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A Soul Food Experience to bring change in East Oakland

'A Soul Food Experience' is the name of the new restaurant that just opened in East Oakland. The area to which the restaurant opened is known to be somewhat drab . With a renovation plan of the neighborhood staring next year, it looks like A Soul Food Experience is getting a head start on bringing change and new flavor to the community.
I found this article from the Oakland Tribune, you can read the full story below.

Soul food the new flavor in East Oakland
By Kamika Dunlap Oakland Tribune
Article Last Updated: 09/07/2008 05:30:44 PM PDT

OAKLAND — Rubie Daniels is looking to add a new flavor
to East Oakland with the old delights of Southern-style African-American
cuisine. Daniels is the owner of the recently opened A Soul Food Experience,
which serves rib and chicken dinners, black-eyed peas, peach cobbler and other
recipes that capture the culture and spirit of the black tradition.
"This place is one of a kind," said Daniel, 68. "We're the bright spot in the
neighborhood."
The 4,000-square-foot restaurant sits on the corner at 10739
MacArthur Blvd. near 107th Avenue, next to Walgreens and across the street from
Foothill Square. For years, it was known as Walt's Hickory Pit, which was a
community hub where people to gathered to tell stories, eat breakfast and drink
coffee. Today, Daniels, who is the sister of former Oakland Athletics second
baseman Bip Roberts, has taken over the restaurant and runs it with Robert's
wife, Janina Roberts. They operate the business with the support of many other relatives, including Daniel's brother Roy Shivers, who was an NFL running back with the St. Louis Cardinals. The business venture in many ways is a "family affair" and has brought them closer together, Daniels said. She said the restaurant's menu was inspired by the meals her family made back in Arkansas. Typically, the soul food recipes and cooking techniques have been passed on orally, since it was illegal for blacks to read or write until after slavery. The restaurant is one of only a handful of its type in Oakland, including Nellie's Soulfood Restaurant and Bar downtown. Daniels and Roberts said they hope their restaurant in East Oakland will bring more business to the area and help with the city's larger goal to revitalize Foothill Square, on Foothill Boulevard near MacArthur. The restaurant will add some spice to the retail plaza, which has sat has sat bland and mostly empty for years, they said. "We hope to generate a lot of new foot traffic and the synergy will help us all," said John Jay, general manager of Foothill Square.
He is working with Councilmember Larry Reid (Elmhurst-East Oakland) to bring about the much needed renovation to the timeworn mall. Longs Drugs store and Lucas Harvest grocer are among a few of the new retailers in talks with the city to possibly move to the site. A major makeover is planned to begin sometime next
year. The restaurant had its soft opening two weeks ago and attracted many
area residents. On average, about 100 people a day visit the restaurant, which
is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
in Sunday, the restaurant's all-you-can-eat brunch buffet is a popular hit with
the church crowd. The buffet includes everything from neck bones and turkey
wings to greens, yams and potato salad. The restaurant also features a
banquet hall that is available to rent for private parties. Reid said he plans
to use the space to host his quarterly leadership breakfast meetings. The
restaurant's official grand opening will be in October, Daniels said. He said he is proud of the success of the two new restaurants that have opened in his district since August — Soul Food Experience and Celestine's Fine Dining and Entertainment on Edes Avenue. Daniel and Roberts say they are excited to see
how the restaurant will impact the neighborhood. "We are excited to be a part
of the growth and the change," Robert said.
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