Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Smart & Final’s Old Oakland Location Closes

The closure is one of several shut downs of longtime businesses following the purchase of much of Old Oakland by 11 West Partners.

by Katherine Hamilton
Wed, Sep 26, 2018 at 10:46 AM

Smart & Final’s Old Oakland location at 901-933 Broadway closed on Sunday, Sept. 23 after over 24 years in business. The store opened in April 1994 and was the only supermarket in Old Oakland.

The shuttering of Smart & Final is one of a number of closures of longtime Old Oakland businesses, following the purchase of much of the district by 11 West Partners three years ago.

Smart & Final district manager Mike La Placa said he was notified about a month ago that the store’s lease would not be renewed. When he learned of the closure, La Placa held a meeting with the store’s employees and worked to ensure that each employee would be relocated to another nearby Smart & Final store. “Everyone is happy; they got the store of their choice,” La Placa said.

La Placa said the store served a variety of clientele: restaurant owners, nearby residents, and downtown office workers who picked up groceries during their lunch breaks or on their way home from work. He said that business at the Old Oakland location was good, as well as at the other Smart & Final stores throughout the Bay Area. A new Smart & Final location in San Jose opened earlier this month.

La Placa said Smart & Final hopes to open another store nearby. “We believe in the community, we love being downtown. We want to have a bigger presence here.” Smart & Final’s East Oakland location remains open at 1243 42nd Avenue.

La Placa said he’s unsure what the landlords plan to do with the ground floor retail space. The second floor is currently home to Kaiser Permanente offices. The building’s property managers could not be reached for comment.

The building is named Delger Block after its original owner, Frederick Delger, a prominent Oakland real estate speculator. According to Old Oakland’s website, the building was completed in 1881 and measures nearly 36,000 square feet. The building originally housed an apothecary firm on the ground floor called Bowman Drug Co., and the second floor was home to law offices, giving the block the moniker “Lawyer’s Block.” The basement of the building housed a saloon called The Montana, where several years ago renovators found remnants of what they believed was a boxing ring in the basement. Delger Block was designated as a landmark by the City of Oakland on April 12, 1983.

Smart & Final’s closure follows recent shut down of several other long-term Old Oakland businesses. Italian restaurant Desco, which opened in 2013, closed on December 31, 2017. In an interview with Oakland Magazine, owner Donato Scotti cited the reason for the closure as an “inability to come to a long-term agreement that would allow us to make updates to the restaurant space and concept.”

Pacific Coast Brewing, which had been in business for 29 years, closed in November 2017 after learning that the two-year lease extension they were offered could be terminated with only two months’ notice. All three properties, along with the rest of Old Oakland, are owned by 11 West Partners, which purchased the complex in October 2015.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Assembly District 15 Candidates to Discuss Food and Farming Issues in the East Bay

Plus, California passes a slew of new food-related laws.

by Momo Chang
Mon, Sep 24, 2018 at 4:13 PM

Jovanka Beckles and Buffy Wicks.
  • Jovanka Beckles and Buffy Wicks.

Our agricultural system doesn’t just affect the food on our plate; it also intersects with issues of climate justice, environmental concerns, and food equity, among others. That’s why an upcoming candidates’ forum will tackle these issues as they affect the East Bay — and the region.

“Food in the 15th,” to be held on Wednesday, Oct. 3, in Richmond, will feature Jovanka Beckles and Buffy Wicks, the two candidates running for Assembly District 15 in November. Moderated by Nina Ichikawa, policy director of the Berkeley Food Institute, the forum will give voters the chance to hear the candidates’ views on issues such as minimum wage, the affordability of food, soda taxes, immigration and labor issues, and agriculture’s impact on the environment. Audience members will also be able to submit questions for the candidates. California Food and Farming Network, a Sacramento-based coalition that represents 40 organizations statewide, is organizing the forum.

