A new cafe, event space, and commissary kitchen, The Alice Collective has opened its doors in Oakland at 272 14th Street on the corner (hence the name) of Alice Street. The project aims to maximize its use of the historic Holmes Book Co. building — in which it occupies a serious 3,600 square foot-space — with several, symbiotic functions. The goal is to stay active by day with its public-facing cafe and its commissary kitchen, and by evening, to serve as an event space with in-house catering from that kitchen.
Ted Wilson, whose catering company Metal & Match is the main tenant of the commissary, is also the force behind the Alice Collective. With projects like the Hall, a successful interim-use food hall on Market Street, Wilson has shown an interest in staking out newer territory rather than established ground. The Alice Collective’s neighborhood is “in flux” Wilson says, with many more residential units coming in.
For the public, the Alice Collective is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday, with executive chef Christine Wells serving a food menu (below) that includes salads, soups, and tartines. Oakland-based Red Bay Coffee will serve coffee and espresso drinks. With an eye towards events, beverage consultant Nancy Chung (The Wooden Nickel, Barrel Wagon beverage catering) is in charge of the Alice Collective’s boozier beverages like beer, wine and cocktails.
While Metal & Match can foot most of the bill for the commissary kitchen, it doesn’t require the whole thing, and Wilson is renting out the rest of the space as “an auxiliary service.” It also helps the cafe: One commissary tenant so far is Oak and Fig Baking co, whose savory hand pies and more baked goods are offered on premises. ”It’s this tight-night little eco system,” Wilson says.
As opposed to newer commissary kitchen spaces and food halls that have adopted the business models and nomenclature of the tech world, Wilson doesn’t see the Alice Collective as an “incubator.” “I’m not picking champions here,” he says. Instead, he just wants to use his extra space effectively, in a way that boosts community and lends a hand to other food entrepreneurs.
“I came [to the Bay Area] as a cocky kid, thinking I had all this experience and backing,” Wilson recalls. ”But I didn’t have the resources to keep up, and they weren’t offered to me.”
“Now that I have some resources, I don’t think it should be that hard for somebody... knowing that it can be a little easier for somebody else, that makes me feel better about what I do every day.”