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.
Julya Shin - PHOTO COURTESY OF JULYA SHIN
  • 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.”

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A Harbinger of an Immigration Crackdown?

After the owner of Bissap Baobab was arrested for allegedly illegally obtaining citizenship, immigration lawyers worry about more denaturalization cases — which could be bad news for the local restaurant industry.

by Elly Schmidt-Hopper
Tue, Aug 28, 2018 at 9:28 AM

Marco Senghor, owner of the popular restaurant and nightclub Bissap Baobab. - PHOTO FROM MARCO SENGHOR'S GOFUNDME CAMPAIGN
  • Photo from Marco Senghor's GoFundMe campaign
  • Marco Senghor, owner of the popular restaurant and nightclub Bissap Baobab.

Marco Senghor, owner of the popular restaurant and nightclub Bissap Baobab, which was recently featured in the Boots Riley movie Sorry to Bother You, shocked the local community by announcing in a Facebook post that he’s fighting federal criminal charges alleging he illegally obtained citizenship. On Aug. 16, Senghor wrote that he will plead not guilty and has hired a “top defense attorney,” but that the future of Bissap Baobab Village is uncertain.

A Senegalese native and son of Senegal’s first president, Senghor moved to San Francisco almost three decades ago and became a naturalized citizen in 2009. He opened his first restaurant, Little Baobab, on 19th and Mission more than 20 years ago. Senghor was half a block from his restaurant when police arrested him in early August. He’s currently out on $50,000 bail.

The Department of Justice is accusing Senghor of falsifying or omitting information relevant to his citizenship on his citizenship application.

Further details on the case are unavailable. The indictment is sealed, and the San Francisco office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services did not respond to requests for information.

Senghor’s lawyer, Jeffrey Bornstein, is currently declining interviews with the press, however, in a Legal Monitor article published a few weeks ago, he is quoted saying that Senghor was misled prior to applying for citizenship: “The claim is there are false statements that he made in connection with that application and I’m telling you that they relate back to an incident earlier in 2000, where he was misled and received some terrible, terrible advice from people that took advantage of him.”

Still, the fact that the federal government is prioritizing denaturalization cases (i.e., reviewing and removing immigrants already granted legal citizenship) is unusual and may indicate a worrisome trend. As Mission Local reported, Senghor’s case could be the first of many in the Bay Area.

Denaturalization is a rare and complicated process that the U.S. government has historically reserved for human rights violators. For example, if you were, say, a Nazi war criminal and had lied about it to gain U.S. citizenship, the Feds could press criminal charges and put you in jail.

Under the Trump administration, it appears the government is testing denaturalization for less egregious applications. The Los Angeles Times reported that a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services team in Los Angeles is reviewing more than 2,500 naturalization files, focusing on identity fraud and willful misrepresentation. They have referred more than 100 cases to the Department of Justice for possible action.

Multiple immigration lawyers contacted for this article had never worked a denaturalization case before, but believe they might in the future under this administration.

This is bad news for the Bay Area restaurant industry, which is made rich by the diversity of the population. People look to Senghor as an example of success — he had recently invested heavily in the Mission, purchasing the Bissap Baobab building for $1.6 million. “This case is quite chilling, sending a message that even if you’ve acquired valid immigration status, you are not safe from detention or deportation,” said Gwyneth Borden, executive director of Golden Gate Restaurant Association. “The restaurant industry has the most diverse population of owners and workers; our local industry is powered by immigrants with varying immigration status.”

The community is rallying around Senghor and Bissap Baobab. In six days, a GoFundMe campaign set up to help with his legal defense had already raised over $44,000.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Five La Cocina Incubator Businesses Run by Women and People of Color Open Up on Cal Campus

by Momo Chang
Thu, Aug 23, 2018 at 10:00 AM

Mother-daughter pair Bernadine Sewell and Sicily Sewell-Johnson run Pinky & Red’s, serving soul food-inspired sandwiches. - PHOTO BY KALELIA WILSON COURTESY OF LA COCINA
  • Photo by Kalelia Wilson courtesy of La Cocina
  • Mother-daughter pair Bernadine Sewell and Sicily Sewell-Johnson run Pinky & Red’s, serving soul food-inspired sandwiches.

