News about great shops in your neighborhood

News about great shops in your neighborhood

The Wright style

Sometimes “old school” is the newest thing in design. Evolution Furniture is the Bay Area’s exclusive dealer for the “new” Frank Lloyd Wright furniture line, which will be prominently featured in their Berkeley store this fall. The furniture is true to FLW’s original drawings and materials, says Vanessa de Harven, general manager of Evolution Furniture.

“ East Bay bungalows are a natural fit for the clean lines of FLW furniture. It’s interesting how the pendulum swings back and what was once overlooked is now at the forefront of design.”
Mindful of contemporary lifestyles, customers may select different fabrics, woods (cherry or oak), and stains to personalize their choice.

Evolution Furniture in Berkeley offers complimentary design services whether you’re buying one piece, one room, or a total home’s worth of furniture at once. A design consultation can help you create a master plan while staying within your budget. Many people view furniture as a lifetime investment; design advice from Evolution Furniture can help you avoid common decorating mistakes while expressing your lifestyle.

Evolution Furniture, 805 University Avenue, Berkeley, (510) 665-0200;


Java journeys

That East Bay institution, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, has a surprising new store in the Emeryville Public Market. Pass through the doors surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass windows, and a friendly employee offers to brew you a “Custom Cup.” Choose from among 30 kinds of coffee beans originating in the Americas, Africa/Arabia, or the Indo-Pacific islands to make your own one-of-a-kind creation. They’ll also blend beans by the pound for you to brew at home.

Can’t decide? You can always order a Coffee of the Day or other familiar favorites including steamed espresso drinks. Peet’s also offers iced drinks as well as Fair Trade and organic coffee to offset global summer warming. Over 30 varieties of loose-leaf tea and tea bags round out the drink menu; add a scone or cookie to subdue that snack attack.

Lots of tables and chairs and groovy African textiles round out the ambience. You can even brush up on your world geography using the huge map covering one wall. Expand your coffee karma; knowledgeable employees are standing by to answer all your coffee queries.

Peet’s Coffee & Tea, 5959 Shellmound Street, Suite 85, Emeryville, (510) 844-0850;


Spectacle sports
“ We’ve never advertised, all of our business is through word-of-mouth,” says Ray Ascher, owner of Phoenix Optical. Not bad for a family business that started in Detroit in the 1930s. Originally an eyeglass-frame manufacturer, the company had factories throughout Europe after WWII. Many of the frames for Phoenix Optical are still produced in France. Today, the store in Rockridge carries only what they create, including original designs using colorful laminates and “jewel frames” incorporating rhinestones.

Phoenix Optical is also the world’s largest wholesaler of vintage eyeglass frames, styles that hark back to the 1920s through today. “Younger people love the frames from the 1950s and ’60s; older people like more contemporary frames,” notes Ascher. They have 40-50,000 different frames in stock at the store compared to 300-500 at the typical frame place. Customers come from as far away as Alaska and NYC; San Francisco shoppers can visit his daughter’s store, Spectacle Shoppe, on Maiden Lane.

Phoenix Optical is celebrating their grand reopening since moving to Rockridge a year ago. Before that, the store had been in Berkeley for 48 years.

Phoenix Optical, 5519 College Avenue, Oakland, (510) 597-1111.


Home run entertainment
Have you been to dinner and a game (or show) in Emeryville lately? The newest addition to the emerging shopping and entertainment scene is the Willie Mays SkyBox Lounge, located in the Emeryville Public Market. It takes the concept of a sports bar and theme restaurant to a more sophisticated level, offering sporting events on plasma TVs accompanied by fine dining at tables with linen tablecloths. Rings of seating (including comfy couches) radiate out from a large stage at one end of the main room, much like the seating in a sports arena, but without the distraction of a drunken sports fan bellowing into the back of your head.

The restaurant features “Bi-Coastal Cuisine”—everything from beer-battered onion rings to mustard-crusted lamb chops. Traditionalists can order a wedge of iceberg lettuce with blue-cheese dressing while the kids dig into an organic mixed green salad. An inventive drink menu includes a SkyBox Margarita, “The Reliever,” a Screwball, and a Foul Ball.

With 10,000 square feet, the SkyBox Lounge can accommodate up to 400 people for sporting events, live broadcasts, music, and entertainment including comedy night. It’s also available for private parties and corporate events.

Willie Mays SkyBox Lounge, 6005 Shellmound Street, Suite 200, Emeryville, (510) 923-0686;

Faces of the East Bay