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March 25, 2014 > A new beginning for historic Alvarado

A new beginning for historic Alvarado

By Frank Addiego

The grand opening of OlaÕs Exotic Coffee and Tea on the corner of Smith and Watkins ushered in a new beginning for Union CityÕs Alvarado District, now known as Historic Alvarado. The new coffee shopÑpart of a small chain which specializes in imports from Nigeria, Ethiopia and other parts of AfricaÑwill take the place of PaddyÕs coffee shop a popular gathering place in the Loyola Building.

Lending itself to the historic aspect of Alvarado, on the other side of Smith Street, is the Union City Historical Museum, open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the post office and Old Alvarado Park. ÒItÕs kind of a place where you go when you want to find something more unique,Ó said Union City Economic Development Coordinator Gloria Ortega, ÒItÕs a place for people to come, eat, play take yoga classesÉ good stuff.Ó

Plans to transform the Old Alvarado District into a historic destination, similar to Niles in Fremont, became official during a February 11, 2014 city council meeting when the council voted to rename the district ÒHistoric AlvaradoÓ and adopt a new logo and signage for the area. Director of Economic and Community Development Joan Malloy says that improvements to the area are likely to begin near the end of the year.

ÒWe kind of fit perfectly into the plan,Ó said Ola Robert Hassan, President and CEO of the franchise. ÒOur coffee is going to put the city on the map.Ó Hassan, along with store manager Annette Ludtke, plan to use upstairs space to house the corporate office of the chain and add a brewery on the premises. There are also plans for live jazz music and poetry readings.

ÒWe enjoyed Union City coming by and saying hello to us,Ó said OlaÕs staff member Hector Esquivel. He added that business has been strong.

ÒItÕs about time,Ó said Juan Lecaros, owner of Comics and Figure Addicts, located next door to the coffee shop, ÒThis areaÕs needed that foot traffic.Ó OlaÕs has been met with enthusiasm from local businesses, especially those in the same shopping center, such as Chloe Urban Chic Boutique, where a member of the staff said, ÒHopefully they can extend themselves to the community as PaddyÕs did.Ó

Union City Vice Mayor Lorrin Ellis said, ÒI think itÕs great that weÕre able to bring back to our district a place where people can have coffee and gather after PaddyÕs.Ó During the March 11 council meeting, Ellis and Councilmember Emily Duncan shared thoughts on the kinds of businesses they wanted to see in the area including antique stores and an ice cream shop.

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