“One of the major hopes for this coalition is that these candidates understand that food and farming issues impact all of our lives,” said Beth Spitler, organizing and policy consultant at the Pesticide Action Network, a member of the California Food and Farming Network. “We really want to raise the profile of food and farming issues, and food equity issues, in particular, so the candidates are better acquainted with them, and so they know there’s a constituency in the East Bay and really all of California that will hold them accountable to these issues.”

Beckles is a Richmond city councilmember and Wicks worked on President Obama’s campaigns and served as deputy director of engagement in his administration. The district covers the northern part of the East Bay, including Richmond, El Cerrito, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Piedmont, and parts of Oakland, among other areas.

The forum will be preceded by a free dinner provided by Urban Tilth, a Richmond-based organization, which will source the produce from its gardens and farms. Organizers will also offer Spanish translation as well as childcare for children who are potty-trained.

The event will take place at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium in the Bermuda Room (2540 Nevin Ave., Richmond) from 6:30-8 p.m. Admittance is free but attendees are asked to RSVP via Eventbrite to receive a ticket.

… In other food news, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a slate of bills that affect food: AB 626 (which we wrote about last week), allowing home cooks to legally sell their food; SB 946, which legalizes food vendors to sell on sidewalks; AB 1871, which guarantees free and reduced-price meals for charter school students; and AB 1884, which bans full-service restaurants from passing out plastic straws, unless someone asks for them. … Finally, there’s a new coffee shop in East Oakland: It’s A Grind recently opened in the Seminary Point shopping center (2521 Seminary Ave., Ste. #3, Oakland).

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Anaviv’s Table Brings Farm-to-Table Dining in an Intimate Richmond Setting

by Momo Chang
Wed, Sep 19, 2018 at 10:45 AM

Anaviv’s Table focuses on local, sustainable, chef-driven food. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ANAVIV
  • Photo courtesy of Anaviv
  • Anaviv’s Table focuses on local, sustainable, chef-driven food.

Anaviv’s Table recently opened in Richmond, presenting a multi-course meal with wine pairings at a single communal table for those who value local, sustainable, and chef-driven food.

Anaviv’s (600 Hoffman Blvd., Richmond) opened Aug. 23 and currently hosts 10 guests for a 7 p.m. seating on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturday nights. The pre-fixe menu, which changes weekly, is priced at $125 (and includes wine, tax, and gratuity).

Chef Ed Vigil shops for produce and more at the Marin Farmers’ Market. Diners are greeted first in a dining room setting, complete with fresh flowers, with local wines and appetizers. Then, the group meets the chef in the kitchen.

Vigil previously worked at Ramblas Tapas Bar, the Olema Inn & Restaurant, and Inverness Park Market. At Anaviv’s Table, Vigil explains the origins of the ingredients for every course. “It’s all about showcasing what is at its best at this moment in Northern California right now,” said Dee Wagner, Anaviv’s hospitality and operations manager.

Chef Ed Vigil shops for produce and more at the Marin Farmers’ Market. - PHOTO BY ANNAMAE PHOTO
  • Photo by Annamae Photo
  • Chef Ed Vigil shops for produce and more at the Marin Farmers’ Market.

The location — which is just off the freeway, in the Santa Fe neighborhood — is the site of Anaviv Catering and Events, started by Chef Arnon Oren. The group opened Anaviv’s Table as a way to showcase its farm-to-table menus to those outside its catering business — and to connect people to the chef making the food.

A sample dinner menu includes squash blossom fritters with fresh basil and parmesan; grilled octopus and tapenade; tomato-watermelon gazpacho; a farmers’ market salad including edible flower vinaigrette; lavender and vanilla cured pork belly with grilled diver scallop, grilled wild prawns, and a Chardonnay gastrique; Stemple Creek grass-fed New York steak with Romano beans; and saffron orange blossom panna cotta with summer berries for dessert.

Many of the wines are from small producers that most people have not seen before, Wagner said.

