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This Super-Old Oakland Dive Bar Will Reopen After Sitting Dark Since March 2020

Plus, this legendary Hawaiian chef just opened a restaurant up in Tahoe and more Bay Area food news

Smitty’s Lounge
Lauren Saria is the editor of Eater SF and has been writing about food, drinks, and restaurants for more than a decade.

Since the COVID-induced shutdowns of March 2020, Smitty’s Cocktails in Oakland has sat empty and dark, gathering dust. The bar, which has been open since at least the 1940s, is located at 3339 Grand Avenue and is one of Oakland’s oldest dives. Owner Byron Schostag shuttered the business but now a duo of experienced bar owners have stepped in to save the bar, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

JJ Jenkins and Shari Murphy plan to reopen the bar with a slightly different name: Smitty’s Lounge. The Chronicle reports they aim to preserve the bar’s history, so there won’t be any fancy updates to the space or menu. Jenkins is a “dive bar preservationist,” the Chronicle writers, who also owns Oakland dive bars Merchant’s Saloon and Baggy’s by the Lake. The pair hopes to reopen Smitty’s by next year.

Famous Hawaiian opens Tahoe restaurant

Fans of James Beard Award-winning chef Sam Choy, known for being a pioneer of Pacific Rim cuisine, will be happy to hear he’s arrived on the shores of Tahoe’s pristine waters. SFGATE has the full story behind the opening of Choy’s restaurant inside a North Lake Tahoe bowling alley, Incline Bowl. Ohana Diner serves lunch and dinner including dishes such as Spam musubi, poke, and a kalua pork sandwich.

A new wine bar from the couple behind Ungrafted is here

It’s been about eight months since Eater SF shared news of a wine bar coming from the husband-and-wife behind Dogpatch restaurant Ungrafted — and now, GluGlu is here. Per a post on the business Instagram, the new wine bar located outside Chase Center at Thrive City is pouring wine and serving food.

Goodbye to a Berkeley kava bar — for now

Melo Melo Kava, a kava bar at 1701 University Avenue, has closed its doors, East Bay Nosh reports. In the Instagram post sharing the news, however, the owners say they’ll be reopening elsewhere. “While we cannot disclose all the details at this time,” the post reads in part, “we will be sure to keep you informed of our new address and any upcoming events to celebrate our move.”

East Bay beverage startup secures $10 million in funding

Berkeley Yeast, an East Bay startup that looks to create custom yeast strains for beer and wine-making, just landed more than $10 million in funding, the Business Times reports. The start-up says its custom yeast strains give brewers and winemakers more control over the flavor profiles of their final products.