Splash Pad News – December 2018

About Us:  We typically publish the Splash Pad News around the first of each month. If you’d like to receive an email when we do so, please click on the SUBSCRIBE link at the top of this page. To contact us directly, please email info@splashpad.org. Comments are always welcome via the link at the very bottom of this page.


The big news is still Camino Restaurant‘s upcoming closure – which will become a reality with the cessation of regular service on December 17,  followed by dinner and cocktail parties on the 20th and 22nd. These will be bittersweet occasions during which some tears are likely to be shed, but mostly it will be an opportunity to celebrate all that Russell and Allison have achieved over the past ten years. We wish them the very best in their future endeavors.

On a related issue, the news that we posted on the Splash Pad Facebook page in mid-October about Zachary’s Pizza’s plans to lease the Camino space generated some positive comments as well as several that were quite negative. My response was to ask, “Is there such a thing as too much pizza?” My reply, “Yes.  If like me, you’re lactose intolerant.” FYI: According to SF Eater, the new Zachary’s location will open mid-2019.

Maven, at 3602 Grand, has a new owner, a new name (Tsomuka Salon), and a new focus on creative hair cuts and hair coloring. Owner Tsomuka Ebo describes herself as “a nomadic Mongolian artist who is bringing more diversity to the culturally rich Oakland/Bay Area.” About her craft, she writes, As artists, we see hair like a cloud. It is shapeless, colorless and it changes and moves. Hair as a cloud … is our canvas (on which) we can create an art each time we pick up our brushes and shears.”  Tsomuka added that she especially enjoys providing bridal make-up and hair styling.

Aisle 5 is now serving breakfast on weekends from 10:30 AM – 3 PM and your first mimosa is on the house. Thursday nights through December 20th, from 6 – 8 PM, you’ll have an opportunity to meet local brewers – Shadow Puppet on the 6th; Half Moon Bay on the 13th; Morgan Cox from Oakland’s Ale Industries on the 20th. On the 6th and 13th, live music will be provided by Jacob Levine from 6 – 8 PM.  And if, unlike me, you’re a fount of knowledge (without benefit of Google and/or Wikipedia), Brainstormers Trivia is free every Tuesday night from 7:30 – 10:30 PM.

Margene’s Bridal Shop, at 3612 Grand, closed two years ago after fifty-five years in business. The space was very briefly leased as the Friday Night Boutique but has now reopened as the Brow N Beauty Lounge. This is a salon that specializes in everything from facials to waxing to eyelash extensions. It’s a much bigger space than they actually need and, as a result, they have stations available for rent and also a large space on a raised level that’s available for subletting to a business that complements their own.

Gearing up for the holidays, Elida Scola at Galleria Scola is currently offering a 30% discount on her wonderful collection of vintage prints, with an additional 20% off if you have Elida frame your purchase. In addition, she is offering a discount for framing services equal to the value of gift cards (maximum of $100) that she’ll forward to organizations providing much needed relief services to the victims of the Camp Fire.

510 Brand has been upping their game of late with a bigger focus on social media, even more art gracing their walls, and new product lines. The most recent addition are the crane-deer themed sweaters and tees designed by Shop Manager, Natalina Simi for the Christmas season.

Ordinaire  has scheduled a special champagne tasting event for Thursday, December 6 and again on Thursday, December 13.  Twenty dollars covers the cost of five or six extra-Ordinaire champagnes.

In my humble opinion, Freya Prowe’s Brother & Sisters Flower Shop was already the coolest retail space (indoors or outdoors) in the neighborhood and, maybe, anywhere in Oakland. My visit earlier this week demonstrated that it’s getting even better … and that’s no bull!

Studio Grand has a series of concerts scheduled for December beginning on the 1st with Melanie Ida Chopko plus Austin Willacy. Capoeira classes are held Monday evenings and a six-week Group Voice class begins January 4. Their current art exhibit is entitled “How We Remember.”

