The News on Grand – June 2024

By Ken Katz

In the midst of the COVID pandemic, it seemed inevitable that businesses up and down Grand Avenue would be negatively impacted and forced to close. As we’ve reported multiple times, relatively few actually did so and those few vacancies were mostly filled quickly.

Unfortunately, the last eight months have seen a setback for businesses on Grand between Mandana and Boulevard Way beginning with the closure of Uhuru House back in October.  Shortly thereafter, just as the Christmas rush was about to begin, Kim McAfee from All Things Hemp discovered that Square, the company that processes credit cards, had, without explanation, stopped releasing payments. That situation continued for several months and with virtually no funds coming in, her only alternative was to lock the doors in January. All Things Hemp still has lots of merchandise available at their online shop and Kim is continuing to explore alternatives.  

At just about the same time, the Grand Avenue Social Club shuttered its doors. By a happy coincidence, just as I was walking by a week ago, I saw the owner, Shelley Cardiff, heading up the steps. According to Shelley, business wasn’t all that they had hoped for but they were getting by until family issues forced a temporary closure. At this point, she’s considering reopening but would also likely consider offers to purchase.

Moon Landing

Overall, business on this upper segment of Grand is doing fine, with Safeway and Ace Hardware as anchor tenants bringing lots of traffic as do dozens of other businesses on a smaller scale including one particularly bright and colorful spot — the Moon Landing Meditative Arts Center at 3725 Grand that opened about six months ago.


Odalis Ordonez Agency

Ordonez Collage

Another is what was until recently the Ruth Stroup office that Odalis Ordonez has purchased and renamed. This is what she has to say about herself and her plans for the future:

I migrated with my family from Honduras ten years ago. We recently became U.S. citizens. I am the mother of an amazing 10-year-old boy and am currently pursuing my Business Management Degree. My plan for the Odalis Ordonez Agency is to continue offering insurance solutions as a local Farmers Agent in Oakland. My team and I have over 20 years of insurance experience. We love to educate people on how insurance works and how to make it work for them, whether that is auto, home, life, or business insurance. Our mission is to offer fast and friendly service to our community.


Galleria Scola

Still another is Galleria Scola which is going strong with ever-changing storefront windows and interior displays that are arguably the best around.

That said, the big question on my mind is whether the three vacancies mentioned above will be filled in a timely matter.

That doesn’t appear to be a problem for the one-block stretch between Mandana and Lake Park. In just the past couple of months, Smitty’s Lounge, The Sanctuary and SUPTEA Lab have all opened to the public. In addition, the small space to the right of Yang Chow restaurant now serves as a respite for OPD officers.


Some recent closures

Sadly, Ramen Dosa (next to Shogun) recently closed but interior remodeling is already underway, apparently for a new tenant. Down the block, a photo taken through the front window of Grand Jewelry Repair shows a vacant interior — confirming, as we conjectured two months ago, that Quy and Christine Tran chose to retire after their safe was stolen in March. No word yet as to a possible replacement.

Directly across the street, we were disappointed to learn that Ikaros had closed since George and Rochael Adranly were very supportive of the community but long-term fans can still order online and pick up from their shared kitchen on Adeline Street.


Bayleaf is coming

Pashupah & Kamal at Bayleaf

What was Greek is about to become an Indian/Himalayan restaurant called Bayleaf. During a volunteer work day on the 19th, we had the pleasure of meeting the owners: Pashupah and Kamal Kandel. For the past eight years, Pashupah has owned and operated Biryani Kabab on 13th in Downtown Oakland which specializes in Indian and Pakistani foods. The family also opened a Himalayan restaurant in SF called Yarsa in 2020 and it’s getting rave reviews. According to Kamal, all the Bayleaf staff has been hired and most of the interior redecoration will be done gradually which will allow them to open within a couple of weeks. Based on past experience, that would be a minor miracle.

As for the vacant space that was Sister, we are delighted (ecstatic even) to report that multiple sources have now confirmed that it has been leased by the owners of The Morris, which is a very successful restaurant in San Francisco known for its culinary excellence and superb wine cellar — but one that also prides itself as a neighborhood hang-out. I think it’s safe to assume that the “good neighbor” vibe on Grand Avenue was one of the factors that led to The Morris’s upcoming leap across the Bay — where a huge welcome is in the offing.


