make it work.
The news about the 2020 Good Food Awards (mentioned above with reference to the Farmers Market) motivated me to explore their website in some depth. What I found particularly interesting was the booze and brews. Not surprisingly, considering how attuned this area is to sound environmental practices and good quality products, Alchemy Bottle Shop and Buckingham Wine and Spirits both carry distilled spirits produced by three Award Finalists: Oakland Spirit Works, Leopold Bros., and Spirit Works Distillery. In one sense, Alchemy has an edge thanks to their Saturday free tastings program. Buckingham, however, has the edge in variety, since they stock two additional Good Food Finalists, Cutwater and Falcon Spirits. In addition, Buckingham’s focus on locally-owned craft beers includes five Award Finalists: Allagash, Almanac, Fort Point, Perennial, and Speakeasy. The Fort Point nomination is specifically for their Manzanita altbier, which I purchased from Buckingham earlier this week. It’s brewed using smoked hops and charred manzanita, neither of which sounded appealing, but I found it quite tasty. If you look at the reviews on Beer Advocate, it seems that folks either like it a lot or hate it even more.
In case you were wondering, that was a scene from an independent film that was being shot across the street from the Grand Lake Theatre on Monday and Tuesday of last week. The 20-person crew has prior experience working on many of the TV shows and films shot in the Bay Area, including Milk, Rent, Fruitvale Station, Zodiac, The Master, and many others. Some of the cast are members of the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band, and the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center on Lakeshore also assisted in the filming.
Apparently, this is one in a series of short films that are being shot under the direction of Matthew Riutta, who has fifteen years’ experience in the East Bay film industry. He is best known, according to IMDB, for his work on Moneyball (2011), Fruitvale Station (2013) and Godzilla (2014). Most recently he directed, wrote the screenplay, and co-produced a short film titled Lunch Lady.
We’re sorry to report that Brent Hennefer, the eponymous owner of “Brent’s Christmas Tree Lot” that was first established in its Grand Lake location in 1975, passed away earlier this year. His son, Frank Hennefer, is carrying on in his absence.
If you’d like to help support Cleveland Elementary School’s annual fundraising campaign, please check out THEIR ONLINE AUCTION, which ends tomorrow, December 2 at midnight. There are just over 200 lots available, including generous donations from Grand Lake Farmer’s Market vendors and neighborhood businesses including Lin Jia Kitchen, Mijori Japanese Restaurant, Walden Pond Books, Grand Lake Kitchen, Grand Lake Ace Hardware, Haddon Hill Cafe, Feral Heart Farm, Bicycle Coffee, Oaktown Spice Shop, Oakland Kosher Foods, and Latisha Baker Artworks. (Please note that the above photos were taken several weeks ago and the bids shown are not current.)
The Grand Lake Neighbors Crime Prevention Council next meets on Wednesday, December 18 at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church from 7-8:30 pm. As is usually the case, the meeting will open with our OPD Resource Officers reporting on criminal activity in the two adjacent precincts and will almost certainly touch on the shootout on Grand Avenue at Elwood on November 25. The major agenda item will be a discussion of “open issues and priorities for 2020.”
A discussion of gentrification and its consequences featuring Matthew Schuerman, author of “Newcomers: Gentrification and Its Discontents,” in conversation with Ernest Brown, Co-Executive of East Bay for Everyone, is scheduled for the Main Library, West Auditorium, Saturday, December 7 from 1 – 2:30pm.
- First Thursdays on Grand Art Walk – December 5
- Lakeshore’s Shop/Stroll/Dine Event – Thursday, December 12, 5 – 8 pm
- Hipline’s Holiday Bazaar – Sunday, December 15
- Grand Lake Neighbors Meeting at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church – Wednesday, December 18, 7-8:30 pm
- 510 Brand’s Holiday Party – Sunday, December 15 – Details TBA
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