Economy

Berkeley farmers’ markets become zero waste zones

By Lauren Rudser and Brittney Johnson/Oakland North The three weekly Berkeley farmers’ markets are now zero waste zones. The goal is to reduce, recycle or compost all materials generated by the markets –- and shoppers are asked to do their part when it comes to how they transport their purchases home.

A tribute to Kasper’s: History, in hot dogs

Her water broke.  They grabbed what they needed, scrambled out of the house and hit the road.  The couple finally arrived, and it wasn’t a minute too soon.  The husband jumped out of the car and rushed inside to the counter.  “I’ll take two hot dogs please—to go!” he said. “I can’t tell you how many times that’s happened, how many pregnant women wanted Kasper’s hot dogs before they went to the hospital,” said a smiling Harry Yaglijian, third generation…

Finger-picking guitar down at Lake Merritt

I went down to Lake Merritt last weekend with my friend Jack Woodruff to shoot this audio-profile video of him working his recession-time gig as a street musician. He has played acoustic guitar for 12 years. Recently he had shoulder surgery and since he’s having a hard time finding a job in the service industry, he decided to pass some time as a street musician. When we pulled up to Lake Merritt, I noticed that it was fairly empty except…

Making it

Gabriel De Jesus is bent over a laptop, eyes moving back and forth between the screen and the stack of forms on the desk next to him, jotting occasional notes. An older man knocks on the door and says he’s there to pick something up; De Jesus has him sign in on the sheet outside while he looks for his file. The phone rings; he answers, “Citizens for Education, this is Gabriel.” De Jesus works four days a week here…

Anxiety and rumors at armed robbers’ apparent shopping center of choice

  About a month ago, the North Oakland branch of the San Leandro-based chain Pet Food Express was hit by an armed robber. Two weeks later, it happened again, this time at the Pet Food Express Rockridge store, located in the Safeway shopping center at 51st and Broadway. According to employees, it was the same guy. It was then that the vice president of Pet Food Express, Mark Witirol, started hearing of other armed robberies at the Rockridge shopping center….

Organic roots: From the rancho to the market

By Diana Montaño/Oakland North The tropical crops of Maria Inés Catalán’s youth don’t grow in Hollister. Instead of winding through the papaya and mango trees of her native Guerrero, Mexico, here, wearing black loafers caked in mud from the past week’s rain, she steps carefully over the kale, broccoli and artichoke plants that thrive in the Northern California winter.

Manifesto: Not your everyday bike shop

The bike store Manifesto has a Flickr photo account, “Our customers rock,” which is full of photos of people posing with their bicycles. People smiling standing next to their bikes, slowly riding by, triumphantly raising the bike over their heads — all photos of Manifesto’s customers with their new bikes. Each photo is captioned with lines like, “Austin sealed the deal on a red Schwinn that many were coveting on opening day,” “This beautiful Mercier, nicknamed Pierre, is now Casey’s…

Filmmaker to screen “Redemption,” story of Oakland recyclers

Jason Witt is an Olympian of recycling—he can recycle up to 800 pounds of bottles and cans a day. “He’s the captain of his ship,” said Amir Soltani, a writer and activist who has been following Witt for the past year as part of his upcoming documentary on West Oakland recyclers. Soltani said there is a lot of physical effort and finesse involved in manning a cart the size of Witt’s, which, at the end of each day, is stacked…

A retail oasis moves into an empty Oakland block

On a stretch of Oakland pockmarked with vacant storefronts, the 3000 block of Telegraph Avenue looks particularly bleak. 3003 Telegraph, formerly a medical center, has been up for lease for two months; 3031 Telegraph, formerly a Portuguese fraternal society, for a year. A few years ago, the old brick courthouse on the adjacent block, just past 29th Street, was a popular athletic center. Now its windows are boarded up. So when Mohsin Sharif opens his new grocery store on the…