Going To Town

Hey, we found a location for our upcoming restaurant! I’m very happy about it. The space is in the Longfellow neighborhood of Oakland, in North Oakland not far from (but not right next to) Temescal. It is close to MacArthur BART, directly on AC Transit, and has easy bicycle access from large areas of Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville.

We have to go through a full permitting process, which will probably take a while (which is fine, we are still waiting for escrow to close on the San Diego restaurants anyway, and the time off from the biz is productive too). And there are no guarantees with permitting, it’s possible we might not get approval. But we love the space and the neighborhood, so we’re planning on the best.

At the new restaurant we intend to do something very small — around 30 seats, I think. We’ll cook and serve local, handcrafted food, which continues to be my primary interest. Our main focus will be serving our neighbors, but it’s my intention that we’ll be unique and excellent enough to also appeal to adventurous folks throughout the Bay Area. At this point we plan to start by offering dinner, with the idea of later adding a casual lunch, and potentially morning coffee/snacks in some way, assuming we can make all those moving parts work. Our future website will be here.

More than anything, we are really grateful to be opening in Oakland. The longer we’ve spent in the Bay Area, the more we’ve found ourselves drawn to what’s happening in “The Town” — not just the Oakland culinary scene, which is incredibly dynamic right now, but also its art, music, culture, writing, and, most compellingly, the people we meet here. I recently read an article that I thought referred, in passing, to Oakland as “the most interesting place in the country” and I didn’t even bat an eye. On second look it turns out I was reading the quote wrong, but regardless, that’s the feeling I’ve been getting about Oakland.

Of course, as is true throughout the Bay Area, many Oakland communities face challenges associated with gentrification. I do believe that a restaurant, operated thoughtfully, can be a positive force for both longtime residents and new residents, and we hope to achieve that. I feel that we were reasonably successful at that in North Park, although the changes that happened in North Park were not as drastic as what’s happening in Oakland now. But we’ll do our best: restaurants can make a big impact in a community, and applying that energy in a constructive way is one of the great joys of the business.

One of the most exciting parts about Oakland, for me, is that it has a very strong and vocal movement for urban agriculture. Helping support and develop hyper-local, small-scale food production was a focus for us in San Diego and I hope we can be a part of that in our new home, as well. Already, we’ve toured one great urban farm, and seen a couple more we hope to learn about. I’m not sure exactly where we’ll fit in, but finding that out will be part of the fun.

Of course, before we signed on the dotted line, we had to do due diligence: we sought out and drank up fine Oakland-produced beer and Oakland-made wine. They are both great, of course.

Anyway, I imagine there won’t be any news updates on this in a while, other than at some point, “yes, we got our required permits” (which I plan on) or “no, we didn’t get our required permits” (which I hope doesn’t happen, but if it does, life goes on). But that’s where we’re at, and it feels great. And, as I have to time to write more about what we intend to do at Salsipuedes — that’s the name of the new place — I’ll write about it here.

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