Alameda Business Buzz: Fire and water

Alameda Business Buzz: Fire and water

Janice Worthen
Yoga Alameda

Yoga Alameda and Team Silva Brazilian Jiu Jitsu open in a new Park Street location next week. Photo by Janice Worthen.

After a long and frustrating renovation of the old A-1 Vacuum & Sewing location on Park Street, Sergio Silva of Team Silva Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and his wife, Rebecca Trissell of Yoga Alameda, are planning to open their his-and-hers studio Tuesday.

Yoga Alameda will be open on Saturday during Park Street’s customer appreciation event (more on that below) to sell passes for a month of unlimited yoga for $75. Both businesses will open officially on Tuesday.

The couple hoped to open their joint studio last weekend, but had to push their opening date forward due to another setback in a series of setbacks: The city told the couple they wouldn’t be able to provide a final inspection of the studio until Monday – or later (Trissell was able to call and get an earlier inspection). Meanwhile, Trissell said she and her husband have been losing money and business waiting for the city’s approval.

Although both knew that opening their own place would take time and money, neither Silva nor Trissell was prepared for just how much of both they’d have to spend. Trissell said the whole process was like having another baby; she and Silva have a 5-year-old son and an 11-month-old daughter.

Silva and Trissell have dreamed of having their own space for a long time. Silva, who has won martial arts tournaments and taught others who went on to be champions themselves, has been teaching Brazilian jiu jitsu since 1993. Trissell has practiced yoga since 1998 and has been teaching since 2007. The couple had been renting studio space on Lincoln Avenue, but they struggled to accommodate both businesses in that location: Trissell said she often had to have her yoga classes at random times to work around Silva’s martial arts classes.

Silva said they envisioned a place where martial arts and yoga, or “fire and water” as he put it, could exist together, but the reality has not met their vision just yet. With the renovation of the Park Street location behind them, Silva is excited that the couple’s vision is now closer to being realized.

Silva said the couple had to bring in an architect first who could provide a plan for the renovation, and Trissell said it took more than a month and a half to get all the necessary permits before work could even start; it took at least six weeks for the city to rezone the space because their businesses are not retail or restaurants, and it took another five weeks to get the building permits.

Trissell said Park Street is Alameda’s little gem, and because it is an historic area, there were many things they had to do to preserve the space and bring it up to code in addition to building an ADA-approved bathroom. Silva said the wait for permits was so hard because it made it difficult to hold on to contractors who couldn’t or wouldn’t wait for the permits to come in. Silva and Trissell also didn’t negotiate a long enough rent deferral and have had to pay rent on their space without being able to use it.

Trissell said their inability to provide an exact opening date has also been hard on customers; she has announced their opening on her business’s Facebook page only to have to apologize when they couldn’t honor the date. During the renovation, Silva’s and Trissell’s customers have had to travel to Silva’s Hayward studio or put their sessions on hold until the new location opened.

City Planner Andrew Thomas said he felt the process went smoothly from the city’s end, though he acknowledged that people who are new to the planning and permitting process are often surprised by how complex it is. Thomas said business owners have many state and city codes to meet, and while it’s not easy to build in California, he said the city tries to move things along as quickly as possible because Alameda wants small businesses to open here.

Since the studio wasn’t listed among the uses that are already permitted on Park Street, the process took a little longer than it may have for another type of business because the city is required to provide notice that a new use has been proposed and to obtain feedback from other business owners nearby.

The department is working to process a growing number of building permits without the staff it once employed; half the staff in the city’s planning department was laid off during the recession, in 2009, and the department is wholly funded by the revenue it takes in. Still, Thomas said the city has initiated a new program, “Alameda at Your Service,” intended to make the process run more smoothly for business owners.

Silva said he understands that everything needs to be perfect because of the historic location they chose but that the wait time for permits and the costs of renovating a space on Park Street make it hard for new businesses to get on their feet. Trissell said she has a new respect for what businesses have gone through to be able to operate.

