Reem Assil of popular one-year-old Arab bakery Reem’s California in Fruitvale, Oakland, will add a new, full-service restaurant to her growing list of accomplishments: Dyafa, a partnership with chef Daniel Patterson’s Alta Group.
Dyafa will take over the former location of Patterson’s Haven in Jack London Square, which the chef closed in early 2017 and planned to reopen this spring as a branch of his growing group of Alta restaurants. Now, Assil will serve food inspired by her upbringing in a Palestinian-Syrian home, centered around a hearth for the kinds of fresh breads (like Lebanse man’oushe) that have made Assil popular since her early days with La Cocina and at the SF Ferry Building Farmers Market. Alta Group’s ace beverage director Aaron Paul will be in charge of a bar program for cocktails, wine, and beer.
This is the second Alta location that Patterson has helped transform into a new concept with an up-and-coming chef at the helm. His original Alta restaurant on Market Street, became the Caribbean restaurant Kaya this spring, led by chef Nigel Jones of Oakland’s Kingston 11.
According to Assil, Dyafa’s name comes from an Arabic phrase for hospitality. “My people are masters at hospitality,” Assil told Eater SF as she prepared to open her Fruitvale bakery last year. “I mean every culture says they’re the master at hospitality, but I think we’re, like, the shit.”
And, to her mind, Oakland is a particularly hospitable place. It’s “the closest to home that I’ve ever felt as a child of immigrants,” Assil said. “As someone who’s struggled to feel like I belonged at home, I want to recreate that for myself and for people.”
With a recent James Beard Award nomination for Best Chef West under her belt and a new restaurant in the works, the community she’s striving to create is well on its way. Dyafa is expected to open in April at 44 Webster Street.