Palestinian- and Syrian-American chef Reem Assil has had a crazy two and a half years since opening her popular bakery-cafe Reem's in Oakland's Fruitvale District. She had a baby, opened a new restaurant with Daniel Patterson, received a James Beard nomination, a Chronicle Rising Star honor, and a spot on Food & Wine's best new restaurants list; and she also got caught up in a social media firestorm over her inclusion of controversial Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh in a mural, which resulted in death threats and a Yelp pile-on.
That controversy has died down, but it could arise again as Assil announces this week that she's taking over the former Mission Pie space, vacant since September, at 25th and Mission. As Eater reports, the SF outpost of Reem's will feature an expanded menu given its much larger footprint than the original Oakland location, and Assil is aiming for a February 2020 opening.
Assil parted ways with Patterson over the summer, and the restaurant they rebranded and opened together in the former Haven space in Jack London Square, Dyafa, now lives on under a new chef, Mona Leena Michael. She says she's been looking to expand Reem's for six months, and former Mission Pie owners Karen Heisler and wife Krystin Rubin — who sold the building to new owners several months ago — approached her about taking the space.
It's a kind of homecoming for Assil, as she explains to Eater, because some of her first pop-ups when she was in the La Cocina incubator program were held at Mission Pie. She says she's excited to take over a space that already had a community of regulars and fans in the neighborhood, and excited to have a new four-deck oven for baking pitas and mana’eesh (flatbreads) all day.
View this post on Instagram
We're all still so excited about making the Top 100 list put out by @sfchronicle! We're even more excited about the beautiful magazine that was sent to us the other day (peep it in the corner 👀) This is truly an honor and we hope to continue serving you all traditional Arab street food made with California love ❤️ #ReemsCalifornia
Assil plans to have the new Reem's open six days a week, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and maybe 10 p.m. on weekends. Her popular dips and sandwiches from the Oakland shop will of course appear, as will an expanded pastry program.
And she tells Eater that she's also in talks to open another full-service restaurant in the East Bay, possibly by the end of 2020 — and she'll have a new kiosk at the upcoming Jack London Square market hall, serving falafel and shawarma sandwiches.
Photo courtesy of Reem's