Auto Shops Looking for Techs | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 30 April 2015 12:33

043015bBy Jim Knowles • San Leandro Times

Auto shop owners from around the East Bay came to Doral’s Auto Repair in San Leandro earlier this month and Roy Doral pointed out one thing they all have in common.

“Everybody here needs a technician,” Doral said. “They’re hard to find. You have to go to the proper school and take the training.”

Technicians, or mechanics, are in demand. Shop owners have lots of business and they need people who can fix cars.

They’re calling them technicians now because of the electronics in cars and in diagnosing the car in the shop.

Auto shop teacher David Espinoza teaches at Eden ROP and at Chabot College at night. He says students in both schools will soon have employers waiting to hire them.

“A lot of us, the Baby Boom generation, are retiring,” Doral said. “There are a lot of openings that need to be filled in.”

Doral opened up his shop to over 100 independent shop owners and mechanics for a barbecue dinner and a meeting of the Auto Service Councils of California, Chapter 16.

They heard talks on topics such as regulations from the Bureau of Auto Repair, dealing with identity theft and fraud, and the new credit card machines that are coming out this year.

Vendors who cater to auto shops set up their booths – Mac Tools, Snap-On Tools, Hunter Engineering, which makes wheel-alignment machines, and General Auto & Truck Parts on International Boulevard in Oakland.

When you take your car into a shop, and they say they’ll order the part, it’s likely to be coming from General Auto. They do 700 deliveries a day with a crew of 50 employees.

CAPTION: Joanna and Roy Doral welcomed auto repair business owners to their own shop on Merced Street for a barbecue dinner.


Popular Bakery Outlet Store Closes | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 05 March 2015 15:01



The bakery outlet store on Washington Avenue closed last week.

By Jim Knowles • San Leandro Times

Now there’s one less place to save bread when you buy bread.

The Entenmann’s-Oroweat-Bimbo Bakery outlet store on Washington Avenue closed last week. The store’s last day open was Wednesday, said a notice on the front door.

The bakery outlet store at 14388 Washington Ave. sold goods that were a day or two old, but still fresh, and at a great price. Store employees left a note on the door saying they were laid off and the closing was a surprise to them, and that they would miss their customers.

The warehouse behind the store remains open where trucks fill up with bread to make deliveries to stores.

“Oh, no,” said regular customer Cara Valentine of San Leandro, realizing the bakery outlet store had closed.

Valentine said she came to the store once a week and stocked up on bread for herself and relatives.

“They had San Luis Sourdough – three loaves for $4,” Valentine said. “I would get that, the Oroweat, and those buns – the steak rolls.”

Bimbo is making some changes and the company decided to close the store, said district manager Vicente Garcia.

Bimbo Bakeries USA is the American arm of Grupo Bimbo of Mexico, an international baking company. The company acquired Sara Lee in 2010. Locally, Bimbo has distribution centers in Hayward, San Jose and San Francisco.

Some of the well known goods made by Bimbo are Oroweat, Entenmann’s, Thomas’, Boboli pizza crusts, and EarthGrains.

The bakery bargain stores seem to be fading out. The Wonder Bread outlet store that used to be at 833 Montague Street near Foster’s Freeze is closed now, too.


Dairy Belle on Marina Goes Out of Business | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 05 March 2015 14:56



The Dairy Belle was a landmark on Marina Boulevard since 1957, until it closed recently. A real estate agent said she hopes to have a new business on the property in the near future.

By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times

The Dairy Belle on Marina Boulevard recently closed after almost 60 years in business.

The Dairy Belle served burgers, fries, shakes and other old-fashioned diner food since 1957. Another location of the Bay Area chain recently closed down in Sunnyvale, but the Hayward Dairy Belle is still open.

The restaurant is empty now, with a “for lease” sign posted up front.

Real estate agent Trish Gonsalves says that she already has a client interested in leasing the property, but can’t give any more information until an agreement is finalized.