Five food businesses run by women and people of color opened up at the UC Berkeley Student Union earlier this month, just in time for the start of the new school year. La Cocina Cantina includes a Syrian restaurant, a Vietnamese noodle shop, a bakery, a soul food sandwich vendor, and a kiosk focusing on Chilean empanadas.
The businesses are located in the ASUC Student Union in the MLK Jr. Building (2495 Bancroft Way, Berkeley), and are open to the public weekdays during lunch hours.

La Cocina was selected by Cal students to be the vendor during a month-long pop-up last semester. The five vendors are part of the La Cocina “best-in-class” incubator program, and will remain on campus for the rest of the school year.

La Cocina is a San Francisco-based nonprofit food incubator that focuses on helping women from underrepresented, minority, and immigrant or refugee backgrounds. It has helped launch the careers of Reem Assil of Dyafa and Reem’s and Nite Yun of Nyum Bai, which was recently named one of the best new American restaurants by Bon Appetit.

La Cocina’s goal is to make these businesses self-sustaining, and the cantina at Cal is another step toward that goal for the local, family-run businesses. Almost all of the vendors are East Bay-based.

The vendors include Old Damascus Fare, a catering company run by a Syrian refugee family making traditional Syrian food such as beef mandi ($11), made with smoked basmati rice, spices, and beef with a sprinkling of almonds on top, and fattoush salad ($8), a light mix of cucumber, tomato, lettuce, onion, garlic, mint, olive oil and vinegar, and fried pita. The family includes daughter Batool Rawoas and parents Mohammed Aref Rawas and Rawaa Kaseda.

Noodle Girl, run by Hang Truong, serves Vietnamese food, focusing mostly on noodles, though there’s also lemongrass chicken wings ($7) and banh mi ($8.50). Pho comes in small ($7) or large ($12) sizes and is made from organic chicken, pork, or vegetable broth.

Sharing a space with Noodle Girl is A Girl Named Pinky, run by Oakland native Tina Stevens. The bakery sells chocolate chip cookies, red velvet cupcakes, and espresso and orange sherbet macaroons, ranging from $2 to $5. The bakery is open weekdays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., and hopes to start breakfast service in the next month.

Pinky & Red’s is run by mother-daughter pair Bernadine Sewell and Sicily Sewell-Johnson. They serve soul food-inspired sandwiches such as a barbecue fried chicken ($11), a classic burger (which can also be made with a chicken or veggie patty) ($9.75), and “The Sunday Dinner” ($10.75), another fried-chicken sandwich that comes with greens, yams, and dirty rice (a vegetarian version substitutes fried chicken for a fried grit cake). All sandwiches come with French fries.

El Mesón De Violeta, by Carmen Figueroa, serves Chilean empanadas ($5) in beef, chicken, vegetarian, and vegan options served with salsa pebre, plus soup and three different salads.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Rush Bowls Blends Fruit, Veggies in Berkeley

by Momo Chang
Mon, Aug 20, 2018 at 4:32 PM

Topping options include fresh fruit and organic granola. - PHOTO COURTESY OF RUSH BOWLS
  • Photo courtesy of Rush Bowls
  • Topping options include fresh fruit and organic granola.

Smoothie bowls have gone far beyond the acai berry, as evidenced by Colorado-based Rush Bowls’ extensive offerings. Rush Bowls just opened in downtown Berkeley (1935 Addison St.). It’s the chain’s first store to open up in the Bay Area, but more are in the works, including one in Oakland slated for the fall. Expect to see the company continue to expand across the United States.

The grab-and-go-style restaurant features 40 types of “bowls” on the menu, from blended mango-based bowls to more interesting twists such as a chai tea-style bowl, peach cobbler, and peanut butter and jelly. All bowls are made from blended fruits and/or vegetables, and come with toppings like almond butter, chia seeds, or fresh fruit. The bowls start at $8.25 and are blended together with protein and vitamins. Extra toppings can be added for $1 each.

Berkeley franchise owner Kanishka “Kenny” Noori said he was inspired to open a Rush Bowls to cater to students and those seeking healthy options.

Noori, who immigrated to the U.S. from Afghanistan in 2009, said he previously worked in the car industry but was looking for a type of business that was more family-friendly. The Hayward resident’s favorite item at Rush Bowls is the Beach Bowl, which is made of acai, mango, banana, and guava juice and topped with organic granola and honey.

