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A Grand Sacrifice: Ole's Waffle Shop

Ken and Vickie Monize dreamed of retiring next year after working seven days a week for decades at their family-owned diner — Ole’s Waffle Shop Then the pandemic struck.

Like restaurants coast to coast that have been crushed by coronavirus shutdowns, the second-generation owners of this landmark diner lost 85 percent of their revenue. But the Monizes made a stunning decision to retain all 41 employees — whether they had work for the loyal cooks, servers, and busboys or not: They sold their dream property to make payroll.

“Our staff is more important than a retirement home,” said Ken Monize. “Their families depend on us and I take that responsibility very seriously. I’m not going to let them down. I refuse to do it.”

Over the past four months, the Monizes say they have spent nearly $400,000 of their own money to keep Ole’s in business and retain every single employee, some of whom have worked for them for decades.

“We’re struggling,” Monize said. “Ninety-three years in this community and I don’t know how much longer we’re going to be able to hang on. At some point you run out of money and property to sell. And what do you do?”

Read more in the Mercury News:

Ole's Waffle Shop Alameda_Vicki and Dolores

Alameda Businesses Get Creative During COVID-19 Lockdown

Alameda Theatre & Cineplex

Like most of the rest of the country, Alameda’s businesses have been deeply affected by the coronavirus closures, with doors to retail operations not open and restaurants that can only offer take-out or delivery. To cope with greatly reduced revenues, businesses have had to be creative and innovative to keep continue operations during the shutdown.

On Park Street, the owner of Toy Safari put numbers on toys displayed in the window so they can be ordered by text; Island Print Express Inc. is printing out and donating all the required signage for essential businesses, and Twirl has shifted their business model to creating craft kits and offering free delivery.

The Downtown Alameda Business Association has turned their website into an information portal and stepped up their use of social media to share information among businesses and the community.

Read more in the East Bay Times:

One Fine Day in Alameda

With summer almost upon us, it’s time to start planning seaside outings. But you don’t have to head to Marin, the Peninsula, or Santa Cruz for an escape to the beach. The East Bay’s own Alameda features sandy shores and outdoor activities galore.

Fresh bay air begets healthy appetites, which Alameda’s two business districts stand ready to satisfy. On the island’s east end, Park Street presents so many dining options that choosing is the hardest part.

Alameda’s bike paths cover not just the main island along the shoreline route, but also Bay Farm Island—​the adjacent peninsula that connects to Alameda proper via two bridges (one for cars and a separate one for cyclists and pedestrians).

So cross a bridge or tunnel, or hop on the ferry from Jack London Square, and enjoy the island adventures that await just a short drive away from home.

View Diablo Magazine's picks for an island visit, including Downtown Alameda eateries:

Mama Papa Lithuania_Diablo Magazine

Why Alameda Is One of the Coolest Suburbs in America

Apartment Therapy-alameda-theater

Alameda was chosen as one of Apartment Therapy’s "Coolest Suburbs in America 2019." The publication showcases the burbs nationwide that offer the most when it comes to cultural activities, a sense of community, and simply a good quality of life.

Most people who live in San Francisco can tell you about hip new restaurants in Oakland or the best way to get to Berkeley. But ask them where Alameda is, and they might pause to check their phones. It’s too bad, because this low-key island city, located off the coast of Oakland, is a friendly-family town with lots of coastline and charm.

The island is a place for families who want to live in a small town that’s close to San Francisco, with bikeable streets, beaches, and a lively downtown shopping district.

Find out which Downtown Alameda places and activities help make our island city the coolest suburb:

Best of Alameda 2019: Downtown Alameda Businesses Take Top Honors

Congratulations to all the Downtown Alameda businesses that have been selected “Best of Alameda 2019” by the readers and editors of Alameda Magazine. As usual, there are a lot of them -- more than 50 this time around!

Winners were selected in four categories: Food & Drink, Retail, Services, and Lifestyle & Leisure. This year we saw quite a number of service-oriented businesses receive “Best of Alameda” honors for the first time. These friendly, professional service people are definitely worth checking out in addition to the marvelous shops and restaurants!

To view a list of all the Best of Alameda 2019 winners located in Downtown Alameda, check out our blog post:


A Weekend Escape to Alameda

The Star on Park Alameda

The city of Alameda, in the San Francisco Bay Area, is adjacent to Oakland — but it’s a world apart. Separated from the mainland by an estuary and connected by bridges, Alameda has a small-town, family-friendly appeal. Kids play outside on streets lined with large trees and striking Victorian homes; there are parks and beaches with million-dollar views fronting the bay. Visitors and locals can bike along the bay front, kayak or kite surf, or enjoy a picnic while watching the sunset.

Alameda Island, often overlooked in the high-wattage glow from its hip San Francisco and Oakland neighbors, has been discovered by popular Bay Area restaurateurs, betting that this city of young families will gobble up new offerings.

Get the scoop on popular Downtown Alameda eateries visited by Irene Lechowitsky, a Los Angeles Times travel writer:

The Essential Guide to Eating and Drinking in Alameda

Only a quick drive from the East Bay or a 22 minute ferry ride from SF, this island community has long offered a slower pace of life than its rambunctious neighbors Oakland and San Francisco. However, the tiny town of Alameda has seen an explosion of activity in recent years that’s turned it into a Bay Area dining and drinking destination in its own right.

The sunny island offers a surprisingly diverse range of cuisine for a land mass measuring only six-by-one square miles, from Japanese classics to the west coast’s only Lithuanian restaurant. Pair that with an ever-growing number of distilleries, breweries, and wineries, and it’s no wonder people have caught on to what was once known as the Bay Area’s best kept secret.

