Splash Pad News – November 2019

All the News That Fits


East Bay Eats (the reincarnation of Sunday Suppers, but under all new sponsorship) has scheduled a fundraiser for St. Mary’s Center to be held at Almond & Oak on Sunday, November 17. When I had the honor of serving on the planning committee for Oakland’s Homeless Connect program, I became acquainted with the invaluable services that St. Mary’s provides to senior citizens and to pre-schoolers. I’m super pleased to see that Chef/Owner Rico Rivera is helping them in their efforts to provide shelter, counseling, nutrition and social support. Advance tickets and more information are available on THIS LINK.

On October 18, Oakland Magazine published an in-depth article by Derek Richardson about Sister that begins with:

Sister makes a statement. It’s not loud but it’s clear: We are no longer Boot & Shoe Service. Rebranded in August with a new name and new signage, Sister took the final step it needed to assert an independent identity.

and the article ends with:

In every way, from food to culture, from pizzas to anti-harassment policies, Sister has stepped away from being anybody’s little sibling and forged a family of its own, beyond compare.

We wrote our own, much more abbreviated review of Modigliani Cafe in the October 2018 Splash Pad News. In the interim, they’ve continued to make what customers describe as the “Best Sandwiches Ever”. Sometime next month, they’ll also be serving Breakfast Wraps from 7 – 10 am. I’m pretty confident that we will not be disappointed.

510 Brand  closed for a major remodel on October 27 and, if all goes as scheduled, look for a soft opening tomorrow, November 2 and a Grand Re-Opening Party on November 7. The party will be in conjunction with their First Thursdays art event, which is going to be even bigger than usual with live music and a country-style spread catered by Chuck’s BBQ.

I have a confession to make: I’ve been feeling guilty for neglecting two of the florists on Grand Avenue. Lee’s Discount Florist at 3219 Grand has been family-owned and operated since 1992 and they have a very loyal following. Across the street and next to Modigliani, Grand Florist is on the small side but they too have a very loyal clientele.

The problem for me is that, as an aspiring photographer, I’m a sucker for the near perfect lighting and incredible selection of photogenic objects at Brother and Sisters Flower Shop.  In addition, they’ve been hosting a string of pop-up shops that we’re always pleased to publicize. This month’s (scheduled for Saturday, November 23) will feature a start-up bakery called “Baking With Salaams“. It’s a cross-cultural bakery influenced by Persian and Italian cuisines. They are best known for their focaccia but apparently they also make a mean vegetarian lasagna.

On Sunday, November 10th  from 10 am until Noon, Alyce on Grand is hosting “Fill Your Cup – a Morning of Conversation & Community, focused on motherhood and mental health. This event is free but advance tickets are recommended.

Back in June of last year, we reported on Jan Bowman’s decision to phase out her Dr. J’s clothing consignment shop in favor of “All Things Hemp”. At the urging of her daughter, Kim McAfee, I came back for another look earlier this week and can report that the transition is complete thanks to an abundance of products – everything from clothing to back-packs to CBD honey and water.

Ordinaire has a special tastings event scheduled for Sunday, November 21 from 6 pm – late. It will feature 25 California Nouveau Wines by the glass – mostly from small Northern California vintners. You can find more information on their Instagram account or, if you’re interested, sign up for their contact list by emailing info@ordinairewine.com.

Tomorrow, Alchemy Bottle Shop’s weekly tasting event (from 2 – 5 pm) will focus on Mezcal from three different regions. The following Saturday, November 9, they’ll be tasting gin and amaro from Oakland Spirits followed immediately afterwards by an Artist’s Opening Reception for a show of artwork by Berkeley painter, illustrator and print maker, Sanaa Khan.

The new Zachary’s Pizza has been open for dinner for about a week and they’ve been very busy – especially on nights when the Rockridge location has been without power. According to Operations Manager, Naji Duran-Janini, they’re planning on opening for lunch as well – but not until they hire additional kitchen staff. They’re particularly interested in Oakland residents. Pay is $17 per hour and a typical week is 30 – 35 hours. When I stopped by on Wednesday afternoon, I was pleased to see that the massive redwood slabs that Camino used for tables were still being used for that purpose – but in smaller sections. I also took note of all the posters on both side walls. Naji said that Zachary’s has been sponsoring poster contests for some thirty-five years and this is a fresh batch commissioned for the new location.  


