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Krayon’s – Where Everybody Knows Your Name – Celebrates 35 Years
Wednesday, 15 October 2014 10:26
BEHIND THE BAR; Owner Karen Jonke, at right, and longtime bartender Donna Popp, in back and just to the left, at Krayons Gallery on Friday.
By Fred Zehnder


It’s often called Castro Valley’s version of “Cheers,” and owner Karen Jonke says Krayons Gallery even has a few “Norms” and maybe a Cliff Clavin or two who stop by regularly.

Once-named Duffy’s Tavern after the popular radio comedy of the 1940s, Krayons – which was Jonke’s nickname – will celebrate its 35th anniversary this Saturday, Oct. 18.

Tucked just off the sidewalk at 3477 Castro Valley Blvd. near the intersection of Redwood Road, the old neighborhood bar is known for its comfortable surroundings, good prices and friendly service.

Jonke, who went through Castro Valley Schools and graduated from CVHS in 1963, had worked as a waitress and bartender around the East Bay since she was 21. When the owners of Duffy’s were looking to sell, she found backers and was able to buy the old-style bar and restaurant. It’s been going strong ever since.

Many of Krayons customers and some of its employees have been there for much of those 35 years.

Bartender Donna Popp started with Jonke when Krayons opened in 1979. Later she began another career, retired, and then came back to tend bar.

Why is the place so popular?

“I have no idea,” Jonke says. But you don’t have to be there for long to see that much of the bar’s popularity owes to her outgoing personality and her running dialogue with customers, honed from her many years as a bartender.

And then there’s the food. Wanda Larsen, who was also there on day one and still works as a bartender, set up the original food service. A crowd shows up at lunch time on Fridays for what many say are the best steaks and hamburgers in town. Doing the Friday barbecuing is Jonke’s husband, Fred. They’ve been married for 27 years.

Saturday’s anniversary party begins at 2 p.m.

New Market on Lake Chabot Road to Open in New Year
Wednesday, 08 October 2014 14:10
The new Lake Chabot Marketplace at 18911 Lake Chabot Road will open early in 2015, operated by Castro Valley High School graduate Hans Cho.

By Simon Wong


Castro Valley High School alumnus Hans Cho plans to re-open 18911 Lake Chabot Road as Lake Chabot Marketplace in early 2015. He acquired the blighted site, the former home of the Lil’ Grocer, Romley’s, Handy Andy and Tony’s Market, in Sept. 2011.

A few years before, the Mark Pringle Company had applied unsuccessfully to the Castro Valley Municipal Advisory Council and County authorities to redevelop the 1.17-acre parcel for residential use.

Renovation of what was essentially a shell is 80-percent complete, including new wiring, plumbing and air conditioning. Cho has demolished the adjacent Carl’s Drug Store building to create parking for the new marketplace and has just completed landscaping.

Both were among the conditions of this development project which, says Cho, “is taking on life.” Inspections are due in about six weeks, once construction work has finished.

This is the Cho family’s first foray into retail sales. Cho’s parents have operated San Leandro-based wholesaler C&H Meats for more than 30 years, specializing in Korean BBQ and supplying restaurants throughout the Bay Area.

Approximately 5,000 square feet of Lake Chabot Marketplace will accommodate a full-service meat counter selling American-style steaks, fillet, poultry, etc. and Asian-specialty meats. A hot kitchen will follow to introduce customers to their products.

“I’m seeking a tenant for the remaining 4,800 square feet to complement what we do. A ‘boutique marketplace’ offering organic produce, dried goods, prepared foods, coffee, bakery and even floristry would be ideal,” explained Cho. “We are focused on grocery and food service. The vendors would also complement each other. We’re currently speaking with interested parties

He would like to open for business in Jan. 2015, at the same time as a future tenant, but that will depend on how soon a lease is signed and tenant improvements can be completed.

“It’s great to be able to bring back something to the community in which my brothers and I grew up and which has given our family so much. We attended elementary, middle and high schools in Castro Valley. My parents moved here more than 30 years ago and are still residents,” Cho added.

