The first thing you notice about Drake’s Dealership, the new beer garden from San Leandro-based Drake’s Brewing, is the size. It’s huge, with an extensive outdoor area that includes private tables, communal tables and a row of fire pits and benches. Inside, there’s bar seating and more communal seating. It’s sunny and open, the opposite of the dark warehouse where they brew the beer and have a taproom in San Leandro. Drake's Dealership is the size of a suburban chain restaurant, with the same kind of persistent branding: everything, from the chambray shirts servers wear, to the chairs, to the buckets holding the silverware seems to be emblazoned with the Drake’s logo.
It’s obviously a major step forward for Drake’s, and it’s equally exciting for Uptown Oakland: a family (and dog) friendly beer garden with a sprawling selection, enough room for a group of friends, with a fairly affordable and wide ranging selection of food.
It’s already being warmly embraced by the natives. On a recent Saturday afternoon, almost all the tables were filled. Beer-obsessed types in sport sunglasses and tee shirts advertising their favorite breweries (Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues) brushed up against young couples on double dates. A DJ in the corner played Motown. The sheer amount of space created a welcoming atmosphere, with wheelchairs, strollers and dogs all crunching by on the gravel patio.
The Dealership, which opened August 10, is part of The Hive, a new Uptown mixed use development that includes restaurants, a coworking space and a “holistic fitness center.” The Hive sits at the beginning of Auto Row, and Drake’s takes advantage of its past life as a Dodge auto dealership, with lots of exposed brick and steel embellishments.
The menu is standard beer food, burgers and pizzas, but there are some ambitious and interesting flourishes: a selection of well thought out salads (with the option to “Add duck confit” for $9), pizzas from dough that’s been aged for three days then baked in their wood fired oven, and a few carefully chosen entrees: ribs, duck, fish and chips.
The beer list is obviously sprawling, including both their most visible offerings like Drakonic and 1500, and a selection of limited releases. Wine is available not in bottles but on tap and in cans. They’re still planning out their beer flights, so we made our own: the citrusy, slightly sour Oaklander Weisse, the chocolatey Black Robusto, and Aroma Paloma, a fruity triple IPA.