Oakland Indie Alliance, a coalition of locally-owned bars and restaurants, is organizing the Uptown Shamrock Walk tomorrow, a St. Patrick’s Day celebration intended to draw customers to a neighborhood that rarely sees crowds outside of First Fridays.
“There’s so many businesses now in the Uptown area,” said Maria Alderete, co-owner of Luka’s Taproom & Lounge, and a founding OIA member. “It’s a way for us to partner together and market together to create an event that just brings more people to Uptown,” she told Hoodline.
“We chose [the name] ‘Shamrock Walk’’ because we wanted it to be about food and beverages, not just a bar crawl,” said Alderete, who opened Luka’s 12 years ago. “One thing that I’ve learned over the years is that bringing more people down here is only going to benefit us all in terms of creating a safe space for the art and entertainment district we represent.”
Alderete said she got involved with Oakland Art Murmur early and and strongly supports First Fridays, but hers and other businesses aren't seeing customers in large numbers unless there's another event that generates overflow.
Uptown Shamrock Walk is the first of several planned events intended to draw crowds to the more than 70 OIA-affiliated businesses around Old Oakland, Uptown, Downtown and Jack London Square.
“We’re the ones — like the artists — who really gave the cachet to Oakland, and we’re struggling,” said Alderete. “We’re trying to put together an organization that will help support the economic viability of businesses in Oakland going forward.”
Having large performance venues like The Fox and The Paramount nearby can help draw customers to nearby bars and restaurants, but it depends on whose name is on the marquee outside, she said.
“On Telegraph, we have The Fox, which is booked by Another Planet, and they do a wonderful job at keeping their calendar full,” said Alderete. “If you look up that street, you’ll see dozens of new businesses.”
On the other hand, restaurants on Broadway are “a little bit more challenged,” she said.
“We just had Jerry Seinfeld down there and I think we had the second-best night ever for Luka’s Taproom, but for the most part, the Paramount doesn’t have the same number of bookings that the Fox does, so we are less populated.”
Now that OIA has a larger membership, Alderete said the group is in the process of becoming a nonprofit with 501(c)(6) status, and is also working with city officials on a small business task force that will support marketing efforts like art and mural maps.
“If we can leverage all the cool things in Oakland, but give it that indie perspective, I think we can really build the foot traffic in the Uptown, Downtown and Jack London Square areas,” said Alderete.
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