I typically use the empirical method when writing html code. That means, in simple terms, that I make lots of mistakes and only learn about them after the fact. Last month, this unfortunate circumstance was very much in evidence when I used an oversized image in the masthead — rendering the text unreadable for a substantial percentage of our newsletter subscribers.
I did learn from this mistake. Have you? If so, next time (and there will be a next time) instead of throwing up your hands in disgust, you’ll look for the copy posted on GrandLakeNeighbors.org. David Flack kindly, and without fanfare, fixes my worst blunders.
FIRST THURSDAYS ON GRAND
After a brief hiatus for the 4th of July, First Thursdays on Grand resumes this Thursday. Galleria Scola is continuing its exhibit of Elida’s prints and assemblages, while Rebooty will be show-casing newly-stocked, repurposed art from several different artists.
At Panorama Framing, the ongoing exhibit of artwork by Raymond Wong includes a number of intricate, meticulously done collages that I found stunning. In Oak Common’s Backstock Gallery, the digital photography of Simon Pyle turns pixelation into a unique art form. As an amateur photographer, I particularly appreciated the series of four photographs that illustrate the degradation that occurs when a photo is saved on multiple occasions.
When visiting any of the above galleries, be sure to ask for a copy of the event flyer/map and have your hand stamped to take advantage of the offers from participating businesses. The Slick and Dapper Barber Emporium joins the roster this month with a super-special deal: free buzz cuts; free beer; free snacks. All in exchange for a donation to the Autism Society of America. I may or may not get myself a buzz cut — but I’ll definitely line up for a beer.
Another new participant will be Dr. J’s Closet at 3738 Grand. Owner Jan Bowman is offering a 20% discount on all clothing plus free refreshments and giveaways including a limited number of these handy-dandy, ball-point pens with a built-in flashlight.
This will also be the perfect opportunity to take advantage of happy hours extended to 9 p.m. at The Grand Tavern since the head brewer, manager and the rest of the crew from Triple Rock will have four beers on tap in the front patio. The beer selection should be posted shortly on the Grand Tavern’s First Thursdays Facebook page.
A complete list of all participants is posted on the First Thursdays website. P.S. If you’d like to help make this a hugely successful, ongoing event, please volunteer an hour or so as a greeter — stamping hands and distributing event maps. If you’re interested, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
GRAND AVENUE MERCHANT NEWS
As I’ve noted previously, internet blogs have pretty much made soft openings for new restaurants a virtual impossibility. That was certainly the case when my wife and I (accompanied by our six year-old grand-daughter) showed up on July 7 for the opening night dinner at The Star on Grand. When I had phoned half an hour earlier, I was assured that a reservation wouldn’t be necessary — but at 6:15, there was a thirty minute wait for a table.
I admit I wasn’t too pleased — but the wait was well worth it. This is one great pizza with luscious fillings — but it’s the crispy, corn-meal crust that makes it really unique. In addition, the service was impeccable. We were waited on by Casey, who is a Grand Avenue resident and, from what I’m told, also an artist.
As an aside, our grand-daughter had a lower front tooth that was hanging on by a thread and she opted for meatballs instead of pizza — one of which promptly claimed the tooth. When Casey brought the leftovers back to our table, the box containing the meatballs (minus the tooth which was safely ensconced in a napkin) was decorated with a drawing captioned “Happy Tooth Day”.
Just down the street, a lot of progress is being made at Penrose & Sons Fine Meats and Spirits — but lots of work remains to be done. In response to my email inquiry, Richard Weinstein wrote: “My best guess, and I’m usually wrong: September?”
Congratulations to Bradford Taylor and The Red Whale. At long last, they’ve obtained the last of their permits. Bradford says it will take awhile to get their inventory in place — so he’s not sure when they’ll be open. Your best bet is to continue monitoring The Red Whale’s Facebook page.
Boot and Shoe patrons were heard loud and clear in the annual East Bay Express annual poll allowing Charlie Hallowell’s wait staff to walk off with the award for best restaurant service.
