The Names in Lights Have a Tale to Tell – Part 2

by Ken Katz

Last month, Part 1 of this series of articles about the twenty-seven Names in Lights panels in the Splash Pad Plaza focused on three panels listing the Grand Avenue businesses that donated to the Splash Pad fountain fundraising campaign.

This month, we’ll be focusing on three additional panels that list businesses on Lake Park, Santa Clara, and Lakeshore Avenues. Our goal is to document the businesses that have since closed and, to the extent possible, also report on the tenants who subsequently filled those vacancies over a seventeen-year period. This list is more accurate and complete than it would be otherwise thanks to input from the Lakeshore BID Co-Director Carol Knight whose memory is superior to mine and who also prompted us to search in our files for the 2007 Lakeshore Business Directory.  If you have anything to add to this summary or anything that needs correcting, please use the comment tab below.


The following businesses either closed or moved to another location:

  • Although it may be hard to believe now considering how blighted the KFC franchise eventually became, back in 2003, it was well operated and maintained and was actually the subject of one of the first articles in the Splash Pad News. In addition to donating to the Names in Lights panels, the founders of the KFC empire, Pete and Arline Harman were major contributors to KQED. As everybody is aware, the vacant and blighted building has recently been totally revamped and reopened as a Starbucks.
  • Traci’s Gourmet Granola was very popular at the Grand Lake Farmers Market, but Traci Fellows went on to do other things shortly after the new park opened. A few years later, she temporarily returned to the market with a line of gourmet dog biscuits she called “Fido’s Fondue.”
  • The Right Occasion was in the space now occupied by the Q Tea Bar at 478 Lake Park. If we remember correctly, the owner tragically passed at an early age not too long after the Names in Lights panels were installed.
  • Hudson’s Antiques was in the two spaces that now house Cafe Romanat. The owner, Rick Hudson, now operates an estate liquidation firm based in Orinda.

The businesses that survived good times and bad include The Private Mail Box, Western Sun Floral in approximately the same spot in the Farmers Market since 2003, the Grand Lake Market itself–although the actual founding was in 1998 or possibly earlier–Brent’s Christmas Trees (now operated by his son Frank), Point of View Salon and Newfangles in a new location and under the name Alyce on Grand.


  • Sunset Cosmetics was at 3411 Lakeshore. That space has since had multiple tenants including (not necessarily in the correct order): Feel Good Fitness, a vape shop, Dress Best for Less (that has since returned to Piedmont Avenue), and currently the newly opened Queer Arts Center.
  • George’s Laundry and Dry Cleaning closed just prior to the onset of the shelter-in-place orders and is one of the relatively few vacant spaces on Lakeshore or Grand yet to be leased.
  • Turning Heads was a women’s clothing store operated by Marie Renfro at 3342 Lakeshore in the Wells Fargo Bank building. Subsequently, Alyce Preston relocated Newfangles to this space followed by the first retail location for Sleep & Beyond, then Ergo Sleep Systems, and most recently Bounce Blow Dry.
  • Walter Bennett Cameras was a key tenant at 3228 Lakeshore going back to 1950. The shop’s closure was almost certainly precipitated by the onset of online competition. The space is now occupied by Lakeshore Beauty Supply.
  • We’re pretty sure that Woven Fabrics + Draperies was at the corner of Lakeshore and Mandana in what’s now Marcia Lam’s Lin Jia Asian Cuisine. We’re not so sure about the chronology, but this space was also home to a Radio Shack, Supercuts (?), and Marcia’s earlier venture, L’Myx Tea Bar.
  • Earwitness Music at 3339 Lakeshore was owned and operated by Paul Curatolo, who continues to sell LPs, though now in his role as manager of Walden Pond Books. In the 2007 Directory, that’s the same address as Urban Indigo.
  •  Silver Lining Jewelry closed in 2015 after a very long run on Lakeshore. The co-owner Carol Knight is back again as the co-administrator of the Lakeshore BID. The space was subsequently leased by a men’s salon, Eighteen Eight, followed by A Newer You and, most recently, by San Francisco Bay Cosmetic Body Sculpting, which is now closed as well.

The businesses that survived through good times and bad include Lakeshore Travel (which must have been hit even more severely than most by the pandemic), Dr. Moonsamy’s Eye Care Optometry, Peet’s Coffee (which has since doubled in size), Lakeshore Produce and Health Foods (which moved up the block when Peet’s expanded), Buckingham Wine & Spirits (now under new ownership), and Washington Mutual.


The following businesses either closed, moved, or changed ownership:

  • Albertsons closed and the space remained vacant for a long time. Eventually, it was subdivided to create Trader Joe’s and Walgreens.
  • Kelly’s Hallmark  at 3359 Lakeshore was replaced by Sway–a clothing shop that tore out the lowered ceiling that was later replaced when the store reopened as the European Wax Studio.
  • The Residential Architect was on the second floor of the T-Mobile building. We believe that space is now a massage parlor.
  • Fabmation (on the second floor at 3337 Lakeshore) was owned by John Fabela, who was most likely responsible for designing the 2007 Lakeshore BID Business Directory. In addition, it was almost certainly printed by Copy Central on the ground floor. The address is now defunct since the space was incorporated into an addition to the adjacent AT&T store.
  • Papyrus at 3417 Lakeshore was replaced by Greetings. Just in the past year, that space has been incorporated into an enlarged Oakland Kosher.
  • Ibota & The Okandaye Group (at 3227A Lakeshore) started as an African cultural center and later evolved into a French crepe house. When they closed, Brian Hill opened a Taste of Joy, which shortly thereafter moved to a larger location on Grand next to what’s now Zachary’s Pizza. Chi Wind and Water has occupied the 3327A space since 2011.
  • Jahva House was located at 3306 Lakeshore Avenue but soon after moved to Alice Street. As of 2007, the tenant was Razzo’s Pizza, which was replaced by Slice of Hollywood. The current tenant is Quickly Bubble Tea.

The businesses on this panel that survived through good times and bad include Oakland Kosher Foods, Dr. McKetchin’s dental practice (now in the hands of Dr. Lance Brune and Dr. Colleen Vasquez), Sherman Cleaners (which is under new ownership), the Lakeshore BID (thriving!), and Center Stage West Salon.

The July Newsletter will cover the balance of the Names in Lights panels, including the memorials, some of our favorite individual listings, and the one panel that credits those who were actively involved in the planning and construction of the new Splash Pad Park.

Ken Katz is a semi-retired antiques dealer. He founded the Splash Pad Neighborhood Forum in late 1999 and in his role as Chair,  coordinated the community efforts to lobby for a new park and subsequently served as a liaison to the City of Oakland and to Walter Hood’s office during the planning process. The first Splash Pad Newsletters were emailed beginning circa 2006. Currently, he acts as an editor, contributor and publisher of the online Splash Pad News. Keila Diehl proofreads all the copy, filters content as needed, and makes us look our very best.





3 responses to “The Names in Lights Have a Tale to Tell – Part 2”

  1. Carole Levenson Avatar
    Carole Levenson

    Wells Fargo was World Savings and then Wachovia.

  2. Ed Sweeney Avatar
    Ed Sweeney

    Washington Mutual went bankrupt in 2008. I’m not sure if their branch was in the spot that became Chase, It may have been the corner spot that became Wells Fargo.

    1. Ken Katz Avatar
      Ken Katz

      Ed. Somehow, we left Washington Mutual off our list–so thanks for bringing that to our attention. And yes, that space is now Chase Bank.