Alameda Business Buzz: Shift Local

Alameda Business Buzz: Shift Local

Janice Worthen

Photo by Allan Mendez.

If you’ve been wanting to become a Bay Area coffee connoisseur, Indie Coffee Passport East Bay can get you on your way, and a few Alameda cafes – Beanery, Wescafe and Beulah’s Bean Truck – are among the 22 cafes participating.

Shift Local’s Marc Callado and fiancée Mari Bandoma worked with the founders of Indie Coffee Passport – which began in Toronto – to create an East Bay edition that allows people to explore the local coffee scene in Richmond, El Cerrito, Albany, Berkeley, Oakland, Hayward, Dublin, and Alameda. The passport costs $25 and allows holders to choose one drink from a six-drink menu at each of the participating cafes until August 31.

“We have such an amazing array of independent cafes, and I wanted a way for East Bay residents to discover their own coffee community in their own backyard,” Callado said. “We also want to offer Bay Area residents and visitors a fun way to explore the East Bay.

“I personally see the passport as a symbol for the Buy Local movement,” he added. “When people hold their passports out, it could spark a conversation of why independent and locally-owned businesses matter in our community.”

Callado and Bandoma have been encouraging people to change their shopping habits through ICP East Bay and Shift Local, which started as a blog about the lifestyle they wanted to live. They documented their changing diet, banking, and shopping habits as they cut out fast food chains, switched to a smaller bank with a community focus and virtually eliminated their use of such websites as Amazon and eBay.

Callado said they actually had fun making these transitions; one of Shift Local’s mottos is, “We make buying local hella fun.” According to its website, a big part of Shift Local’s mission is to “encourage the SF Bay Area to shift spending from big box stores and national chains to supporting mom and pop shops.”

“We also want to emphasize ‘shift’ because it isn’t feasible to be 100 percent local in this world that we live in,” Callado said. “However, every shift – no matter how big or small – contributes to a better economy and community.”

One of Shift Local’s most popular events, and their biggest social media fundraiser so far (proceeds went to Pro Arts), was their 2014 photo contest PIC Oakland. The contest started when Gondola Servizio owner April Quinn told Shift Local, Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill and Melissa Davis and Kristen Loken, authors of This is Oakland that she wanted to run a photo contest. Anyone was allowed to submit photos that show why they choose Oakland to “live, work, eat, play, shop.”

Ten finalists were chosen and their photos will be rotated through six Oakland galleries this year. Callado said tickets for the reception to honor the 10 finalists sold out.

Another Shift Local fundraiser that takes place all year is Ideal Date Night, and proceeds benefit the Sustainable Business Alliance, a non-profit that operates Oakland Grown. The latest contest for Ideal Date Night asked people to fill in the blank in “Love is ________” and then upload their answer with a photo to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #idealdatenight. The grand prize will go to the entry with the most votes and includes a $100 gift card to Lake Chalet and a “Booquet” of flowers from J Lacap.

Callado said Shift Local will also be partnering with Oakland Grown to throw an Oakland Scavenger Hunt this summer. Check Oakland Grown’s website for details and updates: www.oaklandgrown.org. Callado also wants to set up an Indie Coffee Passport for San Francisco.

You can purchase your passport online at www.indiecoffeepassport.com/eastbay, and updates on Shift Local events are on its website.

Around Town

Park Street and Beyond: The Park Street Business Association will be changing its name to Downtown Alameda Business Association. The change is set to take place in April or May. One reason for the name change, Ratto said, is that it will include merchants just off Park Street who may feel left out by the “Park Street” moniker. Ratto also pointed out that his is the only business association on the Island that doesn’t have “Alameda” in its title.

“The new name is way more indicative of who we are and what we do,” Ratto said.

The Easter Bunny will be visiting Park Street on April 4 for the Downtown Easter Egg Hunt, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participating businesses will post a banner and will either hide treats in store for children to find or hand out treats for children who visit. The Easter Bunny will be walking on Park Street between Alameda Avenue and Central Avenue to greet children.

The Alameda Theatre & Cineplex is now offering Discount Day Wednesdays. Guests can purchase tickets for any movie at any show time for $6.50 each. Alameda Cinema Grill, meanwhile, will soon be offering a weekend brunch from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 2317 and 2301 Central Avenue. For reservations to Alameda Cinema Grill, call 769-2000.