The Splash Pad community has a special place in their heart for Lou Grantham, owner of SF Fiber at 3711 Grand. Lou served on the Splash Pad Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Committee circa 2000 and was also responsible for outreach to all the merchants on Grand Avenue who contributed to the Names in Lights panels that helped fund the Splash Pad fountain. We were disappointed to hear that Lou was closing her shop due, in part, to a substantial increase in rent, but she will continue doing classes and some retail once arrangements are confirmed for another location. If you’re interested in where and when, you can send an email titled in capital letters CLASSES AND SUPPLIES INQUIRY to lou@sffiber.com or sign up on her web page. By the way, if you know anyone looking for shop spaces on Grand, Lou’s space is available effective today and the smaller space next door that used to house Grand Alterations is available as well. Rent for the latter is, I believe, $550/month and the larger space, $1500. According to Lou, either would be ideal for a Christmas pop-up shop – but long-term, she’d love to see an Oakland-grown retail or craft shop.

Speaking of rent increases, Connie Perdomo at Connie’s Cantina, recently received notice that her rent was going to be increased by 50%.  It was a figure that potentially spelled the end of a twenty-one year reign behind the counter. I’m happy to report that when I talked to Connie on Wednesday, she had just met with her landlord and was optimistic about the potential to negotiate a more affordable price.

Last month,  we reported that Souvent Patisserie  had leased the Fog City Bakery space at 3249 Grand, and I waxed ecstatic in anticipation of sampling their Caramel Beer Mousse. Unfortunately, Souvent owner Lilah Rogoff emailed me a couple of days ago saying that they “were unable to come to an agreement to close escrow.” I replied asking for details, but until I hear otherwise, I’m speculating that this yet another case in which the spike in commercial rental rates has priced out a small, locally-owned business. As an aside, the building is owned by the St. Germain Foundation, and the upper floor apparently houses their church. According to Wikipedia, the religion is based on teachings and wisdom received by Guy Ballard in 1930; a decade later, they claimed more than a million members worldwide. 


The Lakeshore Business Improvement District (BID), has  a wealth of special events coming up during the month of December including:

*  Free carriage rides and caroling
*  A Holiday Soiree at Good Vibrations with complimentary cocktails
*  Holiday pop-ups at Bay-Made + cat adoptions
*  Hipline Shimmy Pop + Shop Maker Faire
*  And much more

All the details are available on the BID Happenings Calendar. For regular updates, follow them on their Facebook and Instagram accounts. 

by Jerry Barclay

The Grand Lake Farmers Market Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) last met on November 7, and the following issues were discussed:

  • City Administrators have returned a revised draft of the proposed new agreement between the City and AIM for the long term operational rights for the market to Abel Guillén’s office for a second round of review. Pamela Erickson, Abel’s Community Liaison, stated that AIM has committed to accepting key elements outlined by CAC and those were included in Abel’s team’s review of the first draft. Pamela added that the draft will be shared once Abel and his staff have concluded a review of the latest draft. The expectation is that the document will be distributed prior to the next committee meeting and be available as the meeting’s focus. The overall process and timing aren’t certain since the agreement will need to be reviewed by a city council committee before being sent to the full council for approval. Given the upcoming holiday, this will probably carry over into early 2019.
  • Andy Naja-Reis, the new CEO of AIM, provided an overview of AIM’s operations and aspirations including specific programs – some that are already operational in Oakland, and others that will be rolled out in the coming year including:
  1. A Food Recovery Program that will encourage vendor donations of surplus produce to local non-profits for distribution to low-income communities. Punks With Lunch, The Village, and The East Oakland Collective have already been enlisted to participate on a rotating basis.
  2. A Chef’s Corner at the Saturday market featuring chef demos presented by local restaurants.


In the past, the CAC had complained about the extent to which East Bay businesses have been underrepresented at the Grand Lake Market but, over the last couple of years, that situation has been evolving. At the November 7 meeting, Manager Jonathan Ruiz stated the obvious – namely, that there are very few farms in Oakland – but Feral Heart Farm in Sunol does get partial credit because the owners actually live right here. In terms of non-farm participants, Jon said eighteen vendors are currently from Oakland and another twelve from elsewhere in the East Bay.  The most recent addition to that list is Oakland-based Delightful Foods, the exclusive source for the vegan “No Cookie Cookie.”

An up-to-date list of all the Grand Lake Farmers Market vendors is available on THIS LINK.


This month’s First Thursdays on Grand takes place on December 6. Hours are 6 – 8 PM unless otherwise noted.

