Oakland’s iconic Bay Wolf space is not going to stay empty for long. The 40-year-old Piedmont Avenue restaurant, which closed Aug. 30, is going to be in the hands of another pair of well-known Oakland restaurateurs — Rich and Rebekah Wood.
The Woods, of course, own Rockridge’s Wood Tavern on the Oakland-Berkeley border, a favorite of neighborhood diners and critics — so popular in fact that snagging a table there can prove difficult. The couple — who also own sandwich spot Southie, next door to Wood Tavern, opened in 2011— announced on Monday in the Mercury News that they were taking over the lease of the Bay Wolf space.
The Woods are following in the wake of a local culinary institution. Michael Wild opened the warm, wood-paneled Bay Wolf restaurant in a Craftsman house at 3853 Piedmont Ave. with partners Michael Phelps and Larry Goldman in September 1975, three years after Chez Panisse opened in Berkeley. Like Alice Waters’ celebrated, and similarly styled, restaurant, Bay Wolf was known from the start for its locally sourced, seasonal menu.
Bay Wolf was always close to its purveyors, fostering relationships with the people who supplied their ingredients, be it meat, fish or produce.
While commonplace now, farm-to-table dining was seen as an innovation in the 1970s, even in the Bay Area. As Wild told NOSH this summer: “It’s a venerable tradition all over the world except in some parts of the States.”
According to the Mercury News, the Woods will retain the “intimate American brasserie” concept of Bay Wolf. They will, however, renovate the space and give the restaurant a new name. It’s a good conceptual fit for the Woods, as Wood Tavern has made its name cooking solid California-style American cuisine.
Berkeleyside has reached out to the Woods for more details and will update this post if necessary.
The Woods were already successful restaurateurs in San Francisco before opening Wood Tavern in the former Grasshopper space at 6317 College Ave. in 2007. The duo spent years working at restaurants like Rubicon, Farallon, Harry Dentons’s and Scala’s Bistro, and then spent six years running the popular Russian Hill restaurant, Frascati.
Since Wood Tavern opened, it has continually gotten recognition from not only Yelpers (it retains an enviable 4 1/2 star rating), but also the Michelin Guide, which bestowed its Bib Gourmand title on the restaurant again this year, and The San Francisco Chronicle’s Michael Bauer.
The Woods will bring Wood Tavern’s executive chef Yang Peng over to the new spot. They hope to turn over the restaurant and re-open by summer 2016.
Oakland’s Bay Wolf restaurant closing after 40 years (07.01.15)