ALAMEDA -- The recent filming of a reality show at Speisekammer, a German restaurant and beer garden on Lincoln Avenue, turned into a real parking challenge for area residents and businesses last week.
Some "No Parking" signs appeared in the 2400 block of Lincoln Avenue late last Wednesday, giving neighbors less than 12 hours' notice before film crew members started parking in the area the following day. The situation was resolved to some extent, when staff of T-Group Productions confined several trucks to street parking near the corner of Lincoln and Everett and gained access to a private lot.
"They applied for a few spaces and then blocked off an area," said Cindy Johnson Kahl, a co-owner of Speisekammer. "It threw some people into a frenzy, and even the manager here called the police. But we got things calmed down."
Still, neighbors insist that more information and consideration should have been given to those living and doing business nearby.
"It seems like the restaurant could have used its own parking lot or driveway for at least half of the film trucks," said neighbor Stephen Haynes. "It created a lot of inconvenience, as well as anger and resentment over how it was handled."
Producer Vince Maggio of T-Group Productions said the company followed city procedures.
"We let the city know way before we started filming," which was Saturday night, he explained.
"I'm not sure what happened," said Maggio, when asked about the posting of "No Parking" signs and the ensuing confusion. "We're a small operation."
The show being filmed for the Food Network, "Mystery Diners," features "undercover operatives who go into restaurants, bars and food service establishments with hidden cameras to perform surveillance to find out what's really going on when the boss isn't around," according to the network's website.
But the presence of filming equipment, trucks and crew certainly were not very mysterious to Speisekammer's neighbors.
"It's supposed to be a secret. That's the premise," Haynes said. "But everyone knows what's going on."
The Food Network recently reached out to Speisekammer's owners to gauge their interest in doing the show and then soon picked the Alameda eatery, according to Johnson Kahl.
"I think we were selected because this is a popular, successful place," Kahl said.
In addition, she runs the restaurant with co-owner Peter Kahl, her ex-husband.
"So, we're a divorced couple working together," she said. "Peter has a German accent and a dark sense of humor. This could be good fodder for the show."
The reality program, which aims to look at restaurant operations from the owners' perspective, could air as soon as three months from now, according to Johnson Kahl.
"We'll see how it goes," the co-owner said. "It's all in good fun."