Town Crier: Izzy’s steak house breathes new life in old building

MONTCLARION: July 30, 2016

Some of Oakland’s oldest buildings are getting new life. Take the structure at Grand and Webster avenues in Uptown, which was built in the 1920s. If you look hard enough at the Izzy’s Steak & Chop House sign, you’ll see the faint words “I Magnin.” How cool that a steak house named after one of San Francisco’s most colorful characters, Izzy Gomez, is now open in this iconic space at 59 Grand Ave.

From the minute I walked in, I knew this was just what Oakland needed — a classic steak house with handcrafted cocktails and generous portions for a fair price. My friend, John Protopappas, confirmed it when he got up from his table with a smile on his face. “What a nice surprise,” he said. And two more customers said they’d come from San Francisco because they love the Izzy’s ( in the city.

So it seems owner Sam DuVall and Chef Joe Kohn have a winner with their perfectly aged Midwestern cornfed beef, fish, chops, classic potatoes au gratin and house-made desserts. The polished bar, ceiling fans and 100 years worth of memorabilia make it seem like a scene from the TV show “Mad Men.” And did I mention $3 wines and steak tacos for happy hour? Izzy Gomez would be proud.

Speaking of classic Oakland buildings, the handsome Chicago-style Curve Building at 2148 Broadway is now home to Kapor Center for Social Impact. The grand opening was an epic rooftop party with Mayor Libby Schaaf and myriad movers and shakers. You’ll hear a lot more about Kapor Center at It works to make tech companies more diverse and centered on solving real-world problems.

Shoptalk: Longtime hills performer, songwriter and guitar teacher Caren Armstrong has moved her lesson studio above Nelly’s Java at 1950 Mountain Blvd. She shares a space with another female entrepreneur, Reenie Raschke Photography of Studio Montclair, 1950 Mountain Blvd. Caren told me someone at read an article I’d written about her and offered her a great job with the website. Look for work to begin on transforming Montclair’s shuttered Amba eatery into The Fifth Quarter Charcuterie. A recent Kickstarter campaign had 170 backers pledging $26,811 to help with remodeling.

And isn’t anyone patriotic anymore? Or is it just cold feet that prevent folks from wearing a donkey or an elephant on their leggings? Pat and Jerry Benson have these colorful Republican and Democrat socks in stock at Mix Shade Store & More, 6136 Medau Place, but they’re not selling many of them. Apparently, folks are more interested in the ChirpyTop wine spouts that make chirping noises when you pour. And by the way, Jerry makes a mean Irish coffee — upon request.

Animal tales: Janelle Gagnier and Robert Akers pulled up a strange creature while fishing on the Yuba River recently. It was a rubber Dory — the adorable blue tang fish from the Pixar movie “Finding Dory.” Since a blue tang doesn’t belong in a river, they gave it a new home. Look for Dory next to the rubber ducky in the left-turn lane stoplight at Moraga Avenue and Thornhill Drive in Montclair.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at or on the web at http://www.”


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