Ad Infinitum

Ad Infinitum

Thirteen little businesses that could—and still can.

In 1990, Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, the first McDonald’s opened in Moscow, Microsoft released Windows 3.0, and Imelda Marcos went to trial in the Philippines on charges of racketeering. Here on the home front, The Monthly was celebrating its 20th anniversary, along with thousands of readers, dozens of writers—and the scores of local businesses who advertise in these pages. Below, we catch up with several of our still-stalwart ad regulars from that era.

Marilyn Rinzler, with the assistance of Bruce Aidells, founded this chicken-centric eatery in 1979 as more or less what it is today: a fresh, healthy (though not fanatically so), take-out place. In those only slightly post-hippie days, the deli-style business occupied a former frozen yogurt shop (a remnant of the first wave of the fro-yo craze, not to be confused with the current proliferation of iced acidophilus treats). Rinzler says she chose the Shattuck Avenue site, just a couple of blocks away from the Cheese Board Collective, Peet’s Coffee, and Cocolat, because that was simply “the place to be”—and because she lived nearby. Today, purchasing a take-out meal from Poulet is likely to be “more economical” than cooking it yourself, Rinzler says. But, she notes, it’s not just Poulet’s prices that please. “If you sell people real food, you make everyone—Berkeley people—happy,” she says.

Counting the rings: At the Professional Tree Care Company, where 100 percent of tree trimmings are reused, a worker fashions a curved beam from a Berkeley hills pine. Photo by Aengus McGiffin.

The Forestree Company
Arborist Marshall Lyons, who holds a degree from the U.C. Berkeley Forestry School, thinks of himself as a doctor of sorts. “I treat a tree just like a patient,” says Lyons, who founded Forestree, a residential and commercial tree care company, in 1981. “I’ve never ‘whacked’ a tree.” Forestree consults on tree issues of all types, and clients ranging from The Edible Garden at King Middle School in Berkeley to the U.C. Botanical Garden rely on the company’s homemade mulch. When it comes to pruning, though, Lyons says that oaks and redwoods—“natives that tend to let dappled light into the backyard or window”—are, hands down, his faves. “Probably because they are natives, they just look the best,” he says. “There’s something instinctual about it.”

Lee’s Florist and Nursery
For three generations, Lee’s, located on University Avenue near the Cal campus, has been providing the Berkeley area with fresh flowers and plants. “We’re a family-owned business,” says Jared Lee (generation three) of the full-service florist, which delivers both traditional and custom-designed bouquets, as well as gift baskets, to destinations from around the corner to around the world. For tongue-tied posie purveyors, Lee’s Florist and Nursery offers a website menu of quotations for all the time-honored floral holidays and more (Secretaries’ Day, New Business, Pick-Me-Up). There’s even a brief list of suggestions for those who want to say something memorable about the flowers themselves. As the Japanese proverb has it, “Happiness is to hold flowers in both hands.”

Up a tree: Hans Waller, of Coastal Tree Service, takes the long view. Photo courtesy Coastal Tree Services.

The Professional Tree Care Company
When a tree falls in the woods, the folks at Professional Tree Care make sure no twig, leaf, branch, or stump winds up in a landfill. The arborists and crew at the Berkeley company—in business for three decades—recycle 100 percent of the logs, trimmings, and sawdust at their Green Waste Recycle Yard. In fact, almost all of the wood, including the studs and beams, in Professional Tree Care’s new office building on Eighth Street was milled from recycled local pine, fir, redwood, eucalyptus, and cypress trees that had been removed elsewhere. Last winter, Professional Tree Care crews excavated and transplanted a 25,000-pound rare Franciscan manzanita—previously thought extinct. “[We do work for] virtually any organization which has trees, which is almost everybody,” says marketing director Charles Slesinger. “We’re not prejudiced. We’ll do one tree or 1,000.”

