Splash Pad Newsletter – April 2015

Editor’s Note: Yours truly is about to celebrate another in a very long string of birthdays.  What am I wishing for?  How about a big turnout for our Splash Pad Earth Day celebration on April 19th?  World peace would be nice too but that’s going to take a far more concerted effort.


The 28th Annual Easter Parade and Spring Festival is this Saturday beginning at 10:00 with derby decorating; followed by the parade at 11:30 and then concluding with a Spring Festival at Lakeshore Baptist Church.   There you’ll be able to dye  Easter Eggs and feast on freshly fried corn dogs.  That’s a combination that’s hard to beat.  All the details are on the Lakeshore BID home page.

EighteenEightPosterEuropeanWaxStudioWindowMinor renovations are underway at what used to be Silver Lining Jewelry.  The new tenant will be a men’s only hair salon called Eighteen Eight – a reference to the composition of stainless steel.  They’re a big company with salons in twelve states including sixteen in California alone.  Services include haircuts, coloring services, skin treatments, waxings, shaves, scalp and nail treatments.

Across the street, major renovations are continuing at the European Wax Center.  Unfortunately, all the interior improvements that were done for Sway have been reversed.  The big open, light-filled space is being divided into cubicles that are apparently a necessity – but still unfortunate.    This is a very big business with 657 locations in the US.

If you haven’t already checked out the poster in their front window, they are offering a limited number of free services as part of their opening week celebration.  If you’re interested, you have to register in advance.Chao Thai Entry

Molly Ringwald at ShakewellKhamleck Vilayhan at Chao Thai has finished construction of his front patio.  All the improvements have created a much more inviting environment which means we’ll likely be seeing more patrons taking advantage of our beautiful weather to dine outside.

For the record, I have a soft spot in my heart for Chao Thai.  If you want to know why, read my explanation below in the Splash Pad Park section.

We love celebrity sightings and the most recent was Molly Ringwald enjoying lunch at Shakewell.  Photo was posted on the Shakewell Facebook page.

Speaking of which, Shakewell Chef, Jen Biesty is something of a celebrity herself.  In addition to her participation in the Top Chef competition, she appeared more recently on “Beat Bobby Flay” in an episode entitled “Fire in the Hole”.  It’s going to be re-broadcast on the Food Network on April 9 and 10th  and the video is also available on Amazon at this link.


Grand Avenue is the place to be Thursday night (April 2) as the Oakland International Film Festival kicks off at the Grand Lake Theatre.  It’s also the April edition of the Grand Avenue First Thursdays Art Walk plus Studio Grand launches a Salsa Dance Class for beginners.

MariaMontijoThe 13th Annual Oakland International Film Festival runs four nights in four different venues.  The films tomorrow at the Grand Lake will be shown in three seatings beginning at 5:00 p.m.   “Eastside Sushi” is about a Latino woman who works in the kitchen of a Japanese restaurant. At least some of the scenes were filmed at Mijori which I know only because I saw the sound crew parked in the Walker Avenue lot while shooting there. “Eastside Sushi” has won numerous awards and, in this review in the Chronicle,  it’s described as a “Taste of Oakland”.

This month, Studio Grand is welcoming a new resident artist, Maria Jose Montijo who will be performing with Ashley Brown on Sunday, April 8 in celebration of International Women’s Day.  As I typed this, I listened to a brief excerpt from one of Montijo’s recordings and it’s thoroughly enchanting.

Studio Grand’s monthly performance  calendar for April  is again quite full and runs the gamut from poetry readings to a film screening but mostly, it includes lots and lots of great music.

In addition, to complement their weekly female-oriented, Bomba and Soca Rhythm dance classes, Studio Grand is introducing Salsa Dance lessons for beginners.  First class is tomorrow, April 2 which coincides with the First Thursday’s Art Walk during which they will be previewing the exhibit of paintings by Crystal Galindo.  The formal opening for that show will be Friday, April 10.

Alchemy Bottle Shop will be celebrating its One Year Anniversary on Saturday, April 11 from 5:00 – 8:00  p.m. Peter and Tova will be pouring drinks with live music in the background.   The anniversary celebration  will coincide with the opening a new show in their upstairs gallery entitled “SHARKS“. Guest artist, Lorien Stern will be available to answer questions.