The long-anticipated Alameda Island Brewing Company is now open. Check out Cheryl Connick’s review for The Alamedan.

Tootsies, which carries a variety of women’s shoes, scarves and other accessories, is now open. 1350 Park Street #A. Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Twirl, a play space and open studio, is coming soon. Owner Sabrina Cazarez said the space, which she hopes will be ready in mid-April, is designed to “spark imaginative play” through activities and “tactile exhibits” children can interact with.

Twirl will have acrylic walls children can paint on, pottery wheels, wood and glass painting, a tyke track, a tree house, a book nook, a construction zone where children can build forts, and a patisserie where children can have tea parties. A structured playtime called “Twirl Time” will be held periodically by Twirl Play Leaders, who will guide participants in singing and dancing.

Play exhibits will rotate every quarter and classes and camps will be offered. Customers can also hold birthday parties in studio or Twirl staff can take a “Twirl Art Cart” to parties in other locations.

Adults also have opportunities to participate. Twirl will host “parent’s night out” as well as workshops for adults called “Craftery” sessions. Adults can also peruse work by local artists that will be on display in the studio, have a cup of tea at Twirl’s kitchen table, or shop in Twirl’s retail boutique.

Cazarez, who worked previously in architecture, said Twirl will provide “a space where the community can come together to make and play.” 1424 Park Street; 810-9057. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Teazzert, a café serving organic teas from Five Mountains, specialty coffee from Barefoot Coffee and a variety of desserts from local bakeries that change weekly, will open tomorrow at 9 a.m.

The café is the brainchild of architecture designer Anh Vu; Johnson Jeng, chief executive officer of Juno Power and Juno Audio; and Uyen Tran, owner of Sparadise in Alameda. Vu said they designed and built everything themselves, including the furniture and artwork, and he wants the café to be a place where people can meet, put down their devices and reconnect with each other over “a great cup of coffee, tea, and desserts.”

Vu said Teazzert’s “enjoyable atmosphere” sets it apart. The café will have a lounge-like setup with sofas and will play soft music that encourages relaxation. Grand opening specials include 20% percent off drinks for customers who visit during the first week, and coupons will be handed out this weekend. Anyone who greets Teazzert staff walking the Park Street area with a green balloon this weekend can win a free drink. 1342 Park Street; 337-9810. Open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

West Alameda: Chipotle will open in Alameda Landing soon and is now hiring. Visit www.jobs.chipotle.com to apply. 2610 Fifth Street, Suite 10.

Unleashed by Petco is having a grand opening celebration, and this is the final weekend to take advantage of product demonstrations, a photo booth, gift card and dog food giveaways, and pet washes at half price. You can get details and print a coupon for 15 percent off on their website. 2650 Fifth Street; 748-1263. Open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

Pacific Pinball Museum will be having its “City Hall Rocks for Pinball” fundraising event from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. April 17. City Manager John Russo’s band Civil Defense and City Auditor Kevin Kearney’s band The Mighty Neptunes will perform. There will be refreshments and a no host bar as well as a silent auction that includes two pinball machines, raffles and prizes. Guests can also learn more about the museum’s restoration of the Carnegie Library. Tickets are $75 each or $100 per couple. 1510 Webster Street; 769-1349.

West End Crepe is now open in the old Wescafe building. Owner Monica Trejo, who is also the owner of Wescafe, said it’s great to be back in the location. The casual eatery gives diners a choice among classic crepes such as Nutella or strawberry, savory crepes such as avocado and tomato or ham, cheese and pineapple, a variety of breakfast crepes, and even a variety of ice cream crepes. Customers can also choose from a large variety of espresso, tea, smoothies, juice, milkshakes, ice cream (including root beer floats!) and fresh cut fruit.

Trejo said that in the years since she opened Wescafe, each new business that followed has been like a pebble creating a perfect place for people and families to visit. Besides offering a large and varied menu, West End Crepe also provides wireless access and a patio for guests. 1536 Webster Street; 522-7200. Open noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

Fred Loya Insurance has replaced Quiznos in the Marina Village Shopping Center. 951C Marina Village Parkway. Open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.