Splash Pad Newsletter – November 2014


I‘m up to my ears in deadlines, so this month’s newsletter will be a bit less wordy than usual.  LZ, our intrepid reporter from Grand Avenue west of 580 is in the same proverbial boat, so her blog this month is short and ice cream-sweet with an  update regarding changes in the works at Grand Supermarket – a story LZ originally reported on last year.DayoftheDeadPoster


If you’ve not yet seen Studio Grand’s exhibit of custom-made instruments by Sung Kim, you’ll have plenty of opportunities this month.

The November Event Calendar kicks off with a spectacular Dia De Los Muertos celebration this Sunday from 3 – 7 p.m. honoring all our departed loved ones and, in particular, Studio Grand’s founder, Holly Schneider.  You’ll find craft-making activities plus non-stop music, poetry and dance and the icing on the cake, it’s free thanks to support from the Akonadi Foundation.Socks and Shades

One thing that you can say about Alyce Preston, the Newfangles owner, is that she is most definitely not a creature of habit.  In the past decade, her shop has moved from Santa Clara to Grand to Lakeshore and now back to Grand.  Now,  change is coming in other forms including new decor, a new logo, new hours of operation, changes to the exterior AND a new name:  “Alyce on Grand” which makes me believe that this time, it’s a long-term commitment.

Alyce has also been embracing new product lines including Socksmith and Spitfire glasses.  In her spare time, she’s also organized a women’s business networking group that meets monthly.  If you’re interested, stop in and ask for details.

Arvi DorseyRed Wagon Antiques EntryI’m happy to report that (in addition to Alyce) another wanderer has returned to the Grand Avenue fold.  Arvi Dorsey, whom many locals know as the Mayor of Grand Avenue, had an antiques shop next to Galleria Scola before moving to Alameda.  This past week, he re-opened in his old location with a new shop name:  Red Wagon Antiques.  Please stop by to welcome Arvi home and, when you do so, be sure to address him as “Mr. Mayor”.

Baraka Gallery at 432 Santa Clara is a very welcome addition to the Grand Lake District. The owner, Shiffen Melaku has created a combination gift shop/art gallery with local and global art and artifacts from all over the world. The shop specializes in textiles, ethnographic artifacts and jewelry including pieces made by the desert nomads of the Sahara. In addition,  paintings by various artists will be displayed on a monthly basis.

The gallery is typically open Sundays and Mondays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. During November, they will be open on Saturday,  the 8th, 15th and 22nd plus every Saturday in December.   Since they’ve just agreed to participate in the monthly art walk, stop in on a First Thursday evening or to make a special appointment, email Shiffen at Barakagallery@yahoo.com.

I haven’t written about Grand Fare in a while but have heard through the grapevine that the vintage trailer Doug Washington planned to use in the parking lot for temporary food service was given a thumbs-down by the city.  Meanwhile, construction on the interior remake is ongoing.      The SF Weekly Article by Molly Gore that’s posted just outside the coffee counter notes that the parking lot conversion will provide  “outdoor seating, a retractable canvas roof, chandeliers, and heat lamps”.    The product offerings, according to Gore,  would  include “ice cream, charcuterie, olives, coffee, baking station, prepared foods, beer and wine”.  I’ll do my best to provide an update in next month’s newsletter.Impressed by Nature

Thursday, I stopped in for a quick visit at Knimble – another great, recent addition to Grand.  I was told that they’re continuing to get a steady stream of quality resale clothing and are also increasing their selection of new gift items.  One example:  the lovely “Impressed by Nature” line of jewelry made by an Oakland resident who forages in local gardens.  The two pieces pictured here were made from Queen Anne’s Lace and Peruvian Lily.

Awaken Chiropractic GardenIf you get this message it a timely fashion, head over to Alchemy Bottle Shop between 2 and 5 p.m. this Saturday  for a sample of Arkansas Black Applejack.  Samplings of other spirits are scheduled for all four Saturdays this month.

Kudos to Dr. Kenda Burke at Awaken Chiropractic and her husband, Scott Yundt.  They’ve got what’s very likely the best landscaping on Grand Avenue.



Judging by the amount of press they’ve garnered in the past month, you might be tempted to say that Shakewell is literally the talk of the town.

1.  A wonderful review of Shakewell  in 7 x 7 Magazine accompanied by lots of photos.  The big news contained therein:  “Tim and Jennifer are planning a taqueria and tequila bar nearby”.  As  you know, you can’t believe everything you read in the press – except here where we offer a money-back guarantee.  Fact is, according to Tim, they’re putting all their time and energy into Shakewell but when they’re ready to expand, Lakeshore will remain their first choice.

