Art gallery, event space, car dealership, and drinking patio Classic Cars West Beer Garden has a new food operation in place at 411 26th Street. Replacing popular predecessor Hella Vegan Eats, the new, in-house food vendor serves a menu of brunch, lunch, and dinner that’s definitely new but, like Hella Vegan Eats, also meat-free.
Executive chef Adina Butler is behind the menus (below), which feature veggie caldo verde, beyond sausages, and a variety of burgers with imitation meat from Impossible Foods. Consider, if you can, the “inconceivable burger:” Two impossible patties, “bacon,” smoked cheddar “cheese,” and a fried “egg.” Brunch includes buckwheat flax pancakes, platanos, and “pork belly” sliders.
Mike Sarcona started Classic Cars West — which now features his car showroom, an art gallery, an outdoor beer garden, and a full kitchen — in 2005. Back then, it was just a vintage car dealership in San Francisco, restoring mostly muscle cars in the Mission. As business grew, Sarcona moved to a larger San Francisco space, but when his landlord sold it, he found his current Oakland building while attending the Town’s monthly Art Murmur event.
“Basically, it’s just everything I like under one roof,” says Sarcona. “I wouldn’t say it was conceptually born at one time — tons of my friends are artists, and I opened up my space to them.” Classic Cars West became a big part of the Art Murmur route itself, “and the restaurant [aspect] just made sense, cause we were doing events a lot,” says Sarcona.
Pop-ups have rotated in-and-out since the beginning, Sarcona says, and he built out the full kitchen himself in 2014. Hella Vegan Eats, a trans-owned pop-up known for its vegan donut burgers and potsticker burritos, began running the food program in 2016, gaining traction for its over-the-top combinations.
Update, Thursday March 14: Hella Vegan Eats disputes Sarcona’s claim to have built the kitchen himself, and rejects the idea that “pop-ups have rotated in and out of the space.”
We paid $26k for the hood and installation and brought in all of our own equipment. Sarcona approached us to run our own restaurant out of the space, we never discussed it being a short term pop up. This is why we were eager to make a large financial investment. He has yet to pay us back for the hood — which is now permanently installed into the building. There were no other “pop ups” in the space while we occupied the kitchen.
“Unfortunately our relationship deteriorated until we couldn’t work together,” says Sarcona. He gave Hella Vegan Eats eight months to stay put, with a reduction in rent — asking for a smaller percentage of food sales than usual.
Tiff Esquivel, who runs Hella Vegan Eats with Silvi Peligras, also disputes this claim.
“Sarcona wanted us out almost immediately back in September 2018 but we negotiated with him to stay until April 2019 and asked for a reduced rental fee. He refused at first but finally compromised once we illustrated the ways it could be mutually beneficial to give time for transition.”
Esquivel and Peligras have raised more than $16,000 of a now $30,000 goal (originally $10,000) on GoFundMe to help them find a new location.
Besides the kitchen, there’s another shuffle at Classic Cars West — behind the bar. Mostly known for its local beer list (IPAs from Ghost Town Brewing and Ale Industries) and wine selection (like bottles from Two Mile Wines across the street), Classic Cars West received its full liquor license last fall. That was a surprise to Sarcona, who entered Oakland’s liquor license lottery not expecting to win — but when lots of applicants dropped out, the license was his.
A new cocktail list, with drinks made from local spirits like St. George, Wright & Brown bourbon, and Automatic gin, is below. Don’t drink and drive classic cars.
Current kitchen hours are Wednesday and Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday brunch from 11 to 3 p.m., dinner from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.