West Oakland Defenders

    We are subscribers and love Oakland Magazine. As a resident of West Oakland who loves Brown Sugar Kitchen, I was thrilled to see them spotlighted in May. However, I was disappointed at author Derek Richardson’s portrayal of our neighborhood. He describes the junkyard next door? The nearest signs of modern life being stylish new condos located over a mile away? Lacking a coherent neighborhood? And goes further to suggest the restaurant will have a hard time attracting nighttime diners to its barren frontier.
    Now to be fair, West Oakland carries a bad rap that is not completely unfounded. And if only cute little tree-lined shopping districts filled with cafes and shops are considered coherent, then yes, by that definition, we are lacking coherency. Finding the gems of West Oakland requires a bit of effort or exploration. Did the author dare detour off Mandela Parkway at all? No signs of modern life? Are only stylish new condos to be considered modern? The rest of us aren’t exactly traveling in wagons, cooking over open fires and using outhouses for restrooms around here. I realize this is not an article about the neighborhood, but if one is going to describe the surrounding area, perhaps a quick ride around the surrounding area would be in order.
    I hope readers of your magazine will be enticed by his favorable description of Brown Sugar Kitchen’s delicious offerings and be willing to brave this incoherent, antiquated frontier neighborhood to swoon for themselves. And if not, there are enough hungry residents to keep chef and fellow resident Tanya Holland’s tables filled morning, noon and night.

Whitney Nelson, Oakland

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