Rush Bowl’s menu offers four types of acai bowls. Beyond that, the focus seems to be on less conventional flavor combos. There are bowls featuring frozen yogurt, avocado, green tea, coconut, kale, and spinach, for example. And each bowl can be customized. They also have vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, wheat-free, nut-free, and dairy-free bowls as well.

Each “meal in a bowl” could contain up for five servings of fruits and vegetables, and up to 40 grams of protein. Rush Bowls also makes many of the individual components, such as the jams, and blends homemade peanut butter onsite in a grinder.

The East Bay’s second Rush Bowls is opening later this year (350 17th St., Oakland), owned by Robert and Shamani Walker. The location is near Pho 84 and kitty corner from Howden Market. The Walkers are Oakland residents who have a passion for health and healthy living. The opening date is not set yet, but they are hoping to open this fall.

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Friday, August 17, 2018

Chinatown Update: Yun's Idea Cuisine, Huangcheng Noodle House, and So Much Boba

by Janelle Bitker
Fri, Aug 17, 2018 at 9:26 AM

img_2069.jpg

While many Oakland Chinatown restaurant spaces languish empty, others have been churning through concepts rapidly.

The single storefront to see the most change in the past couple of years is located at 366 8th St. In late 2014, Kee Wong and Hon Chan opened Chilli Padi, which was Oakland’s only Malaysian restaurant at the time. But it didn’t last. Last year, the owners rebranded and reopened it as Hotpot Factory, a spot that seemed to capitalize on the soaring interest in hot pot. That didn’t even last a full year. Earlier this week, the owners tried a new concept: Yun’s Idea Cuisine. Manager Kevin Li said the owners no longer wanted to use open flames in the dining room, so they brought on a chef from Shanghai to specialize in Shanghainese cuisine.

“It’s really good. It’s very beautiful,” Li said. “The taste is really good.”

The lengthy menu includes soups, dim sum, noodles, dumplings, cold dishes, and more than 20 Shanghainese options, which tend to taste sweeter than other Chinese regional styles. (Li specifically recommended the Shanghai-style pork in soy sauce, fried pork in sweet and sour sauce, and pork soup dumplings.) Folks who work in the area might want to try Yun’s Idea’s $9.99 lunch specials, which include a main dish, vegetables, rice, soup, and small appetizers.

Earlier this summer, Chinatown’s long-running Shanghainese restaurant, aptly called Shanghai Restaurant, closed for good. It, too, was abruptly replaced, with Chan’s Kitchen (930 Webster St.), a Taiwanese spot with another branch in Newark, opening just weeks later.

And then there’s Huangcheng Noodle House (734 Webster St.), which replaced Nan Cafe, which went through multiple iterations in its short existence as a Hong Kong-style cafe and then a Sichuan restaurant. Now, the space specializes in Shanxi-style knife shaved noodles, a thick and chewy style that’s notoriously tricky to make. The technique involves taking a block of dough in one hand and a knife in the other, and then rapidly shaving slices into a pot of boiling water.

Meanwhile, the parade of bubble tea spots never seems to end. Royaltea (702 Webster St.), the second branch of a popular Fremont business, recently opened with a classy interior. One Zo, a relatively new Taiwanese brand that claims to be the world’s first bubble tea store to make its own boba fresh onsite, will enter the Bay Area market at 362 8th St. The inner East Bay’s first location of Meet Fresh, a Taiwanese drinks and dessert chain, is also under construction at 382 8th St. While the East Bay hosts a number of Hong Kong-style dessert spots, there are far fewer places to find Taiwanese-specific sweets. Expect shaved ice, herbal jelly, taro balls, and tofu pudding topped with an assortment of mung beans, barley, lotus seeds, or sweet potato. At least it’s not another place solely devoted to boba.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

With New Fellowship, Mamacitas Cafe Opens Its Doors for Women, Non-Binary Folks

by Momo Chang
Tue, Aug 14, 2018 at 12:31 PM

The women behind Mamacitas hope to one day run their business cooperatively. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MAMACITAS CAFE AND CATERING
  • Photo courtesy of Mamacitas Cafe and Catering
  • The women behind Mamacitas hope to one day run their business cooperatively.

Mamacitas Cafe and Catering is about to launch a paid fellowship for young women and non-binary individuals who want to become future food leaders.