The manager of the Hayward Dairy Belle says that they aren’t affiliated with the San Leandro restaurant, but that he spoke with the San Leandro management and heard that their lease was coming to an end, though he doesn’t know why they did not choose to extend it.

Gonsalves also said that the San Leandro Dairy Belle operators waited out the end of their lease and just did not want to renew it.

Jeff Kay, the City of San Leandro business development director, said that the owners didn’t speak to the city about shutting down. Kay said that he would be in contact with Gonsalves about getting a new business in place as soon as possible.

“It’s a pretty interesting site with a lot possibilities,” said Kay.


Chamber Awards Business Leaders | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 05 February 2015 16:17

Scandic Springs was named “Business of the Year” and Gaye Quinn, managing director, Westlake Urban, LLC, was tabbed “Business Person of the Year” at the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce 91st Annual Business Awards Dinner at which several other businesses and individuals were also honored for distinguishing themselves during 2014.

Scandic Springs, which makes small precision stampings for the technology industry, was cited for its leadership in workforce development and its pioneering effort to create a sustainable manufacturing facility.

Quinn, managing director of the company developing the tech campus adjacent to OSIsoft’s headquarters on Davis St., was recognized for “teaching us to tell the great San Leandro story and creating dynamic new stories through place-making  and development.”

Also honored were:

Waste Management Corp. won the “Business Leadership Award” for 20 years of sustaining support for developing community leaders via the San Leandro Leadership Program;

Former Mayor Stephen Cassidy won the “Community Leadership Award” for exemplifying the highest standards for elected leadership, and taking the city to a new level of growth and prosperity;

Derrick Lee, partner, FLEETedu won the “Makers and Innovation Award” for offering entrepreneurial inspiration to the community’s students who learn in FLEET’s mobile fabrication lab; and Espen Siversten, president and CEO of Type A Machines won the same award for making a winning commitment to creating San Leandro’s 21st Century Maker Company, which manufacturers 3-D printers;

The Zero Net Energy Center won the “Green Game Changer Award,” a salute to the unique partnership between the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Northern California Electrical Contractors Association for creating the nation’s only truly sustainable training facility;

Robert Sherrod won the the “Legacy Business Award,” posthumously, for his boundless good spirit and tireless championing of the business community while owner of Robert’s Awards; and Fred Schott, owner of 2cPUSA won the “Ambassador of the Year Award” for his enthusiastic and genuine commitment to the success of each and every business in San Leandro.

The awards were presented by Garry Offenberg, president of the Pacific Meridian Group and Pacific Farms.

The Chamber’s gala dinner at the Senior Community Center which took place last Thursday, Jan. 29, was attended by more than 200 business people, community leaders and civic officials, including Mayor Pauline Cutter.


AT&T Opens New Store Downtown | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 29 January 2015 13:24

012915bBy Jim Knowles • San Leandro Times

The new AT&T store downtown must be a big thing because all the big wheels showed up for the grand opening.

State Assemblyman Rob Bonta, Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, City Council members Jim Prola and Deborah Cox, developer David Irmer and a host of AT&T people were all there to mark the occasion.

“This beautiful new space raises the bar for downtown San Leandro and gives people a place to check out new AT&T products,” Prola said.

Chan noted that the store would employ 30 people, and Bonta said it’s important to have companies that are helping to pull the economy out of “the Great Recession.”

In any case, it is a nice looking store that AT&T opened in downtown San Leandro in The Village, alongside the new CVS and Habit Burger.

This isn’t just another AT&T store, it’s a new type of store — one of the first in the state of California. Nothing is behind glass — all the products are out on tables for the customer to handle.

The telecom giant is playing up this store as a place where you don’t just look at a product, you interact with it. The cell phones, tablets, headphones and such are on tables where they can be picked up and tried out.

In other words, it’s kind of like an Apple store. But AT&T says it’s taking it a step further in that each area is set up like a room to get the feel of being at home — like sitting around a kitchen counter or a coffee table.

