Isn't it amazing how quickly the world can change? We hope everyone is safe, healthy, and finding new ways to connect when physical distancing practices and stay-at-home directives are changing our normal ways of engaging with each other and the world.
Over the past three years, the Larkey Park neighborhood came together to advocate for each other and our community. And in early March, after another late night-early morning meeting at city hall, we were left with sense of pride and hopefulness because we had made a positive difference - and we'd done it together.
Our intention was to have a community celebration and start to engage the neighborhood toward thinking about new ways we could use our collective action to improve the Larkey Park neighborhood. Corks were ready to be popped, plans and ideas for the future of this group were being drawn up.
LPNU Victory Celebration Postponed
Then COVID-19 hit the Bay Area and the idea of a hosting a community-gathering took a new and scary turn. The times called for hunkering down and trying to stay out of harm's way. The celebrations and planning for the future of LPNU would have to wait while neighbors turned to thinking about their own family's health, safety, and livelihoods.
Of course, wonderful neighbors being wonderful caring neighbors, people reached out to each other to find out if anyone needed anything - toilet paper for some weird reason seemed to be in short supply.
On Nextdoor and through personal emails people started asking each other if there was anything that could be done to help the most vulnerable who might not be able to get to the grocery store or the pharmacy. A Nextdoor Group: COVID19 Support was formed with neighbors from Larkey Park and other nearby neighborhoods who wanted to reach out to help. When masks suddenly were in short-supply for essential workers and others, another Group on Nextdoor was formed by people who were making and distributing mask. What we knew about our neighbors was true - people come together in times of needs and adversity can bring out the best in us. Given the almost immediate outpouring of support from volunteers across the wider community, we decided to individually do what we could for our friends, families and neighbors, but collective, as LPNU, we would "shelter in place" and wait to see what came next and how we could help once things settled down.
Local Businesses Giving Back & Needing Our Help
Which brings us to today...It appears there's more toilet paper on store shelves now, but almost everything else is still uncertain in our corner of the world and beyond. But some things are more true now than ever. Neighbors coming together to support each other through good times and bad results in better, stronger, healthier communities. Together we can weather any storm. Together we can make the world a better place. We're writing today to let you know about two area small businesses that are helping Larkey neighbors and need Larkey neighbor's help. Tammy's Salon & Alterations and The Larkey Market & Deli are businesses that are side-by-side neighbors on the corner of 1st Avenue and Larkey Lane. Tammy's Salon & Alterations Needs Mask Material Donations
As one neighbor wrote on Nextdoor, Tammy Le "...you're one of our local heroes!" Indeed she is. Despite having to close her business to paying customers, Tammy fired up her sewing machine and wasted no time turning her shop into a mask-masking powerhouse.
Tammy and husband have been averaging 50+ masks per day for our healthcare frontline heroes. To date, they have made, and donated, over 1000 home-made masks. She's been donating the masks to Kaiser Walnut Creek, Sutter Oakland and many area local nursing homes. Now that grocery, pharmacy and other essential workers, as well as everyone of us, need to be wearing masks when we go out, the demand for washable masks is really increasing. Although she could to help offset her business losses, Tammy has decided not to sell the masks she makes, but will be providing them for free to those who need them and to her clients when her business opens again.
Tammy's stock of fabric is dwindling fast
Mask-making supplies are nearly impossible to get shipped from online stores in any timely fashion. They have plenty of elastic now, but if anyone has any light weight cotton fabric to donate to Tammy, you're welcome to drop it off at her salon at 1998 1st Avenue, next to The Larkey Market. She is there most days from 10 AM to 5 PM When we asked Tammy if there's any other way we can support her, she said "the best form of support in the long-term is to patronize local businesses like ours and the new Larkey Market. My business has been here since 1998 and we love our community."
