Nosh’s 2021 in review
· The East Bay’s most reliable bar and restaurant destinations
· The East Bay’s best restaurant experiences
· The best outdoor dining in the East Bay
The East Bay’s saddest restaurant closures of 2021

At the end of every year, East Bay Nosh surveys staffers across Cityside’s newsrooms as well as its regular writers and columnists. The goal: to bring you an overview of the region’s food and restaurant scene from our diverse group of contributors. Please keep checking back every day until the end of the year for answers to 2021’s set of dining questions — and if you’d like, add your own answers in the comments at the bottom of this article.

Today, our respondents were asked: What permanent East Bay bar or restaurant closure made you the saddest in 2021? 

I was quite sad to hear about Oliveto because of a number of warm memories I’d had there over the years. Thankfully, as soon as Nosh announced that the restaurant would be closing, a friend scored a reservation and we enjoyed a bittersweet last hurrah dinner during truffle week. Moriah VanVleet, Nosh contributor and founder of butter, sugar, flowers

Sweet Booth in Oakland. Ricky Rodas, Reporter: Immigrant Small Business, The Oaklandside

Cosecha’s closing was particularly sad as my 2020 takeout birthday dinner was from there with a friend who has now passed. I look forward to trying Bombera soon. I am also sad about Rivoli and Oliveto, having good memories of past celebration meals at those two. — Shirley Huey, Nosh contributor

Bissap Baobab has reopened its Oakland location as a community kitchen for local makers. Photo: Sarah Han
After a reopening as a community kitchen in 2021, Bissap Baobab closed again for good. Credit: Sarah Han

Probably it’s Bissap Baobab. I only occasionally went to the Oakland restaurant, but I’d been patronizing Bissap Baobab for years, going back to the days when they only had the “little Baobob” spot in the Mission. I really loved their food, and of course, their signature cocktails with hibiscus and tamarind and other types of juices were extremely tasty. I also spun records at more than a few parties at little Baobab back in the day and had some interactions with the owners who I remember as being always very friendly people. Some good memories. Jacob Simas, Managing Editor, The Oaklandside

​​Sweet Booth 🙁 Jill Kunishima, Vice President of Development, Cityside

Without a doubt, Nick’s Lounge — and this is coming from someone who would do almost anything to avoid singing karaoke. That Adeline Street institution was just so cozy and wholesome. A great neighborhood spot to grab an extremely cheap drink and watch your friends and a host of regulars croon. I held onto some false hope after the retiring owner said he had some interested buyers, but it seems to have quietly closed permanently several months back. Natalie Orenstein, Reporter: Housing and Homelessness, The Oaklandside

Homestead shuttered its fine dining operation over the summer, and its Humble Sandwich pop-up followed a few months later. Credit: Pete Rosos

I was quite surprised when Homestead closed, but less so when owners Fred and Liz Sassen shuttered their Humble Sandwich operation a few months later. I hope that wherever then ended up (via email, they said they moved out of state but did not provide further details) the Sassens are happy. I was also bummed when The Busy Wife, which opened as a rollicking pop-up inside Daniel Patterson’s still-shuttered Dayfa space, was booted by its Jack London Square property management company. I hope founder/chef Michauxnee Olier finds a new home for her excellent Creole cooking.  — Eve Batey, East Bay Nosh Editor

Well, I had high hopes for the Royal Cafe, but sadly, it remains closed. Also, the imminent closing of Oliveto will be a huge loss to the neighborhood. Risa Nye, Nosh contributor and memoirist 

I feel lucky that none of my favorites closed, as far as I can tell. Flora Tsapovsky, Nosh contributor and culture writer

Bummed to see Smoke BBQ close – the folks over there are so great and am hopeful to see them back soon.  — Colleen Leary, Vice President, Client Partnerships, Cityside

For someone who basically writes monthly obituaries for restaurants, all closings are sad. But this year in particular, the locations in turmoil or atrophy that simply ghosted, with no good-bye or explanation for their many regulars, their communities — that was the saddest part of covering closures in 2021. The ones with no…closure. 

(That said, when they finally took down the signage for The Albatross, even though it officially shuttered last year, it broke my heart all over again.) Joanna Della Penna, Nosh openings/closings columnist

Rivoli closed with little warning in August after 27 years in business. Credit: Rivoli

I will miss the wonderful soups – which seemed like they were made by a hidden cadre of  international mamas in their tiny kitchen – at Soop in Epicurious Garden, especially their creamy, dreamy Avgolemono.

Still upset about our now worthless $150 gift certificate for Rivoli, which my husband and I were given for a milestone anniversary, probably the day before they closed. Very tacky. Anna Mindess, Nosh contributor and Berkeley-based freelance writer

I’m sad to hear that Oliveto will be closing. It will leave a big hole in Rockridge! Elise Proulx, Nosh contributor and Berkeley-based freelance writer

Emery Bay Cafe and Hip Hop Juice BoxBrandy Collins, Berkeleyside, Nosh and The Oaklandside contributor

Oriental Restaurant was a nothing fancy no-nonsense place where we could get our default meals. It was also around the corner from our daughter’s former preschool, so we could pick up our kid and a meal at the same time. Doug Ng, News Platforms Director, Cityside

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