You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2009.

sushi-park

The old Design Framing storefront will soon house another fixture in the Gourmet Glenview

A new eatery is set to open in the Glenview. And not to worry: it’s not an Italian restaurant. Sushi Park will serve the finest in Japanese dining (and sake) by the year’s end. Not to be confused with the other Sushi Park establishments, this is a single business enterprise headed by sushi chef, Zandong Guan. He plans on providing quality food and excellent service, saying that he’s “looking forward to being a part of the Glenview community.”

As of August, the opening date is fast approaching. An aide to Ignacio De La Fuente notified a GNA board member to say that the City of Oakland has granted Guan a Conditional Use Permit. It’s just one of many permits (including a building permit, electrical, plumbing and another for hood exhaust) to obtain before construction begins, and designer Tommy Woo steps in.

“We’ve designed for many Japanese restaurants,” says Woo, whose firm is based in Fremont. A peek inside the storefront on 4209 Park Blvd. shows a the remnants of Design Framing, with a few wide counter tops and a shallow hall. Woo confirms that “Sushi Park is a very cozy space, for some 20 seats.” But he’s certain the decor will draw in neighbors.

I for one am excited. Now I have a second choice in Asian cuisine next to Banana Blossom, which I’ve visited only a handful of times since the beloved Purple Plum closed. It will also be great to sample Sushi Park’s sake selection in anticipation of San Francisco’s Sake Day on October 1.

So great is my anticipation of Sushi Park’s opening, I can’t decide which of the five Glenview nail salons to get a pedicure for my first visit. The one that might win out is the newest to the neighborhood: the Beauty Box. It’s right next to the future site of Sushi Park. A sign sprinkled with red hearts says that new clients get a 10% discount, and 2-for-1 haircuts as part of their “Recession Special.”

With all these high-class establishments moving onto Park Blvd., one has to keep up appearances.

02/01/10 UPDATE: According to the offices of Ignacio De La Fuente, Sushi Park is due to open in mid-March.

Advertisements

Oakland has hundreds of stairways and paths. It doesn’t have straight street grids like Chicago but roads that, like ramen noodles, twist and curl across the cityscape. When I’m not feeling up to a trail run, I explore any one of the city’s built-in strolls.

There’s one walk right near my place in the Glenview. It’s a loop that winds through Glendome Circle, a quiet lane on a ledge of land above Trestle Glen Road. Both the Glenview and Crocker Highlands neighborhoods overlap on its horseshoe route. A block away is another short but sweet trek. It’s a public path called Elsinore Walk, which opens onto Park Blvd. just steps away from the bus stop. Unlike most Oakland’s paths I’ve seen, this route has ample signage:

elsinore-parkblvdsign elsinore-edgewoodsign

This could be determined by its access to Park Blvd. For more than 50 years, the #18 streetcar ran along here (even when it was still 4th Ave.). Now Elsinore Walk is a great shortcut to the AC Transit 18 and the casual carpool on Hollywood Ave.

The path is a nice entry to the Glenview’s northeast shoulder. And like so many of the paths here, flower vines and tended beds adorn both sides. Elsinore has a garden variety of lavender, daisies, wild poppies and these gorgeous blooms:

elsinore-callalilies elsinore-camellias elsinore-lanterns

A number of passageways lead off the walk. Some are weathered gates with rope latches. Others are side doorways and recessed windows. One fence warns about a dog, but I didn’t hear barking the last time I passed through. Much of the city noise from Park seemed far away, in fact. Even at a slowed pace I reached the last stairwell too soon.

elsinore-endstairs

From the peak of Glendome you’ll catch a nice Bay view. (Never mind the gargantuan PG&E towers and substation hardware.) The yards have a wild, East Bay style. Some of the Spanish colonial homes have a rugged edge, reminiscent of Broadway Terrace before the 1991 fire. Asphalt rolls along Glendome in layered patches; on one side it drops off into what some Oaklanders know as “Indian Gulch.” Sometime after the Ohlones lived there, and before the buses took over in 1948, the B line streetcar ran along the canyon, or Trestle Glen Road.

It’s also a nice excursion after dinner at Marzano. The success of so many gourmets restaurants have parking real estate on the strip at a premium. Diners may find that leaving their car at the mouth of Elsinore is a great way to walk off a meal. It’s a little over a mile to and from the commercial district. You might call it the Elsinore Loop:

  • Start in the Glenview commerical district, head up the hill past Wellington St.
  • Across from Dolores Ave. at the 18 bus stop, turn left onto Elsinore Walk.
  • The path lets out at Edgewood Ave. and continues through to San Sebastian Ave.
  • At the bottom of the stairway, jog left to follow Elsinore Ave. to El Centro Ave.
  • Make a right and climb some 87 feet to Glendome Circle. Make a left toward the towers.
  • Wind around Glendome and return to El Centro Ave. and back out to Park.

elsinore-walk-wobo

For now, the Parkway’s dreams of reopening are deferred. This week news broke that Motion Picture Heritage Alliance, a Midwestern-based cinema company, moved its business elsewhere.