Spacious Cannery Café Opens in History Center
Thursday, 02 October 2014 19:09
Combining the old and new, this huge mural adorns two walls of the new Cannery Café that’s integrated in the Hayward Area Historial Society building on Foothill Blvd.

By Terry Liebowitz


“Where shall we eat?”

How many times do you hear that question? Happily, there is a new restaurant in our area that you won’t want to miss: The Cannery Café  located in the Center for History & Culture at 22386 Foothill Blvd in Hayward.

The Cannery Café is a large, light-filled space with plenty of room between tables, the perfect place for socializing or conducting a business meeting where you can actually hear the conversation!  They are  open for breakfast and lunch Wednesday-Friday and Brunch on Saturday and Sunday.  There is even live music on the weekends.

Chef Jeff Rosen describes his newly opened eatery as “fresh, honest and contemporary.” The Cannery specializes in locally sourced foods such as cheddar cheese from Fiscalini Farms in Modesto and blue cheese from Pt. Reyes Farmstead. Rosen has close working relationships with local farmers with colorful names  such as Full Belly Farms, Blossom Bluff and Dirty Girl.

Customers can order beer on tap from Oak Town in Walnut Creek, Trumer Pils in Berkeley and Lagunitas in Petaluma and munch on  house prepared potato chips and pickles. The beef is 100% grass fed from Marin Sun Farms.

Buttermilk biscuits, granola and chocolate chip cookies are made from scratch in the kitchen and attractively packaged to take home.  Rosen laughs, “We can’t seem to make enough chocolate flies out of here!” The menu changes seasonally. Rosen will add heartier dishes for the fall, featuring root vegetables. Beverages include lattes, cappuccinos and espresso. There is a substantial wine list and beer board.

Local caterers Debbie Pfisterer and Elizabeth Fazzio own The Cannery Café.  Pfisterer feels it is on the cutting edge of Hayward redevelopment. “We have been warmly welcomed from the surrounding businesses,” she says. “With our emphasis on quality,  people are noticing that we are something special.”

Terry Liebowitz is a founding member of the Castro Valley Arts Foundation.

CV’s Larry Udell, the Man Behind Many of the World’s Big Ventures
Friday, 26 September 2014 08:11
Larry Udell is the cover story in the current issue of “Inventors Digest” magazine

By Fred Zehnder


It’s been quite a ride for patent guru Larry Udell of Castro Valley. And at age 83, he isn’t slowing down a bit.

You might find him lecturing to a class at U.C.  Davis today, consulting with a Fortune 500 company in Silicon Valley tomorrow, and flying off to a meeting of innovators in New York City next week.

Udell, whose picture is on the cover of the current issue of the national  “Inventors Digest” magazine, has lived here for the past 50 years. But even his closest neighbors probably aren’t aware of the role he has played in the successes of many of the world’s most notable ventures during the past half century.

Such giants as Samsung, HP and Applied Materials have relied on Udell’s know-how in obtaining patents, licenses and capital for everything from toys and aerospace technologies to medical products and solar energy.

“I’m not an expert on anything,” he’s quick to say. “But I know a little bit about a lot of things.” And he has recuited a cadre of some 50 experts around the globe who can supply him with information on virtually any topic.

Born in Chicago, Udell gained an early interest in how things work from his inventor father who worked for the Atomic Energy Commission at White Sands, New Mexico, where the first atomic bomb was developed.

In the early 1960s, Udell began lecturing about inventors and their contributions to the world economy.

Later, he became a professor of entrepreneurship at Cal State University where he created the California Invention Center (CIC) while working closely with U.C. Berkeley, Stanford and other schools.

Today, the CIC office in downtown San Francisco is one of the most important free resource centers for inventors in the nation, and its founder, Udell, has become the subject of articles in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, Time and many other publications.

His advice to would-be inventors? Get as much free information as possible from such places as the CIC, hire a reputable patent attorney and then be patient – there’s a three-year backlog of more than a million patents waiting to be approved or rejected by the U.S. Patent Office.

