Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

There was westling in the streets

By awoodall
Thursday, December 4th, 2008 at 7:37 pm in Fun Stuff to do in Oakland, Night Owl, Oakland nightlife, restaurants.

I just got back from the soft opening of Ozumo, a slick Japanese downtown restaurant that will open to the public Saturday. Owner Jeremy Umland must have had some big bucks for PR because in addition to the actual restaurant (which looks gorgeous although they were putting finishing touches on the interior until the last minute), massive tunas filleted on the spot into sashimi, sushi, Robata grilled meat, fountains of fine cold sake and an open bar, there were Sumo wrestlers (the white guy from Idaho was the only real giant) grappling with each other in a ring set up where traffic usually is along West Grand and Broadway, geishas (faux, of course),  Taiko drums and so on. Quite a spectacle. The only hitch in my mind was all the slurs against Oakland that slid like pickled ginger from the tongues of guests waiting in line for a few minutes (“What do you expect? This is Oakland.”) or at the sound of an ambulance outside (“Welcome to Oakland,” said one dude for the benefit of the Sumo wrestlers he was watching. PLLLEASE get a grip, I was thinking, especially when a guest in Oakland or resident of Oakland enjoying a cool event.   The other weird incident is when I was walking across Tel and West Grand near a bus stop.  When an old, disheveled man asked me for change he was scolded by a young dude who raged: “I told you not to be doing that here!” What was that all about?  I’m telling you, downtown was looking HOT tonight. Now picture First Fridays – or any Friday – with Ozumo + the dance club Era that’s going in across the street to round out the mix sparked by the art galleries and Luka’s and enhanced by the wine bar and several other developments that are coming soon. That reminds me: I keep meaning to check who moved into Esteban Sabar’s old gallery…

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