A restaurant that was a pioneer in Oakland's revitalized Uptown before the Fox Theater had reopened, Flora, is set to close in two weeks, and it will be replaced by a new concept from the owner of The Kon-Tiki.
Flora first debuted in late 2007, serving, along with nearby Cafe Van Kleef, as early entries in what would be a wave of new businesses and foot traffic in the decade to come — galvanized most dramatically with the 2009 reopening of the long-shuttered Fox Theater. With the help of friend and Slanted Door Group mixologist Eric Adkins, owner Thomas Schnetz and partner Dona Savitsky wanted to bring high-end cocktail culture to Oakland. The restaurant would soon be named one of Michael Bauer's best new Bay Area restaurants in 2008 — though he was less in love with the food after a chef change a couple years later.
The restaurant has remained a well-trafficked spot in the neighborhood, but Schnetz tells Eater that he decided to close for "personal reasons," adding, "It kinda breaks my heart, but it made sense for me right now." Schnetz and Savitsky dissolved their partnership some time ago and divided up their restaurants, which included the soon-to-shutter Doña Tomas in Oakland's Temescal district (it will be relocating to Piedmont Avenue and renaming itself Doña). Flora's last day of service will be November 9.
Schnetz is handing the place off to one of his former bar managers, Christ Aivaliotis, who's now a co-owner Tiki bar Kon-Tiki. Aivaliotis will take the attached next-door bar Fauna and add some Tiki flair — with help from designer Wylie Price, who Eater says will be bringing in "Cuban and Floridian accents." Meanwhile, in the Flora space, chef Manuel Bonilla (Hawker Fare, Kon-Tiki) will be doing a menu focused on steaks and chops.
As Schnetz tells SFGate of Aivaliotis, "He’s definitely going to change it up. He'll open up six weeks to two months after we close."
That puts the unnamed new restaurant possibly opening in time for New Year's Eve, but these things are often delayed.
Schnetz still owns Xolo, the taqueria two doors down on Telegraph, as well as another Mexican spot in Sacramento called La Venadita.