For example, the music area seems to attract people with its Fender guitar on display in the center of a roundtable with portable speakers all around. You can connect your own device to try out the speakers to see what you like.

Another area of the store features Apple products, another for phones. And, one table is a learning center where you can open your new device and AT&T techies can help you with any questions.

When Chan spoke, she had just discovered she was standing by the learning center. “It’s no accident I’m standing in the learning center,” she said, getting a laugh from the crowd.

The operating hours of the San Leandro store located at 1580 East 14th St. are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

CAPTION: AT&T employees give a tour of their new store in downtown San Leandro.


New Fitness Class Just for Women | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 22 January 2015 16:21

012215bA new fitness class designed specifically for women who are 50 and older offers a perfectly balanced, full-body workout that combines dance, fitness, fun, expression and music.

Barb Creamer Dance Fitness for Women is led by Bay Area native and master teacher Barb Creamer, who has more than 30 years experience teaching dance and fitness.

Creamer’s choreography and teaching style are both personal and unique, in part because she is keenly aware of the obstacles that keep some older women from staying fit.

“Most fitness classes for women over 50 can be very condescending, like we are weak and frail just because we are older,” said Creamer.  “Older women want and need more than a ‘gentle’ class. I explore and incorporate different dance styles to keep it interesting. It’s a non-judgmental, inclusive and supportive experience. But mostly, it’s fun.”

Creamer focuses on helping women enjoy dance as a way to be physically fit and mentally strong. For 60-minutes, students are encouraged to let their hair down and feel the rhythm through routines that are both balanced and challenging.

“I have waited for over thirty years to teach in a studio like this,” said Creamer, whose energy, passion and just-do-it attitude are contagious. “The great dancer Alvin Ailey said ‘dance is for everybody.’ I believe that dance came from the people and that it should always be delivered back to the people.”

A free preview of Barb Creamer Dance Fitness for Women will be held Saturday, Jan. 24 at noon at the San Leandro Senior Community Center, located at 13909 E. 14th Street, which has a state-of-the-art dance studio complete with new wooden floors, air conditioning, sound system, and privacy to prevent outside observers.

The ongoing classes begin on Monday, Feb. 2, from 4:15 to 5:15 p.m. at a cost of $5 per class if paid by the month. Classes will be offered for six weeks, through Feb. 25.

Register for the class at the Senior Center or call 577-3462 or visit the San Leandro recreation website at and click on the “register for programs” link.

CAPTION: Barb Creamer native and master dance teacher and fitness instructor.

Health Unlimited Set to Celebrate 45 Years in Pelton Center | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 07 August 2014 11:57



Health Unlimited has been selling vitamins and health foods in Pelton Center since 1969, and they are celebrating with a customer appreciation day next Saturday, Aug. 16.

Health Unlimited is celebrating its 45th anniversary in Pelton Center this weekend with a customer appreciation day next Saturday,  Aug. 16.

There will be free giveaways and 25 percent off your entire purchase that day.

Health Unlimited sells a variety of vitamins, fresh organic produce, natural foods, cosmetics, herbal teas and more.

In August of 1969, the Falls family decided to trek into the world of health food stores and Health Unlimited open its doors. Nancy Falls knew very little about the industry she was getting into and how it would evolve over the years.

A mother of seven children, she took on the challenge of running a successful business in the historic Pelton Center, one of the oldest shopping centers in California.

As the years went on, Health Unlimited went through many changes. One location quickly grew to two and then finally three by 1971.

Health Unlimited been a family owned business from the start and the Falls family says they hope to continue serving the communities of San Leandro and Castro Valley for many years to come.

Health Unlimited currently has three generations working together at one time.

All seven of the Falls children helped out their mom by working at Health Unlimited at one point or another in their lives and now the grandchildren are working too.

Ethan Falls is currently works as the general manager for both the Castro Valley and San Leandro stores.


