SFChronicle:"West Oakland’s family-run restaurants struggle as climate shifts" [FuseBox, Linden Street, The Dock, Locol, Brown Sugar Kitchen,Zella's]



Despite being a single BART stop from the global food mecca that is the San Francisco Ferry Building, West Oakland is handcuffed by a unique geographical isolation. Industrial buildings in the Third Street area, from Union to Market Street, eat up a large swath of the sprawling neighborhood, negating any possible “downtown” environment. Even West Oakland’s BART stop teeters on the very edge of the city and doesn’t visually entice visitors from San Francisco to explore the area.

Since 2016, its most significant culinary openings have been a brewery, a coffee shop and a modest bakery, in stark contrast to many Bay Area neighborhoods, like Hayes Valley, where a gourmet rotisserie joint, a trendy Italian restaurant and a cocktail bar opened over a single month or so.

But that’s not to say West Oakland is a culinary wasteland; on the contrary, it remains uniquely diverse, with low real estate costs allowing small business owners into an industry that is often cost prohibitive.

Less than 2 miles away on Mandela Parkway, Tanya Holland’s Brown Sugar Kitchen remains one of the most popular restaurants in all of Oakland, a soul food destination for construction workers and Golden State Warriors players alike.

Zella’s Soulful Kitchen, a stone’s throw from the BART station, even commands a crowd on a Wednesday afternoon. And a brisk 12-minute walk southeast, customers rush to 10th & Wood sandwich shop, hoping to catch the kitchen before it closes in the early afternoon.

Locol Bakery, which opened two months ago in the shadow of Interstate 580 near the corner of Market and 35th, lifts its graffiti-covered gates at 8 a.m. each day, pours $1 black coffees for the next few hours, and sells chicken-sausage breakfast sandwiches to sleepy-eyed locals. The fast food outfit is only a few blocks from the more polished, affluent-looking Emeryville.