downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

Restaurants take root throughout downtown

October 22, 2008

Jack London Square, and its eponymous neighborhood, is quickly becoming a culinary destination. Mono and Miss Pearl’s Jam House had already proven the waterfront, once home to TGI Friday’s and The Old Spaghetti Factory, has become a viable place for upscale and edgy cuisine. Renowned (among my foodie friends at least) chef Daniel Patterson, of Coi and the former Elizabeth Daniel, has signed a lease to create a “neighborhood place” called Bracina.

The OakBook recently profiled Meg Ray of Miette, a dainty and TV-ready confectionary in SF’s charming Hayes Valley neighborhood, who will bring her contemporary yet vintage aesthetic to the under-construction Jack London Market building (nee Harvest Hall, which is much catchier). These high-profile tenants certainly confirm the marketing pull of Jack London Square II, an office and culinary complex meant to compete with City Center. But the waterfront and its new buildings is far from the only emerging culinary hotspot in the DTO.

The artist-owners of Soizic at the waterfront end of the Broadway completed Mua, their renovation of the gorgeous Oakland Auto Parts building along the edge of Auto Row, which is fast becoming colonized as an extension of Uptown. Not to be outdone, the owners of Dona Tomas leased a space just up Telegraph from their sleek Flora bistro, where they promise to serve their first burrito. With Forest City’s Uptown project, which almost single-handedly transformed lower Telegraph from a wasteland to an urban center, announcing great progress on leasing their 664 units, businesses see the area as a good investment.

Though the edges of the DTO are up and coming, the older center of town isn’t slouching. As previous noted, Tamarindo Antojeria and The Trappist are expanding into their next-door storefronts, relieving the crowds that crush these tiny but renowned spots. Despite this, Old Oakland continues to struggle to attract retail, with one closed retailer unfortunately converted to soon-to-be-illegal office space, and EBALDC’s Swan’s Market complex losing tenants. Across Broadway in old City Center, El Senor Burrito, a popular joint on San Pablo, is coming to 13th St in the restored Mash Building. In a time when terrible economic news is splashed on the front page of every newspaper, business expansion in the DTO is a welcome relief.


1 Joanna { 10.23.08 at 1:15 am }

Sorry to tell you the bad news, but MoNO couldn’t make it. They closed on 10/11/08. Miss Pearl’s laid off some emps, and is sending much of their staff home early.

Meg Ray is actually opening her bakery in the lovely renovated 66 Franklin. Previously 66 Franklin was home to the Spaghetti Factory and El Torito. There’s a lot of construction that will have to happen, so figure at least a year for her project. Along with a bakery (to be different from Miette), she’s also planning a cooking school.

On a brighter note, I don’t have the story in front of me from the current SF Business Times, but the guy that opened Market Bar in the Ferry Building, has supposedly signed on to open a restaurant in Jack London Square. Whether it will be in the Jack London Market (under construction), or in “Site C” – the new building in front of the ferry terminal – is unknown.

The SFBT did say that JLS planned 13 new restaurants.

Oh, and there’s Top Dawg on 2nd Street, just around the corner from Ghazal Indian Cuisine (yummy!) at 2nd & Broadway.

So yes, a lot going on… we’ll see what survives. I know my own small biz is seeing the customer count decrease slightly, the revenue stays flat, but my costs have skyrocketed. Ouch!

2 dto510 { 10.23.08 at 9:09 pm }

Thank you for the updates, Joanna! I regret that I never had a chance to go to Mono. I am looking forward to checking out the new sausage place on Broadway!

3 Deirdre Sargent { 10.26.08 at 1:10 am }

Mono was a wonderful gem in Jack London and will be missed. Their Watermelon/Feta and Mint salad had me dreaming of it and I am not a salad person. Their Thursday wine tastings, seared Ahi and creative entrees will be missed. I can only hope that they can reopen once things get better.

4 ragaskar { 10.31.08 at 4:46 pm }

I also miss MoNO; I only had a chance to eat there 3 or 4 times, but I managed to bring several friends by and we always had a wonderful time. The couple who opened Mono are simply awesome people, and I wish them the best of luck — I’m sorry I didn’t eat there more often!!!

However, it’s *great* news that we’ll see another 13 restaurants in JLS, and that they might actually start filling empty storefronts. There seem to be people preparing to occupy two empty spaces on Alice, and I keep passing the posted permit for Uva and wondering what it is and when it’ll open. I’m still crossing my fingers for some type of grocery at Site G.