The meal lasts about three hours, and “by the end of the night, everyone was hugging each other,” Wagner said about a recent dinner.

Oren, the chef of Anaviv Catering and Events, is also the cofounder of Plant to Plate, an internship program for Richmond youth who wish to learn culinary skills. It’s part of the nonprofit West County DIGS, which supports teachers and school gardens in West Contra Costa County School District.

To reserve a space at Anaviv’s Table, go to

… In other East Bay restaurant news, two new Berkeley spots debuted: Bear’s Lair Tavern (2465 Bancroft Way, Ste. 104, Berkeley) on the edge of the UC Berkeley campus, and Veggie Grill (48 Shattuck Sq., Berkeley), serving vegan and vegetarian food. In Oakland, Blue Nile Ethiopian (160 14th St., Oakland) and The Food Foundry (2818 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland) also recently opened.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Cam Huong in Oakland Chinatown Closing Today

by Momo Chang
Tue, Sep 18, 2018 at 12:35 PM

Cam Huong is one of the last Vietnamese sandwich shops in Oakland Chinatown. - PHOTO BY MOMO CHANG
  • Photo by Momo Chang
  • Cam Huong is one of the last Vietnamese sandwich shops in Oakland Chinatown.

Cam Huong (920 Webster St., Oakland), a popular banh mi shop, is closing today after 33 years in business. The shop has been open since 1985, and is one of the last Vietnamese sandwich shops in Oakland Chinatown.

Besides its popular Vietnamese sandwiches, Cam Huong also serves hot food, Vietnamese coffee, and fruit smoothies with items like jackfruit and avocado. Their sandwiches, which are a full meal, range from $3 to $4.50.

In an interview today, the son of the shop’s owner (who didn't want to give his name) said the family decided fairly recently to close the shop. Their lease is up the end of this month, he said. The reason for closing is not because of rent increases — though rent has increased over the years — but more so to allow the matriarch, who runs the shop and is in her 70s, to retire.

Oakland Chinatown was a hub for Chinese immigrants for more than a century, but later in the ’70s and ’80s, refugees from Southeast Asia — particularly from Vietnam — settled in Oakland after the war in Vietnam. Many families, some who are ethnically Chinese from Vietnam, opened businesses in Oakland Chinatown. (Cam Huong’s family members are of Chinese and Vietnamese descent).

Cam Huong has a larger, second location (referred to as the restaurant) in the Eastlake neighborhood (702 International Blvd., Oakland), which will remain open.
Cam Huong's sandwiches, which are a full meal, range from $3 to $4.50. - PHOTO BY MOMO CHANG
  • Photo by Momo Chang
  • Cam Huong's sandwiches, which are a full meal, range from $3 to $4.50.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story misstated the number of years Cam Huong has been open: It's 33, not 38. This version has been corrected.

State Bill Would Be a Game-Changer for California's Home Cooks

by Momo Chang
Tue, Sep 18, 2018 at 10:45 AM

Food prepared by a former Josephine home cook in Oakland. - PHOTO COURTESY OF C.O.O.K. ALLIANCE
  • Photo courtesy of C.O.O.K. Alliance
  • Food prepared by a former Josephine home cook in Oakland.

UPDATE: Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law on Sept. 18.

Right now, the tamales you buy from your neighbor in East Oakland and the side-hustle homemade dumplings you ordered via WeChat are part of the underground food economy — and technically illegal.

But a new bill — AB 626, introduced by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) — would change that, legalizing the thousands of home cooks currently selling their meals under the table, and changing the way we eat locally in the process. AB 626 passed both the state House and Senate and needs to be approved by Governor Jerry Brown before the end of the month in order to become law. It would allow small-scale home food producers to sell up to $50,000 a year. Supporters of the bill say it will impact immigrants, women, and low-income residents — and primarily communities of color. (The 2012 California Homemade Food Act allows certain home-prepared items to be sold to the public, but it’s limited to non-potentially hazardous food like baked goods, candy, and jams.)