The program is in partnership with the Young Women’s Freedom Center in San Francisco and the Lorry I Lokey Graduate School of Business and Public Policy at Mills College. Starting this fall, four to six young women and non-binary individuals ages 18 to 24 will learn how to start a small business. The nine-month-long paid fellowship is intended for those who have been impacted by incarceration, the foster care system, domestic violence, and sex trafficking.

The fellowship program continues the social enterprise company's goal of training and employing underserved young people — and giving them the skills to be successful.

Mamacitas was dreamed up by co-founders Shana Lancaster and Renee Geesler about five years ago and officially launched in 2014. (Geesler has since stepped back and works at the Akonadi Foundation.)

Last summer, Mamacitas ran a successful Kickstarter campaign in hopes of moving into a brick-and-mortar near Laney College, but the deal fell through. (Mamacitas previously operated out of Qulture Collective in downtown Oakland). Instead, the owners used the funds raised to move into Forage Kitchen to expand their catering service and bring on more young women entrepreneurs.

The owners call it "temple food." - PHOTO COURTESY OF MAMACITAS CAFE AND CATERING
  • Photo courtesy of Mamacitas Cafe and Catering
  • The owners call it "temple food."

Since then, Mamacitas has expanded to a full catering menu, bringing on Roxanne Swaminathan as catering director to focus on events and weddings. The donut kebabs, paired with coffee from Red Bay Coffee, are still popular. (The chefs bring a fryer on-site.) Seasonal menu items now include a slow-cooked romanesco, chickpea, and potato coconut curry, and other California-fresh, world-inspired dishes. Breakfast packages are named after powerful women in history: “Dolores” for Dolores Huerta, “Yuri” for Yuri Kochiyama, and “Angela” for Angela Davis.

The food reflects the employees, who are based in the East Bay but whose families may be from all over the world. One side of Lancaster’s family, for example, were refugees from Armenia. “What the food reflects is our own flavors,” said Mamacitas Chef Simone Obidah, who met Lancaster while working together at Miss Ollie’s and joined the team in 2015 as its third founder. “It’s Oakland comfort food, not traditional comfort food.”

The founders liken it to “temple food” — clean and healthy, with a focus on fresh and seasonal vegetables and fruits.

All are women who have worked in the male-dominated food industry. Some of the women say they didn’t feel it was safe to be creative in some of their past kitchens. “The love and creativity in food can be overshadowed by sexism,” Executive Director Lancaster said. “Our biggest success is folks coming together and feeling safe, creative, and nourished.”

There is also a collaborative nature in the way they create the business and the menu. Caridad Johnson, one of the Mamacitas catering cooks, said she and Obidah come up with new recipes together, like making powdered sugar from dried hibiscus, which lends a light pink color to olive oil cakes.

In fact, they hope to work toward a cooperative business model one day. The goal is to continue to support young women entrepreneurs, focusing on “sustainability and healing and upward mobility for communities that have been here for a long time,” Lancaster said.

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Monday, August 13, 2018

2nd Half Sports Lounge Opens with Smokin' Woods BBQ in Tow

by Momo Chang
Mon, Aug 13, 2018 at 3:41 PM

Smokin' Woods BBQ will sell more than meats and sides at 2nd Half Sports Lounge. - FILE PHOTO/RICHARD LOMIBAO
  • File photo/Richard Lomibao
  • Smokin' Woods BBQ will sell more than meats and sides at 2nd Half Sports Lounge.

Oakland’s newest sports bar also just happens to host some of the East Bay’s best barbecue.

Erika Dailey’s 2nd Half Sports Lounge (4307 Telegraph Ave.) opened in Temescal’s former Urban Latino space on July 30. “It’s a wooden tavern. It’s really sexy,” she told the Express. “It’s like a date night spot where you want to have good food, good music, and hang out.”
Erika and her husband, James Dailey, also own Halftime Sports Bar in downtown Oakland. The new restaurant and lounge boasts a full bar and seats about 100 people.

While 2nd Half has its own full, Southern-inflected restaurant menu, serving mac ’n’ cheese, fish and chips, gumbo, sliders, Cajun shrimp pasta, and vegan dishes, the kitchen closes twice a week to make way for Smokin’ Woods BBQ. On Sundays and Mondays, Smokin’ Woods BBQ chef and owner James Woodard brings in his menu of meats cooked over cherry and oak wood.