Brewery Breaks Ground at Former Kellogg’s Plant | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 10 July 2014 14:19

071014b1By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times

A brewery broke ground last month on the site of the former Kellogg’s cereal plant on Williams Street.

When it opens, the 95,000 square-foot 21st Amendment Brewery  will be one of the largest beer makers in the Bay Area.

Cofounder Nicco Frecia says that the brewery will eventually employ 100 people and brew up to 250,000 barrels of beer annually.

Freccia and cofounder Shaun O’Sullivan were joined by Mayor Stephen Cassidy at the ground-breaking, where everyone enjoyed a couple of cold ones from the brand’s line of beers – they have names like Brew Free or Die Hard, Bitter American, and Fireside Chat.

The 21st Amendment beer is currently brewed in Minnesota, having outgrown its original home in San Francisco, where it began as a 12 barrel operation in the year 2000. They still have a brewpub in San Francisco, though.

071014b2The construction in San Leandro will cost $21 million and the brewery is set to open before the end of the year. But there is a lot of work to do, as the old factory is basically gutted at the moment.

The brewery also plans to open a restaurant in 2015.

Cassidy called the groundbreaking “very exciting” and said it will help cement San Leandro as a destination for beer aficionados in the Bay Area, along with Drake’s Brewery at the Westgate Center and the soon-to-open Cleophus Quealy Beer Company  on Hester Street.

“This is part of a renaissance in San Leandro,” Cassidy said.

CAPTION 1: The founders of 21st Amendment Brewery and city officails dig in at the former Kellogg’s plant during a recent ground-breaking ceremony.

CAPTION 2: Co-founders Shaun O’Sullivan and Nicco Frecia play around before the ground breaking


High Tech Machining Company Opens on Whitney | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 12 June 2014 11:14

061214bBy Jim Knowles • San Leandro Times

At the grand opening of Methods Machine Tools Co. on Whitney Street last month, you could see the most accurate machine in the world.

That’s what general manager Fernando Garcia calls the machine at his company made by Yasda. The Japanese-made machine drills holes through solid steel, aluminum or titanium that are half a micron in diameter, or .000 millimeters.

To put it another way, a human hair would be about four times too thick to fit through the hole.

This kind of precision machining isn’t of much use to most people. But it’s a necessity to high tech, aviation, medical and other industries.

Methods Machine Tools started in Boston 55 years ago and is expanding to the West Coast – they’re in Los Angeles and their recently opened San Leandro office. They supply the machines but they’re more than just a distributor, Garcia says.

“We’re kind of an integrator of manufacturing technologies,” Garcia said. “We bring companies together.”

Representatives from a few dozen companies came to the Whitney Street office last month, displaying their products. Tony Gunn, an engineer with Air Turbine Technology, showed his company’s high speed, spindles and drills that run at 50,000 rpm.

Another company, called Visionx, provides inspection of products that have to be extremely accurate. A machine scanned a hip replacement part and displayed an enlarged image of the part on a screen.

“It’s highly accurate but it’s easy to use in the shop to make sure products are good,” said engineer Patrick Beauchemin about the machine.

CAPTION: Patrick Beauchemin demonstrates a visual inspection machine made by his Quebec, Canada company, VISIONx. The machine scans high tech parts for highly accurate visual inspection. The part that’s on the display screen in the photo is a titanium hip replacement.


Harry’s Hofbrau Carves a New Niche | Print |  E-mail
Monday, 26 May 2014 16:01

052214bBy Greg Benson • San Leandro Times

Harkening back to the days of Prohibition, Americans have been fascinated with creating their own home brews. From the secretive speakeasies of the 1920s to the microbreweries of today, a creative crafting community evolved and is now thriving in the Bay Area.

Thousands of brew houses across the country are now crafting specialty beers and ales. From straw-colored lagers to chocolate-brown stouts, the detailed descriptions of these creative concoctions have beer geeks bellying up to the bar for a transformative taste of heavenly hoppiness.