Both Silva and Trissell want the joint space to be family-centered, and Silva said the new location better accommodates this vision because there are so many things for kids to do on and around Park Street. Trissell said the couple will offer a “play date” for children while their parents practice yoga or martial arts. They’ll also offer classes for the whole family, which are hard to find anywhere else: Their offerings will include classes for toddlers in both martial arts and yoga, and Trissell provides yoga for pregnant women as a registered prenatal yoga teacher.

Trissell said that many people in the area have high-stress jobs, and her yoga classes and Silva's martial arts classes provide an opportunity for people to put things on pause and reconnect with their bodies.

"This is a place where the community and families can come together and have fitness fun and activities. All age levels and abilities welcome," she said.

1502 Park Street. Yoga Alameda: Team Silva Brazilian Jiu Jitsu: Open from 8:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, 8:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and 8:45 a.m. to noon on Sunday.


Park Street and beyond: Park Street will be holding a Customer Appreciation Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday, September 13. Many Park Street businesses will be offering special discounts, and customers can enter a free drawing to win gift cards from local businesses and other prizes. Those who attend can also enjoy a variety of giveaways, including appetizers from McGee’s Black Skillet Grill, ice cream at the Alameda Marketplace, a child photo from Pippa and Co., a free coffee or tea from Julie’s Coffee and Tea Garden, a free Zumba session from Alameda Personal Training, and more. You can see a list of discounts, prizes, giveaways, and activities as well as a timeline for all of these at

Power Box Art will also be celebrating its unveiling at the event. Power Box Art is a project started by Alameda Municipal Power and completed with the help of the Park Street Business Association and Rhythmix Cultural Works. Ten designs by local artists, including 6-year-old Lars Petersen III, that embody ways of decreasing a community’s carbon footprint were chosen by a panel of judges and applied to transformer boxes throughout the Park Street area to make the boxes more attractive. Local business including Tucker’s Ice Cream, Ole’s Waffle Shop, Alameda Island Brewing Company and The Marketplace sponsored the transformer boxes.

You can meet the artists on the back patio of Tucker’s Ice Cream and do a Power Box Walk during the event. You can also meet the artists during an evening celebration that’s taking place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. today at the Rhythmix Cultural Center, 2513 Blanding Avenue. More information is available at

Park Street will be celebrating its 21st Annual Classic Car Show form 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. October 11. More than 400 classic cars will be on display, and the event will include music from the 1950s and ‘60s and prizes. Valet bike parking is available if you want to avoid traffic. You can find more information at

Michelle and Michael Kelley of M & M Antiques have opened a new antique store called A Gilded Cage in the Park Street Landing Shopping Center on Blanding Avenue, near the Park Street Bridge. Michael Kelley is the son of Pauline Kelley of Pauline’s Antiques, and his wife Michelle served as a manager at Pauline’s for more than 10 years and has worked with antiques for about 25 years. Michelle Kelley said the couple used to do antique shows nearly every weekend during summer and wanted to phase out of the antique show circuit in order to sell on a daily basis and dedicate more time to their eBay store.

Though the new space is small, the Kelleys have managed to fill it with an excellent variety of antiques – furniture, art, coins, jewelry, porcelain, knick-knacks and more – from inside and outside the United States. Michelle Kelley said the store is a living entity; new items are being put on display all the time, and each item is unique. She said the store also offers customers layaway. 2307-D Blanding Avenue; 523-2305. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

In addition to the antique shop, a Dollar Tree is coming soon to the Park Street Landing Shopping Center.

