New Oakland restaurants and bars continue to defy the recession

17 Apr

Did someone neglect to mention to small business entrepreneurs that we’re in a recession? Because in Oakland you’d never guess it by the sheer amount of restaurants and bars opening. What’s most incredible though is that all of these new establishments seem to not only be surviving, but thriving.

Burma Superstar, a sister of the restaurants in San Francisco and Alameda, is getting very close to opening its doors at 4721 Telegraph, where Horseshoe used to be. Another restaurant in Temescal? I think the neighborhood will handle it well as most of the other restaurants have long waits, or in the case of Barlata, will likely soon have long waits. I’ve never been to the other Burma Superstar locations, but I’ve heard good things, and the menu looks delicious.

burma-superstarI’ve heard that the restaurant is opening tonight, but it doesn’t look entirely ready to me. The tables and chairs are set up, and I even saw a vase of flowers in the window. But they still have the HUGE Horseshoe sign up! I understand if they can’t yet afford the cost of a new sign, but no sign is better than a completely incorrect sign. So we’ll have to wait and see if they take it down before opening – if not, I hope it comes down soon after.

You’d probably already heard about Burma Superstar, but last week I stumbled upon a new champagne bar that there hasn’t been as much buzz about. It’s called Mimosa Champagne Lounge and it’s located in the building of the Packard Lofts, at 2355 Broadway. The space is absolutely stunning – I really wish I had snapped some photos. It’s very spacious with long, raised wooden tables and dim lighting.

I was peering inside when the owner walked outside, so I got to ask him about it. He said it should be open by the end of April and that they’d be serving small plates and desserts along side champagne. The restaurant looked completely ready to open from the outside so I’m wondering if they’re just waiting on their liquor license or some other permit.

I’m particularly excited about this spot opening because I think it will be a big help in further connecting downtown Oakland to the new hot spots on Auto Row. Because after Ozumo and Pican, you have to walk several blocks before reaching Shashamane, Mua, and Z Bar. With Mimosa in between, it will be a more pleasant walk and I hope will help create more of the lively, urban feel that now exists in Uptown on Telegraph.

As new restaurants and bars in Oakland continue to defy the recession, I’m wondering how much longer it can last and whether we’ll soon reach saturation. But I’m starting to think that as Oakland becomes a Bay Area destination, instead of just the city across the Bay from San Francisco, this recent growth may only be the beginning. And I couldn’t be much happier about that.

7 Responses to “New Oakland restaurants and bars continue to defy the recession”

  1. Coolhand Luke April 17, 2009 at 9:00 am #

    Thanks for keeping me up on all the spots I have to check out when I return!!

  2. mel April 17, 2009 at 10:01 am #

    Burma Superstar is amazing! I’m so excited to have one practically down the street. It’s certainly worth the 2 hour wait at the SF location.

  3. jennconspiracy April 17, 2009 at 2:03 pm #

    I’m so excited – Temescal REPRESENT! We should have an Oakland blogger party at the champagne bar when it opens… yums!!!

  4. Navigator April 17, 2009 at 2:51 pm #

    Oakland is succeeding because Oakland is a great value. Oakland still gets discounted on its unfair image. Once people and businesses come to Oakland and realize that that horrible image conjured up over the years doesn’t quite fit reality, they tell friends, they tell business associates, and word gets out.

    I grew up in lower Rockridge, not too far from Temescal. I still remember the old blighted and decrepit Vern’s Shopping Center at 51st & Telegraph. I had many friends, and even relatives, who badmouthed Oakland, and the area specifically. One of them recently went to Genoa’s Delicatessen and was wondering why there were dozens of people lining up across the street. I told him that it was a very popular restaurant called Bekesale Betty. I was trying to get some sort of acknowledgment of how much Temescal has changed for the better. He wouldn’t budge. He instead commented that he was approached by someone who was attempting to sell stolen merchandise as he left the Deli. He said that hadn’t happened to him since he lived in Oakland. Somehow, I have a feeling that this guy has a selective memory. I know for a fact, via one incident that he conveniently forgets, that he’s experienced a much more serious crime in his current city. There are people out there who will not let go of their anti-Oakland bias no matter what.

    Anyway, as long as Oakland is viewed as a hidden secret and a good value because of a lousy image, and as long as more people with disposable income keep finding out about Oakland, restaurants, theaters, clubs, and other businesses should continue to flourish and thrive.

  5. Ralph April 19, 2009 at 9:05 am #

    Thanks for the update on Mimosa. It should also be noted that we have Farley’s East and a wine/art bar opening on Grand hopefully within the month.

  6. newoaktown April 20, 2009 at 6:29 pm #

    I recently met the owner of a sports bar in the uptown district somewhere, it’s above Crown Wok or something. Don’t have his biz card on me right now.

    I “officially” launched my bike taxi service at Art Murmur on 4/3 and it was a hoot. Had lots of fun this past Friday night too. I’ll be doing this every Friday night for a while, and expanding it soon too.

    Google “sunny side express pedicab”!

  7. motoproponent April 23, 2009 at 7:38 pm #

    I just noticed two places in my neighborhood. Even though LFC ( is a chain it’s got to be better than KFC. And there is now an Italian option in the Laurel. Trattoria Laurellinos is right next to a budding weekly farmer’s market. (Saturday)

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