One of the newest promoters of this craft beer craze is a young man behind the bar of Harry’s Hofbrau in San Leandro.

Kevin Olcese, nephew of owner Larry Kramer, reluctantly joined the family business in 2008 after completing his Bachelors’ Degree in Graphic Design at San Jose State. “After I graduated, I didn’t want any part of the family business,” said the 29-year-old Olcese. “But with the economic downturn, it was hard to get work. People were just not looking to outsource their graphic design projects.”

So, unable to find a fulfilling job in his field, Olcese joined his father and uncle in their 60-year-old business… with some fresh ideas.

Already a craft beer geek from his college days, Olcese eventually approached his elders with the idea of bringing in some different labels — something other than the stale stalwarts of Budweiser and Coors. “But what other beers are there?” exclaimed the paternal partners. “Trust me,” said Olcese.

That was six years ago in San Jose. And now, that location is one of the South Bay’s hot spots for craft beer connoisseurs.

“We were a little bit hesitant,” said Ron Olcese, Kevin’s father and Harry’s Hofbrau Director of Operations. “But we were interested in what he could do.”

Olcese next moved on to the Redwood City location — the original Harry’s Hofbrau which opened in 1954. He brought in 28 taps of craft beers, which he frequently alternates to serve a discerning craft beer community and help educate uninitiated palates.

“It’s brought in another generation,” said Ron. “Both myself and his uncle think he’s done a great job, and it’s been fun!”

From Redwood City, Olcese most recently came to San Leandro to transform its traditional bar into another craft beer gallery.

With its large bar area and outside patio, Olcese knew he could do something special there.

San Leandro has already embraced craft beer and its creators, with the long-established local brand of Drake’s Brewing and the upcoming opening of 21st Amendment Brewery at the old Kellogg’s factory on Williams Street — not to mention the fact that Porky’s Pizza has been pumping Drake’s Ale since 1989, and The Englander features 92 taps to choose from.

Now, there’s a new kid in town.

Every Thursday, Harry’s hosts “Pint Night.” The bar features one of the many craft beer breweries on tap with special pricing, discount flights and glassware giveaways.

Some local regulars have taken such a liking to the event that they now schedule theme nights to celebrate Olcese’s offerings… and dress accordingly. Earlier this month, the group celebrated Speakeasy Ales & Lagers by donning 1920’s attire. Tonight, the group is planning an ’80’s theme.

Many craft beers have a much higher alcohol content, so drink responsibly.

If dress-up isn’t your style, just belly up to the bar and have Kevin pull you a pint. And, if you were interested in learning more about craft beer, just ask. “He knows everything there is to know,” said bartender Jim Holtan of Olcese. “I call him Beerapedia.”

Harry’s is also planning a big event on Saturday, July 26 — “Barrels, Beats and BBQ.” Starting at 11 a.m., the event will feature DJ music out on the back patio, barbecue tri-tip and Firestone Walker specials.

Whether it’s a fun-filled night of flirting and flights or a quiet evening with some comfort food and a cool pint, San Leandro has a new taste in town to go with that traditional turkey sandwich.

Harry’s Hofbrau is located at 14900 E. 14th St. For more information on their upcoming events, “Like” them on Facebook, visit or call 510-357-1707.

CAPTION: Kevin Olcese, Harry’s Hofbrau Director of Bar Operations and nephew of owner Larry Kramer, pulls a pint of Altamont Beer Works’ “Rich Mahogany” at the restaurant chain’s San Leandro location.


Tool Company Opens Shop | Print |  E-mail
Monday, 26 May 2014 16:04

052214b2Methods Machine Tools, Inc., a  supplier of precision machine tools, automation and accessories, held a grand opening at their new state-of-the-art technology center at 650 Witney St. last week.

Following a ribbon cutting on May 14, Methods held a sake-barrel smashing, a traditional Japanese custom to grant good fortune to the new technology center. Approximately 300 manufacturing professionals celebrated the occasion.

