Friday, December 16, 2016

Actual Cafe and Victory Burger to Close on December 23

Owner cites restaurant-industry labor shortage.

By Luke Tsai
Fri, Dec 16, 2016 at 9:53 AM

Friday, December 23 will be your last chance to snag a burger at Victory Burger. - CHRIS DUFFEY/FILE PHOTO
  • Chris Duffey/File photo
  • Friday, December 23 will be your last chance to snag a burger at Victory Burger.

After seven years anchoring what had become a bustling corner in North Oakland, both Actual Cafe (6334 San Pablo Ave.) and its adjacent sister-restaurant, Victory Burger, will have their final day of business on Friday, December 23.

In a press release sent out last night, owner Sal Bednarz wrote, "This was a sudden decision, but has been long in the making. We've been working hard to make adjustments to our business over the past 18 months, but have been losing money for too long, and can't continue."

Bednarz said he was making the announcement now to allow for some time to help his employees find positions at other local restaurants.

For the past couple of years, Bednarz has been an outspoken member of the Oakland restaurant community, speaking out in favor of the city's recent minimum wage increase — but also talking frankly about the challenges it posed to small, independent restaurants such as his own. In a letter posted on the door of the restaurant, Bednarz cited the difficulty of hiring and retaining experienced employees that many Bay Area dining establishments have been facing.

"High cost of living means that not all workers can afford to stay here," Bednarz wrote.

In an Express questionnaire of local business leaders that he filled out earlier this year, Bednarz explained that even though the higher minimum wage was helping workers, it didn't come close to keeping pace with spiraling rents.

Actual Cafe made a number of adjustments to its business model over the course of the past year, including ditching table service. But in the end, Bednarz decided there wasn't any way to make it work. He's currently looking for a buyer to take over the restaurant space.


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