Friday, August 4, 2017

Red Bay Coffee Roastery & Bar Now Open in Oakland's Fruitvale

by Janelle Bitker
Fri, Aug 4, 2017 at 2:06 PM

The entrance to Red Bay Coffee Roastery & Bar, which recently opened to the public. - JANELLE BITKER
  • Janelle Bitker
  • The entrance to Red Bay Coffee Roastery & Bar, which recently opened to the public.



Red Bay Coffee already made a name for itself with its radical profit-sharing model, and now the primarily wholesale coffee company has a retail location as bold as its ethos.

Roughly three weeks ago, Red Bay Coffee Roastery & Bar softly opened, featuring a new coffee bar inside its production warehouse. The 6,000-square-foot behemoth falls in line with the prevailing industrial-chic trend sweeping cafes and breweries alike across the country, but feels unique for its Fruitvale neighborhood.

“We built out the space to roast coffee and conduct our business,” explained owner Keba Konte. “It’s sort of become a venue for parties, events, lectures, film screenings. … The idea was always to open a coffee shop as part of the experience.”

Inspired by the blend of manufacturing and retail of Mast Brothers, the chocolate company in Brooklyn, New York, Konte wanted a space that promoted transparency in coffee. Now, folks can come in and see the whole production process when they order a latte. And unlike the smaller Uptown location, the Fruitvale warehouse can continue to host lots of events, including educational cuppings and classes.

The spacious warehouse fits lots of seating in addition to Red Bay's production needs. - JANELLE BITKER
  • Janelle Bitker
  • The spacious warehouse fits lots of seating in addition to Red Bay's production needs.

There’s also a garden area across the street, with tomato plants, lavender, 300 little fishies, and bamboo trees.

“Red Bay started in my garage in my home, surrounded by a lush garden. … We just yearned for some of those original garden vibes,” Konte said.

That portion isn’t ready quite yet, but Konte promised it will be finished by Friday, August 11, Red Bay’s grand opening party. At that point, the cafe should also be stocked with pastries from Firebrand Artisan Breads, Starter Bakery, and Yahshi Bakes. The party, from 4 to 8 p.m., will feature a deejay, beer from Ale Industries, raffles, and plenty of coffee.

In the fall, Konte hopes to launch regular weekend brunch pop-ups from a cast of rotating chefs. He also envisions adding a pour-over bar to the garden area. He has big expansion goals, both in terms of offerings in his current locations and far beyond.

“We have a very ambitious vision that’ll take us international,” he said.


Red Bay Coffee Roastery & Bar, 3098 E 10th St, www.redbaycoffee.com


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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Resurrected Grocery Cafe Finally Opens in Jack London Square

by Janelle Bitker
Tue, Aug 1, 2017 at 11:20 AM

Nan gyi thoke, as seen at Grocery Cafe's opening night. - JANELLE BITKER
  • Janelle Bitker
  • Nan gyi thoke, as seen at Grocery Cafe's opening night.


The sign still reads “Hahn’s Hibachi,” but inside the Jack London Square restaurant space, Grocery Cafe is finally open for business.

The Burmese restaurant's former East Oakland location was shut down by the health department last year, and in February, news arrived that Grocery Cafe owner William Lue would resurrect the business in a much more prominent location.

The following months involved a few false starts and opening announcements that never quite materialized, but last night Grocery Cafe served dinner, and it was glorious. Today, it opens for lunch, as well.

Lue kept the look of Hahn’s Hibachi mostly intact, with wood furnishings and colorful light fixtures. The floor-to-ceiling windows provide plenty of natural light.

The menu is roughly the same as Grocery Cafe’s previous iteration, although the prices are generally a couple bucks higher. The famed tea leaf salad went up to $13; the nan gyi thoke (rice noodle salad with chicken) to $14. The most expensive item now is the oxtail stew with squash at $18. Portions remain generous.

At the soft opening, Lue worked the room in high spirits as regulars funneled in, remembering the old fondly but clearly excited about the new.


Grocery Cafe, 90 Franklin St, open Mon.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.


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