It’s bad news for Oakland, and for Park Blvd. neighbors who wanted the boards on the storefront taken down. It appears then that the “Curious Case of Benjamin Button” poster will remain for the next while; Brad Pitt’s visage seems to mock passers-by that he’s the starring role in the forthcoming film based on the book “Money Ball,” by Michael Lewis. It’s about Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s (and presumably how we let players like Eric Byrnes go to other teams). Whatever you think about Pitt’s acting, it brings to mind an Oakland tendency: losing a good deal to somewhere else.

Recent developments show that while the Parkway’s closing felt sudden, it really suffered a slow financial death. Reportage of how the Cerrito theater bankrupted the Parkway reminded me of how it went down at Cody’s Books. Then and now, expansion proved too big for business. In another development, Oakland Focus blogger Zennie posted a heart-wrenching interview he had yesterday with the Fischers. No word from Pat Kernighan about the potential investors, or from the pro-Parkway movement at iliketheparkway. Its site remains quiet and has not been updated as of this posting. Blight, wherever you find it, is a sad thing.

But as reported, former Parkway programmer and host Will “The Thrill” Viharo remains optimistic about the theater’s fate. In an email announcement today, Viharo has said that talks between the city (District 2’s Pat Kernighan) and the potential investor (Mark Haskett) are officially on:

“Mark has very specific ideas on how to streamline the original business model. He shares my view that the overhead should be split between a team with specific theater experience and one with restaurant experience, working in concert under one roof. This has always seemed the most cost effective and efficient way to operate this kind of business, as far as I’m concerned.

“Anyway, some of the players have changed but the goal remains the same: let’s get this damn thing reopened. The longer it stays dark, the harder it will be to light up again.”

It would seem that the Parkway dream may come out of deferment. It did, at any rate, for a movie house outside of Pittsburgh, PA. Viharo mentioned in another email this week that the Motion Picture Heritage Alliance has revitalized another movie house called The Hollywood Theatre. It opened last weekend in Dormont, a southern suburb of the Iron City.

The Hollywood Theatre in Dormont, PA

On Opening Day: The Hollywood Theatre in Dormont, PA

It all started when Dormont’s city council president John Maggio approached Bill Dever at MPH to reopen the Hollywood after it shuttered last June. Months later, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the Hollywood will once again operate as a cinema and also as a live performance venue. (Plans for the brew-and-view will go into effect once they obtain a liquor license.) It’s an inspiring success story, and one that Oakland could take into account the next time new business rolls into town. Then we could save all the drama for the “Gentlemen of Leisure.”

Here are some archival photographs of Oakland’s fave speakeasy in brighter days. I unearthed them at the Oakland History Room and found a lot of images by Vernon Sappers, Oakland’s own railway historian who wrote a book on the Key System Streetcars. When Sapper took these images, the 18 streetcar passed the Parkway on its hill-bound route.

"Construction of Parkway Theatre," Vernon Sappers (ca. 1925)
“Construction of Parkway Theatre” photo from the Vernon Sappers Collection (ca. 1925)

…Interesting to see a view of the Parkway in pre-Kragen times. The homes to the right of the construction site gave way to a co-op, which later gave way to the auto parts store chain.

"Construction of Parkway Theatre," Vernon Sappers Collection (ca. 1925)
“Construction of Parkway Theatre” photo from the Vernon Sappers Collection (ca. 1925)

…Here’s a view facing Park Blvd. and the Brooklyn neighborhood to the north.

Parkway Theatre's initial storefront, Vernon Sappers Collection
Parkway Theatre’s initial storefront, Vernon Sappers Collection

…The theater started out, an older resident told me, as an independent arts cinema.

"Parkway Theatre - Oakland," Gary L. Parks, spring 1986
Photo by Gary L. Parks, spring 1986

…Gotta love Oakland in the ’80s.

Photo by Mark Koehler (ca. 1980s)
Photo by Mark Koehler (ca. 1980s)

…The Parkway marquee here touches on themes of the present-day closure.

The Parkway this spring
The Parkway this spring

…Thank you to the Fischers for creating the dream, Viharo for stewarding it and to those who, in a campaign for the Parkways’ survival, showed their Oaktown love in reviving it.