The bill is supported by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, and 100 food-labor justice organizations in California, including, in the Bay Area, La Cocina, Food Shift, Forage Kitchen, People’s Community Market, and Town Kitchen.

If signed into law, the Homemade Food Operations Act would make California the first state to permit the sale of home-cooked food. But the bill also leaves it up to local jurisdictions to opt-in to the program. If they do, they would be responsible for inspecting home kitchens, just like food trucks, bed and breakfasts, and other food enterprises.

Advocates say it will improve food safety. “Right now, any home-cooked meals that are sold are totally unregulated,” said Matt Jorgensen, founder and coordinator of C.O.O.K. (Creating Opportunities, Opening Kitchens) Alliance. “They have to stay in the shadows, so there aren’t safety guidelines or training to home cooks selling their food.”

Jorgensen — who also cofounded Josephine, a Bay Area-based social enterprise food startup that focused on helping home cooks sell meals to neighbors, which closed this spring — said the bill will also help home cooks “who have been forced into the margins” to make a living.

The C.O.O.K. Alliance was spun out of the efforts of Josephine to help formalize the informal food economy, which Jorgenson estimates, based on researching social media platforms, to include between 50,000 to 100,000 people.

According to Jorgenson, Josephine’s research found that 84 percent of the people involved in selling homemade food were women, and many were immigrants.

“This is a really important and accessible economic opportunity for people who need it,” Jorgensen said. “It’s also healthy for communities, combating some of the anonymity and loneliness in our neighborhoods, and bridging divides in gentrifying neighborhoods. There’s no easier way to connect with people than through home-cooked food. And if you think of your most memorable meals, a lot of them were probably home-cooked.”

… In other food regulation news, Alameda County is temporarily stopping the crackdown on pop-up restaurants in order to figure out next steps. Also, SB 905, which would push back the last call for alcohol sales from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. in nine pilot cities, including Oakland, awaits approval by the governor.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Eat Real Turns 10

Plus, Oakland Cocktail Week debuts.

by Momo Chang
Wed, Sep 12, 2018 at 9:54 AM

Oakland Cocktail Week will help benefit ROC's CHOW bartender training program. - COURTESY OF ROC
  • Courtesy of ROC
  • Oakland Cocktail Week will help benefit ROC's CHOW bartender training program.

The Eat Real Festival, now in its tenth year, returns to Oakland’s Jack London Square Sept. 14-16. The family-friendly event will include food trucks, DJs, live painting, and more — focusing on food, beer, and cocktails made with local, sustainable ingredients.

This year’s festival will feature more than 50 food vendors, with 40 craft beers, wines, and cocktails on the menu. Besides the free portion of the festival, there are also five “Brews & Bites” events pairing local restaurants and local brews. Other ticketed events include classes on vegetable fermenting (for kids) and tea leaf salad-making taught by William Lue, chef and owner of Grocery Cafe, a Burmese restaurant in Jack London Square.

There are also hidden gems scheduled during the festival, such as a dessert sculpture created by Camila Valdez. Part of the proceeds from Eat Real benefit Oakland-based Food Craft Institute, an educational nonprofit focusing on supporting artisanal food businesses.

Dovetailing with Eat Real is the beginning of the first-ever Oakland Cocktail Week. “Oakland’s Got Spirit! Local Craft Spirits Showcase” will feature cocktails highlighting local craft spirits and distillers on Friday, Sept. 14, at 3 p.m. at Eat Real.

During the rest of Oakland Cocktail Week, through Sept. 23, you can find specialty cocktails, priced at $10, at 40 or so restaurants and bars in Oakland, Alameda, and Emeryville. Participants include Ramen Shop, Hopscotch, Starline Social Club, AlaMar, Dyafa, Camino, Cosecha, Plank, The Aloha Club, Tamarindo, Spice Money, Belcampo, and more.

