The Weekend Party Is On … Webster

What: Webster Street Jam
When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sept. 10-11
Where: Webster Street between Central and Lincoln Avenues
Cost: Free

This year marks the 10th year in a row that the West Alameda Business Association has staged the Webster Street Jam, and live music will be performed during the event on two stages.

More than 20 groups are slated to take the stage, with a performance by the rock band The Who Too set for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10. “This year, 80 percent of our bands, or 16 of the performing groups, are from Alameda,” said Judi Friedman, director of operations for WABA.

“There will be a real variety of music,” Friedman explained. “We’ll have everything from rock to funk, from soul to Cowboy Jared playing for the kids. There’s also a ZZ Top cover band, Tres Hombres, along with groups playing oldies, hip hop, blue grass, jazz – a little bit of everything!”(Cowboy Jared performs at 12:15 p.m. on Sept. 10, while Tres Hombres performs at 3:15 that same day.)

The AARP/Walgreens Wellness Tour will have a bus with a trained staff at the Jam. Adults can have their cholesterol, blood pressure, bone density, glucose and body mass checked for no charge on a first-come, first-served basis.

“We are celebrating the 10th Webster Street Jam by providing very important service,” said Friedman. “And, as always, we’ll have a good mix of activities, food, drinks, and plenty of local restaurants will be open during and after the Jam, too.”

Nearly 25 food vendors will be offering a selection of international food, she adds. Those attending the Jam can enjoy everything from paella to lumpias, Tongan barbeque and Hawaiian shaved ice.

R&B Cellars and Rock Wall Wine Company will be serving their wines, while the Fireside Lounge will feature several beers made by local micro-breweries. Alameda Coffee, made with St. George Spirits’ malt liquor, will be sold in the morning both Sept. 10 and 11.

The children’s section, which will be located at the intersection of Webster and Taylor Avenue, is being sponsored by the Bladium. Kids can enjoy seeing the Nose Cone from the USS Hornet, along with fire trucks and other vehicles.

“It will be a great kids’ area,” said Friedman. “There will be slides, a jumping area, arts and crafts and a petting section with animals, which is a first for us.”

Vendors and artists will showcase hand-made and other original goods, such as jewelry and clothing. And Bike Alameda will offer free valet bike parking at the U.S. Bank parking lot, at 1414 Webster St. Plus, local non-profits will share information at booths during the event, organizers say.

“The event really has a community-focused, family feel to it,” Friedman shared, even with a total crowd of 20,000-30,000 expected over the weekend. “In addition to the many offerings of food, wine, beer, music, art, gifts, and a kids’ area, WABA has a special attraction for the community,” she added, which is a special health-testing and wellness service.

Restaurants that have opened their doors recently on Webster Street include the Fireside Lounge and the 1400 Bar & Grill in the Croll Building.


One More Pre-Christmas Day for Alameda Shoppers, as Special Events Continue


Alameda Towne Centre is staging some final Christmas-themed activities for kids as part of this year’s last big holiday shopping day, Friday, December 24.

From 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., children can make balloon creations with Mr. Shaps. And from 12 to 2 p.m., they can enjoy a “Cotton Candy Express” sing-a-long.

The events will take place in Santa’s Workshop, on the west side of the mall near Kohl’s.

On the other side of town, Webster Street’s Winter Island continues through the end of the month.

The next event is set to take place on Sunday, December 26, with a lounge-music gathering starting at 6:30 p.m. at Webster and Pacific Avenue. DJ Cutso and friends will lead the fun evening, which includes a discussion about DJ work and demonstrations.

Guests with same-day receipts from Alameda businesses get in for free.

Starting at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, December 27, a swing concert is planned, featuring Stompy Jones, who is known for jumpin’ rhythm and retro style.

The opening band that night is the Hi-Rhythm Huslters, and in between bands, DJ Tanoa “Samoa Boy” will be spinning vinyl records.


West Alameda Kicks Off Winter Island


West Alameda’s series of holiday events — Winter Island — began Thursday, December 16, and continues through the end of the month.

The two-week festival for families features holiday movie classics, a holiday pet parade and market, children’s activities and performances, seasonal culinary demonstrations and wine tasting, as well as concerts and musical performances.

Events take place in a heated tent at Webster Street and Pacific Avenue sponsored by the West Alameda Business Association and the City of Alameda.

