Grand Avenue Merchant News – November 2021

by Ken Katz

In the May 2021 Grand Avenue Business report we happily reported that “the reopening of Knimble earlier this week was the very best news on the retail front.” Six months later, we are regrettably reporting that the big news on the retail front this month is their upcoming closure in January 2022. According to Shop Manager Liz Lord, their original San Rafael location will continue in operation, but due to the pandemic, the Oakland shop is bringing in half of what they need to survive.

In the past year, we’ve marveled that the majority of local businesses have managed to survive and how, miraculously, most of the spaces that became vacant have already been filled. This is such a wonderful building in a prime location, here’s hoping that it’s leased fairly quickly and that the new tenants are equally good neighbors.

Speaking of vacancies that were filled almost immediately, Michael’s Chocolates (the shop now owned and operated by Michael Benner) had their Grand Opening on October 2. We were otherwise occupied that morning but were told that there was a big turnout and a warm reception from folks happy to know that handmade craft chocolates and Almare Gelato are still available in the neighborhood. As we mentioned last month, the shelving on the walls to the right of the entrance feature products produced by friends–many of whom have supported Michael’s efforts in the past. In addition to olive oil, you’ll now find cookies and brittle from the MojoBakes kitchen, as well as Raphio Chocolates. In our visit late last week, we couldn’t resist taking a photo of the Halloween witch Michael produced in very small numbers. Stay tuned for an equally enticing Christmas Santa.

All Things Hemp celebrated their reopening on the same afternoon and the reports from owner Kim McAfee have been equally positive. We were pleased to learn that not only did they manage to get through the pandemic despite the struggles we documented on several occasions, the increased traffic due to the mural painted by Grammy Award nominated artist Serge Gay, Jr. and the publicity from us and from the article in The Oaklandside, she was able to close up this weekend and take a much needed vacation with her kids. They’ll reopen at 11 am on Tuesday. According to Kim, they only have about fifteen of the artist-signed posters still available. Price is $60, or free with a $50 purchase.

Bake Sum is still drawing crowds but in lesser numbers. We got in on Saturday afternoon and, although the selection was pretty limited by that point, it was still well worth the 10-minute wait. Next time, we’ll ask for the bread, which Freya Prowe from Brother and Sisters Flower Shop says is scrumptious. Hours, for the time being, are still the same: opening Friday and Saturday at 11 am and closing when the shelves are bare. We’ve been told, however, to look fairly soon for them to open on Sundays as well.

Chris Rachal, owner of Mimosa 2 on Grand tells us that they’re now opening early on Thursdays and Fridays for a Happy Hour from 5:00-7:00 pm. He also announced that they will be hosting a “Cigars on the Patio” event beginning on November 11. Their “Bottomless” Sunday Brunch from 11 am-6 pm is also very popular.

The Grand Lake Theatre is now open seven days a week–albeit with somewhat abbreviated hours. Earlier showings are on Saturdays and Sundays; late shows on Friday and Saturdays. Upcoming features include King Richard, Eternals, and Ghost Busters. If you’re a big fan, don’t miss the Oakland Heritage Alliance interview of Allen Michaan on Thursday, November 18. Details are in the Splash Pad News calendar.

When we stopped in at Ordinaire Wine on Saturday, we were pleased to see lots of folks outdoors in their parklet enjoying a warm autumn afternoon. We didn’t catch the date, but if you’re interested in an upcoming California Nouveau Wine Party, give them a call for details.

News in Brief: 

  • Left Coast Power Yoga has doubled their usable space after expanding into the storefront that previously offered oriental rugs.
  • Almond & Oak was getting into their Halloween vibe when we wandered by on Friday
  • A new sign is up at the long vacant Grand Tavern location and there are other signs that improvements are underway. Hoping to announce their reopening sometime soon.

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.



4 responses to “Grand Avenue Merchant News – November 2021”

  1. Rachel Broadwin Avatar
    Rachel Broadwin

    I will add to the choruses of thank yous. I always learn something from this publication.

  2. Thanks again for a lively and informative newsletter

  3. David Gans Avatar
    David Gans

    Thank you as always! A vital community voice!

  4. Susi Vogler Avatar
    Susi Vogler

    Thanks Ken for the great information! We’re sad to hear that Knimble is closing. They were such a wonderful addition to our neighborhood.