The hotly anticipated Oakland Assembly food hall at Jack London Square, slated for a space that has been touted as an eventual Ferry Building-esque food hall for about a decade but was never built out inside, was delayed by the pandemic but now it sounds like they will have to start the tenant hunt all over again.
The "celebrity" chef line up at Oakland Assembly (55 Harrison Street) was big news when the Port of Oakland announced it in November 2019. It included Matt Horn of the now wildly popular Horn Barbecue, who was intending to open a fried chicken concept there called KowBird. Now, as a rep for Horn tells the Chronicle, KowBird will be opening elsewhere at a time and place still to be determined.
Reem Assil, of Reem's in Oakland and SF's Mission District, tells the paper that she has not yet made a decision about moving into the Assembly, though her name was attached to the food hall as well.
Other chefs that were touted in the original press release — including onetime Top Chef contestant Preeti Mistry of Juhu Beach Club, Satoshi and Sachi Kamimae of Oakland okonomiyaki pop-up Okkon, and Anthony Kresge of Shadowbrook restaurant in Capitola — have all said that they've backed out of the project. And reps for popular ramen spot Mensho Tokyo, which has its only US location in San Francisco, say they don't recall signing any letter of intent for Oakland Assembly and they tell the Chronicle they "can’t recall... ever being serious about that project."
Kinzie Bridge Holdings, the real estate company behind the food hall, says it's in a holding pattern, and an anticipated summer 2021 opening has been pushed back likely into next year.
The history of this development at Jack London Square has been fraught with false starts and delays. The six-story so-called Jack London Market building at 55 Harrison has sat largely vacant since it was constructed in 2009, though it's been used for events over the years and may have had some office tenants on upper floors.
Reem Assil had been involved in a restaurant next door in the former Haven space, called Dyafa, that was part of chef Daniel Patterson's restaurant group, but she and Patterson parted ways in 2019. Dyafa has been temporarily closed since last year, and a message on the website says to "check back after April 7."
The space around the food hall has come alive each year for the Eat Real Festival, but of course that hasn't happened since September 2019. And since the closure of Barnes & Noble in 2009, Jack London Square hasn't had a major retail tenant, and a few restaurants have come and gone. One success story has been wood-fired pizza spot The Forge, which has been going strong since 2013.
Last fall, seafood spot Seabreeze by the Dock opened in the former Il Pescatore space, and they're still serving lobster rolls and various fried items — and last weekend they were doing a crawfish boil.
One stalwart that still has a loyal clientele is Scott's, the 45-year-old seafood restaurant on the harbor, which reopened for dining in mid-March.