As I wrote this column, there was ice on the ground in Oakland and snow on the hills. The sun was bright and inviting but it was 32 degrees out.
By midday it was blowing hard, and by afternoon a drenching rain had settled over the town. Hibernating weather.
Dreary days in January are a good time to hibernate and downtown Oakland is a bit like that. The holiday decorations are put away and some shops close or reduce their hours during this quiet time of year. However, like seeds that are hiding underground and preparing to sprout at the end of winter, Oakland is getting ready to grow. Some of the seeds are starting to sprout and some buds will open soon.
As spring unfolds Oakland will showcase these changes with new openings and new offerings. One that just opened is The Secret Wine Society. Located on Front Street in the old gallery building between the Oakland Tavern and Pepper & Co. Hair Design. The Secret Wine Society has a wide array of wines from all over the world, as well as local Umpqua wines. The interior is beautifully restored and welcoming. So far they have a limited menu but it includes great soups and luscious cheeses. When you stop by ask about their secret wine. They are open from noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday, and until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
The other winery in town, Triple Oak Wine Vault in the old bank building on Locust Street, has expanded hours and some new events. Every Thursday from 11 AM to 3 PM is Creative Thursday where they encourage you to get away from your busy schedules and spend personal time reading a book or working on projects with a glass of wine (coffee, tea and soft drinks available). Spinning, knitting, drawing, reading or chatting with friends with a glass of wine give you a time out from hectic schedules. Triple Oak is also open Friday, Saturday and Sunday and they have light dinner options on Fridays.
Still in the bud, but preparing to flower, are businesses in Turkey Hall on Second Street and the old Post Office on Locust. Vince and Katrina Gaeta, owners of both buildings, plan a breakfast restaurant in Turkey Hall. They’ve created a state of the art kitchen in the old turkey exhibition hall and I hear their chef makes Egg Benedict from scratch and will customize it to your tastes. They also plan to resurrect music and dances on the weekends. Watch for it to open about April 1st. The old post office will follow with an Italian restaurant called Il Postino. More details on that in a later column.
Although these businesses are just getting going there are plenty of evergreen businesses. Oakland’s claim to fame antique stores continually bring in new items. Each has a unique niche and since they are all in historic buildings you get the bonus of seeing the historic structures restored and in use, so keep coming. A new addition to the antique and curio shops is Angie’s across from the new Post Office. Check out their party supplies.
The Oakland Tavern and Lamplighter continue to provide food and beverages and if you prefer to cook your own check out Oakland Meat Lockers. They have fresh local meat and poultry and their jerky is to die for. Other businesses in and around downtown include a couple of Air BnB’s if you have out of town visitors who want a unique place to stay and businesses that serve the local community from auto body shops, surveyors, hair salons, Bart’s Oakland Market and the Veterinarian.
Then there is the stalwart old Oak tree of a business rooted in downtown: Stearns Hardware. They are like a step back in time, but they carry almost everything you need, and will help you figure out what you need if you aren’t sure. So if you are looking to move your residence, or start a business, Oakland is ready and welcoming.
Since Spring is supposed to follow this wet dreary hibernating weather we are planning our spring events. Shops will be decorated and daffodils will be blooming for Valentine’s Day. Stores will be open late for the perennial favorite Ladies Night Out in April with the opening and closing at the new Speakeasy Event Center. In quick succession after that will be the City Wide Garage Sale, the car Show and Shine and Living History Days.
I will write about those in our next column. For now, come to Oakland and alleviate any winter blues by visiting our shops, wine bars, tavern and restaurants.