We’ve yet to speak with anyone associated with Dozo Ramen but it’s furnished, the signage is all in place, including the operating hours imprinted on the door. It most definitely looks ready to open. Once it does, we’ll post an update on the Splash Pad News Facebook page.

Connie Perdomo, the namesake responsible for Connie’s Cantina since 1996, would love to spruce up the landscaping in the restaurant’s back patio, which features two early murals by Peter Lee, the prolific muralist who now resides in Southern California, where he continues to paint but on much smaller canvasses.  I’ve offered to help re-landscape, on the cheap, starting with cuttings that I can glean from my own yard but would very much appreciate volunteer help and donations of planters since everything is planted above ground. I’m thinking of a Sunday morning in November or early December. If you’re willing to help with the labor and/or donate plants and pots, please email info@splashpad.org.

by Kira Pascoe

Lakeshore News:

Lakeshore’s Annual Halloween Parade truly brings the mischief, wonder, and community out on Lakeshore! It is a wonderful celebration and fun respite before the winter rush. While the parade is the big event for October, several other accomplishments are noted in this blog: Colonial Donuts was featured in Pink Box Stories, Shakewell’s Jen Biesty was featured in East Bay Cooks and The Cathouse Bar made YELP’s East Bay Favorite Place for Cocktail Bars! We had anniversaries, giving back, creative new additions to merchant offerings and more! We also have the sad news of Lakeshore community pillar, Mr. Ken Betts, passing away.

Read all about it and stay tuned for Lakeshore Events which are revving up with the approaching winter holiday season!

 CONTINUE READING HERE and for the latest updates, be sure to follow their Facebook and Instagram pages.


We understand why lots of kids are disappointed that the bounce houses have been absent from the market but the above photo proves that, left to their own devices, they can turn over a new leaf and improvise or, as we’ve documented in the past, make a big splash.  

A list of Grand Lake Farmers Market vendors is available at THIS LINK.


Hood Design Studio Photo

Last month, we were thrilled to report that Walter Hood, the Oakland-based Landscape Architect who designed Splash Pad Park, had won a major contract to revamp the exterior of the Oakland Museum and, in addition,  that Walter had been the recipient of a hugely prestigious  MacArthur Genius Award.  As if that wasn’t enough, a week later, this October 7 Art News article reported that Walter had been honored with the $250,000 Gish Prize for Innovation in Art and Social Change. In winning the Gish Prize, Walter is in extremely good company. Previous winners include Maya Lin, Frank Gehry, Spike Lee, Bob Dylan, and Isabel Allende. The Art News article also mentions that Walter won yet another award earlier in the year -the Knight Foundation’s Public Spaces Fellowship, which comes with a $150,000 award. More information about the inaugural Knight Foundation Fellowship can be found in this New York Times article.

Our heartiest congratulations to Walter for all this well-deserved recognition and our thanks for the reminder that Splash Pad Park is a valuable asset deserving of better maintenance.

The Splash Pad Grand Crew volunteers will continue doing what they can to help maintain and beautify the landscaping. Their next work day is Sunday, November 24 from 9 – Noon.

New bike racks were installed a couple of weeks ago to replace the ones that were destroyed when a speeding vehicle went up and over the curb. Although the new ones don’t match the originals, we’re grateful to see them replaced since previous such incidents have resulted in the loss of one of the park’s original street lamps and five of the nine Queen Palms in the Lake Park median – none of which have been replaced to date and, as far as I can determine, the City has yet to collect any insurance funds for those damages.


Please check the galleries individually for times and dates. 