From breweries to old-school diners and tiki bars, this island has it all. Make it a day in the East Bay at one of these 38 essential restaurants: (half of them are located in Downtown Alameda!)

Mama Papa Lithuania Alameda restaurant

7x7 Magazine: A Modern Guide to Alameda

7x7 magazine and alameda

Alameda's time warp elements — think vintage arcades and a World War II-era aircraft carrier museum — are being paired with more modern spots: a number of art galleries, craft breweries, and waterfront cafes dreamt up by islanders looking to help Alameda grow without selling the soul of the city.

The area is also becoming a food-and-drink destination thanks to downtown restaurants serving authentic fare from as far away as Lithuania and Ethiopia, plus the solidified reputation of Spirits Alley, a popular stretch of former Navy hangars-turned-urban tasting rooms.

Eat... Drink... Play... Shop... 

Read about Downtown Alameda's featured businesses in the article "A Modern Guide to Alameda: A Small Island on the Path to Revitalization" posted on the 7x7 website:

This One Street In Northern California Has Every Type Of Restaurant You Can Imagine

It’s undeniable that Northern California has a thriving food scene. We’re home to an endless amount of talented chefs and unique restaurants. It’s pretty much a foodie’s paradise. However, there’s one specific town that contains almost every type of restaurant you can imagine. Whatever you find yourself in the mood for, there’s likely a restaurant that can satisfy your craving. The best part is they are all within walking distance of each other. You might just find that you have trouble picking one place out of all the amazing restaurants that line this street.

Park Street in Alameda, California could easily be considered a foodie's paradise. There's no chance you'll go hungry in this town because it's full of amazing places to eat:

Park Street, Alameda CA

Oakland Restaurateurs Are Opening in Alameda


Some of the East Bay’s most iconic restaurants are flocking to the Island for its family atmosphere and high foot traffic. Oakland is sharing some of its favorite tacos, pizza, and Asian fare with Alamedans by opening restaurants on the Island.

Restaurateurs are betting that customers will be willing to cross over bridges, barrel through the Webster Street tube, or just travel across town to indulge in some favorite East Bay dishes. The restaurant owners agreed that Alameda — booming with young families looking for affordable eats and, increasingly, visitors from around the Bay Area — was a logical next step in their evolution.

What once was often referred to as a Bay Area best-kept secret is a secret no longer:

Zagat: 10 Island Gems for Food & Drinks in Alameda

Oakland may grab the East Bay dining headlines these days thanks to a surge of restaurant and bar openings. But the adjacent residential island, Alameda, reflects the same growth and is equally rewarding for diners.

Mornings are made brighter with top-tier pastries at Crispian. Black Bull has several enticing taco creations. Diners will be satisfied by honest, straightforward cooking at Pappo. The island's distilleries and breweries alone could fill up your afternoon with beers and craft spirits.

Here are 10 delicious reasons to check out Alameda:

Zagat likes dining in Alameda

Alameda: Your Next Weekend Day Trip

If you mention “The Island” to most Bay Area locals, they might think you’re talking about Alcatraz and not the island just off Oakland. The City of Alameda (which is also in Alameda County) was once a sleepy town home to a Navy base and the Del Monte cannery. Today, it’s bustling with bars, restaurants, shopping, and, of course, the beach.

The Island hosts two major annual fairs on Park Street. Alameda also has a lot to choose from when you’re craving food from around the world, and it's mostly concentrated in the downtown district.

Take a break from the grind and head over to Alameda -- there’s a lot to dig about The Island’s vibe:

Sidestreet Pho Alameda

Alameda Magazine: Revisiting Park Street

Angela's Kitchen Alameda

For as small and quiet as the Island may seem, Alameda always keeps things fresh on Park Street...

It’s no secret that Park Street is one of the—if not the—cutest shopping and dining strips in Alameda County. For as small and quiet as the Island may seem, Alameda always keeps things fresh on Park Street. Last year, some 20 new businesses opened. Ring in 2016 by exploring what’s new in a day along Park Street’s tree-lined blocks.

For those who like a little history, just walk along Park Street to find remnants of the past, including the Masonic Temple and Lodge dating back to 1891 -- the building is one of many reminders of what Alameda looked like at the turn of the 20th century.

Shop... Fun... Eat... 

Continue reading about the featured businesses in the article "Park Street is for Lovers (of Shopping and Dining)" in the Jan-Feb 2016 issue of Alameda Magazine:

Park Street featured on CBS’s Eye on the Bay

A number of Downtown Alameda businesses have been featured on CBS Channel 5’s popular show “Eye on the Bay.”

If you had been on Park Street in the 1950’s you would have seen soda shops and old diners. Actually, you still see those remnants of days gone by, alongside the modern businesses of today. 

Stops included Alameda Marketplace, Alameda Museum, Alameda Theatre & Cineplex, Ole’s Waffle Shop, Toy Safari, and Tucker’s Ice Cream.

If you missed the original episode shown on May 19, 2011, you can view it on this page:
Eye on the Bay - Day Trip Alameda

shop downtown alameda

The Park Street Business District is California's Gold

shop for books in Alameda

Huell Howser made a stop in Alameda back in 2009. The Alameda episode of "California's Gold" featured Ole’s Waffle Shop, Alameda Theatre & Cineplex, and Tucker's Ice Cream.

While strolling along the sidewalks of our historic downtown, Huell exclaimed in his distinctive Southern accent, "Look at the windows! Look at the work!... The architecture!" while pointing out the historic buildings that are home to We Are Hair, Burma Superstar, Daisy's, and Books Inc.

If you missed the original episode, you can view it on the California Redevelopment Association's YouTube page. It's also available for purchase on the Huell Howser Productions website.

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