Oakland eating places are closing as a consequence of COVID, crime, and excessive rents – NBC Bay Space

Oakland’s food scene is hit again.

Two popular restaurants that drew foodies to the Uptown neighborhood have announced that they will be closing for good.

Brown Sugar Kitchen and Luke Taproom owners told NBC Bay Area that a cascade of problems is forcing them to close, including COVID, crime and rental prices.

“You can feel the emotions every day when you go to work,” said Kimberly Davidson, manager at Lukas Taproom. “The customers are emotional, the employees are emotional.”

This month marks the beginning of the end for the culinary hotspot that helped revitalize the Uptown neighborhood 17 years ago.

When the pandemic broke out, Luka’s taproom spun quickly and survived the takeaway.

“They are our regulars,” said Davidson. “They are the most important ones that kept coming in during the pandemic and they are the people who support me the most.”

However, as the pandemic dragged on and office workers continued to work remotely, pedestrian traffic has not recovered.

Rick Mitchell, owner of Luke’s taproom, said the final blow came when the building’s new owner wanted to raise the rent.

“We lost 20 months and if we had to pay an additional $ 150,000 a year in rent that would be an additional $ 150,000 in losses,” he said. “It wasn’t realistic for us.”

Davidson added that the area “will now be a dead road,” she said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if other companies were slowly but surely closing down.”

Just one block away, Chef Tanya Holland’s soul food restaurant, Brown Sugar Kitchen, serves his last meal.

Holland filed for bankruptcy last year to get the restaurant’s finances in order, but it wasn’t enough, and now the culinary star is focused on her cafe concept at the Oakland Museum of California.

“I kick and scream, but at the same time there is so much resistance that I can no longer fight it,” explained the cook.

Back in Luke’s taproom, Mitchell tries to find alternative jobs for his 45 employees. He warns that if nothing is done to help these restaurants stay rooted in Oakland, those restaurants’ days will be numbered.

“Other friends have told me they have two weeks or two months left,” he said. “A tidal wave is coming.”

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