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Sunday, September 19, 2010

In six years, 191 businesses have moved into Oakland

New venue, Vitus, to open in Oakland, plus more restaurants and bars — and maybe shopping?
By Kathleen Richards Eastbay Express
Much to the delight of city officials, downtown Oakland continues to be a magnet for new businesses despite the slowed economy. Restaurants, bars, and clubs are moving into formerly vacant storefronts, remodeling long-decayed interiors, and beckoning entertainment seekers from as far away as the West Bay.
In six years, 191 businesses have moved into downtown Oakland, according to Brian Kendall, who's in charge of downtown development in the city's Community and Economic Development Agency. In five years, the vacancy rate downtown has dropped from 25 percent to less than 5, he said, and only a few of the new endeavors have gone out of business.

"The great thing is the people who are doing well are doing really, really well," said Kendall, citing Hibiscus restaurant, which just started serving lunch. "The amount of vitality is fantastic. It's the first time in forty years that downtown has been a destination again."
While there certainly has been no shortage of restaurants and bars moving into the area, now there will be more live music as well, Kendall said.

Vitus, named after the "patron saint of entertainers and Bohemia," will be a restaurant/bar/club located at 347 14th Street, according to owner Damon Gallagher of local band Damon & the Heathens. "We are going to have a full restaurant and bar, plus intimate venue," Gallagher confirmed in an e-mail. "We will serve food late-night, which has been absent from Oakland for some time." The decor will resemble "an old art deco jazz club with new touches," and the music will be "intimate and eclectic."
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