The *New* Larkey Market Needs Your Support
Although it's been a fixture of the Larkey neighborhood since 1951, many of us were excitedly awaiting the opening of the "new" Larkey Market & Deli after its remodel and upgrades. New owner Kevin Pruitt purchased the market in November of 2019 and told us today that it's been his dream since he was 10 years old to own his own business and specifically to own one in the neighborhood he has so many fond memories of as a child and young man. The remodel was completed on March 13, but because of the Shelter in Place order, their final inspection appointment was cancelled - indefinitely. So despite being able an essential business selling food and household items, they had to close their doors until further notice and couldn't even offer curbside or pick-up or delivery. Needless to say, Kevin was worried. The risks of purchasing a business and then putting time and money into improving it were known, being closed indefinitely was not part of the plan.
If you've been following their Instagram or Facebook page (and you should), you'll know that Kevin and his team been working long and hard to make major improvements to the space and had only planned to be closed for couple weeks after the long process of getting permits and plans approved by the city. But timing is everything and without the final inspection, Kevin couldn't start selling food and beverages again in their newly remodeled space. No sales allowed. No revenue coming in.
Speaking to Kevin today, it's very clear he has a positive can-do attitude and is doing everything in his power to stay connected to the community and operate safely to support our neighborhood and his employees. He hopes that soon he can invite customers back to enjoy the Larkey Market's legendary made-to-order sandwiches and expanded menu of food and beverages.
But, they've been closed since February 26th, well before the SIP, things are getting stressful, especially because the business does not qualify for any of the Federal Assistance programs they've applied to.
The good news is that the Larkey Market will be open for limited weekend hours selling non-consumable goods like paper products, hand sanitizers and wipes, charcoal, dog biscuits and whole bean coffee.
Their hours, for now, are 10 AM to 3 PM Saturdays and Sundays and they offer contactless payment and curbside pick up. Call them at 925-932-7970 for more information and to make sure they still have high-demand items in stock. Starting next weekend they will have gift cards in stock too that you can purchase for future use when they're fully operational again. For now the soups, salads, deli cheeses and meats, and coffee will have to wait. But let's show our support by buying what we can from the Larkey Market and "Liking" and Following them on their social media pages as well.
There's one more thing we can do in the meantime.
The Larkey Market & Deli is Essential
This week the Larkey Market and Deli reached out for help on their social media accounts with a GoFundMe page. Without the benefit of being able to qualify for any SBA or CARES act assistance, Kevin is hoping to be able to raise some community financial support to help offset the cost of having to keep the doors mostly closed. This is a rough time for all small businesses. Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill residents have rallied around their favorite restaurants who've been able to still offer limited menus through delivery or pick-up. Unfortunately, the timing of Kevin's investment in our one and only local market and deli puts him in a way worse position than others.
Kevin put it this way, "...without you - the customer - the Market would cease to exist, so every penny donated will go directly back into the Market so we can provide the best possible product with the best possible service. This whole experience proves how vital and essential the Larkey Market really is."
If you're able, here's a link to the Larkey Market's GoFundMe page, to make a contribution, big or small, towards supporting this business that has been our neighbor since 1951.
Small businesses are good neighbors
Lastly, we'd like to thank, and we especially want to encourage you to support, the many businesses in this area who stepped up to became a part of LPNU during our efforts to keep another drive-thru establishment from negatively impacting our neighborhood.
The businesses along Auto Center Drive were particularly helpful when asked to show up to support the efforts of the neighborhood to defeat the drive-thru development.
Over the next few weeks, we'll try to showcase other Larkey Park people and businesses in our community who make living here, especially now, so much better. Let's focus on a few car friends. Remember driving your car everyday? When the time comes that they need repair and services, we hope you'll consider this local favorites.
Central Automotive Service Center off of N. Main on Autocenter Drive has been in business since 1976 in Contra Costa and is a great place for all your vehicle repairs and maintenance. During this time they have "contact free" service available and some special deals as well.
York's Motorwerke at 1531 Second Ave is an independently owned Mercedes-Benz repair shop. In 1993 Mr. York and his wife opened their door in our neighborhood and ever since York's has continued to stay true to their vision of providing the quality of service every customer deserves.
Midas and SpeeDee Oil Change at 2710 N Main St Midas was established in 1956 and SpeeDee Oil Change & Auto Service was added in 1980. Together, the Midas SpeeDee co-brand service center is a one-stop shop for auto care. The love of cars and the love of making customers happy drives the owner Sam to be the best.