Photos by Josh Urich, The Joy of Drinking
We did it! We signed a lease! After six months of free rent with Popuphood to see if we could "make it" in Old Oakland, we have proven to the world, and to ourselves, that the world is in need of a shop dedicated to Japanese bar and kitchenware.
Yoko and I hosted a party to celebrate our achievement and invited all our friends, old and new. So many people showed up! It really made me giddy to see so many familiar faces. In just six months, we somehow created a community around Umami Mart, in real life! We'd been online for so many years and it has been such a thrilling, eye-opening experience to get people together in our shop for events and just talk with customers about where to go to EAT! As I walked around the party bumping into our "regulars", I was overjoyed that people in the Bay Area have responded positively to Yoko and my vision for a space centered around Japanese food and drink culture. How totally RAD!
A house full of friends, loyal Umami Mart readers and customers
Jonathan Yaffe, a friend of Yoko's from Tokyo
Cory of Selection Massale pouring bubbly. Flutes provided by Camino restaurant. Thank you!
James and Yoko
A toast for Umami Mart and our community! Here's to the next two years in Oakland!
The main event was the eyeball filling for our daruma. Tomo, Yoko's cousin, had gifted us a daruma when we first opened in August. As tradition goes, we filled in one eye while making our wish. Our wish was to sign a lease! So this was a majestic moment to fill in the other eyeball.
James and Devin, who were instrumental in helping us realize and build out our shop space.
Kristyn Leach of Namu Farm. We'll visit her farm soon!
Kishi, who keeps our blog and online shop running in tip-top shape
Mike, our mailman. He's always taking care of us and making sure our online orders go out daily. We seriously would be lost without him.
A beautiful cactus arrangement given to us as gift by Mike of Oaktown Blooms. It's still alive!
I had a quick interview with Theresa Adams of Oakland North. She has been a supportive of us from the beginning, it was great to see her at the party. Read the full article here.
Betsy of East Bay Urban Bees. Our Hive Tour Umamiventure last October was a great success, and we look forward to doing another one soon!
A few days before the party, Cory emailed me to say that he'd be "Sabering" a bottle of wine. WHAT IS THAT? I had to look it up. It's where you take a knife and seamlessly slice off the top part of a bottle of bubbly. Check it out!
Yoko and me with two quintessential Umami Mart shop items: the Arhoj travel mug and the gold shaker.
These were both products included in our debut collection of our online shop back in 2010, and continue to be very popular items.
Of course I am most grateful to Yoko for taking a risk and pursuing Umami Mart with me. If she hadn't said, "Hey, why don't we open a storefront?" a year ago, who know what we'd be doing today. A world without Umami Mart in Oakland? How boring! Cheers, Partner!
Thanks always to all of our readers, writers and customers who make Umami Mart such a thriving community. Online and off! We appreciate you!
*Special thanks to Josh of The Joy of Drinking for coming and taking all the photos!