Splash Pad Newsletter – May 2016


Take it as a Good Sign

Grand Avenue is going to be a beehive of activity on Mother’s Day weekend.

At Alchemy Bottle Shop,  Pür Spirits owner, Kiki Braverman will be pouring  samples of elderflower, blood orange and pear  liqueurs between 2:00 and 5:00 p.m. on Saturday.

Brothers and Sisters Flower Shop, which occupies a prominent niche in Grand Fare Market and is managed by Doug Washington’s wife, Freya, will be setting up in the market’s entrance on Saturday morning.    Mothers Day arrangements can be pre-ordered via emails to:  Freya@GrandFareMarket.com

Andre Leon Talley
Andre Leon Talley

Across the street at Michael Mischer Chocolates, jewelry designer Audrey Daniels will be staffing a pop-up shop from Noon to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday.  She’s been designing and selling her distinctive work, which features stones and pearls from around the world, for some thirty years.

Audrey’s jewelry has been featured in numerous magazines and newspapers and has been seen on television and in films.  She is especially pleased that the Oscar de la Renta exhibit is now at the DeYoung Museum as she designed a collection for de la Renta in 1986.

Currently, her Facebook page boasts a photo of Andre Leon Talley, Vogue editor at large and curator of the de la Renta show, wearing one of her necklaces.

On Sunday, May 8,  from 11:00 – 2:00 p.m., Grand Lake All About Pets will have a variety of puppies available for adoption and you can take them home the very same day.  In cooperation with various Bay Area pet rescue services, All About Pets will be offering this service every two weeks.  Last week, they found homes for three of the five German Shepherds that were available.

The following weekend, on Saturday, May 14, Alyce on Grand  will  have a DJ in the house and will be serving complimentary Mimosas along with a big sale on accessories. This is the second in an ongoing series of monthly events.GrandOaksGameNight

Aside from a very few die-hards, everyone in Oakland (including my wife) is excited about the Warriors and, perhaps, none more so than the owners of the Grand Oaks Restaurant which is packed to the grills when the Warriors are playing.  Here’s hoping, the games last into June and end with another parade.

Latest news regarding  Grand Fare Market  is that they expect to re-open in June.  But with the windows covered in paper to screen out prying eyes (such as my own),  we’ll have to wait another month to see exactly what changes are in the works.

Heavy construction is continuing at 3320 Grand Avenue.  It’s the former home of Better Homes and Gardens Realty and the soon to be, future home of E.W. Trapp’s Jenny Wren pub.  If you peek through the ornate entry doors, you’ll be struck by the size of the space – but the broker who listed the property (John Loh) tells me that a 2,600 square foot first and second floor space will be leased separately.JoyceGoldsteinDinner

On May 26, Camino Restaurant is hosting a festive dinner with Joyce Goldstein in conjunction with the publication of  “The New Mediterranean Jewish Table”.  Details and tickets are available on this link.

Ordinaire and Boot and Shoe Service have a good thing going.  Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night you can sit in the former enjoying a fine natural wine and the latter will be happy to deliver a pizza on a “silver platter”.

Studio Grand’s  Event Calendar for May is as entertaining and diverse as always but one of the highlights will be La Tania’s flamenco workshop and performance on May 29.  Tickets are available online and sold out previously.

Re-striping of Grand Avenue to create a “road diet” from Elwood Avenue to Fairview in Piedmont is currently underway and should be completed by May 11.  Details regarding the construction schedule and lane closures are in this PDF file.

Although the debate over the proposal to eliminate one lane in each direction was more than a bit contentious, I’m confident that these changes will make this section of Grand far safer for pedestrians, vehicles and cyclists without significantly impeding the flow of traffic.  Once that becomes evident, I’m hoping we can begin a community-wide discussion that would eventually  result in major structural improvements that could possibly include additional pedestrian bulb-outs, more landscaping, public art, outdoor seating and other such proposals.


For an always up-to-date business directory, click and save the…




Quickly2Quickly3The Quickly franchise at 3306 Lakeshore had a soft opening yesterday.  The exterior and interior are bright and colorful and are a big improvement over its immediate predecessors.  I talked briefly with the owner and it seems very much like a family-run operation with a grand-mother and grand-child in attendance which, for me, is a big positive.  They will be open seven days a week and, at least for the time being, from 11:00 a.m.  – 8:00 p.m.

