Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Ave and Somar: new clubs on Telegraph

By awoodall
Monday, March 16th, 2009 at 9:57 am in Fun Stuff to do in Oakland, Night Owl, Oakland nightlife.

I’m going to have to start getting used to taking openings in stride after this weekend. Both Ave and Somar opened Saturday night on Telegraph Avenue, and Van Kleef’s was packed inside and out. They were about to start turning people away. It’s kind of a good sign that I’ve already started nagging about what Oakland doesn’t have — late night diners, infill between businesses, late night BART. Let me back up though. 
Ave’s sweet narrow room with art on the walls and a substantial bar near the kitchen was fuller than full Saturday night, the grand opening. Among the crowd were, of course, Mr. DTO510 and V-Smooth, she all glam in black skirt and high heels. Naturally Jonathan was not wearing heels or a skirt but looked very dapper nonetheless.  My own appearance was less than stellar but that’s another story. Co-owner Gairy Jacques of Air Lounge and soon to be Era was looking pretty relaxed for an opening night, which entailed some hectic moments inside.  We had some sort of mixup with our drinks, and my boyfriend (who sported a casual look) even got chided by a bartmaid for ordering twice although he hadn’t ordered twice. But the crew smoothed things out and we sipped our Manhattans, 7&Sevens and Stolis at a slender wood bar outside (genius!) with the beauty supply store that squats on the corner for a view.  It’s just a matter of time before that thing goes or (hope, hope) gets turned into a late-nite retro diner or something.  
A little way up the street, Somar was hosting its soft opening. The place was absolutely throbbing with loud club music and mostly  20-something Asian customers. Somar is slick (but the brick wall that lines the far side of the lounge keeps it cozy) and loungey with very friendly owners whose bartenders were slinging the drinks as fast they could pour ’em. For the first time, I felt like I could have been on the path of a nightclub crawl like SoMa’s, which I am wondering has anything to do with the name Somar. The place went up quietly and still doesn’t have a sign but it won’t open officially for a couple weeks. Crews were working like maniacs trying to get ready for the soft opening: when I walked by Tuesday night they were out at about 10:30 p.m. sawing a big sheet of plywood. Now I understand why.
Ave at 20th and Tel put down some much-needed footprints in the still-dark north side of the Uptown lounge, extending the entertainment row to start linking up with the heart of the Art Murmur scene on the other side of West Grand  as well as Ozumo, Luka’s, etc. at West Grand and Broadway extending up to Mua and Z Cafe. Somar, meanwhile, in the old vitamin store building at 17th and Tel, brightened up the block and brought people out onto the streets. Even better, you could hear and see them from Broadway across the 19th Street BART walkway between Broadway and Telegraph.  If only the Fox had been lit up the scene would have been perfect.

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4 Responses to “Ave and Somar: new clubs on Telegraph”

  1. A bittersweet morning in Oakland « Living in the O Says:

    […] of the Oakland community. We now have the chance to create new memories at two new bars in Uptown – Ave and Somar. And next week we’ll be able to enjoy the comforts of Southern food with a California twist […]

  2. Oakland bars Says:

    The Somar Bar now has their sign up and during their happy hour I’ve seen a wide diversity of customers sitting at the bar; from men in suits to nurses in their scrubs, 20 somethings to 50 somethings. The music is also a lot lighter in the early evening. BTW, the name Somar has nothing to do with SoMa. Somar is a family owned bar. It is their last name spelled backwards.

  3. awoodall Says:

    Thanks “Oakland Bars” for the word. I have been so busy with other stories I haven’t had a chance to check the place out thoroughly, but they do indeed appear to be bustling. The owners seemed very nice and here’s a nod to my killer intuition as far as the name Somar goes :) But something has shifted with the club scene. The place is different and Oakland has rounded a corner in that respect. Hard to explain but I can feel it’s an important step. I just hope the momentum continues and the infill of retail and other entertainment venues happens that links downtown/uptown with Old Oakland and elsewhere. If we can just make up for the blows that last week dealt the city.

  4. erkl Says:

    —–Thank you, Jerry Brown!

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