Like Jack London Square, the ground-floor bar inside the Victorian at the corner of 4th and Webster streets has seen many changes over the years. Once known as The Warehouse, a hangout for Oakland’s journalists and police officers, the space has been extensively renovated to make way for Seawolf Public House, which opens today.
This is the first restaurant for owners Laura Blair and Monica Plazola, who also serves as general manager. Because the bar was such a strong neighborhood hub, they decided to buy the building, “even though the outside was kind of dilapidated,” said Plazola, who also works as general manager.
“When you walked in, there was a strong sense of community that was really wonderful,” she added. “There were regulars coming in for 35, 40 years, along with folks who’d just moved into the condos.”
Reflecting Oakland’s diversity, the bar attracted a range of people from different ages, backgrounds and ethnicities. “Everyone was getting along having conversations, and it was just a really great feeling,” Plazola said.
“It was a place where the Trib reporters came, then it became more of a cop bar, but some of those regulars were still hanging out here when we took over," Blair said. On Yelp, one patron said it offered “the total ‘Cheers’ experience at the dive bar level.’”
The three-story Queen Anne Victorian was built in 1882; contractors are in the finishing stage of renovating the building, which includes four residential units. Since taking over, the new owners removed a drop ceiling and remodeled the bathrooms and kitchen.
Given its age, the structure has seen many different uses; Blair said it was once a café, a display company, a produce market and a sail maker before becoming a tavern full-time.
Although the 1800-square-foot restaurant shares a name with a renowned seafood place that operated at 2 Broadway decades ago, it bears no association with the shuttered eatery (now Scott’s Seafood), said Plazola.
“There’s the restaurant that was here, there’s the Sea Wolf fire boat that’s in the estuary, and there’s the Jack London book,” Plazola said. “All of that just felt like it was resonating around the community, so it was a good name to have.”
“The menu is kind of rooted in the pub style, with some influences from west coast cuisine," said Executive Chef Jason Moniz, who opened Flora in Oakland, as well as Tres and Locavore in San Francisco.
“It’s more just the idea of having fun with what pub-style or beer food should be, and then using using local food and ingredients,” said Moniz. The pub is doing lunch and dinner service, but future plans include weekend brunch as well as live music, said Plazola.
On Thursday at 5pm, Seawolf Public House will host Sierra Nevada Brewery for an SF Beer Week Event; a portion of the proceeds will benefit Oakland Heritage Alliance. Each month, Plazola said the restaurant will hold an event or dinner to raise funds for a local group.
Seawolf Public House (510) 326-2421) is located at 350 4th St. and is open from 3pm to midnight Sunday – Thursday, from 3pm – 2am on weekends and is closed on Mondays.
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