Udell says the biggest obstacle is financing sales and marketing of a new product. The Small Business Administration has a $2-billion budget for start-ups, and about $100 billion is available in investors’ money. But do your homework, he warns. Scam organizations fleece some $100 million from inventors every year.

Although he seems to be always on-the-go, Udell says he and his wife of 55 years, Bess – “a fourth generation Hayward farm girl” – enjoy the quiet, small-town ambiance of Castro Valley and look forward to occasionally “eating out” at the Subway restaurant in the 580 Marketplace. They have two children, Michael and Susan, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, who live back east.



County Embroiled in New Sign Controversy
Friday, 19 September 2014 08:29
One of three billboards on Lockaway Storage property catching the attention of I-580 motorists.

By Amy Sylvestri



Motorists traveling between Castro Valley and the Tri-Valley on I-580 can’t help but notice three large billboards that have been put up on Eden Canyon  Road near the Lockaway Storage facility.

The county says the billboards are illegal, but the owners of the storage facility who installed them say that it is unconstitutional for the county to block their signs.

An employee who answered the phone at Lockaway said she knew nothing of the background of the billboards except that they were put up by the business owners. She declined to pass along a request to the owners for information.

The billboards are credited to “Citizens for Free Speech” and urge passersby to visit a website ( that rails against regional government for “usurping sovereignty and control from locally elected city, town, and county officials.”

In particular, the site criticizes the Association of Bay Area Government (ABAG) and the “One Bay Area” plan which the site says are implementing policies that hurt individual cities.

Though they are on the owners’ private property, the signs violate the county sign ordinance, according to Tona Henninger of the Alameda County Planning department. She said such billboards would require vetting by the County Board of Zoning Adjustments before being installed.

After county officials wrote two letters to the owners about removing the signs, the owners responded that they would take the case to court, Henninger said.

Earlier this summer, the owners filed an injunction against Alameda County arguing that the county has too much control over signs and called the county’s action “unconstitutional,” said Henninger.






Thousands Expected in Town For This Weekend’s Festival
Wednesday, 10 September 2014 08:51
Chamber Executive Director Bill Mulgrew with staff members Ashley Strasburg, at left, and Allie Field, go over the one hundred and one last-minute details for this weekend’s 42nd Annual Fall Festival. They could still use about two dozen additional volunteers. If you can help out, call the Chamber at 510-537-5300.

By Linda Sandsmark


Old favorites and new surprises are in store for visitors to Castro Valley’s 2014 Fall Festival this weekend.

Hosted by the Castro Valley/Eden Area Chamber of Commerce, the Festival will return to its previous location on Castro Valley Boulevard, between Redwood Road and Santa Maria Ave., from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  on both Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 13-14. Admission is free.

The Boulevard will be closed to traffic from 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday evening. After two years of Streetscape work, which caused the street fair to relocate near the library, merchants wanted it moved back downtown.

“Everybody is happy that it’s back on the Boulevard,” says Ashley Strasburg, office manager at the Chamber.

The Fall Festival itself will be focused more on arts and crafts, rather than mass-produced items. About 200 booths will be set up.

“Another new trend this year will be craft beers, which are more in tune with that arts and crafts focus,” says Chamber Executive Director Bill Mulgrew. “That’s what everybody has asked for.”

Castro Valley’s Classic Car Show will be located nearby, at the BART station on Norbridge Ave. It will be held Saturday only, adjacent to the Farmer’s Market.

This year’s car show will be bigger than ever, featuring 270 classic vehicles. It is sponsored by Castro Valley Moose Lodge 1491 and organized by Ken Carbone of Dolphin Graphics.

For the children there will be a “bungee” ride, ponies for young cowboys and cowgirls, and a surprise country-fair-style ride.

Two stages will be open. One will be a community stage for kids and local acts. The other will be a grandstand for music only. Musical acts include In Full Swing, a 17-piece big band, country music singer Andy Joe Stewart, a Joan Jett tribute band, and a local group called Giant Garage Spiders. Closing the festival on Sunday is a British rock/Beatles tribute band called the Landbirds.

“We are really excited to showcase our beautiful downtown and merchants are looking forward to increased foot traffic,” says Mulgrew.




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