Following some soft opening hours, a First Friday test run, and a series of inspection delays, Craft & Spoon is now open for “healthy comfort food” at lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Monday through Friday. The location in Uptown Oakland is at the flatiron corner of Telegraph and Broadway, with entrances to the restaurant at 1627 Broadway and 1634 Telegraph.
Chef Charleen Caabay, who won the 2017 New Year’s Eve episode of Chopped, has added some Filipino influences to the Craft & Spoon menu from her now-closed restaurant Kainbigan. Lunch items include a grain bowl with yellow adobo and a “Filipino style” panini made with tocino, a sweet cured chicken. But Kainbigan 2.0 this is not.
“People are like, do you have the garlic noodles?” Caabay says — and no, she doesn’t. Instead, Craft & Spoon’s menu is a collaboration with co-owner Aima Paule, and it’s simple in part because there isn’t (at least yet) a full kitchen in the space, which was formerly home to Uptown Juice. “That’s not stopping us,” Caabay says, but it did guide the team toward lower-cost, healthier items, which should meet the demands of lunch crowds.
The four co-owners, a cadre of queer entrepreneurs, are Caabay, Paul, Michael Schlieke, and Christine De La Rosa. The Craft & Spoon space will also serve as an incubator for their other projects, such as Paule’s Kombucha brand, Hey Bü Kombucha.
De La Rosa, who was also a partner on Kainbigan, has “very high hopes” for the Craft & Spoon location, which boasts “tons of foot traffic.” It’s a neighborhood she’s seen blossom over her 11 years in Oakland. “That downtown strip used to just have Van Kleef’s on it,” she recalls. But even with lots more bars and dining options, she’s found affordable lunch to be one missing element.
Once Craft & Spoon settles, the owners hope to offer dinner and brunch. That could spell good news for garlic noodle fans. And there may also be another chance to try those elsewhere: Caabay has another space lined up, at 3000 San Pablo Avenue, for a full restaurant. That location has been in the works for some time, but without much movement. That comes with the territory, says De La Rosa. “We’re just small businesses, not big developers. We build things as we’re able.”