Monkey Forest Road was honored this month by the East Bay Express for their gluten-free baked goods selected by their readers as the best in the East Bay. MFR also announced that they were organizing a curated exhibit of Grand Avenue photos from 1900 to the present. They are requesting photo submissions that tell personal stories and honor the neighborhood’s roots. More information is available on this link.
Temoor Noor’s Grand Tavern received this glowing review in the July 18th Chronicle. Please note that, if you’re not a subscriber, you may not be able to open the entire article but the photo of the burger is, in itself, worth the price of admission.
Oak Common made the Chronicle’s list of the Top 100 Shops in the Bay Area. Details are on their Facebook page.
In addition to great clothing, they are also stocking the “Cat Tipi”. The store sample I photographed last week is not for sale as it’s been claimed by David and Jeffrey’s DOG. Yes, “Pancho” is cute as hell — but it’s apparently in the midst of an identity crisis — either that or the product is mislabeled.
Last month, I linked to this blog post by former Grand Avenue resident, Jennifer Pahlka who is the founder of Code for America and currently the Deputy Chief Technology Officer of the United States. Jennifer’s post, extolling the virtues of an old-fashioned, bodega or neighborhood grocery, prompted me to introduce myself to Saroj Ary All — the owner of the Grand Lake Market at 3217 Grand.
In the past, Saroj has tried adding milk and eggs to his inventory but there wasn’t nearly enough turnover to make it work. I suspect that’s due, in part, to a lack of adequate publicity. In any case, if you’re a supporter of independently-owned, neighborhood businesses and, if you like the bodega concept, please send me a list of items that aren’t otherwise available or don’t warrant a trip to Safeway or Trader Joe’s. Better yet, stop by and talk to Saroj. He’s a really thoughtful guy and I’d like us to help him better serve neighborhood residents.
The Planning Commission hearing regarding a Major Conditional Use Permit for the Alchemy Bottle Shop (which has signed a lease for the space next to Knimble at 3256 Grand) was postponed and rescheduled for Wednesday, August 7 at 6:00 pm on the first floor of City Hall. If you can’t attend in person, comments should be directed to Dave Valeska (dvaleska@Oaklandnet.com). For more background information, please see this article in the Piedmont Patch.
LAKESHORE AND LAKE PARK AVENUE MERCHANT NEWS
If their Kickstarter campaign is successful, our Grand Lake neighborhood will be getting not one — but two Top Chef Alumni: Jennifer Biesty (Season 4) and Tim Nugent (Desserts – Season 1). For five years, they worked together respectively as executive chef and executive pastry chef at Scala’s Bistro in San Francisco.
Their proposed restaurant (in a not yet publicly announced location) will be called Shakewell Bar and Kitchen. Jennifer and Tim are looking to raise a minimum of $100,000 for major improvements. Here’s the Kickstarter link which also includes a video. One week into the campaign, over 25% of their goal has already been pledged. Knowing that (combined with Jennifer’s 1985 Facebook friends), I’d say that this is pretty much a done deal.
Earlier this month, I took this photo of a huge crane parked at the corner of Lakeshore and Mandana. Steve Banker (who owns the Preservation Award-winning, brick building that houses Gymboree, Lin Jia and the soon-to-open, Scarecrow Popcorn) must have checked the historical records and realized that we are overdue for a big quake on the San Andreas fault. The installation of massive steel beams required digging up the concrete floor in Gymboree and slicing open the ceilings in all three storefronts.
According to the sign in the window, Gymboree should be re-opening August 4. A second contractor who is doing the interior work for Scarecrow Popcorn told me they should be open in about two weeks. This is the same contractor that worked at Monkey Forest Road — so you know the workmanship at Scarecrow is going to be top-notch.
Wingstop has quietly re-opened a few weeks after 22-year-old Kenneth Bradley and 26-year-old Jose Santa Maria were tragically murdered on the evening of July 8th. On the 15th, Lakeshore Baptist Church hosted a memorial service for their families and members of the community officiated by Rev. Jim Hopkins.
GRAND AVENUE — WEST OF 580
In this month’s Grand Avenue, West of 580 blog, “LZ” writes about Lakeview Bicycle at 622 Grand — directly across the street from the Lakeview branch library.
