Friday, June 14, 2019

Flint’s BBQ Is Coming Back to the Town

The historic, long-shuttered beloved Oakland BBQ joint is returning this summer as a pop-up.

By Katherine Hamilton
Fri, Jun 14, 2019 at 3:33 PM

click to enlarge Granddaughter Crystal Martin, left, is leading the revival; owner Willie Flintroy and daughter Charlotte Martin. - PHOTOS BY CRYSTAL MARTIN
  • Photos by Crystal Martin
  • Granddaughter Crystal Martin, left, is leading the revival; owner Willie Flintroy and daughter Charlotte Martin.

Ask any longtime Bay Area resident about Flint’s, and they’ll tell you a story. Maybe they used to wait in line for Flint’s after parties or concerts at the Coliseum. Maybe they even drove from as far away as San Francisco, San Jose, or Sacramento to get their Flint’s.

Flint’s BBQ opened in 1968. At its peak, Flint’s had a total of three locations in Oakland, with lines that often wrapped around the block. The last Flint’s BBQ closed in 2010. But for those who thought they’d never experience the taste of Flint’s legendary barbecue sauce again, there’s good news: Flint’s is coming back to Oakland this August as a pop-up.

“There’s history, and then there’s Flintstory,” said Steve Dorsey, spokesperson for Flint’s BBQ. “And that’s the impetus to bring it back.”

The person leading the Flint’s revival is Crystal Martin, the granddaughter of one of the original owners, Willie Flintroy, and the step-granddaughter of the last living original owner, Margaret Flintroy. With the blessing of Margaret Flintroy, Martin is bringing back the original recipes for loyal Flint’s fans to enjoy.

Some might simply see it as a return of some of Oakland’s most legendary barbecue. But Dorsey suggests the return of Flint’s signifies something bigger. It’s a throwback to the time of Tower of Power, the Black Panthers, and the Festival at the Lake, before Oakland’s most recent wave of gentrification.

“So much negative over the years has been written about Oakland,” Dorsey said. “But it doesn’t talk about the people who make up Oakland. Here’s a positive light for Oakland that Oakland lit. ...It started in Oakland, but it was the Oakland love, it was the Oakland loyalty that lit the fire. ...It’s the work ethic, it’s the pride. And that’s what this is all about. We want to bring something that is Oakland back.”

In keeping with its Oakland roots, the first pop-up will take place in West Oakland at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 1023 Peralta Street, on Sunday, August 4, from noon to 5 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance on Eventbrite for $33. The ticket includes a dinner plate with ribs, chicken, mac and cheese, baked beans, string beans, potato salad, bread, and a drink. In true Flint’s tradition, diners can also select from mild, medium, and “hella” hot sauce. Margaret Flintroy will be present at the pop-up to talk about Flint’s, and there’ll also be a DJ for all to enjoy.

The August pop-up in Oakland is the first of what Martin hopes will be a series of pop-ups around the entire Bay Area. As a lifelong Oakland resident, Martin also wants to do something about the homelessness crisis in Oakland, and will host several giveaways for unhoused people. Eventually, she plans to open a food truck, and someday, open another Flint’s BBQ brick and mortar. Dorsey says Flint’s will be back better than ever.

“Let’s just roll up our sleeves and really make this something even more special than it was,” he said. “Not sitting on your past laurels, but really believing in setting a new standard.”

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