A slate of ticketed events will also take place at select venues, including a screening of Sean Wells’ film Town Spirit: A Tribute to Oakland’s Enduring Bar Culture — which features local bars, bartenders, owners, and patrons at Heinold’s, Merchant’s Saloon, 7th St. Walk of Fame, The Alley, Trader Vic’s, Ruby Room, and Cafe Van Kleef — and a reception at the Oakland Museum of California. The closing night event is an Oakland-inspired cocktail battle (featuring a sponsor, Hennessy) at Starline Social Club, followed by a dance party.

Partial proceeds from Oakland Cocktail Week will benefit Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) and its Restore Oakland initiative, which is building a training center near the Fruitvale BART station. Restore Oakland is a partnership between ROC and Oakland-based Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.

Organizers of Oakland Cocktail Week chose to support ROC and the Restore Oakland initiative because they also run COLORS Hospitality Opportunities for Workers (CHOW), a program that offers free bartender training to people of color. “This is really relevant for the spirits industry as it helps to achieve racial equity by removing some of the barriers for POC to achieve higher paying jobs within the service industry,” said Daphne Wu, one of the organizers of Oakland Cocktail Week. “We hope the Bay Area community will not only come out and support local businesses, but will also support an organization that strengthens ties between workers and business owners.”

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Beauty’s Bagel Shop to Open Second Oakland Location

Plus, the owners of displaced Henry’s Gallery Cafe have a new sandwich shop in San Leandro.

by Momo Chang
Tue, Sep 11, 2018 at 10:02 AM

Beauty's Bagel Shop's open classic features plain cream cheese, smoked salmon, capers, and onions. - PHOTO BY CPLUSN
  • Photo by CplusN
  • Beauty's Bagel Shop's open classic features plain cream cheese, smoked salmon, capers, and onions.

A popular Temescal bagel shop will open its second Oakland location in October. Beauty’s Bagel Shop is known for its Montreal-style wood-fired bagels, breakfast bagel sandwiches, espresso drinks, and homemade soups.

The new Beauty’s Bagel Shop (1700 Franklin St., Oakland) is slated to open the first week of October. The menu at the new location will be familiar to fans, but with a few extra sandwiches: a tuna melt and hot roast beef sandwich. (Omelets will not be on the menu, at least initially.)

Blake Joffe and Amy Remsen are the husband-and-wife owners of the bagel shop. The bagels will still be made in the Temescal location, which opened six years ago, and delivered to the new shop several times a day.

News of the shop’s second location sparked controversy last year when word got out that the tenants in the space where Beauty’s was moving to in downtown Oakland were being pushed out. Yong Soo Jung and Jung Sook Park had leased the space for their business, Henry’s Gallery Cafe, for a decade, and when their lease was up, the landlord did not renew it. Instead, the landlord contacted Joffe and Remsen to see if they would be interested in moving in.

“We were approached by the landlords,” Joffe told the Express. “They liked our product, they liked our concept. They asked us, and it seemed like the perfect location, perfect space.”

Last year, Remsen wrote in an email: “It is unfortunate that the landlords did not choose to renew his lease if [Jung] did in fact wish to stay in the space. It was never our intention to displace another small business owner.”

Joffe said he and Remsen had lived near that location when they first moved to Oakland. “We always walked down the street and thought about opening something there one day,” Joffe said. “It reminded us of Philadelphia. We fell in love with that block.”

As of this summer, Jung and Park now run a sandwich shop in San Leandro called The Big Cheese (2194 Edison Ave., San Leandro). They may soon change the name to Henry’s Gallery Café, and recently began offering catering services.

Around the same time that they were forced to leave their previous location, Jung and Park were the victims of a burglary that resulted in the loss of their life savings. Amy Newman, a customer of Henry’s, and her husband Brent Noorda started a GoFundMe for Jung and Park.

The GoFundMe ended up raising more than $22,000. Using that money, the couple was able to purchase The Big Cheese.
Newman recently visited the sandwich shop and said the owners were very grateful for the community’s support. The money allowed them to not only open the new location but also help pay for their son’s college tuition.

