Grand Avenue Merchant News – January 2024

by Ken Katz

The big story on Grand this month is unfortunately bad news. Sister is closing on January 27, citing a decline in revenue due in large part to an uptick in crime, particularly car break-ins — an ongoing problem shared by a number of area businesses. Here’s what Sister posted on their Facebook page:

We are heartbroken to announce that the last service at Sister Restaurant will be January 27th. It has been a great pleasure and honor to host your dates, family gatherings, solo dinners, and coffee outings. We are grateful for the team we’ve put together here – the most hardworking and talented group of folks anywhere. Unfortunately, we have not been able to make the revenue necessary to keep our doors open, so we will be here to serve you just until the end of January. We hope to see you all a few more times before then. Reservations for dinner service are highly recommended – and we still have a few dates available for private dining.

While I was heading to Miss Saigon for lunch on Sunday afternoon, I was delighted to discover that the neon signs at Smitty’s are going to be professionally restored by the same guy who did the neon restoration for Walden Pond Books in August 2021 and is responsible for regular maintenance of all the Grand Lake Theatre signage. Greg (on the right) predicts it will take five weeks to complete the neon restoration, adding that the new owners have been facing major delays due to problems with electrical power and the permit process. He also shared a little secret: behind the existing Smitty’s sign is another sign the identical size that says “Perry’s,” apparently a prior tenant back in the 1930s.

Alkali Rye will be closed from January 1–9 while they conduct an interior remodel that includes new flooring. When you next return, you may want to check out their wide selection of non-alcoholic beverages (pictured above), in addition to their curated collection of beers, wines, and distilled spirits. Last month, we wrote about the two ceramics workshops led by Kristen Stain that had been scheduled for Alkali Rye’s 2nd floor gallery. Kori and Jessica report that they were both a big success. By the way, Kristen is a good friend of the owners of The Sanctuary up the block, and her ceramics can be viewed and purchased there.

TwoTwo had a fashion show in San Francisco several weeks ago featuring up-and-coming designers from all over the world. All the clothing on this rack came straight from the show stage. The piece I selected as a centerpiece was made by one of several Oakland designers. Others reside in Japan, Mexico, and elsewhere.

Last month, we reported that live jazz had returned to Grand Avenue on Sunday evenings thanks to The Barbary. What we didn’t know at the time was that it was Jim Grantham’s jazz quartet. He was one of the musicians who performed at the Splash Pad Park Grand Opening in 2003. Moreover, his wife Lou served on one of the planning committees and also helped raise a substantial amount of the donations that paid for the park fountain.

Urban Furniture currently has an especially nice selection of clothing. If you’re a regular and fan of founder and director Tracey Williams, be sure to check out her portrait painted by their December Featured Artists, Suzette McDonough & James Whitehouse.

The Grand Lake Theatre has lots of new films scheduled for January plus a Noir City 21 extravaganza from January 19-28, during which you’ll also be able to purchase Film Noir books from Walden Pond out in the lobby.

News in brief
  • Star on Grand has some very tempting Happy Hour offerings from 4–6 Mondays through Fridays, and their Fall Specials include a Squashage Pizza
  • Happy to see big crowds shopping at Walden Pond two days before Christmas.
  • The Ikaros Brunch menu (Fridays through Sundays) now includes a Breakfast Stacker that sounds fabulous.
  • MeloMelo Kava Bar has Open Mics scheduled for Mondays. DJs on Fridays, and Cats Filipino Food pop-up on Friday the 12th. Check their calendar for details.
  • Almond & Oak owner Rico Rivera has decided to renew their parklet permit, despite the new license fees and city requirements for improvements. According to Rico, substantially more weekend brunch revenues from the outdoor seating made the decision a no-brainer.
  • Ordinaire will be closed January 1 and 2.

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.



One response to “Grand Avenue Merchant News – January 2024”

  1. Georganne Walker Avatar
    Georganne Walker

    Thanks, Ken, for all of your dedication and hard work on the Splashpad Newsletter/Neighborhood Forum over all of these years. It certainly has helped keep those of us in the neighborhood connected to the goings-on. We look forward to hearing from you when you have a contribution to make, but otherwise, enjoy your time in the neighborhood!