Many Merchants Have Been on College for Decades: Years of Merchants' Service, Part 4

Friday, December 12, 2014

Following is the fourth in our series on businesses in business on College Avenue at least 25 years. We are nearing the end of our series and don't want to miss anyone. If you have been "on the Avenue" and haven't seen your name yet, drop us an email at We want readers of The Rockridge News to know about you and to stop in to see what you offer.

■    Jarvis Architects, 5278 College Avenue, began in Glen Jarvis' Benvenue home in 1971, just after he graduated from USC. That worked out for about 10 years, even though the kids made conferences with clients a little challenging. By that time, Glen had his first employee, Robin Pennell, and two kids; it was time for a more-removed office, the first of several. After time on Shattuck and Alcatraz avenues, Jarvis Architects settled in on College Avenue in the late 1990s, an easy commute from Benvenue Avenue. Glen's business is primarily from East Bay families who are remodeling, rebuilding or modifying properties. He has also been a pillar of the RCPC Land Use Committee since 1974, except for a few years spent on the Oakland Planning Commission. His early guidance and efforts were a big part of the then-new zoning designation Rockridge residents achieved during the early - and successful - efforts to prevent the neighborhood from becoming a major high-rise apartment transit hub when BART was in its early days. Jarvis Architect's signature designs can be viewed on the company web site:

■ Hudson Bay Cafe, 5401 College Avenue, located where College and Hudson intersect, has sidewalk and indoor tables, a bright decor, friendly staff and darn good coffee to go with a breakfast sandwich or a lunchtime meal. Serving Rockridge residents and other customers since 1978 (when it operated under the name "The Dancing Goat") the business has a neon sign in the window offering "Coffees and Candies," so you can get those too, if needed. It has been owned since 2004 by Sadri Madjlessi and his wife Tanya Anderson, ex-manager of Peaberry's Coffee, located in Market Hall years ago. Sadri and Tanya recently opened Homespun Fare right next door, serving basic dinners at reasonable prices, which must leave them exhausted by the end of the day. (The owners of many - if not most - of College Avenue businesses work long hours to provide their services to us; let them know you appreciate that the next time you are in your favorite store(s)).

■ Green Copy is located at 5267 Broadway in the College Point building across from CCA. Opened under the name of Crimson Duplicating Center in 1981 by Frank Barzin and his partners, Frank, an engineer by education, changed the business name in 2000. A few years later, he brought his son, Behrang, into the business after he graduated from Cal State Chico (just like Dad) with a degree in cartography. If you have any questions about maps, Behrang is the man to see. Large posters and prints and copying services of all types brought to Green Copy are often handled immediately.

An offshoot of the original business, now separately owned, is Green Graphics Design, which handles more traditional offset printing jobs and graphic art designs such as logos, business cards, and letterhead printed in quantities greater than 500 copies. It is also located at College Point with an entry on the College Avenue side. When I mentioned the numerous other Persian merchants located on College (see Sadri at Hudson Bay, for example), Behrang reminded me that Persians are business people by culture. When they come to the United States, the first thing they do is open a business.

■ The Burrito Shop opened its first location at 5359 College Avenue in 1978 and on a part of the Avenue then very sparsely populated. Empty storefronts were the norm at the time and people looked at you in wonder when you said you lived in Rockridge. But the Burrito Shop built up a loyal base and eventually opened other stores on Lakeshore Avenue and in Castro Valley. The College Avenue site expanded to add a few seating tables and the menu took on new items with fish tacos and vegetarian burritos, but the shop never abandoned its traditional specialty. The Burrito Grande easily feeds two people for a budget price. The Burrito Shop now offers catering, as well.

■ "Do you want to dance" is the refrain but Shawl Anderson Dance Center is where the action is. Frank Shawl and Victor Anderson were New York City dancers in the 1950s under the guidance of May O'Donnell, modern dance pioneer, but they wanted to return home and teach. They first located above College Avenue Liquors in 1958, stayed there 10 years until their current 1909 Craftsman home, directly across Alcatraz, became available. Frank and Victor are still active, with Frank dancing almost daily. They decided to change their business to a non-profit corporation so they could support upcoming artists and dance troupes - sometimes with money, sometimes just providing free practice space - in a field known for its fierce competitiveness. The studio retains that same spirit today, welcoming dancers and their families with over 100 classes each week taught by a staff of 40 professionals. Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop and Modern dance, as well as conditioning programs, are all available. Over 800 dancers practice there each week, making the entryway a little hectic at times. Managing Director Rebecca Johnson would like to find additional space along the Avenue. If you know of something that might support their needs, give her a call at 654-5921.

■ Oliveto (the olive grove), 5655 College Avenue, offering a cafe on the ground floor and a fine restaurant above, is the literal cornerstone of Market Hall. Opened in 1986 by Maggie Blyth Klein, who took a big chance since her restaurant was the only business in Market Hall at the time, Oliveto now enjoys a widespread reputation for quality and style. Offering a Northern Mediterranean Italian menu, with the freshest of California ingredients and a great atmosphere, this restaurant is a fine choice for special occasions. Maggie, a former food book editor at UC Berkeley, developed long-term relationships with many of the small farmers around the Bay Area; those personal connections now give Oliveto an advantage in purchasing quality items they can offer their guests. Not content to stand on past accomplishments, she is installing a Meyer Sound System, only the second to be installed in a restaurant. The system is designed to allow clear communication between diners at any table by dampening interfering noise from adjacent diners, allowing a great meal to be accompanied by an equally enjoyable conversation. Just in time for the holidays.