Ironwood Engineering Company
This solid-sounding biz represents the successful professional partnership of husband-and-wife team Tom and Liz Clark. (Founded in 1982, Ironwood Engineering works hand in hand with its sister company, Ironwood Construction Company.) Ironwood’s busy engineers consult around the Bay Area on any number of gritty structural issues, including seismic upgrades, bridges and foundations, landslide prevention or repair, and other soil issues. “No two projects have ever been the same,” says Tom Clark, with evident enthusiasm. Clark also knows what to do when a structure doesn’t stay intact: he’s a member of a FEMA-sponsored urban search-and-rescue task force based in Oakland, with hands-on rescue experience in the Loma Prieta and Northridge earthquakes, the World Trade Center collapse, and hurricanes Katrina and Rita. And if that isn’t reassuring, we don’t know what is.

Coastal Tree Service
Hans Waller, the owner of Coastal Tree Service, has been taking pride in caring for Bay Area trees since 1973, everything from pruning and canopy reduction to “dangerous removals executed delicately.” A certified arborist, Waller encourages his customers to come up with a personal vision of how they’d like their backyard or commercial space to look, tree-wise. He then works closely with clients to delineate and carry out a three-part plan for the next five to 10 years: (1) helping identify trees that may need to be removed for safety, sidewalk destruction, or other reasons (“so many trees are planted in the wrong spot without giving thought to 20 years down the line,” he says); (2) creating a care plan for trees that need upkeep; and (3) planting new trees that suit the property and available space, if the client so desires. Part of the joy of living in the East Bay, Waller maintains, is being right in the midst of so many different trees, including coast redwoods, acacias, eucalyptus, and live oaks, as well as their smaller counterparts. “All sizes of trees are good for different reasons!” says this happily rooted woodsman.

Window Decor & More
Founder Barbara Addicott came to the Bay Area in the late 1980s. Ever since, she’s been running her successful window-coverings-and-other-soft-furnishings business out of her home in the North Berkeley hills. And, while the economy in recent years has been about as rocky as the landscape outside her front door, the company’s bottom line has stayed strong. “I love guiding my clients through the available choices to find the treatment that’s just right for them and their home,” says Addicott, who makes house calls. But the enduring entrepreneur’s window on the world isn’t confined to the realm of decor. “I meet so many interesting people—it’s the human element that makes it so interesting,” Addicott says.

Karl Kardel Company
Karl Kardel, who founded his eponymous Oakland construction consulting company in 1959, landed in the East Bay decades ago to pursue a Ph.D. in political science at Cal. Although he didn’t wind up as a professor or, per other youthful plans, a professional oil painter, he never left the area. “The East Bay has a slower pace, nicer climate, and a library of wonderful buildings,” says Kardel, who helps local clients with a wide range of building issues, such as plaintiff and defense analysis, general construction, and historic conservation (his company restored exterior Art Deco panels dating from 1931, for example, when the main branch of the Berkeley Public Library was renovated in 2002). “We started at a time, [along] with many others, that changed how America lives its daily life,” the die-hard East Bay builder says of his now 51-year-old business. “We were environmental constructionists before green was invented.”

Chris E. Hecht Design & Landscape Construction
Owner Chris Hecht is an award-winning hillside landscape expert and garden designer. His très East Bay specialty: landscape for “difficult sites” and sometimes nearly vertical slopes. “We’ve developed a lot of ways of taming steep hillsides,” Hecht says of his decades toiling in the East Bay’s oak-studded terraces. He’s well versed in issues involving large boulders and terracing, as well as figuring out what the heck to plant along with all those oaks. When he’s not tackling tough tree issues, Hecht—a lifelong musician with a master’s degree in music—plays jazz trombone, studies with a mentor at Berkeley’s Jazzschool, and composes choral works (another East Bay institution, the Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir, commissioned him to write a new work in celebration of their 25th anniversary).

