Name: Ethan Fletcher
Where he Sits: Traveler’s Desk. Ground Floor
Look around the dining room of almost any restaurant. Seems like everybody’s on their phone. Ethan Fletcher often is. Difference being, he isn’t playing Angry Birds or Instagramming. He’s actually working. As a veteran food writer and freelance editor of Diablo Magazine’s Food Scene section, Fletcher players the role of undercover Anton Ego (without the imperious attitude), covering all things culinary around the East Bay. Temescal Works dropped by his desk to ask about his (seemingly) enviable job.
TW: Food writer, eh? Sounds pretty cool. How’d you land that gig?
Fletcher: Blind luck. I was an assistant editor at Diablo magazine (in Walnut Creek) and started helping out the Food Scene editor after she saw that I was interested in food (who isn’t?). She and Diablo ended up parting ways right as the Great Recession hit. There was a hiring freeze, so my boss said, “kid, food coverage is all yours.” I ran with it.
TW: Then again, no job is every as glamorous as it sounds. What’s the hardest thing about the work? Any downsides we might not have considered?
Fletcher: Definitely a privileged problem, but sometimes I miss dining out without having to concentrate on what I’m eating. I try to bring my wife along to restaurants I review—I really value her opinion, she has the better palate—but I’m always completely distracted. (I take notes during dinner on my phone, so to all the world it looks like I’m the worst date ever). It’s also hard to keep the weight down…
TW: Your desert island dish?
Fletcher: The older I get the more I appreciate simple dishes. I’d probably go: Meat: Baked chicken leg with a dijon pan sauce (made by adding mustard and white wine to the pan drippings). 2) Carb: Spaghetti aglio e olio—chopped garlic and red pepper flakes, good olive oil, salt & pepper, and grated pecorino. (My wife adds a finely minced anchovy while sautéing the garlic. It basically dissolves into the oil but adds an incredible salty/umami punch). Veggie: boiled broccolini finished with olive oil and salt.
TW: A friend is coming to Oakland and looking for two recommendations: a budget place, and a blowout special occasion restaurant. Where are you sending them and why?
Fletcher: The bane of every food writer is recommending restaurants. There are many places these days and everyone has different tastes. That being said…
Modest: Teni East Kitchen. It’s a healthier, less-crowded alternative to Burma Superstar. Love the Kale tea leaf salad, pea shoot salad, roti, coconut bay leaf shrimp, chicken wings, they just introduced these spicy noodles that are great. Everything tastes light but has so much flavor. And you can still get a table without waiting for an hour. Honorable mentions: Tacos Oscar, Starline Social Club, Brotzeit Local. Great, unpretentious food and settings that feel distinctly Oakland.
True to the spirit of a neighborhood co-working space, we pour locally roasted coffee.
From the day we opened, we’ve been buying our beans from Timeless Coffee, which does its roasting less than a mile away, on Piedmont Avenue. Our members seem to like it. In our first year of business, we went through 299 pounds of coffee, or 6,578 12-oz cups.
As we move through our second year in business, our relationship with Timeless continues. But we’re also keen on supporting other roasters in our midst. Over the past month, you might have noticed a different flavor profile when you poured yourself a cup o’ joe. That’s because we devoted three days in August to showcasing coffee from Oakland-based RoastCo. It’s part of our effort to spread the love to local businesses, and to give you a taste of all that’s out there.
In the coming months, we’ll be keeping it up by bringing in beans from other local roasters, including Red Bay, Highwire and Mr. Expresso.
We’d love to hear your feedback. Do you have a favorite style of coffee? A favorite local roaster? Let us know, and we’ll suss them out.
Thanks, as always, Team Temescal Works
The dog days of summer are upon us, and we mean that in a good way.
One look around our building will underscore the point.
On many mornings, seated at the front desk alongside Sara, you’ll see the friendly face of Lola, a terrier mix of some sort (we’re assuming) with the sweetest disposition you could imagine. Sara and her family adopted her from the Milo Foundation, and now Lola is part of the family at Temescal Works, the most recent addition to a posse of seven dogs that make regular appearances with their owner/members. (We also get the occasional doggie drop-in)
We like it that way. Our co-working space has been pet-friendly from the start, so long as the pets are co-working-friendly in return. All the dogs we’ve welcomed thus far fit that bill.
It’s all part of our effort to provide you with a comfortable and welcoming environment that’s flexibly suited to your lifestyle.
LOLA ROGER UNKNOWN DAY PASS USER
MEETING ROOM GUEST TYKE PING
RIGGINS REX BEAN
At Temescal Works, it hasn’t been a great month to give up carbs.
