Oakland, Berkeley, And East Bay News, Events, Restaurants, Music, & Arts
Don't forget King's X turned Kona Club.
Gary Patton, It's easy to judge from an outsiders perspective and have irrational anger. You make it sound like the city spent 2 years tirelessly on this case. I imagine it was only a few hours worth of work spread over a two year time frame. Cool your jets, relax, have a beer, dont have a heart attack.
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Oakland's "community" has long had a very good idea of what's needed in terms of police reform including what a new chief needs to do.
The current "outreach" effort is pure PR. City hall should know perfectly well what's needed in Oakland. Oakland's diverse communities have been speaking very directly and loudly to city hall for well over a decade about ethical policing, reducing crime in heavy crime areas, more jobs for the poor, getting away from the madness of the war on drugs, justice system reform and on and on.
The deaf ears in city hall continue. And the incompetence regarding a better future for Oakland's current citizenry will continue.
That last line is the the crux of it all: If the city cannot get money from you, they don't care what you do. But they will pinch every penny from whomever they can. I deal with the city everyday for my work and the incompetency, phantom charges and outdated infrastructure is a true reflection of who's at the helm. No one cares except when it comes to their pensions.
Hey Pilar, this is Kolin, former owner of Easy Lounge / The New Easy. First of all, I wanted to commend you on what I generally think is a fair article.
That said, I'm hoping that I can give you and your readers an outsiders perspective on the changing bar scene in Oakland. I moved to Portland a few years ago, and since I have no vested interest in the "scene" in Oakland anymore, I hope this can be more objective than had I still been involved in the industry there.
Ruby Room and Radio should be given credit where credit is due. Prior to these bars arrivals, Oakland was strictly a blue collar kind of drinking town, whether in the Caucasian (McNally's) or African American (Serenader) vein. Of course, there was cross pollination, but one way or the other bars catered to an older kind of crowd. Radio & Ruby seized on the opportunity of more and more young creative people looking for breathing room across the Bay. They truly were the first wave of evolution.
The next series of bars to change things up were created by people who frequented Ruby & Radio. I include Easy in this, and there were many others... Kitty's (who, if memory serves, opened up a few months before us in the space that is now Prizefighter), Van Kleef, The Layover, 355, Somar, just to name a few. We weren't bound by location, but the thing we had in common was that we were generally bootstrapping it but trying to do a little more, whether that was fancier drinks or dj music. Most bars in this wave made a good faith effort to honor Oakland as a multicultural place. We were gentrifying, but we tried to do it the "right way" (if there is such a thing). It was not an easy process, and we got lots of push-back (Kitty's closed partially due to a large fight, and Easy came close on numerous occasions to a similar disaster, for example), but at the end of the day we were able to show folks that it is possible to have black and white, rich and poor, young and old enjoy the same establishment.
The wave that followed, unfortunately, didn't see it that way. Perhaps we didn't do a good enough job educating people about the history of Oakland, but it seems to me that many of the same people that were attracted to what was created by people like Peter Van Kleef also decided that they really wanted something a little more sanitized, a little fancier, and yes a little (now a lot) whiter than what already existed.
Simultaneously, the City of Oakland and the State of California decided to ratchet up the level of regulatory complexity in our industry, which forced most establishments caught in the middle to increase the cost of their product, and justify this by elevating the superficial parts of the bar experience. In other words, it didn't pay to be a neighborhood joint, do nice cocktails, and play by the rules. I guarantee you that there is not a single establishment in Oakland that doesn't at the very least bend the rules in order to make ends meet.
What you see today is the sad result of these two factors.
Frankly, Easy was just as much of an offender as we transitioned to the New Easy. Without boring your readers with the details, in our case we were very conscious of the change and decided in the end we had to do get rid of the DJ booth and elevate the experience, since the neighborhood we were in had changed and a business like ours was not going to be welcome very much longer.
I left Oakland partially because I grew tired of the constant struggle, trying to create a simple life in the face of crime, cost, and regulation, and I wanted my child to grow up in a more bucolic environment. But, in retrospect, while Oakland is not the place for me anymore, I realize now that the struggle is what makes Oakland different and special.
It would be a shame to extinguish the vestiges of this struggle in the name of elevating the bar/restaurant experience.
I'll have to check out the new Hut space. I stopped going there when they replaced most of the pool tables with ping pong.
That ship has sailed, my friend. Decades ago.