Events include:
– Friday, December 17: Evening of Appreciation, hosted by Alameda PTA Council, 5 to 9 p.m.
– Saturday, December 18: Pet Market 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Pet Parade 10:30 a.m. to noon.
– Sunday, December 19: Kids activities from 1 to 4 p.m; Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys at 7 p.m.
– Monday, December 20: Culinary Night from 6 to 9 p.m.
– Tuesday, December 21: Music Night at 6 p.m.
– Wednesday, December 22: Children’s Music Performance from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

For a full schedule, go to the event’s website.

Most events are free or half price if you can show a receipt from a local business on the day of the event.

“This is the first time we’re helping to stage this, and we’re thrilled to do it,” said Kathy Moehring, executive director of WABA. “The city wanted to do some events in different part of the Island, including some that would bring folks to Webster Street.”

An extra evening event has been added and is set to take place from 5 to 9 p.m. on December 17, organizers say. “The PTAs are asking families to come out and support local businesses, while enjoying shopping and eating on the West End. They want to thank the community for its support that night with refreshments and socializing,” said Leslie Little, the city’s economic-development director.

On December 18, kids and enjoy a pet market and visit by Santa Paws, starting at 9 a.m. And at 10:30 a.m., there will be a pet parade and holiday-costume contest during the Farmer’s Market. Categories for the contest are: best pet costume, pet and owner look-a-like, silly pet trick, and best tail wagging. Pet owners with a same-day receipt from an Alameda store or restaurant get a special doggy bag.

From 1 to 4 p.m. on December 19, there will be kids’ activities featuring holiday storytellers, arts and crafts, while from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on December 22, Winter Island showcases local children’s groups, such as choirs, orchestras and bands and more. At the same time on the evening of December 28, children’s dance groups will perform.

Adults are invited to see Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys perform at 7:30 p.m. on December 19, when tickets are $10 each (or $5 with a same-day receipt). And another swing band – Stompy Jones – is set to take the stage on December 27 for $5 (or free with a same-day Alameda receipt). A jazz group will perform at the same time on December 21, with a rock group scheduled for December 26.

Winter Island features a special culinary night with local chefs from 6 to 9 p.m. on December 20 for $5 (or free with a same-day Alameda receipt), and a wine-tasting extravaganza on December 29 from 7 to 10 p.m. for $20 (or $10 with a same-day receipt).

Major sponsors for Winter Island are NRC Environmental and Gallagher and Lindsay.


Wine Walk Comes to Webster Street

The City of Alameda and the West Alameda Business Association (WABA) will host the first “Wine Walk” from 6 to 9 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, September 29, on Webster Street.

The Wine Walk will offer wine tasting from a variety of local wineries, discussions with winemakers, live music, culinary treats and shopping.

For $30, participants will be receive a souvenir wine glass to sample wines from multiple wineries as they stroll in and out of various retail and restaurant locations. (Buy tickets at 1533 Webster St.)

Webster Street merchants and volunteers will share champagne and sparkling wines that can be paired with desserts and chocolates. Also, several area restaurants will offer Wine Walk dinner specials that can be enjoyed before, during or after each Wine Walk.

Participating winemakers include Blacksmith Cellars, Heart o’ the Mountain, R & B Cellars, Rock Wall Wine Company, Rosenblum Cellars and Urbano Cellars.

A similar event will be held on Park Street on October 14.


Alameda’s Webster Street Jam a Big Hit


The sounds of Foreverland, the Michael Jackson tribute band, help the crowd celebrate the Webster Street Jam this weekend on the Island.

The Saturday night crowd of well over 1,000 people danced and sang along to hits like “Billy Jean” and “The Girl Is Mine.”


Crowd members also enjoyed the food, drink, arts & crafts and other offerings, including activities for kids.


Islanders of all ages said they had a great time… and are already looking forward to next year’s West End event.


Thanks to the West Alameda Business Association, all the businesses that supported the event and the many volunteers that made it such a success.

WABA estimates that as many as 50,000 visitors from in and around Alameda visited the Jam over the weekend. That’s a good majority of Alamedans.


Alameda’s Busy 4th of July Weekend

The Alameda Fourth of July Parade will be the highlight of the holiday weekend. It starts at 10 a.m. on Sunday.

Some 170 floats with 2,500 participants will travel the 3-mile route from Park Street and Lincoln Avenue, down Park to Otis Drive, over to Central Avenue and then down Webster, where the Jumpin’ & Jivin’ Jubilee will be held from noon until 4 p.m.

It’s recently been decided by the city that politicians can participate in the events, but they can’t tell parade watchers what race they are poised to run for: No campaigning materials or election posters are allowed.   

