Grand Avenue Merchant News – June 2023

by Ken Katz

The future of the Grand Avenue business district is continuing to look brighter than ever with folks starting to turn out for special events in pre-pandemic numbers. To cite one example, last Tuesday I popped into the Alley to order their Special Steak Dinner––pricier than it used to be, but still a bargain. Turns out that Tuesdays are Trivia Nights, and the place was totally packed. Check out their calendar for music seven nights a week.

Across the street, the Melo Melo Kava Bar has an Open Mic on Mondays, a Tongan Kava Circle on Tuesdays, and a DJ on Friday nights. They’re also scheduling special events: their June calendar includes a Filipino Food pop-up on the 9th, music by Jaylen Green and Elizabeth Lubin  on the 10th, the LA River Boys on the 13th, and Citizen Jann two days later.  

Andrew Alden’s book-signing event at the Farmers Market on May 20 was a big hit. Hats off to Bob Fisher (Walden Pond’s Manager) and to Anthony Bennett (Grand Avenue Business Association Chair) for organizing the event. Thanks as well to David Gans for providing the background music with bonus points for singing Bounty from the County at my request, followed by an encore for the Farmers Market management. A limited number of author-signed copies of Deep Oakland are still available at Walden Pond Books.

Sister has recently expanded its hours to weekdays 8:00am–2:00 pm and weekends 9:00am–2:00pm. FYI: Be sure to check out the stunning artwork by Raymond Holbert.

One of the key factors in Grand Avenue’s resurgence was Delila Hailechristos’s decision to open a second ReLove location on Grand in the space that had been vacated the year before by Knimble. In addition to a well-curated selection of vintage clothing, they are also stocking arts and crafts and furnishings. The current display downstairs includes ceramics by Jaqua Morrow, Oaxacan Black Pottery, and found objects.

We heard through the grapevine that Two Two had hosted a fabulous marketplace on May 10 that featured food, clothing, jewelry, and crafts supplied by ten different independently owned businesses. We missed out due to our failure to get on CC’s email list and/or regularly check her event page. Currently scheduled: an art show on June 9 featuring graphite drawings and sculptures by Naomi Hawksley and a scent workshop on 17th. Prior registration for many events is required.

  • The abundance of colors in front of Grand Flowers brightened the day and a rare hint of sunlight was a bonus.
  • Ikaros has a new, visitor-friendly website with great graphics. They’re also introducing a Happy Hour from 4:00–6:00 pm Wednesdays through Sundays.
  • Brother and Sisters Flower Shop has been drying flowers in house and this wreath is one of the beneficiaries.

More Grand Avenue News in Brief:

  • Alkali Rye will be celebrating their 3rd Anniversary in late June, but details have not yet been finalized.
  • J & J Beauty Salon is offering a 50% discount on human hair wigs and 30% for synthetic.
  • Coming up at the Grand Lake Theatre: Pixar’s Elementals, Indiana Jones 5, Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City and The Flash.
  • An invitation-only Grand Opening of the LGBTQ Youth Center on Santa Clara is scheduled for mid-month.

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.