Grand Avenue Merchant News – October 2021

by Ken Katz

Tomorrow will be a memorable day on Grand Avenue. For starters, Michael’s Chocolates (owned and operated by Michael Benner) is hosting a soft opening beginning at noon in the space recently vacated by Michael Mischer. He will continue serving Almare Gelato, and chocolates of course–though Michael B. was quick to note that his confections will be different in style, ingredients, and appearance than his predecessor’s. He’s been a chocolatier since 2015; has mainly been selling online and at special events; has won numerous awards; and is delighted to have found the perfect brick and mortar location here in Oakland. In addition to chocolates and gelato, three shelving units on the side wall will feature locally made artisanal products. As of Thursday, only olive oils had arrived but sometime soon, you’ll also find bespoke teas and chocolates made by other chocolatiers. We should also note that Brother & Sisters Flower Shop is the source of store’s flower arrangements and the potted plants.

Up the street, from noon-3 pm, All Things Hemp will be celebrating their reopening and the official unveiling of the gorgeous mural painted by Serge Gay, Jr. As we reported last month, the posters he designed will be available for sale, sixty dollars or free with a minimum fifty=dollar purchase. As of yesterday, only thirty-two posters remained available. Attendance should likely be boosted thanks to an in-depth article in The Oaklandside by Ricky Rodas titled, “How Community Members are Rallying to Save Oakland’s Only Black-owned Hemp Shop.”

Owner Kim McAfee noted one key element missing from The Oaklandside article. Namely, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence will be offering a special blessing around 1 pm tomorrow.

An opening of a different sort tomorrow will be Meaza Haile’s debut at the Grand Lake Farmers Market. In our July Grand Avenue Business Update, we reported on her shop, 8amStyle, at 434 Santa Clara  If you’re at the market tomorrow, how about giving her a warm welcome?

On Friday, September 17, this article by Janell Bitker in the SF Chronicle announced the Grand Opening of Bake Sum–resulting in a line the following morning that stretched all the way up the block to The Alley. As the line inched forward, Bake Sum staff walked the line distributing samples to whet their customers’ appetite for more. City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas–one of the fortunate ones who got in early–said this in an email that afternoon.

I love to bake myself so I was excited to check out our new neighborhood bakery. The pineapple bun was delicious, and it had a lovely creme filling. My favorite was the halo halo bun. Like halo halo from my homeland of the Philippines, it was filled with coconut jelly and sweat red beans and topped with creme and a slice of flan. What an exciting addition to our Grand Lake neighborhood!

According to one report, the line was just as long the following Saturday, but in the opposite direction all the way down to H & R Block. Owner Joyce Tang addressed the long lines in an email we received yesterday afternoon.

We’re really excited about all the enthusiasm for Bake Sum from our neighbors and from our long time fans. The hours that we currently open are as many hours we can–before selling out the last of our pastries. We are working really hard to increase our capacity and hire/train new folks right now at which point we hope to open for longer periods of time and for more days of the week. Eventually, some of the enthusiasm should wane a bit at which point it will be quicker and more convenient to stop in for a pastry and expand the menu. We are doing our best to stay out of the way of our fellow businesses up and down Grand Ave; let us know if there’s anything that you would like to see from us! When we opened, we did a soft launch before announcing our opening to the general public so that the community would have a chance to try our pastries first. Hope to see and meet everyone really soon.
For the time being, Bake Sum’s hours are Friday and Saturday from 11 am until the shelves are bare.


If you haven’t checked out the interior of MeloMelo Kava Bar, the living wall is just spectacular. Those plants look so happy, we suspect the staff may be spiking their irrigation water with a bit of kava juice. In which case, congratulations. It works! Their hours remain the same–noon to midnight–during which their parklet is getting a lot of use. There’s a DJ on Fridays and on Mondays, an open mic. Check with staff as to what they may be open to in addition to music.

Other Grand Avenue news in brief: 

  • Todd McKean, co-owner of The Libertine, says they’re delighted by the success of their parklet–particularly since neighboring restaurants are benefiting from their “open-door” policy, which encourages patrons to stop in for a beer or cocktail with food in hand. He also revealed that they’ve been thinking of initiating a revolving art show for local artists and won’t be charging a commission on sales. The only requirement is that artists have to commit to showing for three months and promptly replace any artwork that sells. If you’re interested, send an email to Todd at and attach three photos of your artwork.
  • On Thursday, we had a long talk with Chris Rachal, owner of Mimosa on Grand. Their hours remain the same for the time being: 8 pm-2 am on Friday and Saturday with a “Bottomless” Sunday Brunch from 11 am-6 pm. At some point, they’re planning to add live music. BTW: In his spare time, Chris is coordinating the remodeling of the iconic Mexicali Rose downtown. One prominent feature will be an abundance of murals painted by local artists on the exterior walls, with the stipulation that they all be painted in various shades of pink.
  • Walden Pond Books is still basking in the glow of their renovated neon sign. New in the shop are copies of a newly published book titled, Hella Oakland. Its author will be making an online presentation on October 14. Check out our calendar for details.
  • As we’ve lamented in the past, since the departure of Liane Zimny, we lack the bandwidth to adequately report on Adams Point, but we’re happy to share this excellent Hoodline article about Mama Restaurant.
  • We stopped by Sister Restaurant on Thursday and couldn’t resist taking a photo of some of the delicious breads that are available for take-out Thursdays through Saturdays. Please note that proof of vaccination is required for indoor dining.

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 – October 2021”

  1. Julie Gordon Avatar
    Julie Gordon

    Thanks so much for updates on Grand. Happy to head down to enjoy all the new options!