Latin Flavor Comes To Oakland


PARDON ME if I quote a famous line for my opening: “The Hills are alive, with the sound of music.” In this case, it’s Cuban music we’ll be hearing when the new La Taza Café opens on Thornhill Drive later this month (or soon thereafter).

Montclair couple Daniel Brajkovich and Minette Montoya have big plans for this place, which has seen a couple of restaurants in recent years, including the Thornhill Café and Canvas (which is still serving meals until the close of escrow).

“What we’d like to do is bring in different kinds of promotions and things like a flamenco night with food from southern Spain,” says Brajkovich.

His thoughts race as he imagines a guitar player and a dancer entertaining his patrons as they nibble on small plates of tantalizing food called tapas.

“We’re not looking to be stuffy,” he says. “We’re looking to be relaxed, friendly and social where people can come in to more of a lounge atmosphere, and they can have a glass of wine, maybe a couple of small tapas and discuss the day’s events.”

There’ll be a full dinner menu as well, and he plans to keep serving until almost 11 p.m., saying there’s a need for more late-night offerings in Montclair. Oh — and one more thing — Brajkovich says he’s opening up the patio outside. And true to the Cuban spirit, it’ll be a place where you can smoke a good cigar.

E-mail bag

Thanks to Marian O’ Brien for letting me know that the new East Bay Dance Center has opened in the Glenview district. She says her two daughters have been dancing with director Bonnie Sita for four years: “We feel so fortunate that they have been able to express their love of dance with this wonderful woman who is not only skillful and full of positive energy, but who is a kind and caring professional that you would love to have your kids dance with.”

The center (at 1318 Glenfield Ave.) offers everything from ballet to hip hop, and the new location is pretty special. It’s in the historic building where the Glenview Women’s Club met from 1914 to 1934. For more information call 510-336-3262.

Water therapy

What do you get when you cross a group of wild women (and one man) with water? You get the aptly named Aquanuts, who perform their own brand of synchronized swimming for local charities.

You should have seen them swing their pool noodles last weekend in a lively performance at the Hills Swim and Tennis Club.

On a serious note, a member of the audience who used to be an Aquanut herself was too sick to perform. She has brain cancer and came all the way from Texas to be at the show. And fittingly, the proceeds went to the National Brain Tumor Foundation.

Garden therapy

Sue Morgan is looking for folks who like to garden and want to help propagate plants in Joaquin Miller Park this fall. The greenery will eventually be planted along Sausal Creek, as part of the effort to restore the native habitat there. It’s a great program for kids, too, and classes from several local schools will be planting, pulling weeds and keeping track of their work in journals.

If you’d like more information on how you can help, call Sue at 510-531-6293.

Dig this

Most parents have seen the movie or read the book “Holes.” It’s the award-winning story of a desert camp where juvenile delinquents dig holes all day.

Well, it’s coming to a theater near you, and this time it’s live. The Alameda Children’s Musical Theatre is literally breaking new ground with this performance of “Holes,” since the group will be doing the whole thing (including the hole digging) outdoors.

Hills sixth grader Shannon Powers, who attends Corpus Christi School, plays the part of Kissing Kate Barlow and hopes kids will come see one of their favorite stories come to life. The play runs Oct. 9-24 at the St. Phillip Neri School lot on High and Van Buren in Alameda. For show times and reservations, call 510-521-6965.

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