In the small triangular West Oakland neighborhood of Clawson which lies between Mandela Parkway and Adeline (also known as "Dogtown" by its residents, which includes me and my husband), the neo-soul food restaurant Brown Sugar Kitchen is the lone notable eatery within walking distance from our home. While nearby Emeryville has a number of chain restaurants within its cluster of malls, there's not much else until you venture over to the Korean fusion cuisine spot FuseBox in the adjacent McClymonds area. But more places are slowly springing up, including the restaurant 10th & Wood; Kilovolt Coffee is the latest welcome addition to West Oakland.
Co-owner Ethan Ashley founded his new venture through support from outside investors, several employees, and local residents. Necessity drove him to open the cafe in his Prescott neighborhood, a mile-long expanse that spans Mandela Parkway, the I-880 frontage road to the west and 7th Street in the south. When Ethan moved in from Berkeley in 2008, he realized, "There is no coffee! Brown Sugar Kitchen is too busy and the pretty lady doesn't do to-go. I need coffee."
He loves his building as "it's right between the Bay Bridge and BART on Mandela. I tracked down the building owner at the county records office and pitched them the idea. One thing led to another and a year and a half later, we are open for business." With a background in home remodeling, he personally transformed the former Cypress Steel space into minimalist new cafe.