Grand Avenue Merchant News – January 2023

by Ken Katz

If you were passing the Grand Lake Theatre during daylight hours early in December, you may have been a bit perplexed by the marquee, which listed nothing but movies that were hot stuff back in 1987. On the other hand, if you were anywhere in the commercial district on the evening of December 9, you were probably thinking, “What the ___ is going on?” — especially if you were behind the wheel of a car stuck in traffic. Speaking of cars, four classic 1980s models were parked in front of the Bank of America on Lake Park which was blocked off entirely. Three more, less luxurious 1980s models were parked on Grand, which was barricaded from MacArthur to Elwood.

The source of all that excitement was a film shoot at the Grand Lake Theatre for an upcoming film titled, Freaky Tales. Based on a song by Too Short, the directors (Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden,) are best known for Captain Marvel. The cast includes lots of big names, including Pedro Pascal, Ben Mendelsohn, and Jay Ellis. Apparently, all the scenes are being shot here in Oakland and many of the people involved are Oakland natives. Hopefully, by the time Freaky Tales is premiered, the inconvenience and loss of customers for businesses that were negatively impacted will be forgotten. Instead, we can all celebrate Oakland’s exposure to some Hollywood glamor and the knowledge that the Grand Lake Theatre, the anchor of the Grand Avenue business district, will be seen worldwide.

More excitement, without the inconveniences, is coming to the theater later this month with the return of the Noir City Film Festival. The 20th edition will run from January 20–29 and will feature a total of twenty-four films. This is an absolutely wonderful event, especially if you have a thing for Film Noir and period clothing — as is the case with the above couple who kindly posed for us last year. Advance ticket purchases are recommended.

In addition to the festival drawing hundreds (if not thousands) of folks to the Grand Lake district, Walden Pond Books will be inside the theater lobby selling Dark City and other such books. We’ve also been advised that Walden Pond will resume purchasing used books and records on January 5.

Yesterday morning, we were absolutely delighted to see the doors open at what used to be the Knimble space at 3258 Grand. Inside, we introduced ourselves to Delila Hailechristos, the owner of ReLove, a shop on Polk Street that specializes in trendy stylish clothing — both new and gently used for men and for women. It’s been a huge success, one measure of which is nearly 17,000 followers on Instagram. The Grand Avenue location will be following much the same formula but, thanks to the available square footage, it sounds like they’ll also be offering furniture and artwork. The Grand Opening is scheduled for February 18. Since Delila is expecting a large turnout for the event, they are asking anyone interested in attending to reserve an entry pass ahead of time via their Instagram account: @shoprelove.

Last month, we reported at length on Ohana Cannabis Company‘s plans to open a dispensary at 3838 Grand Avenue next to One Medical. Shortly after publication, we received a copy of Ohana’s statement regarding neighborhood concerns and how those concerns will be addressed. Subsequently, under the stewardship of David Roe, a Walker Avenue resident who lives directly behind the proposed dispensary, Ohana’s President Nasser Azimi, and the City Administrator’s office agreed to an additional permit requirement, which David explained as follows:

In effect, it holds the dispensary to its commitments and assurances to the neighbors, made in a special Grand Lake Neighbors meeting on December 6, and does not allow any expansion of business hours without a public hearing on how well those commitments and assurances have been going. Both the neighbors and the dispensary owner welcomed this arrangement.

To date, although Ohana’s permit has been approved by the City Administrator’s office, a last-minute appeal of that decision has been filed. Even if that appeal is denied, additional approvals are needed and any required renovations will further delay Ohana’s opening. If you have questions, this will again be on the agenda of the Grand Lake Neighbors meeting on January 18.

Anthony Bennett, President of the Grand Avenue Business Association (GABA) reports that, thanks to holiday funding from the City of Oakland, they will have security patrols working Grand Avenue centered on the Walker lot through mid-January. In addition, several local business and/or property owners have indicated a willingness to provide funding longer-term. Stay tuned for updates next month.

In addition, Anthony indicates that they are about to resume monthly GABA meetings after a long, pre-pandemic hiatus. Thanks, in large part to his efforts and to the recent addition of multiple new businesses, Grand Avenue’s future is looking bright.

Grand Avenue News in Brief:.

  • M2 is featuring what sounds like a marvelous Sunday Buffet
  • Lots of happy diners yesterday morning at the Coffee Mill and folks lined up next door at Lynn & Lu’s
  • Alkali Rye will be closed through January 6
  • 8am Style has designed a unique winter jacket that’s available at their shop on Santa Clara or at the Farmers Market most Saturdays

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.


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One response to “Grand Avenue Merchant News – January 2023”

  1. Missing YOU already! See you around the hood!!!