Sand City honors Shake family with street dedication

SAND CITY – For the Shake family, generosity is second nature. It’s a habit Chris Shake and Sabu Shake Jr. picked up and eventually carried on from their parents, who made giving back to the Monterey Peninsula part of the family’s daily routine, the brothers recalled.

Now, the community is returning the favor, with a public, permanent and, to the Shakes, unexpected thank you.

At a ribbon-cutting Tuesday afternoon, Sand City unveiled its newly revitalized street: Shake Avenue, previously dubbed East Avenue but renamed to honor the family’s decades-long commitment to the Peninsula as not just local restaurateurs but philanthropists.

The roadway – off California Avenue and bordering the Sabu Shake, Sr. Good Samaritan Center – is the first of many public improvements provided by the city’s ongoing South of Tioga Project, a redevelopment effort Sand City started more than two decades ago.

“We’re just very humbled and honored,” said Chris Shake, who carries on his family’s restaurant business as owner of Old Fisherman’s Grotto and the Peninsula Fish Market on Fisherman’s Wharf.

Honoring the Shakes with a street dedication is a small token of community gratitude first floated by Sand City Mayor Mary Ann Carbone last year.

“I wanted to pay some tribute to the family for what they do on the Monterey Peninsula,” Carbone said.

The Shakes’ presence on the Central Coast goes back to the 1950s, when Sabu Shake Sr. immigrated to the United States from Karachi, Pakistan. Equipped with little to supply his new life in California, Sabu Shake Sr. started as a dishwasher on Fisherman’s Wharf but quickly climbed industry ranks. As years turned to decades, and the Shake family grew to include six sons, he established the roots for a network of restaurants now staples to Monterey County.

Sabu Shake Sr. died in 1998. His sons have since taken up the family affair, though it’s a legacy they understand is more than upholding their father’s knack for business. Beyond his impact as a restauranteur, Sabu Shake Sr. is remembered – and revered – by family and community members as instinctively giving.

“He was a leader in philanthropy, community service and human kindness,” the Shake family said in a press release. “He never refused anyone who came to his door hungry and offered them work to help them ‘get back on their feet.’ He gave them opportunities, but most of all, he gave them hope.”

Carbone recalled meeting Sabu Shake Sr. when she was a teenager, working as a hostess at Old Fisherman’s Grotto.

“Mr. Shake Sr. would always help someone hungry who couldn’t pay for a meal,” she said. “He would always invite them in and treat them with respect and dignity. That was a part of the generosity that Mr. Shake Sr. had.”

Inspired by Sabu Shake Sr.’s example, his family has continued to support the local community, often donating to the Salvation Army – one of Sabu Shake Sr.’s favorite charities. To date, between auction dinners and annual fundraisers, Sabu Shake Jr. and Chris Shake have collected over $5.7 million for the Salvation Army Monterey Peninsula Corps. These funds have helped finance Sand City’s Good Samaritan Center, which the Salvation Army renamed after Sabu Shake Sr. in 2016. Tuesday’s street dedication was the city’s way of offering a similar honor.

“It’s hard to express in words what this means. …It brought tears to my eyes,” said Sabu Shake Jr. “I was just so thankful when I heard the news. It made me think about my father and mother doing so much so many years ago, not knowing this would ever happen.”

Momentous besides its name, Shake Avenue also marks long-awaited progress on Sand City’s South of Tioga project. Initiated nearly 25 years ago, the project, which hopes to develop over 10 acres near the Sand Dollar Shopping Center, will include the construction of 356 residential units, a 0.9-acre park and a 216-room hotel.

After a series of roadblocks and delays, demolition of the plot’s existing properties began last year, clearing the way for redevelopment.

Still, developers – DBO Development No. 30, a California limited liability company out of Monterey – have two more buildings to demolish before the South of Tioga project can move forward any further, said City Planner Charles Pooler. The hold-up, he explained, is a matter of permitting. While initial demolition could progress without any extra permissions, Pooler said protected habitats near buildings left to clear require a go-ahead from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Once last-minute permits are secured, Pooler said developers will “hopefully get started on improvements.”

Contributed by local news sources

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