Grand Avenue West of 580 Blog – January 2016

GRAND AVENUE, WEST OF 580 – January 2016


Hi Neighbors! Welcome to January, the month named for Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions, according to ancient Roman religion and mythology.   – LZ.

Beginnings & Transitions on Grand Ave, West of 580

Like Janus, this month we will look backward and forward to check the status of the opening, re-opening, relocation and expansion plans described in previous blog posts and also take a quick peek into the immediate future.Ahns Burgers - full lot

In November, Ahn’s Quarter Pound Burgers successfully reopened at its original location, 439 Grand Avenue, nearly nine months after a grease fire on February 11, 2015.  Cars and pedestrians at the window demonstrate that the community is again enjoying their burger-fix at Ahn’s.Barlogo exterior - patrons contemplate choices

Barlago Italian Kitchen is doing a steady business at 550 Grand, including dinner, happy hour, daily specials, and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Notice the beautiful handmade sign advertising Peroni Nastro Azzurro, an Italian lager, above the door to the lounge side of Barlargo. It looks much classier than an old Budweiser sign.

Bay Grape, at 376 Grand Avenue, is taking a long weekend off in order to recuperate from brisk holiday business and events. But Stevie and Josiah will return on January 4 with more wine tastings, food pairings, classes, and other community events.Ensaro new location 1

Enssaro successfully moved across the street into a lovely, larger space at 357 Grand  and is serving the same authentic Ethiopian cuisine that the Grand Lake community loves. Its former location is available for lease. (Who wants to take that space and become the subject of a future blog?)Grand Lake Kitchen sign affirms expansion

Grand Lake Kitchen continues to operate at 576 Grand Avenue as it develops its expansion into the space next door. May tells me that “this and that” has extended the development time.  Nothing alarming, just the kinds of things one encounters doing renovations.

The target date for opening the expanded dining area is March-ish. Diners  can now see evidence of work that’s currently underway on Tuesdays (the only day that GLK closes) to minimize the time (approximately 2 weeks) that the entire restaurant will need to close when the two spaces are joined.

During the closure, some staff will help with painting, sanding, etc. Others will be temporarily placed at restaurants in the area whose owners are friends with May and Dave, so all staff are expected to be okay during the closure.

Meanwhile, before the GLK expansion, if you are waiting for your table, please take advantage of seats provided by GLK just east of the serving area in order to avoid blocking the sidewalk. Be assured that GLK staff will find you when your table is ready. By the way, May and Dave have voluntarily implemented seismic retrofitting as part of their project, so I know where I will want to go to eat well when the Big One hits!

SPOKES - bikes & signIcey Cream Parlor 2

The status of plans to open the “Icey Cream” parlor are still uncertain. The owner has not been available to comment on what the specific delays may be, but meanwhile he has renovated the Lake Merritt Super Market and opened the Oasis Lounge and Oasis Grill, all at 344 Grand Ave.

Oakland SPOKES Community Bike Lounge, at 366 Grand Avenue, opened successfully in November. Our neighborhood’s newest bike shop is open until 5PM on Sundays, 8 PM on weekdays, and midnight (!) on Saturdays to accommodate your bike shopping and repair needs.

Oaktown Spice Shop interior - bit blurry

Working Body Bootcamp sign above entryThe Oaktown Spice Shop successfully moved into a much larger space at 546 Grand. Today I heard a passerby tell her friend as they walked by, “If you still need to buy any presents for anyone, this is the best place!” That is great word-of-mouth testimony. Inside,  the store smelled wonderful and was packed with shoppers, several days past the prime shopping season, mostly buying “gifts” for themselves.

Working Body successfully relocated to its larger, splendid facility at 399 Grand. In addition to classes and personal fitness trainers, WB is currently offering a “WB Bootcamp” to help us achieve our fitness New Year’s resolutions. (Its former space is available for lease. Any takers?)

What Else is Coming?

Avevista -2Avévista, the apartment development at 460 Grand Avenue,  looks ready to open soon. Watch for a story here in a future “Grand Avenue West of 580” blog.

A sign in the window at 411 Grand Avenue promises that a Direct Urgent Care facility will be coming soon. Direct Urgent Care currently operates at a site on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. As the Grand Ave. plans unfold, you can read about it here.

Thank you, Neighbors

Finally, I take a point of personal privilege to say “thank you” to two anonymous members of the Grand Lake community who did not know me or each other.  Earlier today I was foolishly trying to multitask walking on Grand Avenue, West of 580. I was juggling my gloves and camera as I tried to jot notes for this month’s blog while crossing Bellevue. Just after I crossed the street, I caught the heel of my shoe on an uneven surface and flew forward onto the sidewalk.

First a Black gentleman, then an Asian woman stopped to be sure I was okay. They helped me stand and waited to be sure I was able to walk. I appreciated their thoughtful concern and their discrete assistance which helped me maintain some dignity following my clumsy tumble.

(Lesson learned: Don’t multitask, especially while crossing streets!) I was pleased, but not surprised by their immediate, gracious help. That spirit is typical of people in our wonderful Grand Lake community and throughout Oakland.

Happy 2016, Readers. Share the joy.