Draperies By Susan
This Emeryville window covering company, owned by Chun Wong since 1985, offers design advice and expertise for decorators who want to do it themselves, folks who crave the full luxury treatment for their windows—and everyone in between. “It used to be that ‘draperies’ came in one style,” notes the company website. “Not anymore! The explosion of creative ideas offered in home decorating magazines and catalogs have inspired the public to ask for something different.” Whatever a would-be decorator’s notion of something different may be, Wong is certain that she can help create it. After all, she notes, “I’ve been in business a long time.”

Carty Construction
Owner Paul Carty has been keeping houses in the greater Bay Area shipshape since 1986. The ins and outs (especially the outs) of residential and commercial drainage occupy most of his working hours, although he’s also well grounded in foundation replacements, retaining walls, and seismic upgrade. “You don’t even see my work,” Carty notes dryly (as it were) of his labors to make home life more comfortable for his clients. “But the reward is a dry basement, a dry house in the winter.” Carty put in a five-year apprenticeship as a carpenter in his native Ireland before emigrating to the United States in 1984, where he landed a union job within a week of arrival. Two years later, contractor’s license in hand, he launched his own company. “I’ve been so lucky,” he says. To make sure his clients share the serendipitous sentiment, Carty emphasizes good communication as much as good construction. “The most important thing I want people to understand,” he says, “is exactly what we’re actually doing before we begin.”

Bloom Gardens
Owner Diane Bloom planted her first tree at age 8 in the garden behind her family’s home in wooded Maryland—a willow she’d ordered through a Sears catalog purchased by her gardener mom. Not until 1983, however, did the multitalented Richmond resident (she’s also a photographer, a former dancer, and a former therapist) go into landscaping in a big way. Among Bloom’s most prized projects to date: a butterfly garden for Children’s Hospital in Oakland, a meditative garden incorporating a dry creek bed in Berkeley, and, in a San Francisco backyard, seen from ground level as well as from a high deck, sculptures with faces that smile up at the viewer above. “Nine times out of 10, the first idea you get is the one you end up doing,” says Bloom, who, in addition to running her business, puts in plenty of volunteer hours in the community and school gardens of Richmond, as well as doing landscaping at the East Brother Lighthouse. “But you also do a combination of listening to the client and considering the demands of the site. A professional landscaper is going to give you something that’s more than the sum of its parts.”

Good and Plenty Catering
Donna Weinberg, a Berkeley-based caterer since 1985, has a company motto: “Relax, I’ll take care of it.” And she’s not just talking about munchies. While the economy has pinched one and all, notes Weinberg, she does her best to structure menus and prices so that party throwers of any means can afford her services. Toward this end, she consults with clients about what they might be willing to pick up or prepare themselves for everything from weddings to simple dinners (though experience has also taught her to leave amateur entertainers with a to-do list, lest they forget to procure the wine—or, worse, the corkscrew). So far, so good. “Residents of the East Bay seem to be very down-to-earth, casual people, and I find them the most easy to work for,” Weinberg says.

Julia Park Tracey, a former Monthly editor, lives and writes in Alameda. Read about her East Bay adventures at or

about The Monthly

“It’s the visibility. It’s always worked. People see the name (in the ad), they see your truck and your sign. It’s that recognition. It’s the only print publication I advertise in.”
—Diane Bloom, Bloom Gardens

“I like to work as close to base camp as possible. I get a lot of local business.”
—Hans Waller of Coastal Tree Service

“The Monthly really helped us get going. I’ve always loved The Monthly.”
—Marilyn Rinzler, Poulet

“It reaches our client base of people who want to do right with the community and enjoy it. I tell people it is the only print ad we do. The Monthly has shown me over 30 years to be vitally interested in how small business can work and these committed people make life much richer for the community, and it all seems to start here. I believe you survive in business because you must respect that you provide a service—a service which your customers need. If you, don’t they will sooner or later be unhappy and not come back . . . Good advertising tells a story that people know what you are providing, and get to know who and where you are. If people don’t know of you, how can you deliver something that can be vital? That is where advertising comes in.”
—Karl Kardel, Karl Kardel Consultancy

“I have been advertising in The Monthly for over 25 years, and it has reliably generated work and name recognition for our landscape design and construction company, out of proportion to size and cost. It’s been a definite win.