2.  A Michael Bauer review of Shakewell  Review accompanied by ten photos – one of which immediately  caught my lactose intolerant eyes.  The pomegranate  granita looks absolutely fabulous.  Next month, I’ll let you know if it’s as good as it looks or maybe, even better.

3. An article in SF Magazine that paints a particularly vivid portrait.  Here, for example, is the author’s take on this stretch of Lakeshore:

In recent years, the commercial stretch of Oakland’s Lakeshore Avenue near Lake Merritt has held strong against the currents washing all around it, the city’s rising tide of tattooed fashions having yet to flush out the old block’s blue rinse.

4. Jen and Tim are also one of three restaurants profiled in this glowing Visit Oakland blog.

Sculpin IPA with Hakka RollsIn the good old days,  my beer of choice was dirt cheap.  It wasn’t a good beer but as a major bonus, there was a rebus puzzle on the underside of each cap.  Thirty years later, my two sons have successfully shamed me into consuming superior brews to the point that I’ve become something of a beer snob.

While Lin Jia is one of our favorite dining destinations, I’ve frequently complained to Marcia that their beer selection (unlike their choice of wines) left something to be desired.  I was, therefore, thrilled to learn that they are now offering Ballast Point Brewery’s “Sculpin IPA” which is rated as a World Class beer by Beer Advocate. My taste buds are now far happier – but I still miss the puzzles.

Michel Bistro made Michelin’s “Bib Gourmand” list of Bay area bargain eateries – ranking #14 of 78  in the East Bay.

Max Patel at Buckingham Wine and Spirits is looking for someone with previous retail experience to work at Adventure Toys or, possibly at Buckingham.  They’re doing outreach mostly by word of mouth and would prefer a neighborhood resident.  If you’re interested, stop in for details and, if possible, bring a resume.

Latest word on Kwik Way is that Alex Hahn has the property for sale with the expectation that it would be purchased by a developer and converted to condos with ground floor retail.

Arizmendi has a tote design contest in progress with a November 7 deadline.  If you’re an artist and would like an opportunity to win a $100 gift certificate + other goodies, check out the application which is available HERE.Urban Indigo InteriorYour Maitre D'

On Thursday, I also ventured into Urban Indigo which is gearing up for the holidays with all kinds of marvelous gift items.

Speaking of holidays, Halloween is always a big deal at Spettro.  They’re decorated inside and out and are featuring a special holiday menu on Saturday and Sunday.



Please click this link to access this month’s blog by LZ about Lake Merritt Supermarket’s plans to open an ice cream/yogurt shop and a Mediterranean Grill specializing in shawerma and falafel.


The  First Thursdays Grand Avenue art walk on November 6 welcomes a new gallery and some exciting new artwork.  Hours are 6 to 9 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

Studio Grand will be continuing its exhibit of instruments hand-crafted by their Artist in Residence, Sung Kim and will be open from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. only.

Panorama Framing  will be featuring a show of paintings by Kate Leffler entitled “Sol Y Sombra”.  The subject matter is bull-fighting and the paintings are derived from the artist’s own experience as a toreador. The artist reception will include refreshments with background music appropriately provided by the flamenco guitar.

Urban Furniture and Newfangles don’t have shows scheduled this month but both will remain open late with all store merchandise discounted 15%.

Jau Jou Studio‘s current exhibit features pop-influenced, mixed media works of art by Danyol.

Alchemy Bottle Shop will be showing works of art in watercolor and gouache by Hall Selker.  Open to 8 p.m. only.

Baraka Gallery at 432 Santa Clara (just past the Point of View salon) is the newest addition to the First Thursdays family.  Their very first,  First Thursdays exhibit is entitled “Threadscendents: textile from across Latin America, Africa and Asia”.

San Francisco Fiber will, as is usually the case, be open late for First Thursdays.  Owner Lou Grantham will be demonstrating weaving and spinning techniques.  Next month, watch for a holiday show and sale featuring some of her many talented students.

Additional information, including a list of participating merchants is available on the Grand Avenue First Thursdays website.


Ironically, it’s raining as I’m writing this but there’s an article in the New Yorker about the ongoing California drought and it’s accompanied by a video entitled “Paradise Burning”.  Why am I posting this on the Farmers Market page?  Ask the vendors at the Grand Lake Market – especially those from the Central Valley.

