There are two sides to every story, especially when it comes to the fate of Miliki, the popular Nigerian restaurant in Oakland. The restaurant has been there for six years, embedding itself into the neighborhood as a place for a not-common-to-the-area cuisine and live African music. Now, though, its lease is up and will most likely not be renewed. Here’s why, from both Miliki’s point of view, and the landlord’s:
Miliki’s lease expired last summer, which is when new landlord Paul Schneider purchased the building. Miliki co-owner Ismael Okunade told East Bay Express that Schneider initially seemed open to renewing Miliki’s lease, but has since changed his tune, informing owners they’d need to soon vacate.
Resigned to that fate, Okunade has since been looking for a new space, but nearby resident Adam Jordan Wills is not willing to take this lying down. He has since started an online petition — which so far has 885 signatures — to save Miliki, and Laurel from gentrification. It is unclear what the petition will achieve.
Schneider bought the building that houses Miliki with the intent to turn his business idea into a reality. Using the small retail space next to Miliki, he wants to turn Bramosia Chocolates, his chocolate business, into a brick-and-mortar space with coffee and housemade gelato, too. As for Miliki, Schneider wants that space for his beer garden, Laurel Beer Garden, a restaurant that will serve 20 local beers on tap with fish and chips and a garden space.
Schneider told EBX he "feels torn" about displacing Miliki, and that "he’s trying to give Miliki’s owners as much time as possible to find a new location so that they don’t have to close outright," but the reality is, if Schneider wants to move forward with his plans, then Miliki has got to go.
At this point, it seems almost certain that Miliki will have to vacate, and Okunade has already started looking for a new space, though is having trouble finding a good deal. Eater SF has reached out for comment; stay tuned for more details.