Smokin’ Woods BBQ started in 2013 primarily as a catering company. Woodard was still working a corporate job at Frito-Lay. He started an Instagram account, posting photos of his food. “People wanted to try my food,” Woodard told the Express. “They asked, ‘I can only try if if I [order] catering?”

Woodard left his job last September and moved into Forage Kitchen’s pop-up cafe space to serve his mix of Texas and Kansas City style ’cue. It was met with a rave review in the Express, and more recently, Food & Wine named Smokin’ Woods BBQ one of the country’s best barbecue joints. Smokin’ Woods recently left its Forage Kitchen space, but fans will be able to find favorite dishes and even more at 2nd Half. While the Forage edition focused on plates of brisket and pork ribs — with popular beef ribs on Fridays only — the pop-up at 2nd Half will feature beef ribs both days as well as items previously only available through catering, such as salmon and Brussels sprouts. The rest of the week, Woodard will continue to focus on catering as well as opening his own permanent space. “We’re in the build-out process near downtown Oakland, and hope to open a full barbecue sports bar in 2019,” he said.

But there are more reasons to check out 2nd Half beyond the barbecue. Erika designed the space as well as a full slate of daily events. There’s Taco Tuesday, Wine Wednesday with poetry, Ladies’ Night Thursday, live bands on Fridays, and brunch on Saturdays. Thursdays are closest to Erika’s heart. Her grandmother was killed in Oakland by a boyfriend, so she dedicates Thursdays to empowering women and raising money for domestic violence shelters.

On Thursday nights, 2nd Half sells leggings and exercise wear for women made by Ola Couture. Profits go toward domestic violence shelters, in honor of Erika’s grandmother. The exercise clothing line sends the message to “just keep it going, stay active about being better, and creating better,” Erika said.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Alice Collective to Launch with Cafe, Local Food Businesses in Historic Oakland Building

The new cafe and community space is scheduled to open on Monday, Aug. 13.

by Momo Chang
Tue, Aug 7, 2018 at 8:21 AM

Naan topped with curry chicken salad and arugula. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ISABEL BAER
  • Photo courtesy of Isabel Baer
  • Naan topped with curry chicken salad and arugula.

The Alice Collective
is much in line with what’s happening with a lot of food spaces in the East Bay: a food incubator mentality with a shared sense of community, where locally owned food businesses can get a leg up and thrive. The new, downtown Oakland cafe and community space (272 14th St.) is scheduled to officially open on Monday, Aug. 13.

Ted Wilson, founder of The Hall in San Francisco and cofounder of Metal & Match Catering, is bringing a similar sensibility to the new Oakland venture. The upstairs cafe will be open to the public, while the large commercial kitchen in the basement will house local food businesses.

“We want all these brands to be successful,” Wilson told the Express. “That’s the collective mentality behind it. The idea is giving small food businesses a place to have a home, and then ultimately to give them a place to have a storefront.”

The upstairs cafe, which is about 3,600 square feet, will feature sandwiches, pastries from Oak & Fig Baking, and a full coffee bar from Red Bay Coffee. There is also an 800-square-foot patio space with a bamboo grove and birds of paradise. The cafe will be open weekdays during breakfast and lunch. In the evenings, the space will be available for events.

Christine Wells, who cofounded Metal & Match with Wilson, will oversee the food program as the Alice Collective’s executive chef. “We’re looking to bring in fresh and clean flavors — simple, California fresh food — to that area.” This might mean sandwiches with arugula salad or grilled naan with curry chicken salad.
The historic downtown Oakland building has been well-restored. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ISABEL BAER
  • Photo courtesy of Isabel Baer
  • The historic downtown Oakland building has been well-restored.

The basement includes Andrew Lawrence Schiff of Oak & Fig Baking, who was previously sharing kitchen space at Forage Kitchen. Metal & Match also operates downstairs, and the collective is hoping to bring another local tenant in soon.

During the evenings and weekends, the space will be available for private events. Veteran bartender Nancy Chung, who owns The Wooden Nickel in San Francisco, has been tapped as beverage director of the venue.

The Alice Collective’s building used to house the family-run Holmes Book Company, a bookstore, for many decades. Later, it was the Silk Road Fabric store. “The building has an amazing history,” Wilson said. “The place is stunningly old and well-restored.”

Wilson said he was approached by the owner of the building because of the work he’d done at The Hall, which was a gourmet food court, bar, and community space that closed last year. “I just looked in here and said, ‘People need to be in here,’” he said.

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