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December 5, 2007 > The Cobblers is a Hayward Institution

The Cobblers is a Hayward Institution

Grasseschi Family Saving Soles in Hayward since 1932

By Terrie Rowe

Are your Ferragamos frayed? Did your Jimmy Choos get chewed? Don't despair and don't throw out your favorite shoes. Bring them to The Cobblers in Hayward and the experts there will make them like new again.

The Cobblers is one of the few places in the Bay Area practicing the craft of full-service shoe repair. While some small shoe repair shops can be found in local malls, these businesses are typically limited to re-soling shoes and replacing heels. As a full-service shop, the Cobblers can dye fabric and leather, polish shoes, repair luggage and leather goods, and even do footwear alterations. It features a 4,000 square foot retail facility, and an equally large basement for storage. The retail shop sells a variety of leather goods as well as shoes for men and women, with an emphasis on high quality comfort shoes such as Clarks, Birkenstocks, Softspots, Uggs, and Nu Balance.

Physicians frequently refer their patients to the Cobblers for orthopedic footwear. The Cobblers regularly creates custom lifts for hip replacement patients to compensate for the inevitable shorter leg that that results from surgery.

Currently owned by Rudy Grasseschi, the family-run business was opened in 1932 by Grasseschi's father Alfred, as Alfred and Sons, at the corner of "B" and Castro Street (now Mission Blvd.). The business later expanded to a second store, The Cobblers, on Foothill Blvd., managed by Rudy and two of his brothers. This new location was part of a City of Hayward downtown expansion known as the "Golden Strip" on Foothill Blvd. The three-block strip included several businesses that long-time Hayward residents will recall, including Joseph Magnin, Goldman's, Leeds Shoes, CH Baker Shoes, JC Penney, Capwells and several others.

The family closed the original store in 1973 and consolidated the business into The Cobblers facility. The Cobblers is the only business remaining in downtown Hayward from the Golden Strip.

Albert Grasseschi learned the art of cobbling as a boy in Lucca, Italy, from his father, who was a shoemaker and cobbler. Albert came to the U.S. in 1906, where he worked in Niles at a brickyard. At the same time, his younger brother immigrated to Montana to work in the Anaconda Copper Mine. Albert joined his brother a few years later because the copper mine paid fifty cents more per day than the brickyard. Albert made his way back to California in 1931, and opened his shoe repair shop the following year.

The Cobblers is now owned by Rudy Grasseschi, one of Albert's twelve children, and staffed by Rudy's sons, grandsons and nephew.

The Cobblers, as one of the city's oldest businesses, was honored as one of five "quintessentially Hayward" images highlighted on banners flying in the city's downtown area. The Cobblers' banner says "Rudy the Cobbler" under a photo of Rudy.

The Cobblers
22443 Foothill Blvd., Hayward
(Downtown near "A" Street - parking in the back, enter from Maple Court)
Monday-Thursday: 9 am to 6 pm
Fridays: 9 am to 8 pm
Saturdays: 9 am to 5:30 pm
(510) 582-7761

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