Kassenhoff Growers is back at the market on and off through Thanksgiving.  Inventory  includes a variety of lettuces and other greens plus broccoli and cauliflower as well as many ornamentals and herbs.  Incidentally, Kassenhoff and their “new digs” at the 16th Street train station are the subject of a very nice article in the fall edition of “Edible East Bay” – free copies of which are always available at the market’s Information Booth.  Also, if you’re not already aware of it, Helen is a gifted artist whose specialty is veggies and flowers.  You can buy her unframed prints at Panorama framing or cards on Etsy.  Check out her website for more info.

Last month, I wrote about Brad Gates from Wild Boar Farms and how he’d lost his tomato crop to blight and also suffered a lot of damage in the recent earthquake. I subsequently sent him an email inquiry and this is his reply:

Yes it was a terrible tomato season for me.   At this point I am planning on not growing tomatoes for sale and focus on selling nursery plants, seeds from rare varieties and breeding new tomato varieties. The costs and stress of selling fresh tomatoes is just too much.  I will REALLY miss the customers at Grand Lake.  I have been there since opening day and have SO many friends there that I will likely never see again it makes me very sad. 

I’m hoping that Brad changes his mind between now and next Spring.  If not, how about all his many friends getting together to organize a Brad Gates Appreciation Day at the market with Brad as the Guest of Honor?


LATE BREAKING NEWS:  I just got off the phone with Mary Jo Sutton, our California Native Plant guru who, until recently, was working at the Oakland Museum on the restructuring of their Natural Sciences Department.  Mary Jo has volunteered to lead a brief tour of Splash Pad’s native plant garden, identifying the various plants while explaining which are most drought tolerant and which plants attract specific butterflies and insects.  This will be a very educational experience for adults and kids.  Date is Saturday, November 15th starting at Noon.

Quite a few new plants were added to our California Native Garden during our October work day and, as always, lots of weeds were removed and bagged for composting.

Our “Splash Pad Grand Crew” is a small, but extremely dedicated group.  In addition to lunch, I’d love to provide background music or massage tables, but just this past week, Victoria Barbero assured me that it’s “fun” and that’s why they keep returning.  If you like to have fun and don’t mind getting a bit dirty in the process, please join us for our next work day on November 23 (weather permitting) starting at 9 a.m. and ending with lunch at noon.

In addition to the 4th Sundays work days, I’m beginning to think that we’re going to have to install the decomposed granite walkways on weekdays.  If you’d be interested in volunteering, please send an email to info@splashpad.sitedistrict.com.



Thanks to John Bosko for sending me a copy of the above photo which he posted yesterday in the Oakland History Facebook group.  The photo was accompanied by a challenge that stumped virtually everyone.  The answer:  Lakeshore Avenue with Lakeside Park (of which Splash Pad was once a part)  in the foreground.  On the opposite side of the street, the facade of the white cubicle building  is where there’s now a freeway retaining wall with the Martin Luther King mural.

The ensuing discussion quickly evolved into fond memories of the nearby Kwik Way.  That, in turn, prompted me to again share a link to the Commander Cody video – “Two Triple Cheese Side Order of Fries” which was filmed at Kwik Way. While the Innis Service station is long gone and the Kwik Way may follow, we’ll always have Commander Cody.

Election day is Tuesday.  Since it’s now politically incorrect to remind you (even in jest) to “vote early and vote often” – let me simply note that voting is a privilege as well as a responsibility.  Do the right thing on Tuesday and go to the polls.  FYI: If you an absentee ballot and haven’t yet mailed it,  you can drop it off at any polling place on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, I saw two OPD officers on bicycles up at Cycle Sports.  With our police department back up well above 700, the long-anticipated return of officers on bikes to commercial districts is finally being realized.  This is a major boon to community policing as bike patrols provide many of the benefits of an officer walking a beat with much greater mobility.  By the way, apparently OPD is supporting local businesses such as  Cycle Sports.

Thanks to long-time neighborhood benefactor, Mary Ellen Navas for sharing Matador’s collection of photos entitled “33 Images of Oakland We Can’t Stop Looking At”.  While you’re on that site, check out the fast-moving video (“This is What Makes Oakland Great”) posted between photos #15 and #16.

With as much modesty as I’m able to muster, I’m pleased to report that photo #16 is mine as is #30. Both are courtesy of Visit Oakland which is doing a wonderful job spreading the good news about our unfairly maligned city.Owner, Miguel Lopez

Coincidentally, a couple of weeks ago, my Flickr account reached a milestone with a total of half a million views.  The weird thing is that my better photos like the two in Matador’s collection barely get a passing notice.  The top three photos currently are of a collander filled with hard-boiled eggs, the Brown Couch Menu Board (which popped up whenever you Googled “Brown Couch Menu” and Jean Smith quilting (with 1543 views) which defies explanation.  The most viewed photo this week is of Miguel Lopez, the owner of Boxing for Health on Santa Clara. Judging by his Yelp reviews, Miguel is an extremely popular guy.