One thing business consultants will counsel is that a constant advertising presence is much more effective in the long run than occasional ad placement, and the very reasonable cost for Monthly ads makes this easy to do, even in our current tough economy, when reaching potential clients and customers is even more important, and every dollar is counted carefully.

The Monthly’s consistently beautiful cover art, always invites picking it up and opening it–two simple acts so critical to actually having an ad meet a receptive pair of eyes–and where many other advertising venues often come up short.

Educated and affluent people read, or at least skim The Monthly, and issues have a relatively long ‘shelf life’ in most homes. People tend to pay a lot of attention to the advertising as there is a very high percentage of purveyors of premium quality goods and services which appeal to people who have made discerning lifestyle choices. I feel we’re in very good company!

The folks at The Monthly have been very helpful with ad design modifications, graphic assistance, and the staff is always friendly, professional, and immediately available. I feel a great deal of loyalty to The Monthly for having been ‘there’ for me over so many years of my company’s growth and development.”

Chris Hecht,
Chris Hecht Design & Landscape Construction , Inc.

“The Monthly is highly respected. The Monthly has been an asset for me.”
—Barbara Addicott of Window Decor and More

“Very effective.”
—Chun Wong, Draperies by Susan

“It’s widely read, and usually kept for several weeks.”
—Jared Lee, Lee Florist and Nursery

“Ever since we had a business, we’ve been advertising in The Monthly.”
—Tom Clark, Ironwood Engineers

“I advertise in The East Bay Monthly because it is a good way to reach the most readers who may [not] all read one newspaper.”
—Donna Weinberg, Good and Plenty


Shopping Resources

The Monthly’s 20-Year A-List

Bloom Gardens, Richmond, (510) 234-5196; (In every Monthly since April 1995)

Carty Construction, Inc., 9078 Broadway Terrace, Oakland, (510) 528-1565; (In every Monthly since April 1995)

Chris Hecht Design and Landscape Construction, Inc., 6320 Broadway Terrace, Oakland; (510) 654-9994; (In every Monthly since May 1987)

Coastal Tree Service, Berkeley, (510) 524-1007; (In every Monthly since July 1986)

Draperies By Susan, 6037 Christie Ave., Emeryville, (510) 652-7027; (A regular advertiser in The Monthly since the early 1970s)

Focal Point Opticians, 2638 Ashby Ave., Berkeley, (510) 843-5367; (A regular advertiser in The Monthly since 1976)

The Forestree Company, Berkeley, (510) 526-8733; (In every Monthly since May 1981)

Good and Plenty Catering, Berkeley, (510) 548-1694; (In every Monthly since February 1989)

The Grout Doctor, Oakland, (510) 530-3104; (In every Monthly since October 1994)

Ironwood Engineering/Construction Company, 7505 Fairmount Ave., El Cerrito, (510) 524-8058; (In every Monthly since Feruary 1989)

Karl Kardel Company, 4926 East 12th St., Oakland, (510) 261-4149; (A regular advertiser in The Monthly since the early 1970s)

Lee’s Florist and Nursery, 1420 University Ave., Berkeley, (510) 843-0502; (In every Monthly since September 1988)

Oliveto Restaurant and Cafe, 5655 College Ave., Oakland, (510) 547-5356; (A regular advertiser in The Monthly since 1986)

Poulet, 1685 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, (510) 845-5932; (A regular advertiser in The Monthly since 1979)

Professional Tree Care Company, 2828 Eighth St., Oakland, (510) 549-3954; (In every Monthly since June 1984)

Urban Ore, 900 Murray St., Berkeley, (510) 841-7283; (In every Monthly since January 1995)

Window Decor & More, Berkeley, (510) 848-9968. (In every Monthly since November 1988)

Faces of the East Bay