Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

End of an era

By awoodall
Friday, June 20th, 2008 at 9:29 pm in Uncategorized.

It is indeed with the closing of Trio Bistro across from Lake Merritt after 36 years. Maestra Kimala Martin said she and her daughter shut down amidst pressure from the landlord. Not helpful was Kimala’s back surgery and ensuing heart attack, which kept her away from the restaurant she opened in 1972 with her late husband and kept running with her chef-daughter Chantal.
I stumbled across Trio Bistro one Sunday night about a year and a half ago. It was shortly before 10 p.m. and my guest and I were turned away from just about every restaurant around the lake. At Zza’s next door, several people including I think an owner looked up at us when we opened the door at 9:45 p.m. as though we were the last things they wanted to see so late on a Sunday. We noticed for the first time Trio Bistro and returned for just about every important occasion including my younger daughter’s 12th birthday, which Chantal and Kimala made delightful.
We were headed there for another celebration a few months ago when we discovered the restaurant was still closed, although the duo was supposed to open after Kimala recovered from major back surgery. But this was months later. Finally, Kimala called the other night to say they were selling the place.
Some reviews of the Trio Bistro complained about slow service and unpredictable results. Most raved about the food, service and camraderie that prevailed in my experience. More importantly, I doubt the restaurant that will replace the Trio Bistro will have a chef willing to welcome a hungry night owl on a Sunday night and provide her with mashed potatoes and a martini at nearly 11 p.m.  without batting an eyelash. Will the chef and maitre d’ greet guests with an embrace and their favorite dishes and offer tango lessons and be a home away from home?
The restaurant is already up for sale but it would be sad to let the Trio go without a send off.  Either contact me here or Kimala and Chantal if you would like to throw a bash and remember an Oakland institution whose closing is the end of an era – a very sad one for the city’s night owls.

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4 Responses to “End of an era”

  1. Selma and John Says:

    WE are interested in participating and helping in getting a send off for Kim and chantal. We are tango folks and know the community that danced there would love to participate.


  2. Angela Woodall Says:

    Great. They will be so happy and I think the place deserves a bigger sendoff than just turning off the lights. Send me an e-mail at awoodall@bayareanewsgroup.com and we can talk about doing something.

  3. Harold Lowe Says:

    This is the end of an era.

    I had attended Trio since its opening in 1998; I had private parties there, I introduced dozens of people to the restaurant, and I would frequent it (and even take food to go) with pleasure.

    I wish the Martin family well in whatever they do.

  4. Butch Lancaster Says:

    Where did these two beautiful and gracious ladies go? Is Chantal working at a new restaurant? How is Kimala doing? I have frequented the restaurant over the past 4 years. I have passed bt the Trio Bistro almost daily since its closure and wondered what happened.

    What a shame to lose such a jewell of a restaurant. I will truly miss them. I wish them both the very best.

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