In what will no doubt be viewed as a major setback for the socially conscious fast-food brand Locol, founders Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson are closing the restaurant’s uptown Oakland location. Inside Scoop SF broke the news today, reporting that “the store has been moved to Locol’s West Oakland space (3446 Market St.), which opened as a bakery earlier this year.”
The uptown Oakland location opened in May 2016, the brand’s first outpost in the Bay Area and second store opening, after Watts in Los Angeles. The Oakland location is perhaps best known for the now-infamous New York Times review from January 2017, in which Pete Wells goose-egged the restaurant, complaining about the food. (“Why would a reporter from The New York Times fly 3,000 miles to go apeshit on a five-dollar burger?,” Patterson asked in a recent profile.) The backlash to the review was swift and severe, but perhaps real damage was done.
It’s been a tumultuous run for the fast-food mini-chain. Following the NYT review, Patterson revealed that the Watts location — in many ways a more fully realized concept — was losing money. A menu overhaul, a food truck, and a new catering operation were meant to help lift the tides. Locol has also gone deeper into the coffee business: Patterson and Choi partnered with Tonx Coffee co-founder Tony Konecny to develop Yes, Plz — a coffee company inspired the Locol’s $1 cup. It’s a big deal. There’s also a possibility that Locol will have a nonprofit component, as Choi suggested just a few weeks ago.
But right now, Locol Bakery is the brand’s only presence in the Bay Area. It opened in West Oakland in March 2017 serving an abbreviated menu of to-go items, coffee, and juices. Eater SF described the Oakland closure as “sudden” and has reached out for more details. Stay tuned.