A while ago, we were looking at Montclair Village’s prime storefronts that were “for rent” and made fantasy picks about new food and non-food occupants. Among the fantasies, we wanted someone to “offer Middle Eastern takeout, including authentic falafel, hummus, tabouli, salads, etc. Why wait for the falafel stand on Sundays?”
Over on Moraga Avenue, that fantasy pick is coming true. We took snapshots of Amba, which plans to serve up all the good stuff – namely falafel, hummus, salads and fries. The store posted their “opening soon” sign along with construction permits received last May.
We noticed activity near Amba, and peeked inside to see construction underway. The counter features cool green-aqua-white tiles. Also the place seems large enough to have tables and chairs inside, which the Village needs.
The workers, who were pulling wires today, didn’t know very much about the place. Based on the building materials scattered around, there should be some walls going up soon. While it’s hard to read tea-leaves about Amba’s opening day, I’ll guess less than a month or two.
We originally made our fantasy pick to replace the old Jamba Juice location. However you won’t hear any complaints, at least from this corner, about the proper location for Middle Eastern morsels – it’s terrific to have this fast-food option in the Village.
While making the regular stroll around the Montclair Farmers Market yesterday, it hit me that four prime storefronts are currently available for rent. They are located on Mountain Blvd and La Salle Ave, right in the heart of these Montclair streetscape plans.
What a perfect opportunity for fantasy picks! Even in this recession, there must be some kinds of shops we would embrace. Given our penchant to travel to other Oakland districts, Berkeley and distant points, there are many possibilities.
Drumroll please…here are Today in Montclair’s fantasy picks to fill the open storefronts. We have suggested different food and non-food options, and wonder if they could fly.
1 . Vacant Jamba Juice store
- Food – Offer Middle Eastern takeout, including authentic falafel, hummus, tabouli, salads, etc. Why wait for the falafel stand on Sundays?
- Non-Food – Open a store which sells specialty soaps, creams and other affordable spa goods. Beyond the brand-name items, local soap maker Montclair Soaps and other regional suppliers would be prominently featured here.
2. Former Knitting Basket shop
- Food – Stock an old-fashioned store filled with specialty nuts, designer popcorn, spices, penny (dollar) candy, honey and syrup, etc. We should have something besides chocolate in town.
- Non-Food – Create a regional gift shop with items similar to what’s sold at Chabot Space & Science, the Oakland Zoo, East Bay Parks, etc. This shop would have a green vibe, with all kinds of eco-friendly items too.
3. Place next to A Great Good Place for Books
- Food – Open a small grill which sells Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian-style beefs. This place would be unique in the area, and perhaps attract some non-Montclarions as well.
- Non-Food – Ride the scrapbooking wave, with a shop/studio where you could draw, paint, decoupage, work on books, etc. There’s already a mosaic shop in the village, which seems more arcane than this hobby.
4. Old Argento Jewelry location
- Food – Fill the Greek food gap by selling lamb, gyros, moussaka, pastichio and some great desserts. The place could have a few tables but be supported by takeout, somewhat like the Flavors of India nearby.
- Non-Food – Open a small store where everyone gets their electronics and phones fixed, with an on-site geek who really knows his/her stuff. Batteries and other key supplies could be sold here too, for when things fail on us.
To burst the fantasy, these open storefronts may be with us a bit longer than anyone would like. There must be retailers who seek out a nice, thriving village. We would even patronize (gasp) chain outlets beyond these fantasy picks.
Forget grabbing a good weiner in Montclair Village. After years of business, Village Dog closed its doors abruptly.
I wonder what happened, if business was bad or the owners simply wanted to move on. I checked out the store and there’s not even a farewell message.
In an ongoing survey, Montclarions were evenly split when asked to vote for Village Dog or Berkeley’s Top Dog. However ours didn’t require a drive north.
My local favorite was the bratwurst, along with a massive side of onion rings. Now it’s just a Village Dog memory, R.I.P.
Postscript: According to unconfirmed rumors, an Indian fast-food place may take up residence. This could be like the Farmers Market takeout option – not bad.
Frankly (!), we are in a dead heat.
Last week, I ran an survey for the best local weiners. Would Berkeley’s Top Dog win? Or Montclair’s own Village Dog alternative?
We have to learn something from Bush vs Gore — or Hillary vs Obama. Because of the outcome, I intend to keep voting open until there’s a clear winner.
Vote early but not often: sorry, election is over
Frankly (!) I think the Berkeley crowd is far too proud of Top Dog. I’m ready for a duel between Top Dog vs. Village Dog.
Vote now for the best weiners: sorry, election is over
Oakland should be proud of Village Dog, which declared its independence from Top Dog years ago. Please join me in this all-important election. Thanks!