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Feeling blue

Submitted by on 1, December 31, 2008 – 7:45 amNo Comment

Karen Ulrich will engage in a protest of sorts against City Hall this afternoon, at the wine bar she owns and operates next to the Alameda Theater. Ulrich, who owns the Alameda Wine Company, is having her face and head painted blue at 3 p.m. today to reflect her mood over the city’s “in-the-works” decision about reductions she’d hoped to make to her operating hours.

Ulrich said she’d asked the city, which is her landlord, to allow her to open her business at 4 p.m. on Mondays through Wednesdays, instead of the current 11 a.m. She said she’s not doing a lot of business during those hours. And she can’t afford to pay someone else to mind the store during that time, meaning some long hours behind the bar that she thinks could be better spent working on marketing her business.

“They want this business to be open regardless of whether there’s anybody in the place,” said Ulrich. “It’s hard when I’m here 11 (a.m.) to 10 (p.m.).”

Dorene Soto at Development Services confirmed the city talked with Ulrich about the changes she’d like to make to her hours, but said she believed they had come to an agreement allowing Ulrich to open at noon every day instead of 11 a.m., which is the business’s current opening time. She said she was surprised by the protest.

Soto said the city folks would like to see Ulrich, whose wine bar has been open for less than a year, take a little more time to establish her business (which includes a retail wine component) and even offered marketing suggestions for increasing the profitability of her off-hours. But Ulrich said she’s not optimistic the solutions the city proposed will work.

The City Council, acting as the Community Improvement Commission, is slated to vote on changing the wine bar’s opening hour to noon on January 20. (Since the Wine Company’s lease dictates the business’s open hours, a vote is required to change them.)

Meanwhile, the face painting begins at 3 p.m. (and Ulrich’s shaving her head again for this one: straight-blade, she said). She’s having Alameda resident Alana Dill, who is a professional face painter, do he job (her website’s here).

It being New Year’s Eve, Ulrich will be serving three flights of the bubbly stuff and snacks right on up until midnight. The flights cost from $12 to $18. More info on Alameda Wine Company is here.

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