Last Year’s EBPC Show

Opening Night Reception at Panorama Framing  on Friday, November 8 from 6 – 8 pm (or maybe a bit later) of the East Bay Photo Collectives juried show of photographs by its members. This is a reprise of their first hugely successful exhibit in the same location last year. Complimentary wine and small bites.

As mentioned above, 510 Brand will be celebrating their remodeling with a festive re-opening party on Thursday, November 7 from 6- 9 pm.  Featured artists will include Felix Baltazar’s hand-painted helmets, the digital artwork of Matthew Childers + new artwork by Stitch, Michael Johnson and Natalina Simi. Music will be provided by Adesha, Krakinov, Shwung, Dastardly and Cronic G.  Catering by Chuck’s BBQ, featuring ribs, corn bread, greens and more.

Gabe Weis

Jau Jou Studio is about to hang a new show of abstracts by Berkeley artist Gabe Weis. The show is available for viewing whenever the salon is open, but hours vary.

Alchemy Bottle Shop‘s show of watercolors by Molly Champlin ends this weekend to be replaced by an exhibit of artwork by Berkeley painter, illustrator and print maker Sanaa Khan. The Artist’s Opening Night Reception will be on Saturday, November 9 from 5 – 8 pm. Alchemy’s second-floor gallery is open during regular hours, unless a class or other special event is scheduled.

Alyce on Grand has a new show entitled Rhythm Constellations II.  It features pen on digital prints by Oluwafemi and digital photo collages by Jamica El. Owner Alyce Preston will be celebrating the art walk on Saturday, November 9 from 5 – 7 pm. Complimentary wine will be served.

Urban Furniture and Boutique will be open until 8 pm on Thursday, November 7 with a show of “Fire Art” on glass by Oakland artist Mary Lawrence.   Complimentary small bites and beverages.

Cecilia Mignon

Bay-Made (3295 Lakeshore) is featuring handprinted monotints by Cecilia Mignon. Show closes December 1.

The Libertine is continuing to feature Josh Stevenson’s nudes printed on aluminum that focus on the interplay between light and shadows.


The 8th Annual Autumn Lights Festival was bigger and better than ever and very well attended. The above photos are just a few of a large quantity that I posted online. The first batch was taken on Opening Day and posted on the Splash Pad Facebook page. The second batch taken the next day was posted on my personal Facebook page.

As we’ve mentioned previously, the proceeds from the festival are being used for improvements to the Gardens at Lake Merritt. The landscaping in front of the Garden Center is already complete and work is now starting on the installation of the new, hand-crafted wrought iron gates. More information about the artist and the installation is on this Facebook post by Sarah Van Roo.

I‘m guessing that a fairly high percentage of our subscribers have been upset about the obstacles they’ve been facing on Lake Park Avenue as a result of the ongoing construction for fiber optic cables and for the EvGo Electric Vehicle charging stations that are being installed under the freeway. For the record, Splash Pad’s caretakers are none too happy that Phase 3 Communications hasn’t adequately restored the decomposed granite walkway that they trenched. As for the crew working on the charging stations, they’ve met their own set of obstacles including the muck that they’ve hit seven feet down, which is a stark reminder of the fact that Lake Park is sitting on top of what used to be the San Francisco Bay estuary before it was dammed to create Lake Merritt. In addition, they’ve hit underground layers of concrete, an underground redwood box and quantities of abandoned pipelines that no one can identify.


Ken Betts, who many know as the owner of a tow-truck company and chain of gas stations, passed away at the end of last month. Kira Pascoe included a lengthy obituary in this month’s Lakeshore News but I want to add a few additional notes beginning with the fact that I’ve never met a single person who had anything negative to say about Ken. Several hundred friends (including employees who considered themselves friends) showed up for his memorial service this past Tuesday at the Claremont Country Club. He was a member and supporter of a host of non-profits including Fairyland, the Oakland Zoo, the Oakland Rotary and the Lake Merritt Breakfast Club. As for the Grand Lake Neighborhood, we owe Ken Betts our gratitude for being one of the business owners who had the foresight to establish the Lakeshore Business Improvement District – Oakland’s first, back in 1997. It’s why Lakeshore has a security guard, funding for the Halloween and Christmas events, and salaries for the two administrators, Kira and Carol Knight.

