Temescal Alley — with its old-time barber shop offering straight razor shaves, handmade jewelry and stylish clothing — has now appeared in nearly every national publication as the epitome of what’s cool about Oakland. What it’s lacked, though, is food options.
Since it opened in 2012, The CRO Café and Doughnut Dolly — set to launch a new location in Berkeley next week — have been the only purveyors of snacks within the alley itself. When Curbside Creamery opens Friday, it will bring the food offerings in the alley up to three, not including Pizzaiolo’s back patio, which connects on the north side of the strip.
The alley, actually two sunny lanes lined with small, creative businesses, is located in North Oakland just off Telegraph Avenue on 49th Street. The Temescal shopping district just around the corner on Telegraph boasts numerous popular restaurants for local residents and visitors alike.
Curbside is the brainchild of Tori Wentworth, a 28-year-old ice cream maker who has so far been selling her ice cream sandwiches from a specially outfitted tricycle with a freezer. As an avid cyclist herself, Wentworth was happy to sell at events and farmers markets with the trike. She began doing that in December and had no plans to expand. But, when the owner of Temescal Alley approached her about a vacant storefront, she found it difficult to refuse.
“The shop itself was a fluke,” she said in an interview outside last week, as workers inside were installing counters and such.
The discussion initially began with friends who own the men’s clothing store in the alley, Standard & Strange. They suggested she approach their property owner about selling her ice cream on her trike in the alley on a regular basis.
“But I went to the city, and they currently have no legislation that makes it feasible to do that,” she said. Current laws dictate that, even if the landlord is in favor, a business like hers may sell there no more than eight hours a week.
The owner of the alley suggested Wentworth submit a business plan and, next thing you know, a storefront was in the works.
Wentworth is from Carson City, Nevada, and came to the Bay Area to attend UC Berkeley. After graduating, she was visiting a vegan friend in New York City when inspiration struck; he took her to his favorite vegan ice cream shop, and the idea was sparked.
“I’m not vegan myself, but a lot of my friends are,” she said. “And I knew it was an underserved community.”
Dairy-lovers need not despair, though: No need to stop reading. While Wentworth has become known for her cashew-based ice creams for vegans, she is “equal opportunity” for dairy-lovers, too. “I’ll often make the same flavors in both vegan and dairy,” she said.
While Wentworth had baked a bit, she didn’t have much food-making experience. But her entrepreneurial spirit took over (she says many of the men in her family have owned their own businesses).
“I taught myself with a small home ice cream maker, starting with a 10-ounce one by Hamilton Beach,” she said. “Most of the early ones were disasters.” Eventually she graduated to a Cuisinart with its own compressor and, after a Kickstarter campaign, was finally able to buy a big one, which allows her to make 6-gallon batches.
Wentworth prefers to leave what she calls the “crazy” flavors to the others; she aims to make flavors people are nostalgic for, the kinds that used to be found in old-school ice cream shops, like chocolate, vanilla and mint chip (though she does like to spike her vanilla with bourbon at times).
“I’m trying to have the quality of the modern ice cream shop without the salted olive oil and goat cheese flavors. I want to be a bit more family friendly,” she said. “I want to be gourmet, but accessible.”
The flavor she’s most proud of is a cinnamon brown sugar ripple, for which she uses fresh cinnamon sticks, and she does a few tea-inspired flavors as well.
Her cream comes from Straus dairy, and her fruit comes from organic local farms.
She will still make her ice cream in Uptown Kitchens, on 22nd and Broadway in Oakland, where her ice cream maker lives.
When the store opens, she plans to offer cones — both gluten-free and regular — and sandwiches made on cookies from Little Ladybug Bakery, which is also based in Oakland.
Future plans include ginger ale floats and soft serve with sprinkles, but that’s for later on down the line. Given the size of her shop, she’ll have to keep it simple.
“My original thing I fell in love with was cashew-based soft serve, and I love soft serve with sprinkles,” she said.
Curbside’s hours will be later than the two other food purveyors in the alley, which are not open in the evenings.
In the mornings and afternoons, visit Doughnut Dolly, which offers hand-filled to order yeasted donuts, with such fillings as “naughty cream,” made with vanilla bean and crème fraiche, chocolate cream or jams.
A second location in West Berkeley is opening next week at Gilman and Ninth streets and the Gilman District shopping complex across from an in-development Whole Foods Market. (According to a tipster on Twitter, that location will open Wednesday, Aug. 6, at 7 a.m. at 1313 Ninth St.)
And don’t forget about The CRO Café for pastries (vegan from Pepples Donut Farm, non-vegan from Starter Bakery) and Authentic bagels.
For a full meal in the alley, the only option is the patio at Pizzaiolo. On Wednesday nights through August, the business screens movies on the wall of an adjacent building, with a concession stand, and tables as well as bleacher-like seating.
Most items on the menu can be boxed for the bleachers, but the meatball sandwiches are particularly popular on movie nights. The theme for August is “Kids on their Own,” and movies are set to include “The Outsiders,” “The Goonies,” “Stand By Me” and “Moonrise Kingdom.”
Curbside Creamery is located at 482 49th St. in Oakland. Connect with the business on Facebook. Doughnut Dolly is at 482B 49th, on Alley 49, and is open from Wednesday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The CRO Café is in Temescal Alley (behind Pizzaiolo and Doña Tomas), and is open daily from 7 a.m. t0 6 p.m. Read more Temescal shopping district coverage on Berkeleyside.
Bites: Curbside Creamery to open brick-and-mortar (05.30.14)
Bites: Cholita Linda, Curbside Creamery on the way (01.24.14)
Bites: What’s new in East Bay food, XXX (07.12.13)
Gallery: ‘Temescal Tastes’ with Edible Excursions (02.13.13)
Coffee and doughnuts in Oakland’s Temescal Alley (11.14.12)
Alix Wall is an Oakland-based personal chef and freelance writer, writing about food and other features for j. weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle and Bay Area Bites. You can find her at www.theorganicepicure.