Town Crier: Montclair Village’s future — what’s in store?

Montclarion: February 26, 2015

I’m sitting here in Starbucks, with a window to the weekday world of Montclair Village. It’s 11 a.m., and I see a smattering of shoppers and a half-dozen seniors sipping coffee outside Peet’s.

Cars come and go and the number 18 AC Transit bus lumbers through town 68 times a day like a bull in a china shop, rarely with more than a handful of passengers and always in the way of other traffic.

A Little Peace of Heaven is still shuttered as the owner deals with personal issues and mail litters the entryway. The old Movie Express has been vacant for years — an inconceivable loss of income for a landlord.

This is my Village, and I wonder what the future will bring. Starbucks made a pitch for the property at Mountain and La Salle last week and their plans for expansion are intriguing. I love the idea of an evening wine bar with the possibility of live music. I’m concerned that it might attract loiterers, though.

But clearly, the poll and another on my website at show there’s little known support for a bank moving onto that corner. Is there any other option? I watch and wait.

Dining scene: I’ve always admired folks who can grow their own fruits and veggies and even raise chickens for eggs. Finally, I’ve found a solution to my lack of skills in poultry and produce production. I’ve discovered a Berkeley restaurant called Gather, 2200 Oxford St. It seems suitable that Gather is adjacent to the David Brower Center, named after a beloved Berkeley environmentalist. With picture windows overlooking Berkeley’s campus, there’s a strong sense of connection between food and nature.

Gather’s chef, Charis Wahl, has made connections with area farmers and ranchers for everything from Salinas Valley asparagus to steamed mussels. Even their soda is locally made — a refreshing organic fruit drink called Shrub.

Musical note: Longfellow once called music “the universal language of mankind.” It connects people more deeply than words. The Associated Chamber Music Players hold their Worldwide Play-in on March 7 at Montclair Presbyterian Church, 5701 Thornhill Drive. The purpose is to spread the joy of playing chamber music to musicians of all ages and skill levels.

The day starts at 10:30 a.m. with an ensemble of all interested string players, led by Oakland Civic Orchestra’s Martha Stoddard.

If you’d like to play in this reading session, email Martha at And if you’re not a musician but just want to hear some soothing chamber music by polished professionals, come to the church from noon to 3:30 p.m. to hear ensembles who have prepared works from Beethoven, Mendelssohn and other composers.

Email bag: Buds and bulbs are bursting all over town. Thanks to reader Ken Ball for sending me the link to 101 things to do in Oakland at It reminded me that it’s tulip time at Mountain View Cemetery — a riot of color that makes this a popular place for a springtime walk.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at or on the web at



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