The East Bay Express recently published a  list of the 7 Oakland companies that were rated as being amongst the 100 fastest growing city-based businesses in the US.    A big shout-out to Oaklandish which was #1 in retail.  Also on the list,  Veronica Foods which imports Extra Virgin olive oils under the Delizia brand name.  Coincidentally, just a few weeks before the article was published, my younger son posted a message on Facebook saying he was in a tavern in upstate New York and the olive oil on the table was packaged right here in his home town.  I’ve since exchanged emails with Veronica, the company owner, and she confirmed that they’d be interested in opening a shop somewhere in the Grand Lake neighborhood if the right opportunity came along.  If you have a spot in mind, give her a call.

Last month, I wrote at length about the “garbage wars”.  On a much more positive note, here’s an article in the Oakland Post about Civicorps – the non-profit that won the contract for recycling of green waste from commercial kitchens.





  • Thursday, November 6, 6 – 9 p.m:  First Thursdays on Grand Art Walk
  • Friday, November 7, 6 – 9 p.m: Oakland Art Murmur
  • Wednesday, November 19, 7 – 8:30 p.m:  Grand Lake Neighbors meeting at Lakeshore Baptist Church.

To get email notification, email: info@splashpad.sitedistrict.com with “Subscribe” on the subject line.

All newsletters from 2007 to the present are archived HERE.



11 responses to “Splash Pad Newsletter – November 2014”

  1. Joan Fierer Avatar
    Joan Fierer

    Does anyone remember the small ice cream shop owned by Jeff and his sister on Grand Ave where they made restaurant ice creams and sold overruns on Grand Ave? I remember that the flavors were terrific! This was about 40 years ago–and Jeff would come out with his hairnet (he’d been preparing the food, after all. . .. )

    1. Ken Katz Avatar

      I don’t really remember the shop but we knew Jeff slightly since, for a brief time, they lived a few doors up the street from us on Balfour. The person who does know is Walter who used to attend our Grand Lake Neighbors meetings. Haven’t seen him in quite a while but, if I do, I’ll ask.


  2. Thanks so much for this wonderful and comprehensive newsletter!!
    Emma, Wickson Ave

  3. Carole Lee Avatar
    Carole Lee

    Always enjoy your very informative newsy Splashpad News.
    Would join you on Sunday to work in the garden except I need to go to church. Any chance of
    starting at 1PM some Sunday after lunch? Then I could join you!
    Your good work is appreciated by all!
    Sincerely, Carole Jan Lee

    1. Ken Katz Avatar

      Carole Lee,

      That’s an idea that hadn’t occurred to us and it’s worth exploring. One advantage (in addition to better accommodating church goers) is that we could serve lunch first and not worry about scrubbing up after weeding. Also, wouldn’t have to bring refrigeration. Will talk to Mary Jo Sutton and the other members of our Grand Crew.

      By the way, another idea that we’re talking about, is to do occasional work days during farmers market hours giving us a nice opportunity to recruit new volunteers.



  4. Sandy Torma Avatar
    Sandy Torma

    I want to second Georganne’s comments. She said, better than I would have, exactly how I feel!

  5. Shirley York-Bassel Avatar
    Shirley York-Bassel

    Just Thanks– you remind me how fortunate we are to have been born in this place…magical and wondrous..rough and tumble..sweet and hard…it is hometown..

    1. Ken Katz Avatar

      For the record, I’m a relative newcomer having arrived in my mid-twenties. Still, I agree entirely with the sentiment. I’d also note that you write extremely well. Anytime you’re ready, we’ll make room for you here in the Splash Pad “newsroom”.

  6. Georganne Walker Avatar
    Georganne Walker

    Dear Ken,
    Thanks as always for an extremely entertaining, informative, and positive/energetic newsletter about what is going on in our neck of the woods here in our fair city on the sunny side of the bay. I truly appreciate the friendly sleuthing you do on our collective behalf and the time it takes to put together a thoughtful newsletter.
    Georganne Walker

    1. Ken Katz Avatar


      Your kind and thoughtful comments are very much appreciated – as is your reference to the “sunny side of the bay”. I’m about to leave myself a note to write about the origins of that phrase in the December Newsletter.


  7. Patty White Avatar
    Patty White

    Great Commander Cody video ! Thanks for the link.