The strip of San Pablo bordering Oakland & E’ville was once lined with swanky bars stretching all the way from 53th into Berkeley. One of these Post-WW2 Bars was “The Streamline Lounge” at 5516 San Pablo that shuttered its doors circa 1979. Since then it has lived the glamorous life as a Cobbler … but mostly as a vacant eyesore. On Thursday 4/17 it was announced that the vintage, 1940’s era subway-tiled facade will be reborn as “The Wolfhound” after receiving Oakland planning commission approval.
Proprietors include Peadar Kelleher, owner of Shannon Moving & Storage, and two other business partners including 10 year bar manager Chris Southgate and Keith Mulligan, member of the Irish-import Rock/Punk/Folk band “The Hooks“. Chris is the only partner currently living in Oakland, but Keith & Peadar are both considering moves to the East Bay. Named after Chris’ Irish Wolfhound mix “Rufus” (The size of a small horse I’ve been told), the trio is targeting an eclectic mix of reclaimed furniture and decor reflective of a bygone golden era of bar-tending. Berkeley’s Missouri Lounge & Oakland’s Cafe Van Kleef were mentioned as inspiration for the vibe and crowd they are targeting.
They picked this 968 sq. ft. location because “the area is up and coming” and the cool-factor of the old building. “Where I’m from in Ireland, a small village in the countryside, there are 2 grocery stores & 6 bars” explained Peadar, “the bar is like the local meeting place, the community place where people go and meet and talk”. Their vision for the bar is to be a haven for local artists with space on the walls to show their talents. They hope to employ live jazz once a week as well. Beers will include a broad selection of on-tap & bottled international choices as well as a monthly rotation of a few obscure brews from small microbreweries. They also are planning a weekly pub quiz.
Adjacent to the Golden Gate Branch Library, bookended by Churches and mere blocks from the in-progress Center for Community Life, the neighborhood has its challenges. It sits across from the notorious Chaparral Motel, a site of alleged drug & prostitution activity, gunfire and other crimes against persons and property. The addition of a bar might not typically be the best way of improving a neighborhood by some, but merely having more “eyes on the street” could be a benefit alone.
Neighborhood activists seemed generally pleased with the receptiveness to their recommendations and are optimistic of the activity it will bring to the blighted area. The entire strip of San Pablo bordering E’ville and Oakland’s Golden Gate Neighborhood is coming along piece-by-piece thanks to the hard work of some dedicated community organizations like SPAGGIA. You need only look 10 blocks up to Alcatraz and beyond Ashby to the Berkeley side of the border to see examples of the potential the area holds. Cafe’s, Restaurants, Pedestrian activity … minimal chain establishments. Arguably, “the local watering hole” can be as big of a part of community-building as anything.
Final approval will move to Council vote where it is expected to pass. If all permits are issued accordingly, the Wolfhound should be open by fall. The entire staff report can be read on The City of Oakland’s website.
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