At Friends and Family, their forthcoming bar in Uptown Oakland, partners Blake Cole (Hopscotch, Hot House pop-up) and Kimberly Rosselle (Trick Dog, Bon Voyage) want to treat everyone like restaurant industry insiders. The name, a reference to a pre-opening restaurant test run, is their guiding principle. Customers can expect “the kind of magical chaos you’d get for a friends and family soft opening,” Cole says. “You’re in the know, you’re part of that special night. But we want to create that all the time.”
The resulting business is likely to run more smoothly than the average soft opening, especially with industry veterans like Cole and Rosselle in charge. And for a steady hand in the kitchen, Christa Chase is joining the project: The celebrated Tartine Manufactory chef is finishing up in the Mission before heading to Oakland to develop a food menu for Friends and Family, focused on items to share.
“It’s by no accident that this is a female team,” adds Cole. “A major point of motivation for me is to create a very safe space for women, for femmes, for queer folks, to work in and to visit.”
Friends and Family is currently under construction at 468 25th Street, targeting a Thanksgiving opening date. It’s an industrial, loft-like building formerly home to the Hamilton Sign company (which moved to Broadway). Now it’s owned by Kyle Itani, the force behind Oakland’s Hopscotch and Itani Ramen, and a mentor to Cole (though he’s not formally involved in the new business).
Architect Keith Morris of Studio KDA (Comal, Grand Lake Kitchen) designed the space, with interiors and buildout help from Redmond Aldrich (Oakland’s McMullen boutique) and concept designer Jenny Sarris. The result should provide “a sense of discovery,” with the bar halfway down an expansive hallway.
To finish funding their business, Cole and Rosselle will soon launch a Kickstarter campaign. When it arrives, they hope that Friends and Family will offer more of what they love about Oakland. “I wanted to create a place that was a spot for our type of people — for creative types to come and feel at home and have a great time,” says Cole. “We’re where you’re going to meet your friends, your future family, maybe your future exes.”