In other Grand Avenue (west of 580 news) the East Bay Express selected the Oaktown Spice Shop as the best specialty food shop in the East Bay — an extremely well-deserved honor.
SPLASH PAD PARK
Plans for our 10th Anniversary Celebration are rapidly evolving as reflected in the content of our 10th Anniversary Celebration blog.
1. We now have five bands confirmed for Sunday, October 20th. 2. We’ve added a fundraiser for Splash Pad improvements scheduled for Saturday, October 19th. It will be a gourmet tastings event hosted by Monkey Forest Road in their parking lot adjacent to their lovely patio. 3. We’ve lined up Linden Street Brewery to supply us with beer in kegs for our beer/wine “tent”.
The Sunday concert is going to be a major production — but also a bit pricy. We’re going to need some major sponsorships to make this happen and, particularly so since we want the net profits to help fund Splash Pad improvements. If you own (or work for) a business that is a potential sponsor, please take a look at the sponsorship materials posted on the 10th Anniversary page and give me a call.
We could also use additional members for our 10th Anniversary Steering Committee. Recent additions, including newsletter subscriber, Hildegard Dodd have contributed immensely but some additional expertise with bookkeeping, fundraising and event planning would be welcomed. Our next meeting will be this coming Monday, August 5 at my home beginning with an informal meal at 7:00 pm. For directions and “dinner reservations”, please send an email to email@example.com.
While we’re busy planning the celebration, we’re continuing on a parallel track to do what we can to spruce up the park as much as we possibly can. The next volunteer work day will be Sunday, August 18th from 9:00 am to Noon. If you’re not already on our gardening volunteer email list, please send an email to the above address with “Garden Volunteer” on the subject line.
With Jerry Barclay, the Chair of the Splash PadFarmers Market Advisory Council, out of town, I was invited to sit in as a community representative at a meeting a couple of weeks ago between the city and representatives from the Agricultural Institute of Marin. I can’t share the details but it does sound as if some major changes may be in the works and that, at a minimum, AIM will soon begin paying a monthly rental fee — although the exact amount may be re-negotiated at a later date.
Jerry, on the other hand, is recommending to the city that they abandon negotiations with the current market manager, the Agricultural Institute of Marin, and instead issue an RFP (Request for Proposals) from other qualified market operators. At a minimum, Jerry is recommending that AIM should be held responsible for all the various elements that would be included if an RFP were issued. This will be the central question on the agenda of the next SPFMAC meeting on Wednesday, August 28th at 7:00 pm in the Family Room at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church.
Meanwhile, due to the complaints over maintenance issues, AIM had the Splash Pad Plaza steam-cleaned along with the area occupied by the popcorn vendor. Chris Blackburn, the Market Manager, has also re-seeded the areas where the turf was most heavily worn.
I’m sorry to report that Assistant Manager, Brian Boone has resigned after many years of employment with the Agricultural Institute. Brian, who lives on a sailboat in Marin, is embarking on a new career as a marine diesel mechanic — something he’s long wanted to do. He’s a very soft-spoken, rock-solid kind of guy and his presence at the market will be sorely missed.
Helen Krayenhoff (half of the dynamic duo that operates Kassenhoff Nursery) is a frequent contributor to Edible Eastbay and an extremely talented artist, as well. Please check out her portfolio in her new website.
ODDS AND ENDS
I‘ve long been irate over all the protest-related vandalism that’s been tearing up our downtown district — costing business owners and taxpayers millions of dollars. News that a door and three windows at Oaklandish had been broken the night before prompted me to head in that direction on July 15 – intending to help stand guard. I initially got no further than the Lakeview Library as several hundred protestors, with a police escort and helicopters overhead, were marching up Grand Avenue.
Minutes later, they tried to enter Highway 580 from the Lakeshore on ramp — but blocked by OPD and CHP officers, they turned and headed down Lakeshore where I tookthis photo. Subsequently, I continued downtown to Oaklandish where I experienced the quiet before the storm.
Since nature was calling (did I mention that I’m officially a senior citizen) I headed for home with a quick stop for photos at the Court House where marchers were holding an impromptu rally.
