Greek For A Day

I’VE FOUND something out about myself this month: I have Greek envy. I’m a Greek woman trapped in the body of a Minnesotan — and I must come out. So the other night, I was dining on dolmas and fine Greek wine, when I looked over and saw two tables full of folks from Montclair.

What a small world. Here I was at Papas’ Taverna on the Petaluma River, and hills attorney Jim Pandell was celebrating his 60th birthday with a couple dozen of his closest friends right next to me. It makes perfect sense, too. If I were him, I’d want to ring in 60 with a belly dancer.

If you’ve never been to Papas’, you need to get there right away. Just 5 miles from the gorgeous Petaluma Sheraton, Papas’ is like a taverna in Greece, with funny little knickknacks on the walls and ceiling.

Our waitress, Sandy, says she came up the river on a dingy one day and never left. Other customers come by bike, car and sea plane — it’s that special. “We discovered it when a co-worker was wearing a Papas’ Y-shirt,” Diana Pandell tells me. “It seemed like the perfect place to have a birthday party.”

It’s also the perfect place to celebrate life. And you don’t have to have a jewel in your navel to do it.

More Greek speak

While I’m on the subject, Oakland’s Ascension Cathedral did a bang up job with last weekend’s Greek Festival. Despite the construction of a new chapel and parking structure (which altered my favorite festival taverna), they still managed to cram thousands of revelers into the church halls and outdoor patio. The marketplace was buzzing, the music was great and the gyros were better than ever.

Mail bag

Reader G. Parker tells me the Skyline High class of ’64 is having their 40th reunion. Alumni who can still fit into their prom gowns or tuxes are encouraged to do so, as the committee is going for that “fresh squeezed” look. Bee-hive hair-do’s are also welcome, although just for the women. The shindig is set for Saturday, July 31, at the Bellevue Club on the shores of Lake Merritt. For more information, see

Tick tock

There’s talk of a clock, again, in Montclair Village. A lot of you remember the old town clock, which faithfully told the time and temperature for years on what’s now the Montclair Malt Shop.

In fact, Malt Shop owner Maurine Marie says she’ll never forget that huge clock. It told her that she got cold at 42 degrees.

That wonderful landmark disappeared decades ago. But each time there’s talk of Village improvements, the idea of a clock comes up. So the Montclair Village Association is looking at plans for a new timepiece near La Salle and Mountain.

If you ask me, this will help establish a town center. It’s an idea “whose time has come.”

Rumor mill

Word has it that Gary’s Grill and Bar is being sold. Word is wrong.

Owner Gary Wong says he’s been trying to sell his place for months, but people run away “faster than anything” when they find out the rent is more than $5,000 a month. He says he’ll keep his restaurant open “month to month” for right now.

Face value

If a good facial can take years off your age, then Michelle Slonecker has collectively taken centuries off folks in this town. Since the days when her clients included actress Diane Carroll (at Touch of Class on Liemert Boulevard), Michelle has been building a steady base of freshly scrubbed faces.

And now that she’s found a sweet little studio downstairs in Dina’s hair salon on Park Boulevard, Michelle is busier than ever. Happy second anniversary in your new location, Michelle. Thanks for keeping us all young.

Punny plate

Spotted on a green sedan near Alta Bates hospital, the vanity plate TACOMOM.

Jim. C. wonders what kind of gas mileage the driver gets — on her trips “south of the border.”


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