“They’re doing well,” Newman told the Express. “Even though they were displaced and it was a bad thing, it really showed how generous people were.”

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Pop-up Crackdown Stuns East Bay Restaurant Industry

by Elly Schmidt-Hopper
Wed, Sep 5, 2018 at 12:28 PM

Korean-American pop-up restaurant Nokni was shut down by an Alameda County health inspector a couple weeks ago. - PHOTO COURTESY OF JULYA SHIN
  • photo courtesy of Julya Shin
  • Korean-American pop-up restaurant Nokni was shut down by an Alameda County health inspector a couple weeks ago.

Since Julya Shin and Steve Joo’s Korean-American pop-up restaurant Nokni was shut down by an Alameda County health inspector a couple weeks ago, the East Bay restaurant industry has responded with a mix of shock, indignation, fear, and support.

No one realized that the California Retail Food Code doesn’t address pop-up restaurants, making them illegal by omission. And restaurant owners who host pop-ups put their establishments at risk by doing so.

Allison Hopelain, co-owner of The Kebabery, which hosted Nokni, said they will no longer have pop-ups at their restaurants for fear of losing their health permit.
  • photo courtesy of Julya Shin
  • Julya Shin
Other restaurant owners are grappling with their options.
“We’re trying to get legal advice about what to do,” said Adam Hatch, owner of Starline Social Club. “There are so many grey areas. Lots of people who’ve done popups here also work here in the kitchen.”

From the restaurateurs’ perspective, hosting pop-ups is a matter of community and creativity. Plus, it’s good for business.

“We started the [pop-up] program six months ago and were getting confident,” said Hillary Rose Huffard, co-owner and general manager of Rose’s Taproom. “We’ve had to rethink our entire approach to it. For us, the pop-ups were really a testament to our core values in terms of being part of the community.”

Huffard has decided to cancel three scheduled pop-ups because she doesn’t want to put her restaurant at risk. She hopes Alameda County will come up with a solution.

“When something new is working, lets figure out a way to let it continue to work instead of saying, ‘We haven’t figured out a way to regulate this, so it’s illegal,’” she said.

The pop-up firestorm puts the Alameda County Department of Environment Health in a thankless position. The department’s central objective is to keep everyone in Alameda County who eats at restaurants, food trucks, and food booths, safe. Considering the size of the region and the number of restaurants, this is a considerable feat. Currently, 28 inspectors permit about 6,750 fixed food facilities and mobile food trucks. That’s about 241 facilities per inspector, and they try to make it to each establishment twice a year.

“We do not want to have a situation where the food preparation or the food itself have not been inspected,” said Sherri Willis, spokesperson for Alameda County Public Health Department. “It may be that the facility is inspected, but the facility is permitted to a different individual, so the food itself, the menu, is not inspected,” she said. “It pops up, it pops down, and we may or may not know about it.”

Willis acknowledged that pop-up restaurants are popular and fun, but asked what if something goes wrong?

“It’s great until someone gets sick,” said Willis. “You don’t know who the chef is, you don’t know what they’re cooking, you don’t know where they’re getting the food from. So it’s super hard to track it down.”

Pop-ups have been operating unimpeded despite the law because the health department simply does not have the staff for proper enforcement. Willis estimated it would take about a half a dozen more inspectors to find and shutdown pop-ups that are currently operating.

“There simply aren’t the resources to be tracking social media and sending out inspectors to these locations,” she said. “And I doubt that any health department has those resources.”

As far as establishing a legal permitting system, health officials maintain that their hands are tied because they cannot change California law.

Some have cited San Francisco as an example of a burdensome, but established, pop-up permitting process. But according to Mary Freschet, a principal environmental health inspector in San Francisco, the San Francisco Health Department doesn’t actually issue pop-up permits. Instead, the “pop-up” must be a licensed caterer, and the “pop-up fee” of $191 is actually a site evaluation fee: Inspectors make sure the permitted host facility meets certain standards, like having hot and cold water. The health department assumes that the “pop-up” is actually preparing and cooking food in a licensed commercial kitchen and then warming it up at the host facility.