Throughout June, as part of our first-anniversary celebrations, we’ve been hosting Waffle Wednesday, a once-a-week morning filled with starchy goodness. We supply the waffler iron, the batter and all the fixings. You supply the waffle-making expertise. Judging from the feedback we’ve received, it’s been a hit.
As if that weren’t enough on the carbo-loading front, we also had a mid-day mac-n-cheese extravaganza, with lunch supplied by our friends at Homeroom, the wildly popular mac-n-cheese restaurant on 40th Street. They brought us three heaping platters of mac-n-cheese (each a different recipe), along with lots of salad. And it all went fast. Next time, we’ll be sure to order even more.
June isn’t over yet. And neither are our anniversary commemorations. We’ve got one more Waffle Wednesday coming up on June 26. And our month-long give-aways are still in play. Sign up for a membership in June, and we’ll waive the $75 registration fee. And if you’re already a member, don’t forget to stop by the front desk to pick up your free Temescal Works t-shirt.
Thanks again for helping us celebrate.
You can start your keto diet in July.
Or, as non-Latin speakers often say: Time flies.
It’s hard to believe, but like that, it’s upon us. June 1. Our one-year anniversary at Temescal Works.
Much has transpired in the 12 months since we flung back our doors and welcomed our first members into our lovingly restored, character-rich building, smack dab in the middle of Temescal.
For starters, over the past year, we’ve gone through 299 pounds of coffee (that’s 6,578 12-ounce cups) and eliminated waste from almost 10,000 disposable plastic water bottles. Along the way, we’ve held multiple First Thursday celebrations. We’ve staged film screenings and art openings. We’ve conducted coffee, donut and kombucha-tastings. We’ve held lunches hosted by the fine folks at Julie’s, just around the corner. And more.
Over that same time, we’ve also signed up more than 100 members, whose diversity of professions point to the wide range of talent and expertise in our midst. In our co-working community, we have members in design, engineering, law, healthcare, technology, social impact, real estate and more.
It’s been a wild, wonderful and rewarding ride. And we’re so grateful for it. Above all, we’re thankful to you, our members, for being the reason we are here in the first place.
There’s a lot to celebrate. We’ll get started with that on June 1, and we’ll continue our celebrations throughout the month with a slate of promotions and events.
Here’s a look at what’s in the works.
1. Registration fee waived for new members this month: Join us during the month of June, and we’ll waive the registration fee. That’s a $75 savings, folks.
2. If you’re already a member, well, lucky us. And lucky you, because we’ve got a free t-shirt for you. Stop by the front desk and it’s yours. Soft and highly wearable, with two colors to choose from: grey carbon and navy heather. And no, we’re not making those color names up.
3. Tag us on Instagram or create a Facebook post and you’ll be entered in a drawing at the end of the month for a $75 gift certificate at Julie’s. Every tag or post increases your chance of winning.
4. Waffle Wednesdays. Every Wednesday morning in June, we’ll have make-your-own waffles in the kitchen. We’ll supply the batter, the skillet and the fixings. You supply the waffle-making skills.
5. Also: keep an eye out for confirmation of our June evening social. We’ll be nailing down the date soon. We’re thinking it will be a pizza party. We will likely also throw in a pizza lunch.
6. Last but not least, we’ll also be holding sitting yoga sessions, led by our resident yogi, Judith Alper. We’ll keep you posted on times and dates.
That’s it for now.
Thank you, again, for making all of this possible. It’s been a great year, and we’re looking forward to many more to come.
The Temescal Works Team
You can hardly flip through the newspaper these days–or, more likely, swipe through it on your iPad–without seeing co-working in the headlines. There’s been lots to report.
Among the facts that you might glean are these: there are currently more than 14,000 co-working spaces in the world. In the United States alone, co-working accounts for 27 million square-feet of office space, and that figure is expected to grow. According to industry projections, the number of co-working members will nearly double, to 3.8 million, by 2020, and jump to 5.1 million by 2022.
I guess you could say we’re onto something. But we wouldn’t be onto anything without you, our members. So thank you for being part of our community.
To read one of the many recent articles on co-working in the mainstream press, click here: http://Co-working not just for startup bros anymore
Oh, and speaking of news, we’ve got something to share: our one-year anniversary is fast-approaching: June 1 is the date. We’ll be celebrating throughout the month. Keep an eye on this space for details, also coming soon.
May is Oakland Art Month–31 days of events, performances and exhibitions meant to spotlight the city’s rich diversity of artistic talent.
And Temescal Works is taking part.
All month long, and through the first week of June, our co-working space will double as a pop-up gallery for a botanical-themed exhibition. Presented by Temescal Artis Community, a local organization that creates arts-focused educational and networking events, the exhibition features paintings, sculptures, photography and other pieces by 14 Oakland artists.