Courtesy of a Luke Tsai column in the East Bay Express, here’s the last word regarding  Cholita Linda‘s aborted attempt to lease the burrito shop space on Lakeshore.  No word as yet as to when Falafel Stop will be starting work on the space which apparently has been completely gutted.

Subscriber (and former East Bay Express reporter)  Julie Feinstein Adams may sometime soon start writing occasional pieces for the newsletter – but, for the time being,  she’s helping me maintain my reputation as a “know-it-all”.  This month, Julie alerted me to a Change of Ownership sign in the Michel Bistro window.

Michel devotees will be happy to know that the sign is largely a formality as the original three-man partnership is merely being reduced by one.  The menu and service will remain unchanged and they will continue to offer  a Happy Hour, four-course Prix Fixe Meal  served from 5:30-6:30 Mondays through Thursdays.


@ Lake Merritt Bandstand
@ Lake Merritt Bandstand

Across the street, ownership of Fast Print has changed.  It’s now one of nine Copy Central locations in the Bay Area.

Although I’ve written previously about the New Easy’s closing and have also mentioned, in passing,  its previous incarnation as The Fifth Amendment, a post on the Oakland History Facebook page  recently opened  a wonderful new slice of Oakland history.  According to this  Local Wiki entry, the bar was previously called The Burma Lounge.  Between 1948 and 1950, the Dave Brubeck Trio became jazz superstars while playing there.   Moreover, while listening to Brubeck play here on Lakeshore, “DJ Jimmy Lyons was inspired to launch the Monterey Jazz Festival” at which Brubeck regularly performed.  Although the musician was a Concord native, local architect Beverly David Thorne built a cantilevered home for him (called the Heartwood House) in the Montclair hills and Brubeck generously supported his adopted home through a number of fundraising concerts for local schools.

The incoming proprietor, Daniel Schultz, may or may not know about this history and, either way, I’m wondering if he might be willing to commemorate its past.  A bronze plaque would be appropriate as would a sound track that repeatedly features Brubeck’s Quartet playing TAKE FIVE.  Or how about about a name change?  Maybe, The New Burma Lounge or Brewbeck’s?  We’ll gladly forward to Dan any additional suggestions posted on our Comments page.Direct Urgent Care  411 Grand Ave


On April 4, 2016, co-founders Caesar Djavaherian, M.D., M.S., FACEP, and Seth Kaufman, M.D., FACEP, opened Direct Urgent Care at 411 Grand Avenue.  It’s open every day from 8 AM to 6 PM.  Their Berkeley clinic, which opened in 2013 at 3095 Telegraph, is open from 10 AM to 8 PM daily.  Direct Urgent Care has a third location in Mountain View and site-specific appointments for any of the three locations may be made on the Direct Urgent Care website or by phone or text or you can just walk in. CONTINUE READING…


This month’s First Thursdays Art Walk on Grand Avenue coincides with CINCO DE MAYO – so don’t be surprised if you’re offered complimentary chips and salsa at many of the participating galleries.  Upping the ante,  the newest participant,  Better Homes and Gardens will also be pouring Cuervo Tequila shots and holding a raffle for  a couple of door prizes.  Hours for all the galleries are 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. unless otherwise indicated.

Panorama Framing:   Opening night reception for “EASIER SAID” – Works by Patrick Cheatham, Hall Felker, Morgan Parrick and Rebecca Young.   Refreshments plus Live Music provided by Oluyemi Thomas.

San Francisco Fiber:  (3711 Grand) Lou Grantham  extends an open invitation to try your hand at weaving and spinning.

Alchemy Bottle Shop:  “Ship Without a Rudder” – an exhibit of 35 mm photographs from a collective of local artists.  Open to 8:00 p.m. only.

Jau Jou Studio:  Whimsical animal portraits by Michael Rohner.   Open to 8:00 p.m. with a 15% discount on all salon merchandise from 6:00 to 8:00.

Baraka Gallery:  (432 Santa Clara)  New collection of watercolors and collages by Jamie Kelty.  “The tea kettle is always on.”

Studio Grand:  “When She Rises – an exhibit dedicated to the resilience of women” with artwork by Cece Carpio, Nisha Sembi and Erin Yoshi.   4:00 – 7:00 p.m. only.

Alyce on Grand: “Intimacy with Strangers” –  Photo portraits by Bethanie Hines.   15% discount on all regularly priced merchandise. Wine served. 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. only.

