Barely a month after it opened, the organic produce stand at Swan’s Market in Old Oakland is closing.
At first the news surprised me. I can’t remember how many times I begged for a market within walking distance of my old place on Ninth Street. I would be cursing the lack of stores as I drove several miles out of the way for some milk at night or something on Sunday. So why wouldn’t the stand be successful?
Well, for one, Read the rest of this entry »
So it took a little digging, but I finally got the scoop on the Oakland wineries that provided bottles of wine for Oakland Mayor Jean Quan to take along on her trade mission to China.
She’s been handing out some bottles as gifts to dignitaries and business people, but the majority of the Oakland bottles will be uncorked for tasting Thursday at new California Vintage wine bar on Wyndham Street in Hong Kong. California Vintage is a business launched by a group of California wineries, including a couple from Alameda, but none from Oakland.
Quan is hoping that will change when she and Port of Oakland officials visit the business on the last day of the three-city trade mission to promote trade and business with China.
China is the largest client for U.S. agriculture, and the Port of Oakland handles about 90 percent of the California wine exports to China, which is a growing market for red wines. Quan said her group has been able to order California red wines in restaurants in Beijing, but there is fierce competition from Australia, Chile and France.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan was finally feeling the jet lag midday Monday after arriving Saturday in Beijing and embarking on a flurry of meetings with the Hainan Group and the American Chamber. But that didn’t stop her from finishing and posting her newsletter in the few hours of “down time” she will likely enjoy on the jam-packed trade mission to China with City Council President Larry Reid, Port of Oakland Executive Director Omar Benjamin and other port officials.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and City Council President Larry Reid in Beijing, China. Photo courtesy of Jean Quan.
Quan is there to promote Oakland’s Port and city as a good place to do business. She’s talking to the Hainan Group about using Oakland as a hub to capitalize on the growing foreign tourism to Northern California.
Hainan Airlines is the Southwest of China, and the only five-star rated airline in the country. The parent company also owns hotels.
It’s clear that Chinese people are investing in the United States, Quan said, but she is “struck by the variety of investments” they are interested in.
As far as how people are responding to her as an elected representative of a major American city, she said it seems to have a special significance for older Chinese, who tell her how proud they are of her, Quan said in a call from Beijing Monday (late Sunday night, my time).
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan wasted no time reaching out to Chinese officials in Beijing when she landed there Saturday to embark on a three-city trade mission with Oakland City Council President Larry Reid, Port of Oakland Executive Director Omar Benjamin and other of the Port’s seaport and airport officials.
Quan met with the chairman of the HNA Group, which owns Hainan Airlines, hotels and other businesses. She wants to try and bring the airline to Oakland, and perhaps convince the company to build hotels and use Oakland as its hub for for foreign tourism to Northern California.
While Mayor Quan is on her way to China, we back in Oakland are celebrating another first: Oakland’s Battle of the Taco Trucks. Saturday night from 7 p.m. until midnight at the Oakland Convention Center downtown. Tickets are $15 in advance/$25 at the door. But I think the price only buys you access to “great cheap tacos.” The key word is access. The actual tacos — and tequila — are extra. But you can call 510-466-6415 or email email@example.com. Let the battle begin!
So Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and Council president Larry Reid jetted off to Beijing this a.m. on a whirlwind trade mission to China with Port of Oakland officials. They hope to drum up new business and expand partnerships with Chinese companies in Beijing, Shenzhen and Hong Kong.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and Council President Larry Reid
The 12-member group includes Port executive director Omar Benjamin and other port maritime and airport officials. They’ll spend four days making stops in three cities: Beijing, Shenzhen and Hong Kong.
They’re saving the fun for last, when they visit a California wine bar and restaurant in Hong Kong to promote Oakland wineries.
A case of Oakland wine has been shipped ahead and will be served when the mayor and her entourage visit on Thursday.
Bar 355 is named for its address: 355 19th Street. The new owners are busy removing layers of history from the lounge. Not the storied decades as Mr. B’s Restaurant & Lounge or Softnotes or other incarnations. The original signs from two of those incarnations still stand on the roof, high above the facade made from rocks.
They have been scraping away at the residue left behind by food, bourbon, whiskey, beer and smoke. They have a way to go but already the walls are new — royal blue with a gold fleur-de-lys stencil. The bar is long, stretching nearly to the end of the rectangular room.
I happened by yesterday on my way back from a run around Lake Merritt. (I was thinking that the lake has developed an even more serious problem with waste: aviary. To be blunt, the bird s— is layers thick in some spots, including near the Lake Chalet.) The door was open so I peeked inside.
I can tell already that it’s a new era at 355 19th Street.
It’s back again: The Thursday Nite Live summer music series begins tonight with Josh Jones at 5:30 p.m. Mazacote on June 17, followed by other performers every two weeks — the first and third Thursdays — until October. No cover. 9th and Broadway. From 12st Street BART, just follow the music . You’ll know it by the people dancing in the street.
Surprisingly, I spotted several openings in the works to keep on an eye on:
530 Lakeside Drive: a cuban joint
1644 Telegraph: a nightclub near Cafe Van Kleef’s
2000 MacArthur Blvd: the Bay Laurel Restraurant
3000 Broadway: restaurant it appears
1803 Webster: another restaurant
Meanwhile, A Cote is still trying to clear the last hurdles with neighbors and ABC to open a second restaurant in the old Compadres Bar & Grill space on Park Blvd. Sounds like they’ll be on the way soon.
The perennial question. But would it surprise you to know that there are 1.52 bars on average for every 10,000 people in the United States? In Oakland there are more bars than grocery stores, book stores or museums. We are not alone, according to FloatingSheep.com, which shows the states that make up what they call the beer belly of America. Those are states in which bars outnumber grocery stores. It’s startling when you see it on a map.
Starting in Illinois, the beer belly expands up into Wisconsin and first spreads westward through Iowa/Minnesota and then engulfs Nebraska, and the Dakotas before petering out (like a pair of love handles) in Wyoming and Montana, according to FloatingSheep. Northern and Southern California are among the few locations on this coast to share the dubious distinction.