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The Lede: When News, Food and Booze Collide…in Oakland

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There’s a transforming space in Oakland that may not call itself a pub but will function more like actual public houses of years past than any other place around. Pubs were once places where people gathered for much more than a pint and warm meal. They were community centers in the literal sense, where the neighborhood’s people came to be neighborly, enjoy each other’s company, debate current events and exchange ideas, organize social movements…to tell stories.

Now, imagine a place here in the East Bay that brings the news, stories of local life and national intrigue, back to the neighborhood table to be created and digested alongside delicious food and libations. That is exactly what StudioToBe has been trying to do since taking over the Old Oakland location that recently housed Pacific Coast Brewing. The space was originally established by veteran journalists with the big idea of creating a shared media work space driven by memberships, where people could network, collaborate, consult with seasoned professionals and create right on site. But their idea was even bigger than that from the get-go, with crazy dreams of integrating a restaurant onto the property – where the public could come and eat and drink at the same tables where media members were hard at work just hours before.

StudioToBe and future location of the Lede in Oakland, Calif. Photo courtesy of Spaces for Good

As Eater SF recently reported, that dream becomes reality later this summer when Cal Paternell officially opens the restaurant on StudioToBe’s grounds, aptly named the Lede. Paternell, who honed his chops with 22 years under Alice Waters at Chez Panisse, has fully embraced the site’s muckraker vibe that he hopes to compliment with a locally-sourced, heavy-on-produce, deliciously-crafted but accessible and affordable menu for real people on real budgets. Sure, you might get into splurging on a duck leg, but you’ll just as easily be able grab some fried bar snacks and not feel like a uncultured swine for doing so.

But no pub worth its salt can operate on news and food alone – the beer and other booze are an important aspect of the scene and the Lede will not disappoint on that end. The chef has partnered with Kit Taylor of Emeryville’s Prizefighter to supply beer, wine and cocktails, making sure patrons never get too thirsty.

A man reads a newspaper at a pub. Photo by Kyle Wagner/Unsplash

At first, the concept of the space as a whole may seem a bit foreign, like a strange collision of vastly different worlds. After all, it will be part work space, part restaurant and bar where journalists, media creatives, chefs and the general public commingle under the same roof. But if we think back to the original purpose of pubs, it really isn’t that strange at all. In this particular case, what will be “new” is actually an old but tried and true recipe of real social interaction and the free exchange of ideas at a local level, lovingly served up with a cold beer and a warm plate. It’s a return to roots of newsies and neighborhoods with an Oakland twist, in an era when both are struggling to survive…and it’s about damn time.

Cheers to StudioToBe, the Lede and to the rebirth of a much-needed pub!

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.