Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Oakland's Grand Lake Kitchen to Expand

By Luke Tsai
Tue, Dec 2, 2014 at 11:17 AM

click to enlarge Grand Lake Kitchen's tiny indoor seating area should double its capacity (via Facebook).
  • Grand Lake Kitchen's tiny indoor seating area should double its capacity (via Facebook).
In the two years since Oakland’s Grand Lake Kitchen (576 Grand Ave.) opened its doors across the street from Lake Merritt, the neighborhood deli has garnered a reputation for excellent sandwiches, a small but well-curated grocery section, and one of the biggest, most sidewalk-clogging weekend brunch crowds in town.

Good news for those who have happily braved that line: The restaurant will soon expand into the vacant 1,200-square-foot space next door, a former nutritional supplement shop, and should be able to double its amount of indoor seating as a result.

According to co-owner May Seto Wasem, the upshot will be shorter wait times during Grand Lake Kitchen’s busy lunch and brunch rushes, and more room to accommodate dine-in customers during dinner service, when the patio seating area offers less appeal. Currently, the deli only has a handful of two-tops inside, in addition to a long diner-style counter.

In the reconfigured Grand Lake Kitchen, the indoor dining area will occupy the new space, allowing the restaurant to install a walk-in cooler to its existing kitchen area — an addition that will enable the restaurant to expand its menu offerings. The new incarnation of the restaurant will also have a full bar.

“It will be more comfortable,” Seto Wasem said. “Right now people are on top of each other — both the servers and the customers.”

Construction should start in early 2015, with the restaurant closing for two or three weeks before the new-and-improved version opens in May or June.

But Grand Lake Kitchen is wasting no time in putting the new space to use: The restaurant will host a holiday gift bazaar in the vacant store during the two weekends before Christmas — December 13–14 and 20–21. Local crafters, jewelry makers, and small-scale food artisans will be on hand to sell their wares, with proceeds benefitting the Alameda County Food Bank.

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