As is common knowledge, locally-owned independent businesses have been facing major challenges and especially so, here in the Bay Area. In her January 2017 article here in the Splash Pad News, Keila Diehl reported on the impact that online retailers were having on Collage, the clothing shop on Lakeshore that closed shortly thereafter.

In addition, while the $17 per hour that Zachary’s is paying for kitchen staff is above minimum wage, the net income is unlikely to cover the cost of a studio apartment anywhere in the neighborhood. The ongoing lack of affordable housing is driving employees at the bottom of the pay scale to move elsewhere, creating a staffing shortage that Russell Moore and Allison Hopelain cited as one of their reasons for closing Camino.

A third factor is the escalation in the price of commercial real estate. Ten thousands dollars per month plus taxes and triple net is what ultimately caused Gary Rizzo to close the revamped Kwik Way space after his request for a reduction in rent fell on deaf ears.

One last factor here in the neighborhood and elsewhere is the ongoing epidemic of automobile break-ins.  At a meeting of the Grand Avenue Business Association last week at Almond & Oak, chef/owner Rico Rivera reported that three vehicles parked in front of his restaurant during a weekend brunch were broken into in broad daylight.

As unacceptable as those break-ins are, at least we can acknowledge that the perpetrators had a goal in mind. What has me absolutely fuming is that up to fifteen businesses on Grand Avenue had their front windows seriously defaced in an act of pure, pointless vandalism. A mixture of paint and acid was applied to the windows leaving them permanently etched. The estimate for repairs at Walden Pond is $8,000.  For Connie’s Cantina, $5,000.

The point of the above screed is to simply remind you of the challenges that locally owned businesses are facing and to encourage to continue offering your support as much as possible.

Speaking of Russell and Allison, we received a very timely final email on their Camino account. Sounds like they’re doing very well and are about to open a second Kebabery on Shattuck near Ashby and are also scheduling a number of special events. If you want to keep in touch, “email or contact them at ahopelain@gmail.com or russer5518@gmail.com. Or come see them at The Kebabery!”


In past newsletters, I’ve waxed poetic over the extent to which I value serendipity. Another such example occurred at the Autumn Lights Festival when I asked a gentleman to turn slightly so the illuminated butterfly wings on his back would be included in the photo I was about to take in the Mediterranean Garden where all the glass flowers and a glass peacock were on display. That guy turned out to be Barry Stone, the artist who created the “BumbleBird” pictured above and his wife is Kim Webster, who crafted the peacock and also creates all the fabulous glass flowers that “spring up” once a year.

We talked briefly and then Barry handed me a card publicizing the 10th Anniversary showing of “Sniff, the Dog Movie” which he wrote and directed. It’s being screened on Wednesday, November 6,  at the Grand Lake Theatre.  Advance tickets are available on THIS LINK

Cleveland Heights Neighborhood Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 12  at the FM Smith Recreation Center (1969 Park Blvd at Newton Ave), from 6:50-8:30 pm. The agenda includes: Community Building Exercise; NSC and CRO Roles in Community; Updates from Chairs of Lakeshore Neighbors, Traffic, and FM Smith; Update from Justin Hu-Nguyen, Community Affairs Coordinator for Ford GoBike/Lift. 

Do you aspire to write the Great American Novel?  Here’s your chance at the Lakeview Branch Library on Wednesdays in November.

The Grand Lake Neighbors Crime Prevention Council next meets on October 16 at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church from 7-8:30. 


  • Sniff, The Dog Movie – Wednesday, November 6 at Grand Lake Theatre. Doors open at 6 pm.
  • First Thursdays on Grand Art Walk – November 7, 8, and 9.
  • East Bay Eats Fundraiser at Almond & Oak – Sunday, November 17
  • Grand Lake Neighbors Meeting at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church – Wednesday, November 20, 7-8:30 pm
  • Splash Pad Volunteer Work Day – Sunday, November 24, 9 am-noon
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