Local Businesses Build Community in the Laurel

The Laurel district is a vibrant, ever-changing neighborhood that hosts a bustling array of small, locally owned shops and restaurants, many with a community-focused bent.


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Everyone — from the supple to the ultra-stiff — is welcome at Anasa Yoga.

Photo courtesy 510Media

Arched signs over MacArthur Boulevard at 35th Avenue and High Street mark the Laurel district, a vibrant, ever-changing neighborhood that hosts a bustling array of small, locally owned shops and restaurants, many with a community-focused bent.

 

Shop

Lauren and Julien Shields opened Mischief with the intention of showcasing local goods, gifts, art, and more. Mischief also features Lauren’s line of Made from Books jewelry and clocks, which are, like the name says, made from old books. The store hosts a variety of craft workshops, from mosaic mirror-making for kids to making your own liqueurs. The couple envisioned their neighborhood shop — they live a couple of blocks away — as a community space. Among the events they host is a new mom’s group, where Lauren drops in with their new baby. 3908 MacArthur Blvd., ShopMischief.com.

Check out Lalisimone, a super-fly and fashion-forward vintage/consignment store that opened last year by former stylist Judith Soto. The well-curated boutique features designer women’s wear (Christian Dior, Balenciaga), vintage finds, shoes and accessories, as well as a small selection of men’s clothing. The cozy shop also sponsors exclusive trunk shows featuring rare and unique pieces and hosts mini pop-up shops from local vendors. Check the website for particulars and hours. 3924 MacArthur Blvd., Lalisimone.com.

Plants are the focus at Homestead Apothecary. The Laurel outpost of the Temescal Alley shop offers more space to find the best that herbal medicine has to offer in teas, tinctures, tonics, and syrups. The on-site herbalist can guide you through a variety of remedies for common ailments. Envisioned as a community space, the store also hosts workshops and pop-ups. Please visit the Hello Flowers florist in the backyard shed. 3807 MacArthur Blvd., 510-696-1001, HomesteadApothecary.com.

 

Do

Everyone — from the supple to the ultra-stiff — is welcome at Anasa Yoga. A green-certified studio, this community-minded space offers a variety of classes for all levels and is one of the only black-owned businesses of its kind in the area. Offerings include beginning yoga, Hatha, flow, restorative, donation-based meditation, and world beats dance classes. 4232 MacArthur Blvd., 510-482-9642, AnasaOakland.com.

The Oakland Acupuncture Project is a community Chinese medicine clinic open to all. Popular in Asia, the community model aims to remove barriers to serve as many people as possible in a communal setting. Treatment for the elbows and knees and downward is served while patients relax in comfy recliners, so patients don’t need to remove clothing. Fees are charged on a sliding scale; you pay what you can afford. Massage and energy work sessions are also available. 3576 MacArthur Blvd., 510-842-6350, OaklandAcupunctureProject.com.

As a haven for artists and makers, the Laurel district is full of public art. The California grizzly bears on the side of the High Street Pharmacy were painted by Roger Peet and Fernando Santos as part of the ongoing Endangered Species Mural Project, to remind viewers of the animal species lost in California. Painted hubcap art can be found in the Laurel Art Garden on Delaware Street near the entrance to Interstate 580. And brightly painted planter murals by East Rand Studios are scattered all along the main drag in a project sponsored by the Laurel District Association.

 

Eat

Husband and wife Rich Allen and Mercedes Sperling live just blocks away from their beer pub/community space, Degrees Platos Taproom. They serve dozens of brews on tap — from local craft beers to more exotic choices from all over the world — along with Oaxacan small plates, including freshly fried tortilla chips, tacos, and a variety of tortas. The atmosphere is family-friendly with toys and books for the kids and long community tables where you can meet neighbors and make new friends. 4251 MacArthur Blvd., 510-269-7755, DegreesPlato.com.

There’s a line out the door at the Sequoia Diner for a reason. This neighborhood mom-and-pop shop serves locally sourced variations on diner classics, like beef hash, buttery biscuits, omelets, and airy waffles. Everything is made from scratch, including the to-die-for sticky buns. Even the bacon is cured and smoked in-house by chef Andrew Vennari, formerly of Camino and Duende. Highwire coffee is available while you wait. 3719 MacArthur Blvd., 510-482-3719, SequoiaDiner.com.

If you have a hankering for fried food—chicken, fish, shrimp, even hush puppies for those of you from the South — then #1 Seafood and Chicken Restaurant is the place to go. The take-out only storefront isn’t much to look at, but it delivers that fried food fix when you need it. Regulars recommend the Chinese-style fried rice as a side. Tilapia, trout, sole, catfish, and red snapper are some of the fish offerings. 4014 MacArthur Blvd., 510-482-1555.

Editor's note: The photo credited appeared in print incorrectly but has been corrected here online. The photo was by 510Media.

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