June 19th, 2012

“The quality of a place is defined in part by how many different functions it has in close proximity to homes and to each other.”
Kaid Benfield on neighborhood completeness

I came across this quote in an article “Why a Good Bar is Essential to Sustainable Communities” in my daily feed from the online resource Atlantic Cities – Place Matters. This may be the best single source of enlightened news about developments in the livable cities movement.  It seemed utterly appropriate as we just opened our new warehouse and  retail store (205 Alice Street) in Jack London Square on the waterfront in Oakland.

Oakland has been experiencing a spectacular urban revival in the last decade, which is why it landed a place in NY Times “Top 45 Places to Visit in 2012.”  It has benefitted from smart urban planning and development. It has also become a more affordable alternative to San Francisco and a destination for younger people, artists, and a broad cultural mix.  The Jack London Square neighborhood is a prime example. One only needs to take a ride through the community to sense the local pride for public spaces, restoration projects and smart new construction.

There are also a healthy number and range of bars in Jack London Square which Benfield identifies as critical to a communities well being.

“The vaunted ‘third space’ isn’t home, and isn’t work – it’s more like the living room of society at large. It’s a place where you are neither family nor co-worker, and yet where the values, interests, gossip, complaints and inspirations of these two other spheres intersect. It’s a place at least one step removed from the structures of work and home, more random, and yet familiar enough to breed a sense of identity and connection. It’s a place of both possibility and comfort, where the unexpected and the mundane transcend and mingle. And nine times out of ten, it’s a bar.”

There are over ten bars in our neighborhood that range from the historic Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon to the hip Beer Revolution (47 beers on tap – a true bike hang out) to the Warehouse Bar & Grill (a favorite hang out for cops).  There are many other food and drink destinations there that include Blue Bottle Coffee, Haven, Encuentro, Yoshi’s jazz club, and Chop Bar and places along the waterfront  where SWA Group, the progressive urban design firm transformed the main square into a thriving  public destination.

Our new store opened last week and we’re open every week Friday through Sunday from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm. Please drop by. Jack London Square is also a very pleasant Ferry ride from San Francisco and they have a nice bar on the Ferry as well.

(photo credit: PUBLIC photos by Brandon Weight)