The folks at Urban Furniture and Urban Boutique are some of my favorite people and I’m always impressed by what they have achieved over the years.  If you haven’t done so already, check out their new website .   This month, they have a hugely talented comic artist exhibiting and, at tomorrow’s First Thursday’s opening reception, they’ll be serving light refreshments and offering a 15% discount on all store merchandise.

Boot&ShoePlansCitibankSpaceBoot and Shoe Service has plans in the works for a 1,568 square foot addition to the rear of their restaurant.  At this time, I don’t have any additional information. On a related matter, I recently saw a list of parklets that are being considered throughout Oakland and Boot and Shoe is on that list.

Parenthetically, several years ago, Richard Weinstein, who owns the property,  broached the subject to me and I said “No Chance!”.  Fortunately, now that the first pioneer parklets are in place, city officials and the public all are beginning to recognize that these are huge assets as they help beautify our streets and make them more pedestrian friendly.  Hopefully, we’ll see this one made a reality along with a couple of others that are again being considered for Lakeshore.

The vacant Citibank space at 3304 Grand has been thoroughly gutted.  Who’s the new tenant?  The Shadow knows but he’s not talking.  Let’s merely say that everyone should be pleased and details will be forthcoming.

For an always up-to-date business directory, click and save the:GABA Logo


Panorama Framing will be hosting a Mid-Show Reception for “Air/Port – New Paintings by Eric Rewitzer.   Refreshments will be served.

Studio Grand will be debuting an exhibit of paintings by Crystal Galindo which celebrate Chicanas and Indigenas exuding a sense of pride and power.

Urban Furniture  proudly features the comic art of Alfred Nguyen. All store merchandise will be reduced 15%. Light refreshments served.

Alchemy Bottle Shop’s exhibit of Hall Felker‘s “Personae – Paintings on Paper” continues until mid-March. Hours are 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. only.

Jau Jou Studio‘s continues its  exhibit of fanciful paintings by Sita Rupe and offers a 15% discount on all salon merchandise. Open to 8:00 p.m. only.

Baraka Gallery at 432 Santa Clara continues its exhibit of  “A Grain of Truth” – works in wood by Giovanni Nixon through April 15.

Alyce on Grand will be featuring recent works by Gale Madyun.   Light refreshments served.  15% discount on all regularly priced merchandise.

San Francisco Fiber  at 3711 Grand extends an open invitation to try your hand at weaving and spinning + 50-70% off striped and variegated super sock yarn.


This month, LZ  is taking a well-deserved Spring Break.  Look for her profile of Sidebar in May.
West of 580 Archives.


Diane from Perfect Edge CutleryRandall Hughes at GLFMWe’ve further updated the Farmers Market page on the SplashPad.org website and the list of food, flower and plant vendors is now complete.  At some point in the future, we anticipate adding a list of all the artists and craftspeople.  We’re also considering a page where you could ask questions, share recipes, make suggestions or post comments specifically about the market.  We’d love to get feedback as to whether or not this would be of interest.

Chris Blackburn, the Market Manager, tells me to look for the first cherries of the season in the EGB booth within the next week or two and blueberries from Triple Delight by the end of the month.

Randall Hughes, owner of Oaktown Jerk, posed for me a couple of weeks ago as did Doug Stonebreaker from Prather Ranch.  Doug used to be at the Grand Lake Market all the time but rarely so now.  I asked about the water supply for their ranch and he noted that Marin got tons of rain and the grass is pretty lush.  Unlike the farms out in the valley, they should do fine this year.Doug Stonebreaker at GLFM

The newest vendor at the market is Perfect Edge Sharpening.  Last weekend, I briefly interrupted Diane as she was sharpening knives.  She told me that she had been working as a Vice-Principal until she got a call saying that Perfect Edge needed her.  The company has been in her family for three generations and is now split into two divisions – the one in Northern California based in San Mateo and a Southern branch based in San Diego that’s run by her uncle.

The Northern operation serves half a dozen farmers markets and 1,000 restaurants on a regular basis.  They have a great website that includes prices for knives and all kinds of tools.


Splash Pad ButterflyJim Copes Putting Down RootsSplash Pad’s GRAND CREW has been making amazing progress in the California Native Garden – as evidenced by all the new landscaping which is beginning to bloom and attract butterflies and bees.