Passing the Grand Lake Theatre, about a dozen people, who had evidently just seen Fruitvale Station, were gathered in a prayer circle under the marquee. On Lakeshore, out of the corner of my eye, I saw another circle that was far less reverential. As this photo demonstrates, this circle consisted of Trader Joe’s employees who regularly gather in the parking lot after work for a spirited hacky sack game.
It was one of a hell of a night that ended with a waiter in front of Flora hit in the face with a hammer. For this once, I was glad that nature had called.
Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand, you already know that there was a big uptick in the number of violent crimes in the Grand Lake neighborhood including a rash of armed robberies.
On July 8, two young men finally crossed the line. Unfortunately for them, that line was the one that demarcates the boundary between Oakland and Piedmont. As reported in this article in the Piedmont Patch, when they robbed three people on Grand at Greenbank, Piedmont officers were quick to respond with a police chase that ended with the suspects’ vehicle overturned on the 580 on ramp. Kudos to the Piedmont police and also to OPD — but, just as an afterthought, we ought to be having a conversation about the wisdom of hot pursuits in such a congested, business district.
Visit Oakland has announced a new photo contest open to the public with an August 20th deadline. Unlike their previous competitions, they’re asking for submissions that depict people and especially images that illustrate Oakland’s diversity.
Last month, I wrote about Michael Sasso’s Sasso Bar –but should have added that they are available at Lakeshore Produce, Urban Indigo and Grand Lake Kitchen. In addition, Michael is going to be handing out samples at Piedmont Grocery this Saturday from 3:00 – 7:00 pm.
I always look forward to Pedalfest at Jack London Square. This year’s, Third Annual incarnation, sponsored once again by the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, was special since our grand-daughter also attended.
The week before, we had gone to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and I dragged along my 14 year-old grand-nephew to accompany Sami on all the thrill rides that I want absolutely nothing to do with. Back at Pedalfest, while waiting in line for our turn, I took this photo of a marvelous pedal-powered ride that she and I did together. Me, on the bike. She, spinning like a whirling dervish with a big smile on her face.
Grand Lake neighbors, Kurt and Susi Vogler are a bit more daring than I. They hoisted their tandem bike up into the Whiskeydrome and rode the sloping sides. Here’sproof positive that they did the near-impossible.
The Oakland Public Conservatory of Music Symphony Orchestra will be presenting a free concert at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church this Sunday beginning at 4:00 pm. The OPC performs rarely-heard works of African-American and other under-represented ethnic groups. Program for Sunday includes William Grant Still, Rimsky Korsakov and Daniel Leo Simpson. Donations are welcomed.
Thursday, August 1, 6:00 – 9:00 pm: First Thursdays on Grand
Friday, August 2, 6:00 – 9:00 pm: First Friday Art Murmur
Saturday, August 3, Noon – 8:00 pm: Art & Soul Festival
Sunday, August 4, Noon – 6:00 pm: Art & Soul Festival
Sunday, August 4, 4:00 pm: Oakland Public Conservatory of Music Symphony Orchestra free concert at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church
Monday, August 5, 7:00 – 8:30 pm: Splash Pad 10th Anniversary Steering Committee Meeting at the Katz residence
Tuesday, August 6, 7:00 – 9:00 pm: National Night Out
Saturday, August 10, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm: Volunteer work day at Morcom Rose Garden
Friday, August 16, 7:00 – 10:00 pm: Oaklandish presents Fairyland 4 Grownups
Sunday, August 18, 9:00 am – Noon: Splash Pad Volunteer Work Day
Wednesday, August 28, 7:00 pm: Splash Pad Farmers Market Advisory Committee meeting in the Family Room, Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church
Saturday, September 7, 11:00 am – 2:00 pm: 5th Annual Volunteer Day at Lakeview School
Friday and Saturday, October 18 and 19, 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm: Autumn Lights Festival in the Gardens at Lake Merritt
Saturday, October 19: Marvelous Morsels Gourmet Tastings event at Monkey Forest Road. Splash Pad fundraising event.
Sunday, October 20, 11:00 am – 6:00 pm: Splash Pad’s 10th Anniversary Celebration