Long lines will form once again for Tanya Holland’s famed fried chicken and waffles this week in Oakland. After closing her original 10-year-old soul food destination Brown Sugar Kitchen last summer and opening a counter-service version in San Francisco’s Ferry Building last week, Holland is finally ready to debut her new flagship restaurant at 2295 Broadway on Wednesday, February 20.
Word first started to spread that Brown Sugar Kitchen would move into the Uptown space — a slice of what used to be Picán and Ozumo — in summer of 2017, with opening dates announced and delayed over and over again. Construction woes proved to be fierce, as workers erected new walls and divided up a massive, 13,600-square-foot space into multiple smaller restaurants.
The new Brown Sugar Kitchen occupies 4,000 square feet. Walking in, it feels about twice as big as the West Oakland location, with 85 seats and a large, wrap-around black bar. It looks like a more sophisticated, grown-up version of the original restaurant, but it maintains a similarly warm color palette alongside familiar paneled walls and a healthy dose of Oakland funk.
Folks can expect to see all of the same Brown Sugar Kitchen staples at the new restaurant, including flaky biscuits, rich gumbo, cheesy grits, pulled pork sandwiches, and, of course, buttermilk fried chicken with cornmeal waffles. But the new space will come with two big changes: a full bar and dinner service. The latter, however, isn’t expected to roll out until sometime this spring.
Holland has said she wants Brown Sugar Kitchen to become the Shake Shack of soul food, and both her Bay Area empire and national clout are growing quickly. Holland was already one of Oakland’s most famous chefs, but her fanbase expanded even further when she competed on the last season of Top Chef. In addition to opening her first San Francisco restaurant last week, she is set to open a Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland’s International Airport and might have a presence at Golden State Warriors’ Chase Center in Mission Bay. Fans can also find her food at the Oakland Floodcraft Taproom inside the Whole Foods by Lake Merritt.
When Brown Sugar Kitchen opens on February 20, its hours will be 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.