Top Chefs Turn to Kickstarter to Open Shakewell Bar and Kitchen in Oakland

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Chefs Jennifer Biesty and Tim Nugent are looking to open a kitchen and bar in Oakland. Photo: Courtesy of Biesty and Nugent
Chefs Jennifer Biesty and Tim Nugent are looking to open a kitchen and bar in Oakland. Photo: Courtesy of Biesty and Nugent

Post by Jonathan Darr, Oakland Local (8/15/2013)

When I first arrived in the Bay Area to run an arts organization, I took each member of my small team to the restaurant of their choice to get to hear their vision for our work together. My first trip was to COCO500, at the time, the restaurant where recent Top Chef contestant Jennifer Biesty was the chef. The food was delicious and memorable even years later. Duck confit and fried green beans with a set of delicious small plates were all fantastic.

I was excited to see that Chef Jen and Chef Tim Nugent (also a former Top Chef contestant) are working on opening Shakewell Bar and Kitchen right here on Lakeshore Avenue in Oakland. The pair, who have been working together at San Francisco’s Scala’s Bistro and friends for fifteen years, launched a Kickstarter campaign and have just about a week to go. As of this writing, they’ve raised $53,790 from 280 backers.

The rewards for contributing include jars of stone fruit preserves, dark chocolate truffles prepared by Chef Tim, and several levels of dining gift certificates, including appetizers with pairings at the bar, lunches and dinners at the restaurant, all the way up to an in-home five-course dinner for eight. Having just completed a Kickstarter campaign with my work team, I jumped at the chance to check in and learn more about their new venture and the role crowdfunding would play in bringing Shakewell to life.

Shakewell Bar and Kitchen’s Kickstarter hopes to raise $100,000 by noon on Aug. 22.
Shakewell Bar and Kitchen’s Kickstarter hopes to raise $100,000 by noon on Aug. 22.

I checked in with Chef Tim who will be heading up the dessert and pastry program at the new bar and restaurant along with serving as co-owner with Chef Jen. He took the time to answer some of the questions I had about both Kickstarter funding and the new venture:


JD: Why Kickstarter? A lot of fundraising happens on other platforms that are less strict about meeting the goal.

CT: It was new to both of us, as we watched other videos it made sense to give it a try. It’s funny how begging for money is cool on this site. The deadline worked for us because we have sort of a deadline with the seller.

JD: Is this a welcome to Oakland? It looks like you and Chef Jen have a long history working in San Francisco. What’s on this side of the bridge?

CT: I’ve lived in Oakland for 10 years now. I love Oakland, it is a sure “welcome to the area,” for us professionally. The food scene has gone crazy over here, A16 opening on College, Hopscotch, Hutch, Plum Bar. Not to mention the bar scene. Lakeshore Avenue doesn’t have a real foodie spot or really a bar like what we are hoping to bring. The street is always busy.

JD: Tell me about sourcing. The Kickstarter video says it’s important for both of you. Do you plan to work with any specific farms or farmers?

CT: Sourcing is our favorite. Not only do we want to walk to the Grand Lake Farmers Market on Saturday, we have at least a dozen small farms we have worked with in all our years. To us, supporting a local farmer is the way it’s done and the product speaks for itself.

JD: What are you and Chef Jen like as culinary partners?

CT: We are very much on the same page with the same backgrounds in the food world. Rustic, simple, seasonal. I am a pastry chef as well so we cover all grounds. Jen and I have a passion for this, this is what we do, it has taken many years to find that perfect partner and agree in our guts on the perfect space.

JD: Last, where are you eating in Oakland these days?

CT: I love Boot and Shoe, Hopscotch, Camino, Plum and more.

Shakewell Bar and Kitchen will offer a Mediterranean brunch, lunch and dinner, presenting an eclectic approach to seasonal, local ingredients. Chefs Jen and Tim are planning a robust bar and cocktail program and dessert selections rooted in Chef Tim’s well-regarded pastry creations.