Exploding oven throws wrench in Reem's holiday baking plans

Photo courtesy of Reem's
By Jay Barmann - Published on December 14, 2020.

Reem's (2901 Mission Street), the Arab bakery-restaurant that opened earlier this year in the former Mission Pie space at 25th and Mission, just suffered another setback in a year of setbacks for the restaurant industry when its primary deck oven apparently exploded. Owner Reem Assil tells Eater that the incident happened last Wednesday and thankfully none of the five employees who were in the kitchen at the time were hurt.

"I thought it was not real. What, the oven exploded?" Assil says, speaking to Eater, saying that her staff said it was "like a bomb, basically," and the oven that she inherited from Mission Pie was rendered completely useless. Purchasing a new one, likely from Italy, will cost $35,000 and take several months to ship, so this spells potential disaster for the business without a major pivot and some stepping up from supporters in the way of gift cards, etc.

"For the duration of December 2020, we will be temporarily closed to the public and pause takeout and delivery services from our Mission location while we figure how to pivot yet again," Assil said in a statement on the website. "Please support us by buying a gift card instead, checking out our holiday pastry specials, our holiday meal kits, and ordering a Right of Return Poster."

Assil gained local and national attention in recent years after opening her Palestinian- and Syrian-inspired bakery in Oakland's Fruitvale district in May 2017, following several years of running a roving farmer's market stand. In addition to being named a Chronicle Rising Star Chef in 2017, and San Francisco Magazine's Chef of the Year in 2018, her recipe for Man'oushe, the flatbread that Reem's specializes in, appeared in Bon Appetit.

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Back in April, Assil made the difficult decision to close the original Oakland location and use it solely as a commissary kitchen. Assil is still trying to figure out how to make ends meet without the oven in the Mission space, and curiously the old Oakland oven is not mentioned as a possible solution in her conversation with Eater. She says that one or both of the portable saaj ovens she's used at her now discontinued farmers' market stands might be put back into use outside the Mission location. And in the meantime, she and her team are hoping to sell a lot of holiday meal kits and pastry boxes, available here. The meal kit currently on offer is a chocolate-rubbed lamb with a winter fattoush salad and filled semolina cookies, with optional wine pairing.

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