If I recall from the original report, the new fence made walking along that area more restricted as it encroached more on the public right of way. So, while some former city employees like to slam the civil servants this is not a solid case.
Why would anyone take it upon themselves to just build a fence on city property?? It really is not that difficult to contact one's council person for more information about issues like this.
Hello already! Told ya so... Back in 2012.....https://youtu.be/F3t6WN4479Y
Law makers, victim based service providers, the public and the media were All warned this would be one of the unintended consequences of these bad laws. And you all ignored the wisdom of whores! Why? Because useless politicians like Kamala Harris and Nancy omalley and the nonprofit all stood to profit off the criminalization of our labor! Non profits like BAYWAR and MISSEY and the rest of you victim pimps. You have nobody to blame but yourselves. May the damag you and the 78% of California voters caused so many be on your karma, I hope it's a bitch.
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You work at Penrose and still wrote this article? And put your industry peers on blast? Super lame, dude
I am wondering why the neighbors complained in the first place? Was the fence seen as a nuisance by others the community? If so, why?
Everything but the mic drop.
Hey Pilar, it is Cory from 355. I just wanted to clarify a few things in your article. Firstly, before opening as 355 the space was most recently known as Miss Ivy's I believe, Big Al's being sometime before that. The reason I am not entirely certain is that the business was actually abandoned long before we opened over six years ago. The article, I'm sure unintentionally, makes it sound as though my bosses came in and bought it out from under someone, which simply isn't the case. By the time they came along it had been shuttered for many years. It should also be noted, that they aren't some out-of-towners, or new money, that came in and swooped it up. Patrick has lived in the Bay Area since he was 18 (for the sake of his pride I won't say exactly how long that is, but trust me, it has been a minute) and Travis was born and raised in Oakland. I don't think this would fall under the category of "gentrification" as much as two guys fulfilling a dream in an empty space. As someone who has bartended in Oakland for the past thirteen years, I know the area has changed quite a bit. I remember working at Radio and being pretty much the only game in town. That being said, I think we have to be careful of just labeling all progress as bad or gentrifying. It doesn't factor in that, as with all change, some is good and well intentioned. I would like to think that we at 355 fall into that category. I'm sure you think of your job at Penrose in the same light. And hey! We have Hennessey at 355! :)
No mention of Val's, an 'American diner'?
Oakland has rational rules about building private structures or fences within a certain distance of creeks as part of its Creek Protection Ordinance. Since that ordinance was never referenced in this story, I don't know how to assess what happened on this process. But I suspect it was not as irrational from the city's side as it is made out to be.
Why the **** are we allowing the legalization of recreational marijuana to be smoked??? When we are trying to reduce cancer rates and other diseases linked to tobacco and marijuana use. OF course there are always fools who are reckless with their health. Sure grandpa may have smoked for 200 hundred years--but he had emphysema and was reduced to a very small world around him. DO YOU REALLY WANT TO SUFFER LIKE HE AND MILLIONS OF OTHERS DID SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY DISRESPECTED WHAT WAS A SACRED ELEMENT OF OUR ABORIGINEE'S CULTURE THAT WAS NOT DONE ON A RECREATIONAL BASIS. WHY ARE CONTRIBUTING TO GLOBAL WARMING BY ADDING MORE UNNECESSARY CO2 TO THE ATMOSPHERE SMOKING AND HEATING UP OUR PLANET? Recreational use of any substance that is intended for medication is an inappropriate use and inappropriate behavior.
I have nothing against the use of marijuana for medical uses--when the delivery system is not burned or smoked, chewed but as a health care worker --I see medical marijuana as a positive thing in medicine. That said Recreational use of drugs leads to people not being in control of their lives they are driven by the drug of their recreational choice--we see this most easily in tobacco smokers where they will defend the right to smoke and fight you over it and they do not know that they often smell bad and cannot find the pleasure of good taste of foods they eat like those who are not inappropriate in such matters.
Lets helped stop global warming world wide by stop unnecessarily contributing CO2 to the world's atmosphere--we were not designed to smoke to begin with or use tobacco et al. We can save billions of dollars by not smoking or using other delivery systems and be much healthier.
Great article. Thank you
The Kingfish always set the standard for dive bars for me, a lot of real characters hung out there. Once awhile, as I remember it, the Cal Sororiety women would all swoop in at once - I recall the old guys saying "geez, these preppy Cal girls all got fat butts now, Don't they?" I used to get a kick out of that. It's was true, 80's era preppy girls all had fat butts, they didn't work out like they do now.
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