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                                                      In their own words



Jeff Angelino Sandri-Fischer

I was born in Canada. My family is from Trentino-Alto Adige , the region above Veneto in the mountains. I worked for many years in Venice as a tour guide. Many of my friends were gondoliers and they taught me how to row.

Gondolas in California go back to 1919 in Venice Beach, California. Giovanni Scarpa, brought two gondolas to Venice Beach. We chose Lake Merritt because it’s a beautiful place with a beautiful ring of lights at night, and the saltwater is better than fresh for the wooden boats. The City of Oakland’s been very friendly and helped us start by not charging us too much rent plus giving us storage space and office space, a dock to use, very, very kind.

My wife, April Quinn, and I run the business. We have about ten gondoliers to row our four gondolas from Venice. When we shipped them from Venice, we had extra space in each of the containers so we added small Venetian boats too. With these four boats, we’ve created a small Venetian rowing club, open to anyone that’s interested in rowing Venetian style.

What we primarily do is we do romantic tours. It’s $55 for two people for an hour ride or $65 if you want to include a little antipasto which we get from a local Italian deli here in Oakland, cheese, crackers, olives and fruits, salami, chocolate. It’s very nice. We’re open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to Midnight by reservation.

Oakland really has some of the best weather in the Bay Area so it stays really nice. We have mostly night charters. They like to go out and see the lights. It’s more romantic and intimate. We have lanterns on the boats. Sometimes people get carried away?

Good gondoliers shade their eyes. People choose us for all amorous affairs – proposals, first dates.

We always sing on the tours, even though the gondoliers in Venice don’t. The two most common misconceptions about gondolas in Venice is that they’re poled instead of rowed and that gondoliers are entertainers. But we sing traditional songs from Venice or other Neapolitan favorites.

I worked as a tour guide in Italy, doing walking and bicycle tours and cooking school tours in northern and central Italy. I grew up in Canada, graduated high school and went to university in Perugia in central Italy and in Waterloo in Canada. I studied Renaissance Drama, in particular Italian theatre, and the Commedia Dell’Arte.

You’re now combining what you learned about theatre with what you learned as a tour guide?

As a tour guide, I read lots of poetry and entertained clients. Now I entertain clients on the gondola instead. The real Venice is the boats, the rowing, the history, the Serene Republic – Serenisima, the old name for Venice. Serenisima means very serene.

For more information, contact:

Gondola Servizio

568 Bellevue Ave.

Oakland, CA 94610



Director of Engineering and Maintenance, Port of San Francisco

Alexander Lee

I was born in Hong Kong. I came here in 1969 when I was almost 11 years old on the SS President Wilson. I landed in San Francisco at Pier 50 Shed D, which is where the Maintenance Department is now. I remember getting off the ship and wanting to buy a Coca-Cola. The machine at that time was 20 cents and I had no concept of what a quarter was. This is one of the few countries I think that has a quarter coin. In Hong Kong, we had five cents, ten cents, and twenty cents. So that was my first recollection.

I never left the San Francisco area. I graduated from Lowell High School in 1975. I did a few years at City College, two years at San Jose State, and graduated with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering in 1980. I worked for the Navy for three years as a civilian engineer.

I responded to a posting for Industrial Engineers at the Airport; I had always wanted to work for the airport. My father had worked for PanAm. My mom had worked as a hostess at one of the airport restaurants. I took the exam and placed in the top 3 but I did not get the job. Low and behold one day, this big white haired fellow showed up at my front door from the Port of San Francisco, Duke Edwards. He was the superintendent of maintenance at that time. He was looking for industrial engineers and he went out of his way to persuade me to come to the Port. I talked with him, came down, and they offered me the job as Operations Superintendent at the Maintenance Department. So that was the beginning of my Port of San Francisco career.

I was an industrial engineer for two years, and became a line manager in 1985. Back in 90, I was offered a job as General Superintendent - Ways and Structures at Muni. I went from supervising twenty people to supervising two hundred and twenty people. I was 33: I wanted the challenge. My fourth year there, they said, "Alex, why don’t you take over cable cars?" I said, "Do I get more money?" They said, "No." I took over running the cable car system, which I loved. The system is an engineer’s dream, with plenty of motors, gears, and controls to keep an engineer busy. A large majority of the people that ride the cable cars are happy, which was a contrast to the other mode of transport Muni was providing at the time.