On May 3, as part of First Friday celebrations, we’ll be holding an opening reception from 6 p.m.-9 p.m.
We will also welcome participants in the Temescal Art Walk on May 18, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
A closing reception will be held on June 9, from noon-5 p.m.
To RSVP for any of these events, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/oakland-art-month-pop-up-gallery-tickets-60760079032.
You can learn more about Temescal Artist Community here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TemescalArtistCommunity/
Among the many elements to our mission—providing our members with a clean, modern, comfortable and efficient co-working space; brewing good coffee; hosting community-minded events; greeting you with a smile when you walk through our door—environmental responsibility is high up on the list.
That’s not just talk.
At Temescal Works, we’ve taken action by opting to receive 100 percent of our electricity from renewable sources.
We’ve done this by signing up with East Bay Community Energy (EBCE), an innovative non-profit that partners with the local utility (PG&E) to provide Alameda County businesses and residences with electricity from clean, renewable sources such as solar and wind.
You can learn more about EBCE by checking out its website at ebce.org. But the gist is this: EBCE procures clean power for its customers, and PG&E delivers it, just as it did before, meaning that the switch-over is pretty much seamless. At our co-working space, the lights still turn on and off, just as they always have; the Big-Ass Fan on the ceiling (yes, that’s what it’s called) still whirs in the same way; the coffee grinder grinds on, as ever.
But the electricity itself comes from a cleaner place.
Making the change at our building was simple and smooth, a small, uncomplicated step toward reducing greenhouse gases and helping meet community climate-action goals.
We want to give you lots of reasons to feel good about being part of Temescal Works. And we hope you’ll see this as one of them.
At Temescal Works, we’re not all work, all the time. We’re also big on movies, donuts, coffee, wine and cheese. Oh, and pie. We like pie, too.
In the last month alone, our neighborhood co-working space has played host to a coffee tasting with local roaster, Modern Coffee; a morning of donut indulgence, with sugary fried dough provided by Oakland stalwart, Donut Savant; and an evening of wine and cheese, coupled with a film screening that showcased the work of two local filmmakers: Temescal resident Darryl Jones, and Temesecal Works member Bradley Furnish. (He sits upstairs; great guy; say hi sometime).
Then, last week, on March 14, the good people from Slate Geotechnical Consultants, who have an office upstairs in our building, celebrated Pi Day (you know, 3/14) by throwing a pie party around our kitchen table nook.
All of which is to say that along with being a neighborhood co-working space, we aim to be a community gathering place, a cool but comfortable venue for everything from cultural events to casual get-togethers.
We encourage you, as members of our community, to come to us with ideas for events and gatherings you’d like to see.
Meantime, keep an eye out for word about an evening tapas party. We’re plan to get one on the books soon.
The transformation of the Temescal from a sleepy neighborhood in the late 1990s and early aughts to the vibrant district that it is today owes to many factors. Notable among them is the tireless work of the TBID.
Unfamiliar with that acronym? Let’s get you acquainted.
It stands for the Temescal/Telegraph Business Improvement District, a non-profit organization devoted to the continued betterment of the Temescal Telegraph commercial corridor for the benefit of business owners, residents and visitors alike.
Established in 2004, and expanded in 2014, the TBID extends along Telegraph Avenue from West MacArthur Boulevard to Woolsey Street, including small portions of Shattuck Avenue, 51st Street and Claremont Avenue. It also encompasses Children’s Hospital, Temescal Alley and 40th Street from MacArthur BART to Broadway.
Aside from caring for the district through regular sidewalk sweeping, litter pick-up and graffiti abatement, the TBID works on multiple fronts. It has spearheaded a range of beautification projects, from murals and mosaics to the installation of planter boxes blooming with greenery. It has also been responsible for the addition of pole banners, pedestrian streetlights and district-entry signage, as well as for running such popular events as the annual Temescal Street Fair, which will mark its 16th anniversary this summer.
Here’s another fun-fact.
The TBID has its headquarters on the ground floor of Temescal Works. That’s where we caught up with the group’s Executive Director Shifra de Benedictis-Kessner, who took time discuss the many ways that the Business Improvement District aims to live up to its name.
Temescal Works: To a layperson, “business improvement district” sounds a bit like “merchants’ association.” Is there a difference?
De Benedictis-Kessner: Absolutely. Often times, merchants’ associations are simply a group of people, like a neighborhood association, who get together regularly or periodically. There might be voluntary dues. There might be mandatory dues. There might not be much money behind it at all. It’s not the most formalized or solid of organizations. But it’s generally how you start. Temescal had a merchants association for more than 30 years before it had a BID.
TW: How did the BID come about?
