What’s so special about Oakland? – Restaurant owners explain

1 Oct

When I first started reading this week’s East Bay Express article about Oakland’s restaurant scene, it seemed like it would read just like all the others: wow, Oakland has lots of great new restaurants! and you won’t necessarily get shot if you go to them!

But past the long listing of new restaurants were some quotes from restaurant owners that described why they opened in Oakland and that happened to describe nearly exactly why I love Oakland.

Meredith Melville, of Bocanova in Jack London Square explains why she and her husband decided to open an Oakland restaurant after running a successful San Francisco restaurant for so many years:

“The East Bay is so rich in what San Francisco used to have,” Melville said. “There’s just not necessarily the same kind of raw artistic energy and creativity, and variety in San Francisco anymore.”

I’ve tried explaining this to my San Francisco friends for years, but they look at me like I’m crazy. It’s good to know that someone else agrees, and it’s not just Melville who believes this. Michael LeBlanc of Picán in Uptown uses a car analogy to compare Oakland to San Francisco:

“If you’re a little bit hipper, if you’ve got more soulfulness to you, Oakland has a little bit more flavor to offer,” LeBlanc says. “We are like a coupe versus San Francisco’s sedan. And right now, people just seem to want to drive that coupe or convertible more.”

But in this article, it’s made clear that the restaurant owners are not just here for Oakland’s style. They’re also here for the community. Kevin Best of B Restaurant in Old Oakland admits that he was at first skeptical about Oakland but has now caught the Oakland fever:

“I bought into the old stereotypes of Oakland,” Best said. “But when I saw the area, I was just amazed at how it felt like a small town. I got such a warm feeling from talking to people here. It’s like everyone had a goal to make it work in Oakland. It becomes infectious, and you want to be a part of it.”

Exactly. Read the full article, and if you don’t already, maybe you too will want to be part of it.

2 Responses to “What’s so special about Oakland? – Restaurant owners explain”

  1. stax October 1, 2009 at 9:18 am #

    All true, but they are also here to avoid the regulatory state that is San Francisco. Oakland doesn’t require employer provided health care.

  2. Andy K October 1, 2009 at 10:21 am #

    Could not agree more about the SF Oakland comparison. Having lived in SF in the early 90s, and Oakland for the last 14 years, I would say for me Oakland has recaptured some of the energy/edginess that I remember from my younger days in SF.

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