Maybe Market

Maybe Market vendors

This block’s vibrancy is a key to its staying-power and, since its debut in November 2022, CC Doan’s TwoTwo has been a major contributor. This was exemplified on May 19 when an enthusiastic crowd showed up for the “Maybe Market” with eleven different vendors. Here are a few of the highlights as pictured above (clockwise from upper left):

  • Malcolm Squire is an Oakland-based photographer who took photos of attendees. The mixed-media artwork, which served as the backdrop, was commissioned by CC and was the creation of comic artist Dion Wan.
  • Alli Li, formerly the Head Chef at Friends and Family Bar, sculpted butter which was served on a plate with bread and accoutrements.
  • David Concepcion from RE.POST, an Oakland-based brand of handmade and secondhand goods, focusing on creating new products from post-consumer items.
  • Leean Pan’s company, Club Chazu, specializes in unique jewelry influenced primarily by Chinese and Japanese traditions.
  • Esther’s Studio Esther Ceramics makes unique ceramics with care in San Francisco.
  • Francesca Hodges from Fear the Feast bakery.
  • Lane Fujita, an artist experimenting with jewelry for the first time designed minimal pieces as an extension of his artwork.
  • Rafi Badda from Habibi Thing describes herself as a “Lebanese mental health worker and artist thriving in the Bay Area.”

The other three vendors not included in the above list:

  • DeGuili – designer Giulia Pessano Zulberti creates knitted clothing and bags utilizing excess materials from factories
  • Football Community Magazine – Matteo Mazzella publishes a soccer magazine and they also sell art prints, vintage soccer gear, and custom merchandise.
  • Christina Minju – Sae Coffee Studio was there roasting “maybe” beans.

One-Person Art Show at Panorama Framing

Art at Panorama Framing

Patrick Cheatham announced that Oakland artist Christine Knapp’s summer show, “Cross the Line,” featuring abstract landscape painting, assemblage, and sculpture will open on June 3 and run through August 31. The formal artist reception will be on Thursday, July 11 to coincide with the Grand Avenue Art Walk.


Breakfast rolls at Modigliani

Linda Hamilton at Modigliani Cafe is serving freshly-baked breakfast rolls on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 7:00 – 11:00 AM.


Megadeluxe

Mega Deluxe’s line of Grand Lake Theater merchandise, which has been a big hit, is now also available in the gorgeous design recently created by Fanny Garcia. It’s available as a patch, t-shirt, tote bag or hoodie.


Lynn & Lu’s

Lynn & Lu’s greeted warmer weather with a patio that’s now open and a Spring Combo Meal.


Grand Lake Theater

The Grand Lake Theatre has two Special Events scheduled for June. The Rocky Horror Picture Show on Saturday, June 8 and Where Olive Trees Weep on Tuesday, June 25 followed by Q & A with Dr. Gabor Mate, Ashore Darwish, and the Directors.


News in Brief

People and signs that match the bulleted items below
  • On Saturdays, Bake Sum is now offering Base Camp breads as well as their own specialty Milk Bread. In addition, you’ll be seeing lovely flower arrangements by Sammy Kae who welcomes orders on her Flwrrr instagram page.
  • On May 11 and 12, The Sanctuary hosted a reading and book-signing event for author Tunita James who has two children’s books to her credit: MaWhere’s Mommy? and Grace’s Playdate.
  • Star on Grand has what looks like a grand Happy Hour Mondays through Fridays.
  • On Saturdays from Noon to 3:00 pm, Ordinaire will be offering Good Luck Bakery breads that were previously available at Sister.
  • Congratulations to Adams Point neighbor Carvell Wallace for the wonderful reviews of his newest book, Another Word for Love: A Memoir. As we go to press, Walden Pond Books still has some signed copies available.
  • The next Grand Avenue Art Walk which promises to be bigger and better than ever is scheduled for Thursday, July 11.

If you haven’t already done so, you can support our locally owned neighborhood shops and restaurants by casting your vote in this year’s East Bay Express “Best Of” ballot. Deadline is June 16. Here’s the link.


By Ken Katz

Ken Katz

Ken Katz 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 Splashpad Newsletters were emailed beginning circa 2006. He currently contributes to the monthly Splashpad News.


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Comments

3 responses to “The News on Grand – June 2024”

  1. Susi Vogler Avatar
    Susi Vogler

    Ken, your monthly merchant, check-ins are so informative and community connecting. This is a lot of information and knowledge that you’ve gained over the years! Your reports are so good to read in learning what is going on in local business! Many thanks!

  2. Victoria Barbero Avatar
    Victoria Barbero

    Thank you, Ken, for a really good look at what is going on in the neighborhood. Truly appreciate your thorough and comprehensive coverage.

  3. Georganne Walker Avatar
    Georganne Walker

    Thanks, Ken, for your thorough, welcoming, and enthusiastic updates on Grand Avenue. You make this Oaklander proud to be a part of our vibrant, ever-changing community.

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