Later in the day, High Street Station coffee house will have another Saturday night barbeque from 5:30 to 8 p.m., with ribs, hot dogs, potato salad, garlic bread and more for $9.95.

The Placebos  band will be playing from 7 to 9 p.m. at the cafe, 1303 High Street.

Encinal Yacht Club is hosting lots of activities on the 4th as well.


Alameda’s New Zealander Pub: Closed

Friends and neighbors of the New Zealander Restaurant and Pub say the popular West Alameda spot closed its doors in late January.

The New Zealander had been open for several years at 1400 Webster Street, next to Croll’s Pizza in the Croll’s Building.

 The proprietors were Clive and Donna Hitchens. The pub’s website explains that Clive was named New Zealand’s Chef of the Year in 1988.

Bands like “The Lost Cats” played there regularly on Fridays.

We are looking into what factors, like the weak economy, may have contributed to its closure.


Another biz bites the dust

The 76 Station on Webster Street closed this week.

The 76 Station on Webster Street closed this week.

The 76 Station at Webster Street and Santa Clara Avenue doesn’t look like its old self. Plywood sheets cover the pumps, windows and the door to the snack shop. It looked pretty closed, so after asking around on Webster Street Saturday, the word was that the owner shuttered the place Wednesday. Someone who requested anonymity said the owner was fed up with the regulations and related costs of running the business and he couldn’t take it any longer. I’ll try to reach the owner during the week for confirmation, but either way, if that was one of your regular gas stations, cross it off the list, as least for now. The other tidbit from anonymous that still needs confirmation is that the property belongs to a private owner, not to the 76 company.


A record move

The Record Gallery on Webster Street is moving

The Record Gallery on Webster Street is moving.

After 36 years in the same spot on Webster Street, the Record Gallery is moving.

Owner Leo Steccati set up shop at 1510 Webster St. back in 1976, before MP3 players or pod casts – even before eight track tapes became obsolete.

Store manager and eventual new owner Steve Kennedy says he is trying to look at the bright side to the July 1 move behind 1451 Webster, behind Serendipity, a consignment shop, but it’s still “heartbreaking,” he says.

Between the economy and the rent, the move became necessary. Kennedy said they asked the building owner for a rent reduction, but didn’t get one.

“This town needs rent control,” he said.

Their new spot will have about half the space they now have, but the rent will also be reduced by about half.

To get to the new place, customers will need to round the corner because there is no causeway to get to the back of Serendipity. But that probably won’t pose a problem, Kennedy said, because it’s kind of fun to find things. People will also likely walk a few steps to get to the shop’s longtime inventory of used records and cd’s, and its more recent and popular stock of retro and vintage clothing.


The pot that fell through the cracks

Well, the last week’s story, “Fate of Alameda pot club likely heading to court,” doesn’t really have a happy ending for anyone.  The City Council just said no to the Purple Elephant medical marijuana dispensary on Webster Street. (Say, wouldn’t that business name give you a little red flag regarding its inventory — other than children’s toys.)

Not that, if one is trying to open a pot dispensary, one would necessarily go to City Hall and say, “Howdy. We’re going to sell pot over on Webster Street for people with medical problems. How about a nice business license. Here’s our check.”

Chances are, that wouldn’t fly. So instead, you might just mention that you’re going to sell “miscellaneous retail,” which seems like a smarter way to get that license.

So, they opened last summer, the city somehow discovered that miscellaneous retail is pot-related and revoked its license and now the business has said it’s taking the city to court to stay in operation.

People have pretty strong opinions about pot. It’s a love-hate thing, even while the state goes about reconsidering whether or not it should be legalized. The council didn’t make a statement about whether medical marijuana dispensaries are bad or good, nor whether marijuana is bad or good, though surely they each have their own opinions on the topic. Instead, the council chose to put a moratorium on dispensaries as a land use issue, to look at how they affect health and safety.

The bad thing here is that, if the city is concerned about those issues, how did this go through in the first place? It’s one of those slip-ups that has caused bad news for the operation, its customers and the people in the West End who feel their business district isn’t the right place for it. A lot of people have been affected. We could blame the dispensary owner for trying to slip through the cracks with his “miscellaneous retail” line, but, frankly, if I got a mailer from a company called Purple Elephant that only sold miscellaneous retail, I’d have a pretty good suspicion there was something the Purple Elephant was keeping to itself.

If another business applies for a license and it’s called, say, The Joint, and sells undefined, miscellaneous items, it would be prudent for the city to do a little research before making any decisions.