Panorama Framing is hosting a follow-up reception for the East Bay Photo Collective’s first-ever, juried exhibition celebrating the work of 40 San Francisco Bay Area photographers. Entitled “Bay Area Big Shots,” the exhibit features a wide range of techniques and subject matter. Last month’s turnout was likely the biggest in the history of the Grand Avenue First Thursdays event. Complimentary wine and cheese will be served.

Christina Xu

Urban Furniture and Boutique was so pleased with the sales that artist Christina Xu generated over the past month, they’ve scheduled a second reception for December 6. The show features portraits from her “Faces in June” series. Christina is a native of Guam who moved to San Francisco at the age of 17 with the intention of pursuing a medical career – but a strong urge to become a painter prevailed. Complimentary wine and cheese. 6:30 – 9 PM

Joanna Ruckman

Jau Jou Studio’s  current exhibit of work by Joanna Ruckman  perfectly fits the venue. The artist says this about her work: “Hair Stories is an ongoing interactive portraiture and oral history project. It is a platform for women and gender non-conformers to share individual hair experiences and perspectives. Slowing down to listen and create this archive, intentionally and methodically, has become a foundational part of my art practice.”

The walls at 510 Brand are brimming with new works by Steven Haman, Viktor Castro, Aaron Mountain,  Natalina Simi, Jeremy Reule, Loren Fizer, Thndur 1, Benny Muir,  Eugene Spinks, and photographer Kris Fernald, who also works at Walden Pond Books. The artists’ reception on December 6  also features DJ Pauley Tek – as well as free drinks and free snacks. 6 PM – 10 PM.

The Libertine, in conjunction with Bell & Iron Tattoo, is hosting a group show and sale of original artwork by Bay Area tattoo artists. Up through December 29.

Amelia Berumen Photo

Alchemy Bottle Shop‘s second-floor gallery is exhibiting “Talk of the Town” – photographs by Amelia Berumen and Vanessa Rodriguez.


Mary Jo Sutton, the Splash Pad Grand Crew Leader was photographed alongside one of the two fern beds that are being converted into California Native habitats. Half a dozen plants have already been installed but the heavy smoke from the Camp Fire temporarily delayed landscaping, which is scheduled to resume after the first of the new year. This month’s regular 4th Sunday work day is scheduled for December 23 from 9 – noon. Tools and gloves are provided. Rain cancels. If you’d like to be notified of volunteer opportunities, please email Mary Jo at mjmatrix2@gmail.com.

Wednesday afternoon, I snapped this photo of a Monarch Butterfly feeding on the Seaside Daisy in Splash Pad’s native garden. This was a particularly poignant moment since the Monarch population this year is down by up to 90% virtually everywhere. Moreover, as part of a much bigger issue worldwide, the New York Times has just published a voluminous article entitled, “The Insect Apocalypse is Here.” If you’d like to do your part for the monarchs, plant milkweeds.


In last month’s newsletter, we noted that High Peaks Kitchen, which LZ profiled in her Grand Avenue West of 580 January 2017 blog, had closed.  Shortly thereafter, an alert reader commented that the restaurant had reopened as the the Guru Curry House with the same chef and was just as good as before.  I can now confirm, from personal experience, that the food is indeed first-rate and the service incredibly gracious. There have, however, been a few changes, including a new mural that was painted during the two-week-long closure. There’s also been a change in ownership as the High Peaks Kitchen on College Avenue remains in business but as a separate entity. The Guru Curry House owner, Tashi Gyatso,  is pictured above.

Although I’ve walked by this building hundreds, if not thousands of times, I’d never previously taken note of the name enshrined in tile in the entrance to 3209 Grand. A Google search for “Tobenkin Oakland” took me to a 1921 pharmacy trade publication that reported that Joseph Tobenkin had just purchased the one-story building where he owned and operated the Grand Avenue Pharmacy. The article added that it was his intention to add two upper floors – the second for a doctor’s office and the third for an apartment. Apparently, he ended up doing just that – although the facade all looks original. Currently, the ground-floor tenants are Liberty Tax Services and the satellite office for Dr. Moonsymay’s Eyecare For You.  The building owner, Sanford Davis, the long-term tenant of that third-floor apartment, is also the source for the story I love to share about Smitty’s Bar. Smitty, he’s quoted as saying, had the reputation for being really kind and generous – until the Secret Service busted him for counterfeiting money in the back room.

