Grand Avenue Merchant News – August 2022

by Ken Katz

This past Thursday, an Art Walk on Grand Avenue involved six locally-owned local businesses: Radbird, Megadeluxe, Alyce on Grand, Urban Furniture & Boutique, Brother & Sisters Flower Shop, and Sister Restaurant. The initial stimulus for the event came from Tracey Williams, the Founder and Executive Director of Urban University, who was one of the mainstays of the Grand Avenue First Thursdays event that ran successfully from 2013 until 2016 when participation began to decline. Hopefully, this will be remembered as the kickoff for a much longer and even more successful regularly-scheduled event on Grand Avenue.

The evening’s highlight was Tracey’s lengthy introduction of their featured artist for the month, Jennifer Bobrow, the Urban Gem jeweler who specializes in earrings. Tracey’s spoke of her own long-time fascination with earrings ranging from Hoop Earrings during the Hip Hop seventies to her account of how and under what circumstances she had her infant daughter’s ears pierced. We highly recommend that you ask her about the latter. It’s a great story — well told.

At Megadeluxe, owner Wes Garcia was serving complimentary Sangrias while talking about how he came to open a shop on Grand where you can pick from thousands of patches that are affixed to a high quality cap in a matter of minutes. Wes shared “the stage” with Jon Beck McConnico who creates custom-made watches in his Bespoke Watch Projects Oakland studio.

Across the street at Radbird, owner Lori Tiedemann had not one two DJs performing — Starterkit and What’s Up Albert while two doors up the block, Alyce Preston was showcasing MyMajiArt, woodblock prints by Chantal Hildebrand. At Brother & Sisters Flowers, the featured artist was Freya and Doug’s daughter, Mara with John Steven Morgan on the piano adjacent to the entrance. The last stop was Sister Restaurant for drinks and pizza in their parklet.

Friday afternoon, we talked with Shelley Cardiff, the owner of what used to be Grand Tavern but is now called the Grand Avenue Social Club. She said that they are now in the midst of a soft-opening with limited hours on Thursdays through Sundays. As you can see from the above photos, the interior has undergone some major improvements and the breadth of the menu has expanded as well to soon include breakfast and brunch. Watch for a Grand Opening announcement in the next month or so and, in the meanwhile, phone (510) 444-4644 to confirm that they are, in fact, open.

This month’s event calendar at Alkali Rye includes wine tastings on Friday, August 5 and Saturday, August 20 but also a presentation on August 4 about the “second hand clothing movement in the Bay Area.”

In addition to getting a Best of the East Bay Award, the “Sandwich Saint” (in a SF Gate weekly column) selected Modigliani as the sandwich shop he “recommends the most” and this is what he’s quoted as saying about Gerry Mogg’s tuna melt:

“It’s like a really eclectic little shop and it’s in a beautiful area,” Costello said. “The texture of the tuna fish is wonderful, light and airy. The owner packs the sandwich very thick, so you get quite a lot of tuna in it, and it has a high-quality cheese that melts well and kind of blankets the fish. Then the owner griddles the roll to create a checker pattern across the top. I’m not a massive tuna fish guy but I get strong visceral cravings for that sandwich.”

The most consequential news this month is compliments of the East Bay Express’s Best of the East Bay selections for 2022. Grand Avenue did extremely well — as did Lakeshore. Here’s our list for the former:

  • Best Resale Furniture and Best Consignment Furniture – Uhuru House
  • Best Movie Theater – Grand Lake Theatre
  • Best Jewelry Repair – Grand Jewelry Repair
  • Best Bookstore New and Best Used Bookstore – Walden Pond
  • Best Insurance Agent – Ruth Stroup
  • Best Senior Living Facility – Lake Park Retirement Community
  • Best Culinary Store – Oakland Spice Shop
  • Best Veterinary Services – Grand Lake
  • Best Wine Club – Bay Grape
  • Best Farmers Market – Grand Lake
  • Best Sandwich Shop – Modigliani Cafe
  • Best Greek Restaurant – Ikaros
  • Best Family Restaurant and Best Pizza – Zachary’s Pizza
  • Best Kava Bar – Melo Melo
  • Best Local Coffee Roaster – Red Bay Coffee
  • Best Home Improvement Store – Grand Lake Ace Hardware

Grand Avenue News in Brief:

  • Michael’s Chocolates, which has a new espresso machine, is featuring Signal Roasting coffee which is also available cold brewed. Michael also recommended their Affogato —  a scoop of gelato with an espresso topping.
  • Alyce on Grand continues to feature handmade specialty candles that are locally made and they also are offering new summertime sunglasses in a rainbow of colors.
  • Red Bay Coffee Roasters  is now being supplied by Starter Bakery — which means the baked goods you buy at the market on Saturdays are now available seven days a week at 3206 Grand.
  • With the weather we’ve been having of late, it may not feel like Summer but Star Pizza is recommending their Roasted Summer Squash, a Strawberry and Spinach thin-crust pizza, and a Summer Salad with spinach, cucumbers, red onion, fresh strawberries, feta, balsamic dressing and candied walnuts.
  • According to owner, Ingrid Peterson, a  “Meditative Arts Center” called “Moon Landing” will be opening soon at 3725 Grand. Stay tuned for photos and more info in the next month or so.
  • This SF Chronicle article reported that Amazon, as part of a nation-wide expansion into the health care realm, has purchased One Medical including the office on Grand Avenue.

Ken Katz founded the Splash Pad Neighborhood Forum in late 1999 and, in his role as Chair, coordinated the community efforts to lobby for a new park and subsequently served as a liaison to the City of Oakland and to Walter Hood’s office during the planning process. The first Splash Pad Newsletters were emailed beginning circa 2006. Currently, he acts as a contributor to—and publisher of—the monthly Splash Pad News. Keila Diehl proofreads all the copy, filters content as needed, and makes everyone involved look good.