Sole Space:  Viewing of the  Jet Martinez  mural +  DJ in the house + complimentary beverages + 20% off all shoes.

The Libertine: Featuring “Concealed” – a collection of Josh Stevenson photos imprinted on aluminum using shadows in lieu of clothing.  Happy hours extended to 9:00 p.m.

Ruth Stroup Insurance:  (3560 Grand) Abstract paintings by Kevin Barry Dever + refreshments and complimentary beverages.

Grand Lake All About Pets:  Photographs by Carl Van Arsdall and  “Auntie Social Crochet Taxidermy“.  Open to 8:00 p.m. only.

Urban Furniture:  Paintings (inspired by Restorative Justice) of Death Row inmates by  Jennifer Lugris.  Open to 8:00 p.m. Refreshments served. 15% off regularly priced merchandise.

Better Homes and Gardens Realty:  (3923 Grand) Photographs by Kelly Patrick Dugan.  Chips and salsa with Cuervo Tequila shots.  Raffle for 2 door prizes.

For additional information, visit the Grand Avenue First Thursdays website.




Splash Pad’s Earth Day Celebration on April 24 was a big success.  We’re especially grateful for ongoing support from Judith Cohen’s Beatie Street School which was represented by about fifteen parents and an equal number of kids.  Kudos as well to Splash Pad’s “Grand Crew” regulars and especially so to Mary Jo Sutton who has made the Native Plant Garden flourish and to Eric Hughes who transported all the tools both ways over a three day period. In addition, Eric volunteered the day before with the Lake Merritt Weed Warriors and took the above photos at Splash Pad on Sunday.

There were approximately eighty other Earth Day events in Oakland last weekend and I can guarantee that  none of the other volunteers ate nearly as well.  That was thanks to the generosity of neighborhood businesses including Lin Jia, Arizmendi, Lanesplitter, Chao Thai and Miss Saigon.  In addition, Ken Betts Chevron donated bottled water and we also received donations from Farmers Market vendors including East West Foods, Happy Boy Farms and EGB Farms.

That said, I was rather disappointed by the meager turnout from the ranks of newsletter subscribers and from the neighborhood as a whole.  We’ve been talking for a while about recruitment measures for the monthly work days  but haven’t come up with a workable solution as yet.  If we get extremely desperate, we could opt to follow the lead of the folks who are organizing World Naked Gardening Day on May 7, but that seems pretty unlikely.  If you have other suggestions, please do post comments here on the newsletter.

As another option, simply join us for the next Fourth Sunday work day on May 22 beginning at 9:00 a.m. and concluding with lunch at Noon. By the way,  naked volunteers are not welcome.  In point of fact,  for safety reasons, we even ban shorts and open-toed shoes.



Farmers Market Saturday


Changing Gears
Changing Gears

With apologies to Arlo Guthrie, you can get virtually anything you want at the Grand Lake Farmers Market.  Courtesy of Rainbow Orchards, that now includes a sample of their wines which are produced high up in the Sierra foothills just above Placerville.

While you can get wine and wine samples,  you can’t get gluten-free baked goods.  Unfortunately, Bacano Bakery   has gone out of business and is no longer doing farmers markets.  Market Manager, Chris Blackburn, is looking for a replacement – preferably from the East Bay.  One possibility would be Mariposa but, as far as I know, Chris hasn’t as yet received a response.

One of the market’s newest vendors is Moua Farms.  They’re high up in the delta just south of Sacramento and they specialize in organic Asian veggies including sun chokes.  After a brief winter recess, they’re now back at the market under the freeway overhang adjacent to H & H Fish Company.

I‘m just now writing about Changing Gears but this Alameda non-profit bike shop has actually been at the market on the Third Saturday of each month for the past couple of months.  They’re providing free valet bike parking and free bike adjustments in a space just west of  the Liba Falafel truck.  This is an excellent program that provides job training services.  In addition, they always welcome donations of used bikes that they restore and give to low-income families.



Lin Jia Kitchen
Lin Jia Kitchen

The deadline for voting in Oakland Magazine’s “Best of Oakland and the East Bay” survey is  May 31 and this is your perfect opportunity to show your support for local businesses.  I just took the time to compile a “cheat sheet” listing all the businesses in the Grand Lake  and Adams Point neighborhoods that have made the final cut.