Freschet said they don’t process many of these “pop-up site evaluations.” When asked if the site evaluation is a one-time fee per location, so a pop-up could host regular events at the same space, Freschet said that situation had never come up — which is surprising considering how often pop-ups do reoccurring events at the same restaurant.

Until now, Bay Area pop-ups and health inspectors have been dancing a decade-long waltz of willful ignorance. With Nokni’s shutdown, however, that waltz has morphed into a depressing tango.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

FOB Kitchen to Bring Filipino Fare to Temescal

by Momo Chang
Tue, Sep 4, 2018 at 10:13 AM

FOB Kitchen's tocino — house-cured pork shoulder, garlic rice, and sunny side up egg. - PHOTO BY BRANDI DULCE
  • Photo by Brandi Dulce
  • FOB Kitchen's tocino — house-cured pork shoulder, garlic rice, and sunny side up egg.

The latest addition to the East Bay’s Filipino food scene is FOB Kitchen, in the former Juhu Beach Club restaurant in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood. The new restaurant — which will be remade into a Philippines-inspired space with bright colors, decorative art, and ocean-inspired hues — is aiming for a late-September debut, with chef Janice Dulce at the helm and co-owned with her partner Brandi Dulce.

Both have 15 years of experience in the restaurant business, with Brandi on the business side and front of the house and Janice as the chef. Janice previously worked at Out the Door, while Brandi was previously at A16 and Starbelly. This is their first venture in the East Bay.

Serendipitously, they found the space on Craigslist, not knowing it was formerly occupied by Juhu Beach Club, operated by chef Preeti Mistry and her partner and co-owner Ann Nadeau. Both Mistry and Janice Dulce are queer, women of color chefs.

FOB Kitchen is a tongue-in-cheek name the couple came up with after bouncing around words in Tagalog. Janice’s family is from the Philippines, but she was born and grew up mostly in Guam. The name “FOB,” which stands for “fresh off the boat” and has been used in a derogatory way toward immigrants, is actually an homage to Janice’s overseas roots. “We’re sort of sarcastic, rebellious individuals,” Brandi said.

The couple has been running a pop-up service in San Francisco for three years. While they haven’t finalized the menu yet, Brandi said FOB Kitchen will serve all the favorites from their pop-ups, including homestyle silog dishes — which are served with garlic fried rice and a fried egg — such as tocino, thinly sliced, sweetly marinated pork shoulder with garlic fried rice and a sunny side up egg. Their other favorites include adobo, slow roasted pork spare ribs with a coffee rub, lechon kawali (crispy pork belly cooked three times), lumpia, and pancit. Pescetarians will rejoice at their pan-seared whole fish topped with a Thai chili-fish sauce.

They plan to stay open until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and will include a bar bites menu as well. In addition, they will add seasonal dishes as well as a cocktail menu created by Cali Gold, with drinks inspired by the Pacific islands.

FOB Kitchen is part of a wave of new Filipino restaurants in the East Bay. Likha, owned by chefs Bobby Punla and Jan Dela Paz, who both previously worked at Ramen Shop in Oakland, opened up in Emeryville’s Hometown Heroes Sports Bar in June. Jeepney Guy by Dennis Villafranca officially opened last weekend at the new 7th West community and art space in West Oakland. So far, FOB Kitchen is the only Filipino restaurant in the Temescal neighborhood.

While this recent wave seems coincidental, it’s not. Filipino Americans are the largest Asian or Pacific Islander population in California, and there’s been a push for more Filipino cuisine in the Bay Area in recent years. The couple sees themselves as part of the larger Filipino food movement. “Every success is all of our success,” Brandi said. “Everyone is super supportive.”

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