Town Crier: Diverse crowd celebrates Montclair salon’s first year

MONTCLARION: September 2, 2011

It’s block-party season, and nothing brings folks together like the tangy aroma of barbecued chicken and ribs. It certainly drew us in last weekend, when we saw the party outside the little grouping of businesses on Thornhill Drive, across from the 7-Eleven.

Thornhill Salon was celebrating its one-year anniversary, and new neighbor Gruber’s Deli was bringing in local musicians for its weekly Sunday jazz event in the parking lot (owner Joshua Gruber is a jazz saxophonist).

This is what I love about Oakland. Catherine Pham and her family cooked up a feast of Korean and Vietnamese dishes that they truly enjoyed sharing with customers and friends. “We want to give back to the community,” she said as she served up a plate of savory lemon pepper wings and Korean short ribs.

And Sunday, the community responded. Neighbors came by to share in the bounty, including Jose Garcia, the chef at Viva Voce and Thyda Yim, the owner of the Thornhill Coffee House that’s been popular for five years. A customer named Dave even brought over a batch of fresh lingcod he’d caught off the Golden Gate.

This is the Oakland we celebrate: people coming together from diverse backgrounds to share their gifts. The salon and the deli and the coffee shop are part of a little shopping district that doesn’t even have a name. Yet every one of these businesses touches the lives of the people who live here.

IN MEMORY: My condolences to the family of classicalmusic legend Harold Lawrence, who died at his home in Oakland, last week, at the age of 88. Lawrence was the godfather of Oakland Councilwoman Libby Schaaf and had a remarkable career that included managing the London Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and our own Oakland Symphony. His memorial will be at 3 p.m. Sept. 15 at Lakeside Park Garden Center.

AROUND TOWN: There are signs of life at the long-shuttered gas station next to Monaghan’s in Woodminster. The old tanks have been removed and the owners are reportedly working to reopen the business in early 2012.

And speaking of Woodminster, the city is dragging its feet on fixing a faulty parking kiosk on Woodminster Lane across from Montclair Village Hardware. Owner Erik Hoffmann says the meter prints out a time that has already expired on the tickets, and no amount of complaining seems to get the thing fixed. Even worse, some of the parking enforcement officers have been issuing citations even when they know the machine is broken and people have paid.

BOOK SMARTS: A Great Good Place for Books continues to bring in top authors, putting them on a par with the best indie book stores in the Bay Area. Julian Guthrie read from her book “The Grace of Everyday Saints” last week, the day after it hit No. 15 on the Chronicle best-seller list. You’ve only got to read the Yelp reviews to see that owner Kathleen Caldwell is doing a wonderful job with this store, making it what one customer calls “the literary equivalent of Cheers — where everyone knows your name.”



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