If you’re intent on voting a straight “geographic ticket”, you’ll still have decisions to make since, for example, Left Coast Power Yoga, Namaste and Monkey Yoga Shala are all vying to be named the Best Yoga Studio in the East Bay.  The same applies to the Best Frame Shop category where Patrick at Panorama Framing is matched up against Elida at Galleria Scola.

Some of the categories, on the other hand, are almost no-brainers.  How could you not vote for The Alley in the Best Karaoke Crowd category or Walden Pond for the Best Bookstore? By the same token, I’m hoping you’ll cast your vote for Lin Jia in the Best Asian Restaurant category. They have great food and equally good service and, in addition, Marcia Lam is incredibly supportive of the local community and she does so with minimal fanfare. To cite just one example, this past year, Lin Jia donated just under $5,000 – evenly split between four local non-profits including Splash Pad Park, Morcom Rose Garden, Lakeside Park and Fairyland.

Jim Copes Putting Down RootsAlong with the aforementioned Alley and Walden Pond Bookstore, Jim Copes (who more often than not is selling his t-shirts on Lake Park) is something of a neighborhood institution.  Credited as originator of the “Oaktown” moniker,  an article in the East Bay Express about a Too Short concert at the Fox Theater had this to say about Jim:

The crowd varied in age and ethnicity, though there was a large presence of Black folks in their forties and fifties. Copes, one of Too $hort’s old friends, was selling reprints of his original Oakland City Players t-shirts emblazoned with a Playboy Bunny over the Town skyline — a design that was popular locally in the Eighties and Nineties. He coined Oakland’s famous nickname, Oaktown, in the Eighties, and he had a binder full of old articles and photos to prove it. The night felt like a celebration of Oakland culture and history that, refreshingly, didn’t promote gentrification.

AstroParkFlyerIf you’re relatively new to Oakland and its environs, you may be unaware of the extent to which we’re still living in a mecca for wildlife.  In my neighborhood a couple of blocks above Mandana, squirrels, skunks and the occasional opossum have long been visitors – not to mention the Cooper’s Hawks that nest at the Morcom Rose Garden.  That said, even I was surprised  by a series of messages recently posted on Next Door.  A fox was seen and photographed in a backyard on Arimo and a full-grown mountain lion was spotted on the hill between Trestle Glen and Park Boulevard.  Driving east on 580 the other day, I myself saw a deer on the shoulder that apparently met up with an immoveable object. The moral of the story is you should relish our natural surroundings but, maybe, keep a close eye on your pets and particularly so during the evening hours.

LMIPennantRay Perman wears a great many hats.  He’s a newsletter subscriber; an occasional Splashpad volunteer and benefactor; and most recently, he’s become the Editor of  “The Tidings” – the official monthly publication of the Lake Merritt Institute.  I’m genuinely amazed by the quality of the reporting and presentation but you can judge for yourself by reading the March 2016 issue.  If you’d like to subscribe, while simultaneously supporting the marvelous work that LMI does in maintaining and restoring Oakland’s premier natural resource,  annual memberships are $35 and are available on this link.

Abel Guillen’s constituent e-News earlier this week was a fount of information.  I learned that the Embarcadero Bridge was about to be torn down and subsequently replaced with a wider, higher version that will eventually allow low-profile vessels to journey from the estuary up to Lake Merritt and vice versa.  I also learned that  Small Business Week  begins tomorrow (May 1) with lots of helpful workshops on the schedule plus several opportunities to honor local, independently owned businesses.  Finally, I heard more about aFundraising Kick-off Party for the Tot Lot at Astro Park on May 7 from 10:00 a.m. – Noon.

If you’d like to stay informed about what’s happening in the neighborhood but also city-wide, I’d highly recommend subscribing to the District e-News by emailing, abel@abelforoakland.com.


An article in the Times Standard reports that the Oakland Women’s Rowing Club’s 100th Anniversary will be recognized with  a celebration open to the public on May 4 in front of the Lake Merritt Sailboat House.  The event will feature a rowing demonstration and special guests and I’m hoping that one or more speakers take note of the ground-breaking nature of the founders’ efforts in 1916 – four years before women’s suffrage was enacted nationwide.  In terms of the physical effort required, you can find out for yourselves on most Saturday afternoons.  According to the Times Standard article, “The public is invited to join the  Ladies on the Lake, but the club’s president cautions that participants should bring their A-game: They will be expected to row”.