The technology center features the latest machine tools and automation technology, and application experts are based on-site.

Live demonstrations of automation solutions included a RoboDrill JobShop Cell with fully integrated robotic loading/unloading, small hole-drilling on a RoboDrill, aerospace part machining, EDM wire cutting and more.

CAPTION: Fernando R. Garcia (General Manager, West Coast Operations, of Methods Machine Tools, Inc.), Kyle McIver (Owner and Director of Methods Machine Tools, Inc.), Takuto Yasuda (President of Yasda Precision Tools), Hideki Oka (Robodrill Sales Assistant Manager of Fanuc) and Bryon Deysher (President and CEO of Methods Machine Tools, Inc.) perform a sake barrel smashing ritual at the Grand Opening ceremony of Methods Machine Tools, Inc.


3D Printing Company Looking to Hire San Leandrans | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 24 April 2014 14:01



Stefani Pellinen-Chavez shows off some of the 3D printing machines that Type A builds. The company is looking to hire San Leandrans for manufacturing and other jobs.

By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times

A tech-based start up is looking to hire San Leandrans for its new facility –  but they aren’t strictly looking for computer whiz-types.

Type A Machines makes 3D printers and they are looking to hire San Leandro residents to help make the machines themselves, says Stefani Pellinen-Chavez, Type A’s CFO.

“We are looking for people to build the printers,” said Pellinen-Chavez. “But it’s not like a repetitive assembly line, it’s intricate work.”

The company will also have other job openings soon, as they plan to grow from about 20 employees to more than 50 over the next several months.

Type A was founded in 2012 in San Francisco .then lured to San Leandro in January by the city’s new focus on technology, said Pellinen-Chavez.

They work out of a large warehouse space at “The Gate,” the second floor of the Westgate Center at 1933 Davis Street that has been recently transformed into work space for a variety of companies.

Pellinen-Chavez says that a lot of people don’t necessarily understand 3D printing and what Type A does.

Type A make 3D printers, which are machines that make objects in almost any shape by “printing” layers of material to form shapes. They can make anything from a small, intricately shaped part for a larger machine to a copy of a statue.

Type A makes the machines and sells them to the people who use the printers. last week, client Derick Lee was in the office. He makes mobile printing labs to take to schools and libraries and show off the technology to inspire kids.

Lee, who grew up in San Leandro, says he especially wants to motivate students who leave town for college to come back to the city and see the opportunities San Leandro has to offer. He is currently working with 10 high school interns, four from San Leandro High.

“I’m on a mission to build a city that I want to live in, that the next generation will want to live in,” said Lee. “Kids can see Type A, or the new tech campus downtown and say ‘Whoa, I like this place and I want to come back.’”

It wouldn’t be hard to see what young people could like about Type A – their office is far from a cubicle farm or a factory floor. There are couches to lounge on, a badminton court set up, a hopscotch grid laid out on the floor, and a dog napping in a corner.

For the current job openings, Pellinen-Chavez says that good candidates could be people with no experience in the tech field – their quality control officer came to Type A with a background in jewelry, for example.

Pellinen-Chavez says they have no problem attracting people from Silicon Valley with computer engineering degrees, but they are looking for something different.

“What we are looking to do is create an inclusive environment,” said Pellinen-Chavez. “One of the easiest ways to get a variety of thoughts and opinions is to get a group of people who are all different, who can offer different perspectives, ideas, and feedback.”

She says they are looking for people with a variety of backgrounds and one of the things that attracted them to San Leandro was the diversity. They are especially interested in women, veterans, even retirees who’ve gotten bored and want to re-enter the workforce.

“The ideal person for these jobs would be someone who works intricately –  people who like putting together jigsaw puzzles, grading papers, even people who enjoy assembling IKEA furniture,” said Pellinen-Chavez

Type A will have a booth at the Cherry Festival coming up in June so people can see what they are all about and talk with executives. For more information about the jobs, visit their website at




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