DBK: There are two kinds of BIDs—a business-based improvement district, or a property-based business improvement district. We are the latter. We are a line item on property taxes for those whose property touches the business district. Getting a BID established is something of a process. It gets approved by ballot. From our perspective, there are pros and cons to this. On the one hand, as a non-profit, I do not have to worry about funding. Unless the sky falls, we know our check is coming. On the other hand, every 10 years, we have to go back on the ballot, which means we have to go through a pretty big campaign to ensure we have our funding for the next 10 years. When the BID was formed, Temescal was pretty sleepy. A lot of people didn’t even know what or where Temescal was. There wasn’t really a there, there. And that’s a big part of what business improvement districts are about—-helping create a there, there.
TW: And nowadays it gets written up in publications like the New York Times and celebrated as a kind of hipster epicenter of Oakland. How do you describe the Temescal to people who are unfamiliar with it?
DBK: One thing that defines us is that we are small area with a lot of independent shops. About 90 percent of them are small and independent. We have restaurants and services with owners who care deeply about the neighborhood and are highly invested in it and are highly motivated to improve the area. That makes us distinctive. People are intentional about what they are putting in front of you. Whether it’s a piece of jewelry or a record or a plate of food on the table. People are thoughtful and they have a point of view.
TW: It’s also a neighborhood that’s changing quickly. How much of a concern is it that with all this growth, Temescal will lose those distinctive traits?
DBK: One of the things that’s about to change is that in about a year, we’re going to see an explosion in the number of residents. Historically, we’ve been a commercial district with mainly single-family homes on either side. But now we’re going to start having many more people living IN the district. In the next couple of years, we’ll have about 1300-1400 units coming online. That’s great for shops and restaurants. There will be all these new people right in the district, shopping, dining, getting a haircut. All those people will also create a lot of trash, which our team will work clean up.
TW: And traffic, right?
DBK: I wouldn’t call the traffic a result of the new residences being built. That is a phenomenon of the Bay Area, with its high rent costs and the amount of employees we have who commute from elsewhere. That’s where a lot of our traffic comes from. Most of those new residences don’t have a lot of spaces for cars. And if you don’t have a parking spot with your name on it, you are less likely to have a car. You also have MacArthur BART right there. There’s Uber. There’s Lyft. There are scooters. And who knows what’s coming next!
TW: For all of the bustle, two of the more distinctive addresses in the neighborhood are currently vacant—Hooper’s and Kasper’s. Any update on what’s going on with them?
DBK: We have a number of older, unique spaces, and what’s often an issue with them is that they might not necessarily be up to code or have the greatest wiring. The bathrooms might not be ADA compliant. Those sort of things that require an investment either on behalf of the property owner or on behalf of the new tenant. For that reason, they can have a tough time being competitive. But they’re cool. They’re quirky. They have a lot going for them and one of the jobs of the BID is to make connections and convince people that, yes, the investment to make those improvements is worth it. We’ve had some interest in Hooper’s. As for Kasper’s, there was a deal that was going to go through about a year-and-a-half ago. But that fell through. It’s a tiny piece of property and the potential buyer wanted to use the sidewalk as well as the building. But it turned out that this particular sidewalk was part of a pre-Oakland part of Temescal. It had been a gas station and had been part of the key system, but the person who wanted to buy it—they actually couldn’t find the owner. And their plan was contingent on buying that piece of sidewalk. It’s kind of mind-boggling to think that there is someone out there in the world who has probably inherited this piece of land and doesn’t even know it.
TW: Let’s shift from sidewalks to streets. Word has it the commercial corridor is finally going to get repaved.
DBK: Yes! Summer of 2019. It will all be smoothed over. It’s so exciting. And there are a lot of components that come with it, including bike lanes and pedestrian spaces. As part of the redesign, we’ll be getting our pedestrian plaza at Kasper’s.
TW: What’s that, exactly?
DBK: It will be at that Kasper’s intersection, and it will include Shattuck Avenue between 45th and 46th streets. That part of Shattuck will be closed off to cars. Part of the reason the city approved it is that that intersection is one of the worst anywhere. You’ve got two lanes of Telegraph plus a bike lane plus cars and bikes on Shattuck—three and two lanes coming together and narrowing down to just three. And people turning right. And pedestrians up ahead in the crosswalk, and cars and bikes not knowing what that flashing yellow is going southbound on Shattuck. Basically, no one knows what to do and there have been so many crashes. So the city has marked that as a public space opportunity zone, which is something we’ve been working for a year-and-a-half. The plaza is part of the redesign. So not only are we filling potholes, which are dangerous on their own. But we’re going to be making a much safer intersection out of one that right now is really dangerous, design-wise.