Business seems to be picking up at BB Bowl in the Bridgeside Shopping Center. The restaurant, which has been open for a few months, serves Korean cuisine and offers a variety of rice bowls, tofu stew, rice cakes, rice rolls, and Korean dumplings. 2601-B Blanding Avenue; 521-1325. Open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Therapy, one of 10 stores owned by Wayne Whelan and his wife Jing Chen, has opened on Park Street. Whelan said his wife handles the fashion side of the business while he handles the furniture side. The couple originally intended to open a clothing store in Alameda, but when Whelan had to close his furniture store on Valencia Street in San Francisco due to rising rent, they decided to put a furniture store on Park Street instead. He said the transition to Alameda was rough because he had to liquidate his Valencia inventory in just 23 days while trying to get the new store open.

Whelan said Alameda has a lot of charm with its mix of mom and pop businesses and chain stores. He hopes to attract off-Island residents who visit the monthly Alameda Point Antiques Faire.

His new store carries a variety of upholstery, living, and dining room items but will not be carrying bedroom items; Whelan’s collection offers unusual, vintage, and retro furniture. When talking about his more than two decades of Bay Area business experience, Whelan said that two things he is especially proud of is that his stores offer employees benefits and a starting wage of $14 an hour and that he has been able to donate one percent of sales proceeds to the community, with a focus on teachers.

Whelan said that if he had stayed on Valencia Street, rising rent would have forced him to make cuts to these areas, which is something he wasn’t willing to do. Alameda will allow him to continue to run his business as he wants, and if things go well, Whelan and his wife would like to open a clothing store in Alameda as well. 1428 Park Street.

Walgreens had a ribbon cutting ceremony with Mayor Marie Gilmore on September 4 for its new Park Street location. The new store has a more upscale, industrial atmosphere than other Alameda Walgreens locations. 1600 Park Street. Open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Alameda Island Brewing Company’s conditional use permit was approved by the city and the brewery will be opening soon on Park Street. The estimated opening date listed on the company’s Facebook page is late October or early November. 1716 Park Street.

The ReCrafting Co. opened in late August and offers recycled crafting supplies and tools at low prices. The store also accepts crafting supplies and tools for consignment. To see what items the store sells and accepts, visit their website at 2449 Santa Clara Avenue; 205-9765. Open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

West Alameda: Pho & Baguette is coming soon to Neptune Plaza, which is on Central Avenue at the foot of Webster Street.

Red Wagon Collectibles is moving out of Alameda, and owner Arvi Dorsey said the store at 1553 Webster will be closed by the end of September. Dorsey said there just isn’t enough business on Webster and that the area doesn’t have the variety of shops needed to attract customers. Red Wagon’s new location will be 3654 Grand Avenue in Oakland, and Dorsey hopes to open the shop again as soon as possible. He said there is a great mix of businesses on Grand, and he hopes his business will do better there.

Citibank is closing its branch at 1526 Webster Street on December 12.

Alameda South Shore Center: Best Lil’ Porkhouse is opening in October, and signs for the barbecue restaurant are already turning heads. Construction is rapidly advancing at the space, which is next to Loard’s Ice Cream. The restaurant’s menu boasts a variety of barbecue favorites, from pulled pork sandwiches to a full rack of ribs. Catering is also available. If you can’t wait for the Alameda location to open, the chain also has restaurants in San Rafael and Corte Madera.

Alain Pinel Realtors is opening an office in Alameda South Shore Center.


Submitted by Steve Gerstle on Fri, Sep 12, 2014

Regarding the closure of Citibank on Webster Street, Citibank has made it quite clear that they are leaving poorer neighborhoods and setting up shop in wealthier ones. While Citibank is shutting down on Webster Street, Chase will be opening at Alameda Landing. The benefits of new development are not being shared by all Alamedans.

"The head of Citigroup’s global consumer business, Manuel Medina-Mora, made no secret of his bank’s intention to focus on the wealthy in the country, telling a Wall Street investor conference in November that “in retail banking, we will focus our growth in the emergent affluent and affluent segments in major cities — exactly in line with our global consumer banking strategy.” "

Local development decisions should not be made at the expense of traditional neighborhoods of modest means.