Town Crier: Jack London Square becoming hot spot again

A new beer garden and bowling alley at Jack London Square called plank is hopping on Friday Oct. 3, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. (Doug Oakley/Bay Area News

MONTCLARION: August 12, 2015

If Thursday is the new Friday, then Jack London Square is the new Pier 39. Happy hour is suddenly a happening place at old stalwarts like Scott’s and Kincaid’s, with newcomers like Plank and Forge driving the traffic.

It’s pretty cool what the new owners have done with the old Barnes and Noble. Plank has mass appeal with its center stage bar flanked by an arcade, bowling alley and enough large-screen TVs to make it a legitimate hangout for sports fans. Outside, the feel is unquestionably Oakland with a beer garden, bocce ball and a playground for tots.

Waterside at Kincaid’s, the cocktail crowd sips basil gin martinis as kayaks and crew boats slip past the picture windows. Over at Scott’s, the live piano sets the mood with cool jazz as the waning sun sets over the estuary. Scott’s has happy hour all evening, which I think is great — not that I’d sit there all night, mind you.

So Jack London Square is really starting to sizzle again. Now if they could just fill the long-shuttered retail spaces. The Jack London Improvement District has been inviting input from the public through a series of panel talks. Their goal is to create a destination with “flourishing businesses, vibrant events and a high quality of life.”

Since Oakland just got a huge grant to create jobs for disadvantaged youth, why not set up some businesses that can help students learn retail with on-the-job experience? One model might be the Oakland International Airport coffee shop run by students at McClymonds High. If you’d like to offer input, here’s the email address:

Crime scene: What kind of burglar breaks into Oakland’s Camron Stanford House only to steal a statue? It seems ironic that someone would go to the trouble to take a miniature copy of Cupid and Psyche, a symbol of love and affection. There’s no love in the act of breaking and entering, and the thief won’t find much love either since the statue is virtually worthless.

Selfie alert: What self-respecting young tourist would miss the chance to snapchat a selfie in Montclair? Yes, Montclair Village has its own fancy frame that tells the world that the selfie was taken in Montclair and sent out through the snapchat app. If you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, ask a millennial.

Evening hilarity: I’m still chuckling after seeing the brilliant production of “The Producers” at Woodminster Amphitheater last weekend. Most folks remember this Mel Brooks gem about the down-on-his-luck Broadway producer and the nervous accountant who scheme to make millions by producing a flop. It backfires when “Springtime for Hitler” turns out to be a hit. If you like adult humor, silly caricatures and “general ridiculousness” as Woodminster’s Harriet Schlader calls it, run to Woodminster this weekend.

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



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