We’re hoping for a big assist come Sunday, April 19th when Splash Pad celebrates Earth Day with a big splash.  Volunteers will be treated to a marvelous lunch at Noon.  We already have donations from Lin Jia (Hunan Fried Noodles) and from Arizmendi (pizza) and expect to have more lined up soon including salad and fruit.

In addition, Jim (Old School) Copes has generously donated a “Putting Down Roots, Oakland” t-shirt which we’ll raffle off just before lunch on the 19th.  If you come to volunteer, be sure to fill out a raffle card and an RSVP in advance (to: info@splashpad.sitedistrict.com) would be very much appreciated as we need to have an idea about tool requirements and food quantities.

This will be a kid-friendly event but your little ones will need constant supervision.  Please no sandals or open-toe shoes.  If you have work gloves and/or garden tools, please feel free to bring them but the latter should be clearly marked with your name.

SplashPadGardenAs mentioned above, I have a soft spot in my heart for Chao Thai.   About 14 years ago,  the Splash Pad Forum assembled an amazing group of design professionals who volunteered to share ideas as to what a new improved park might look like and what goals it should achieve.   The first few meetings were held in the totally uninspiring,  basement cafeteria at Lakeview School where we made zero progress while simultaneously, nerves were beginning to unravel.

I scheduled the next meeting across the street in the park that no one ever frequented.   I brought a picnic table and chairs from home plus two bottles of wine.  The latter was in violation of the Oakland Municipal Code but it was for a good cause.  Then I went across the street and bought Chao Thai’s “Stuffed Angel Wings” and a big order of Pad Thai.

The combination of alcohol, good food, and walking the space in question worked miracles.  By the end of the year, we had a Final Report that the city used (along with the report from Jerry Cauthen’s Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Committee) as the basis for their Request For Proposals which led to the hiring of Walter Hood.

Members of the Design team included Architect Donald Ward; Landscape Architect Chia Azuma; Architect Edith Robertson; Muralist, Daniel Galvez and Urban Planner, Leo Lozano with an initial assist from Landscape Architect, Liz Pulver and input from Jeanette Sayre.


EarthDayLogoEarthExpoFlyerLast month, I noted that the DonateOakland.org website has begun posting blogs about non-profits that solicit donations of clothing and household goods through postcards that specify a date when their driver will be picking up donations.

The latest such postcard was from the Calfornia Rehabilitation Foundation operated by the Disabled American Vets.  Apparently,  all donations made in response to that postcard ended up in Hayward at a for-profit business called Eco Thrift.  It’s uncertain how much (or how little) actually benefited veterans in need of rehabilitation but I can guarantee that those goods would have done far more good here in Oakland at any of the fourteen non-profits on the DonateOakland.org Approved List.

I’ll help staff the DonateOakland.org table at the Earth Expo on Wednesday, April 8.  If you’re in the neighborhood of Frank Ogawa Plaza, stop by and say “hello”.

With the exception of Splash Pad Park, almost all the volunteer opportunities in observance of Oakland’s 21st Annual Earth Day Celebration are on Saturday, April 18th.   The two largest ones in the Grand Lake Neighborhood will be at the Gardens at  Lake Merritt Gardens and the Morcom Rose Garden.   A map on the Public Works website lists nearly 70 projects scattered throughout the city.

Grand Lake Improvements Chair, Eric Hughes, local realtor, Russell Hill and Scott Yundt from Awaken Chiropractic have just scheduled a special volunteer work day to lightly prune the city street trees on Grand Avenue from the theater up to Safeway.  If you’re not already aware of this, the city has eliminated about 80% of the Tree Services Department and the trees won’t get pruned otherwise.  At a later date, they are also planning to replace about a dozen missing trees.  Meanwhile, they’re looking for volunteers.  Date is Sunday, April 26 from roughly 8:30 to 12:30.  If you’d like to volunteer, email Eric Hughes at hughesearthur@gmail.com.

Eastlake Music FestivalLast year’s  Eastlake Music Festival centered at the amphitheater at the south end of the lake was a huge success.  Mark your calendar’s for the 2015 edition on May 23.

C. J. Hirschfield is the long-time director of Children’s Fairyland, a Splash Pad Newsletter subscriber and a writer who regularly publishes blogs on Oakland Local.  Her latest gem traces the unlikely ties between Frank Zappa from the Mothers of Invention, Tom Hanks and Fairyland.