Brent Hennefer has been selling Christmas trees in Oakland since 1958 and has been doing so in what we now know as Splash Pad Park for as long as I can remember. Their lot is open from 9 AM to 9 PM through Christmas Eve, and half a dozen parking spaces are reserved under the freeway for customer parking.


Cleveland Elementary School’s Annual Fundraising Auction closes tonight (November 30) at 8:55 PM. There are 255 items available for purchase including A’s, Warriors and Raiders tickets; Ford Go-Bike memberships; Disneyland passes; Kids Summer Camps; clothing and jewelry; and much more. All proceeds support Cleveland Elementary School’s art, music, eco-literacy, and academic tutoring programs. Special thanks to all the Grand Lake neighborhood businesses that donated goods and services in support of one of our local schools.

The Libertine and Bell & Iron Tattoo are jointly organizing an encore of a fantastic group show that The Libertine hosted last year. Entitled “Reckoning,” it features original artwork by Bay Area tattoo artists. The show’s opening night artists reception is tonight (November 30) beginning at 7 PM at The Libertine. For more details, check out their Facebook page.

Alchemy Bottle Shop is hosting its first-ever Holiday Makers Market featuring HARP Designs, Radical Craft, Sergeant Sailor, Rachel Farah Wines, allgold and more. You can support small independent businesses while shopping for unique handmade gifts for the holidays and, if you want to combine some shopping with some sipping, from 2 – 5 PM, Alchemy will be hosting their weekly tasting event, which this week features Kavalan’s fine line of Taiwanese whiskeys.

Ancestral Apothecary School‘s Third Annual Planting Seeds Herbal Fair is scheduled for Saturday December 8 from 1:30-6:30 PM at Studio Grand (3264 Grand Avenue). Admission is free, and a portion of all sales will go to the AA Herbal Scholarship fund. More info is available on their Facebook page. A portion of the sales will go to AA Herbal Scholarship fund for POC students. By the way, while shopping at the Herbal Fair, please be sure to check out Studio Grand’s current art show, “How We Remember.”

Edna Brewer Middle School is hosting a Jazz Winter Concert on Wednesday evening, December 12 from 6:30 – 8 PM. As reported in last October’s Splash Pad News, this is the music program that nurtured  four young musicians (now performing as The Void) whom Downbeat Magazine selected as the Best Middle School Small Group Jazz Combo in the United States. Much of the credit goes to Brewer’s Music Director, Zach Pitt-Smith, who was named the OUSD Teacher of the Year in 2014. This is what Yoshi’s said about Pitt-Smith in their notes for an April 2018 concert:

The Edna Brewer Middle School Program was dormant for over a decade after Prop 13 devastated arts education statewide. It was resurrected in 2007 when Zack Pitt-Smith came on as the first full-time music teacher there in 15 years. Slowly, the program has grown to be one of the most diverse and robust music programs in Oakland Unified.


Here are a few highlights from this month’s Event Calendar:

  • Grand Avenue First Thursdays art walk – December 6, 6 – 8 PM
  • Splash Pad Work Day, Sunday, December 23, from 9 – noon
  • Grand Lake Neighbors Meeting – Wednesday December 19, 7 – 8:30 PM, Lakeshore Baptist Church Family Room



3 responses to “Splash Pad News – December 2018”

  1. Carolyn French Avatar
    Carolyn French

    Your News Letter is just the greatest. Thank you so much for all your effort. I sure wish the Lakeshore Merchants would do a news letter for Lakeshore.

    1. Ken Katz Avatar

      Carolyn, We appreciate your kind words but, regarding the Lakeshore merchants, Kira Pascoe is doing a fabulous job coordinating special events such as Plaid Friday; posting on social media on a daily basis; and preparing a monthly news summary in coordination with publication of the Splash Pad News. Unfortunately, there was a problem with formatting that made the “Latest News” illegible. It was resolved just before I sent the blast email, but it’s since reappeared. I’ve left a message with Kira and hopefully, it will be fixed promptly. Please do check back later. On the http://www.lakeshoreavenue.com home page, you’ll find a “Latest News” link.

  2. Excellent reporting