EDITOR’S POSTSCRIPT:  I just heard from an OWRC member.  The celebration on the 4th starts at 12:45 with a rowing demonstration followed by a reception and a short program at 2:00 p.m.

Pedal Pool on 14th

Oakland Parks and Recreation Foundation’s  “Taste of Spring” fundraiser  is scheduled for Thursday May 12 at the Impact Hub.  The foundation is the fiscal agent for Splash Pad Park and for numerous other small non-profits. They also provide funding for various recreation programs and park improvements.

The annual Bike to Work Day takes place on Thursday, May 12.  In celebration of the “road diet” on Grand, the neighborhood pedal pool will form at Grand Lake Ace Hardware and a ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned.   From what I understand, riders will be joined by Mayor Schaaf and Councilmember Abel Guillen and probably other office holders and city staff from Oakland and Piedmont.  The pedal pool is scheduled to depart from Ace at around 7:00 a.m.  Pancakes and coffee and gift bags await riders at City Hall Plaza.  More details are on this Walk Oakland Bike Oakland link.

If you’d like to learn more about Oakland’s storied past, consider attending an “An Evening of Oakland History”  featuring Oakland Tech senior Laurel Hennen Vigil and local historians, Dennis Evanosky and Gene Anderson.  The event is being hosted by the Octopus Literary Salon (2101 Webster) on May 27 beginning at 7:00 p.m.

There are two free book festivals scheduled in the next month or so.  The first is the Oakland Book Festival which is scheduled for Sunday, May 22.  This event will feature readings and discussion inside  City Hall.   Outside will be live performances and a children’s activity area.

The Bay Area Book Festival is centered in down-town Berkeley on June 4 and 5.  It’s a massive undertaking with films, readings and children’s activities.  It’s all free – but tickets are limited.

If you have a son, daughter or grand-child here in the East Bay, who is into music and/or dramatic arts,  I highly recommend Mr. D’s Music Club.  Our grand-daughter (who is nine going on fifteen) went last year and it’s her favorite summer camp of all time.  The Director, Stephen Duffy, lives right here in the neighborhood and he and his highly talented staff are great with the kids. The first session starts June 13 and spaces are limited.  More details and a registration form are available on THIS LINK. Type in “MRD$15CARD” for a $15 discount when registering.

If  you’re looking for an opportunity to enjoy Fairyland sans children, circle Thursday, June 2 on your calendar – the date for this year’s Gala Dinner.   It’s an adults only costume theme party where you can enjoy scrumptious food and drink, special performances and live and silent auctions under twinkling lights.  This year’s theme: Beauties and Beasts.




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7 responses to “Splash Pad Newsletter – May 2016”

  1. Carter Dunlap Avatar
    Carter Dunlap


    Ken, walking to work as I do so often I am struck by how filth Grand can be. If individual business owners don’t care maybe GABA should. Sad to see small but ugly items like this detract from what good is happening on Grand.

  2. Ken Katz Avatar
    Ken Katz

    David, Stu, Syrell,

    Thank you for the positive feedback that I’m getting as the “public face” of the Splash Pad Newsletter – but, in the future, please also acknowledge LZ, the author of the Grand Avenue West of 580 blog. As I’m getting older, I’m hoping that other subscribers step forward to assume more of the reporting responsibilities and I’m grateful that I’m already receiving lots of help in terms of news tips. One last plug: I’d love to add a calendar that is updated regularly – not just monthly and one that has it’s own distinct URL. Any volunteers?


  4. Thank you for producing this newsletter. We are pleased to share it among the GABA merchants and supporters.

  5. Thank you, Ken. This is a priceless service you do for all of us.

  6. Arnie Jeffers Avatar
    Arnie Jeffers

    Hi Ken,

    Thanks for all the news you bring to us about the neighborhood. We were wondering how much influence Chipolte had on the Cholita Linda reversal? Not that anyone woukld cop to it.

    And so it goes.


    1. Ken Katz Avatar
      Ken Katz


      I’m confident that Chipotle was not a factor in the final decision on the lease for the vacant Burrito Shop space. Typically, (and there are exceptions) property owners are looking for top dollar and for long-term stability. In this particular case, it appears that the Falafel Stop came in with a higher offer at the last minute. There may be additional circumstances but, if so, the property owner is choosing not to discuss them.