Susan Holland (also a newsletter subscriber and an author in her own right) shared on Facebook this New York Times column by food critic Mark Bittman who writes about moving to the East Bay (Berkeley specifically) and the wealth of quality produce we have to choose from.

There’s a new, free jobs listing service in town called Localwise. Founders Ben Hamlin & Maya Tobias described it as a community job board that connects students and other community members with part-time jobs with businesses, non-profits, and households in Berkeley and Oakland.  I perused the current openings and noted that Happy Boy Farms and Blue Chair Fruit Company are both looking for sales assistance at local farmers markets.  For the latter, that’s specifically, the Grand Lake and Temescal markets. By the way, for more background information about Localwise, see this February 18 blog in the Daily Cal.

Next meeting of the Grand Lake Neighbors group will be Wednesday, April 15 in the Lakeshore Baptist Church Library beginning at 7 p.m.  OPD will be there to discuss recent crime statistics and answer questions.


  • Thursday, April 2, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m: Grand Avenue First Thursdays
  • Thursday, April 2 – Sunday, April 6:  Oakland International Film Festival
  • Friday, April 3, 6 – 9 p.m: Oakland Art Murmur
  • Saturday, April 4, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m:  28th Annual Lakeshore Easter Parade and Spring Festival, Lakeshore Baptist Church
  • Wednesday,  April 8, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m: Oakland’s Annual Earth Expo in Frank Ogawa Plaza
  • Saturday, April 11, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m:  Alchemy Bottle Shop First Anniversary Party
  • Wednesday, April 15,  7 – 8:30 p.m: Grand Lake Neighbors meeting at Lakeshore Baptist Church.
  • Saturday, April 18, (mostly) 9:00- Noon:  Earth Day Celebration Citywide
  • SUNDAY, April 19,  9:00- Noon:  Earth Day Celebration at Splash Pad Park
  • Saturday, May 23:  Eastlake Music Festival

To join our email list, email: info@splashpad.sitedistrict.com with “Subscribe” on the subject line.

All newsletters from 2007 to the present are archived HERE.



6 responses to “Splash Pad Newsletter – April 2015”

  1. Great newsletter. Great links as well. Love the article by CJ.

  2. Kay Marie Avatar
    Kay Marie

    Like JChan said, your newsletter is one of the only ones I read all the way through. I must admit I’m not too happy about the addition of two large grooming operations coming to Lakeshore and replacing local merchants. Is there no process to at least express an opinion about what kinds of busnesses the neighborhood needs or wants? Lakeshore historically seems to welcome these kinds of chains without much consideration. I realize money moves fast… still. I made a comment on the Lakeshore Merchants facebook page but that page is really for marketing purposes.

    Anyhow, many thanks, Ken for keeping us up to date!

    1. Ken Katz Avatar
      Ken Katz

      Kay, Thanks for your comments. You and I are on the same page regarding big chains and so, for that matter are an overwhelming majority of the 700 participants in the survey conducted by the Grand Lake Retail Advisory Group in 2008. Thirty-six percent said it was “very important” that a business be locally owned and 53% said “somewhat important”.

      Nonetheless, I see no indication that the Lakeshore property owners currently share our concerns about franchises or, perhaps just as importantly, the loss of ground-floor retail. For the record, I personally think that Lakeshore (although it’s hugely successful) may be a “lost cause” for those of us looking for a neighborhood shopping destination. And I’m now concerned that, over time, we’ll see some of the same trends on Grand which is experiencing a remarkable Renaissance.

      These issues could possibly be addressed through zoning changes and/or through outreach to the property owners. If there’s sufficient interest from the community, we could ask David Flack to put it on the agenda for a future Grand Lake Neighbors meeting.

  3. It’s not often… okay never, I never read a newsletter from beginning to end, but the Splash Pad News hits my senses from so many different angles (food, art, manscaping, Molly Ringwald!); great work.

  4. […] can find all the Splash Pad Newsletters here! The April, 2015 edition is now […]

  5. Thanks Ken for this informative and beautiful newsletter. Was hoping to find a mention of Bites at the Lake: Mobile Food and Family Fun. We are a food truck pod serving Oakland’s best mobile food every Sunday 12-3pm at Lakeview Library Parking Lot. We also sometimes have ping pong for a small fee. Find us on Facebook and Twitter.