As both owners of Port Bar and residents of downtown Oakland, Richard Fuentes and Sean Sullivan are invested in the nightlife scene of their neighborhood. Before they opened Port Bar on Broadway in 2016 there was a need for a bustling downtown entertainment district, they say. Now having weathered the pandemic storm and with more businesses entering the neighborhood, the duo is making their next move: opening a club in the heart of downtown Oakland. “There’s a demand here,” Sullivan says. “We’re super excited to drag this energy that didn’t exist before the Port Bar down the street further, and make Broadway pop even more.”
Fluid510 is the pair’s new, 5,000-square-foot, bi-level club, opening at 1544 Broadway. For Sullivan and Fuentes, it’s another way to add to the neighborhood, in a way that enriches the downtown scene as a whole. “Our competition is not the local bars,” Fuentes says, “it’s actually the nightlife in San Francisco that has large venues, like the one that we’re opening up here at Fluid.” The thought behind Fluid510 is to create a space that keeps locals in town and gives them the nightclub atmosphere that East Bay residents may have grown accustomed to crossing the bridge for. At the same time they hope it provides entertainment and an inclusive space for all — another need Sullivan and Fuentes have noticed in their time running Port Bar. “In creating Fluid,” Fuentes says, “we saw a need for a nightlife venue that was not only a bar, but provided different types of programming and entertainment, and that it was a bar for everyone. So Fluid is a space for everyone, it’s not just dedicated to the LGBTQ community, but it’s very inclusive of Oakland’s melting pot.”
Fluid510 isn’t meant to be a duplicate of the award-winning Port Bar; instead, the new club is the outcome of observing what’s worked at their Broadway place and expanding upon it. The (necessary) addition of a food truck during the pandemic convinced Fuentes and Sullivan of the pluses of including food in their next venture. They tapped chef Alessandro Campitelli, formerly of Contrasto in Oakland, to create an “elevated bar food experience” meant to tempt clubbers and barhoppers into staying longer. There are staple items including a zhuzhed up grilled cheese sandwich, fries, and pizza, done in Campitelli’s style, but there are also standout dishes such as grilled octopus, plus a number of options for vegetarians — a point of pride for Sullivan, who’s been a vegetarian for a number of years. He points to an upcoming vegetarian moussaka dish, as well as a pea hummus dip. The food menu will start off on the smaller side and expand as the club gets its feet under it, but already there are more ambitious food plans in the works. For the summer, Fuentes and Sullivan will start a weekend brunch with new food items, mimosas, and a DJ. “You’ll see an evolution in the kitchen that is already planned,” Sullivan says.
As for drinks, the cocktail menu will be made up of “really insightful, creative twists on drinks,” Sullivan says. The Mandarin 75 is a take on the French 75, for instance, but instead made with orange vodka. Meanwhile, the Coco Fizz infuses a sloe gin fizz with coconut. There will also be wine and Champagne flights available, as well, and even bottle service if that’s what the night requires. Nonalcoholic drinks will also be in the mix, Sullivan says, in the spirit of inclusivity.
The venue is also meant to be a space that can be converted for multiple uses; Sullivan points to a lack of event spaces in Oakland and says that Fluid510 can now also accommodate community gatherings or nonprofit galas. The duo is also seeking out input from the community on programming for the entertainment side of the club equation, and already there are suggestions, such as adding on a comedy night. It’s all about creating a vibrant space that reverberates out into the city to create a bustling neighborhood once again. “I feel so excited when I leave home at nighttime on a Friday or a Saturday and there’s so much traffic,” Fuentes says. “I’m walking and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, this is like New York City, it’s awesome.”
Fluid 510 (1544 Broadway, Oakland) debuts Thursday, May 20.