I was glad to return to the Port. I am responsible for the maintenance, engineering and design, building code enforcement, construction management, and project management of all the Port properties. The Engineering and Maintenance department is the largest department of the Port, with over half of its employees, about 135 in all. The maintenance crews are located at Pier 50D. One of my first jobs coming back to the Port four years ago was relocating the Maintenance Department from Pier 46B so that the Giants’ baseball stadium could be built.

The Maintenance group maintains 7.5 miles of waterfront. The department has over 15 craft skill, from electricians to roofers. Among our responsibilities are 1145 steel roller curtain door throughout the waterfront to worry about, 2.5 million square feet of roofing, 635,000 feet of fencing, 90,000 piles, 80,000 light fixtures, and 42 pumping stations. Altogether over 645 acres and 4 million square feet under roof.

The Engineering group provides construction and project management services for projects such as, Hyde Street Harbor, Downtown Ferry Terminal, and China Basin Ferry Terminal.

My philosophy is that my department is here to serve the Port of San Francisco. Our core values are Customer Service, Fast & Flexible, and Continuous Improvement. The Port can buy the services we provide elsewhere. However, if we provide a better service and at a good price, why would the Port go anywhere else?

I do not know if everyone I work with now is as happy as the folks that rode the cable cars are, but I hope so. I’d say if you talk to the people who I support – the property managers, the wharfingers, and our customers – I think they’re satisfy with the services the Maintenance and Engineering groups are providing to the Port. That is what they tell me at least.


Owner, Alameda’s Rosenblum Cellars Winery

Kent Rosenblum

I admit that it’s a little bit unusual place to have a winery in Alameda, but then we had an unusual start. This was my hobby back many years ago and my veterinary job was my business. Now it’s kind of reversed. That business is my hobby and this is my main business.

Being a winemaker, you need to be very close to your product and I live here in Alameda. As it turns out, it’s not a bad place to be because it’s central to all the vineyards that we utilize, all the way from Mendocino to Napa, Sonoma, Contra Costa, down to Santa Barbara.

We started in 1978 in a little place called the Deadend Bar in Oakland. It was a little dive bar joint between two houses of ill repute and Amtrak. The rent was $125 a month. We made our first 400 cases there and the interesting thing is that everybody thought we were just as illegal as they were so nobody broke in. We were part of the crowd. We stayed there until 1982 and then we moved to Emeryville. I had to commute from Alameda to Emeryville every noontime to check on the wines and again in the evening, a little longer commute. In ’87, we moved over here into one end of the old shipyard building.

The neat thing about our building is that before it was used as a shipyard it was for many years the place that the trains serving the ferry system were repaired. And today we look right on the Alameda Gateway Ferry Terminal.

We started out making what we liked, zinfandel, chardonnay and Johannesburg riesling. We started out with 400 cases in’78. We’re about 80,000 right now, of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, mouvedra. We also make a nice selection of white wines – chardonnay, voignier. We’re doing a marsanne and we’ve got a cuvee blanc. We also have desert wines, Muscat, a couple different kinds of port, a late harvest voignier, which has been brought in at about 40% sugar. That of course has a residual sugar of about 15%.

We just love it when folks take the ferry over to visit us. A lot of times people show up here to go to the Hornet. They don’t realize the Hornet is about two miles away so they come here and we call them a taxi. The Ferry’s been an asset that I think could be utilized even more. .

You know, from where we are you can see San Francisco, the Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate. When I talk to people, I tell them we have the best view of San Francisco of any winery in California. It doesn’t make the wine any better but it’s something unusual.

For more information:

Rosenblum Winery

2900 Main St.

Alameda, CA 94501

Open daily from Noon to 5 for tasting, 8 to 6 for business. Watch for three open houses every year featuring 30-35 wines to try with food and music. A newsletter is available upon request.