And here we are, the end of 2021, a year that we can now accurately call purgatory. If you've read Dante, you'll know that hell can be much more jubilant and inspired. But we made the most of it, in our little corner of Oakland, and we're happy to report that we are healthy and stronger than ever.
Let's see: in April, we re-opened our shop for in-store browsing (with a spanking new glossy floor!) and in October, re-launched our bar. Times are still uncertain but we tried getting back into as much of a normal routine as possible. We couldn't stay cooped up forever!
Highlights of the year include launching our Umami Mart Junmai Sake (more coming soon!) with our friends in Oakland and LA, collaborated with our Danish brother-from-another-mother Anders of Studio Arhoj, and of course we started Kissaten at our bar, spearheaded by Ian, our manager and barista extraordinaire.
A weekly event, Kissaten is a cozy respite from our cray world, where you get a cup of exquisite drip coffee and a sweet treat at our bar. For better or worse, cell reception is really bad in our shop so it's really a moment where you can put your phone down and read a book or chat with the stranger next to you over coffee – all while Oscar Peterson plays on the phonograph.
We closed out the year with a bang, with Yoko’s epic hoshigaki project over our bar, and a Xmas Eve Martini and raw bar pop-up with our brother Casa de Kei.
All in all, it was a solid year here at Umami Mart. A bright star came to us in the fall, in the form of our newest team member De'Andre, full of insightful spirits knowledge and love of kung fu.
Nothing but gratitude for our badass team, who you all see hustling at our shop. Thank you to our manager Ian, who forever offers attentive service, hilarious word puns, love of shochu and sake, and swift bar skills. Mike, who has been with us since 2018, packs all online orders with speed, grace, and acute attention to detail. Bee and Brad, both pre-pandemic staff members, came back for cameo shifts during the holidays, which was very much needed and appreciated. The band was back together again, if only for a fleeting moment.
And off we skip into 2022, full of reticent hope for brighter days ahead. We have a ton in store as we will be celebrating 10 YEARS OF UMAMI MART!! Stay tuned for non-stop festivities and wild times.
Happy New Year to you all – thank you for your support and love this past year. We wouldn't be here without you!
Yoko + Kayoko