Ever wished you could work remotely while snacking on some quality tinned fish, chowing on a duck leg, or drinking a negroni? Meet The Lede, a new Cal-Italian, casual restaurant that's expected to open inside Old Oakland's Studiotobe this August.
The restaurant is a partnership between Cal Peternell, who was a chef at Chez Panisse for 22 years until leaving his post in 2017 (he's also the author of the 2019 James Beard Award-nominated cookbook Almonds, Anchovies, and Pancetta) and Kit Taylor of Emeryville's Prizefighter, who will lead the restaurant's bar program. The cuisine is described as Cal-Italian — "like California-Italian ... but it's also [Cal's] name," said Taylor.
The menu will feature bar snacks like tinned fish and fried snacks, a few pastas, a seasonal vegetable, and a duck leg. As for drinks, expect a couple Italian classic cocktails like a negroni and a spritz, a short and sweet menu of five signature cocktails, and an Italian-heavy wine list, all of which are designed to complement the food menu. The menu is intended to be flexible, ideal for those looking for anything from a light snack to a cocktail to a full meal. It's a big departure from Peternell's fine dining past, but Peternell said he's looking forward to the change.
"I had a great time there [at Chez Panisse] and I learned a lot and made lots of great contacts and lots of great friends," he said. "I was sorry that more of my friends couldn't really afford to eat there. ... So I felt like if I were to ever open another restaurant, it would be something more casual, more affordable, and more accessible. And fun. And delicious."
For those unfamiliar with Studiotobe, it's a coworking space focused on podcasting, storytelling, and journalism opened in April 2018 in the former Pacific Coast Brewing space (906 Washington St.). Joaquin Alvarado, Ken Ikeda, and Kristen Belden founded the coworking space, which currently has about 50 members. Podcasts like Snap Judgment and Peternell's cooking-centric podcast Cooking By Ear are produced there. It's a fitting space for journalism given that the Oakland Tribune once called this block home.
In a nod to the space's journalistic past and present, The Lede is named after the journalism term "lede," meaning the introduction or main point of a story. Taylor and Peternell hope The Lede will help introduce the public to Studiotobe through its food and drinks. But the name also acknowledges the ties between food and storytelling and a hope for how the two businesses will work together. During lunch and dinner service, Studiotobe members and the public alike will be able to grab a bite to eat side-by-side, offering members of the public the opportunity to talk with journalists, storytellers, and podcasters.
"I've always been attracted to the way that food and drink can engender storytelling and storymaking," Peternell said. "What we want to do is serve people delicious food and drinks that allow them to connect around the table and tell their stories — and maybe make new stories."