Reem's Dream Arab Street Corner Bakery: Come Feel the Warmth
Reem's offers the warmth of Arab hospitality through the experience of the Arab street corner bakery. We offer traditional Arab street foods combining flavors from the homeland with local organic ingredients, all made with California love. We are now poised to open a permanent location in Oakland, CA, and you can help us. Our vision is to nurture a strong, vibrant community around our food - whether it's giving joy of biting into fresh baked bread from the oven, providing living wage jobs, or partnering with local businesses and farms.
Your contributions will help us build a welcoming, sunny space for people of all generations and backgrounds and fund the initial operating cash we need to open our doors by the end of 2016. Our buildout will include a beautiful oven, traditional saj griddles, and an open kitchen where people can watch the magic of bread production happen. Our space will provide indoor and outdoor seating, where you can play backgammon or chess, talk politics, read the newspaper or a good book, enjoy a date, and anything else your heart desires.
In the heart of Oakland's Fruitvale neighborhood, we will provide a feeling of home for the many of us for whom home can be an elusive thing. We've lived in Oakland for over a decade and worked for social and economic justice in the face of gentrification, displacement, poverty, and violence against communities of color. Our vision for Reem's is to be like all loved Arab street corner bakeries - an anchor of the community creating good jobs for those who face barriers to employment, and providing delicious, nourishing food.
We have an opportunity to secure a beautiful space in the Fruitvale neighborhood that will become a resource for fresh-baked daily bread, meals, and community gathering. The Fruitvale is one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods of Oakland, and we see Reem's offering a welcoming feeling of home across the many communities who live here.
Reem’s is one of three finalists in the nation-wide OpenTable Competition for aspiring restaurant owners. If we raise the most money, we'll win the grand prize worth over $38,000, including $15,000 in cash and coveted kitchen equipment from OpenTable. Your contributions will help us win the contest!
We are currently busting at the seams, working out of a commercial kitchen, producing hundreds of pounds of dough each week, and lugging equipment all over the Bay to bring the Reem's experience to customers in different locations. The number one question we get is "Where can we find you regularly Do you have a storefront?" Our dream is to say "Yes! Come to Reem's every day!"
Our goal is to raise as much money as we can toward our total funding goal of $300,000, which will permit us to do the full kitchen build out, buy equipment, furnish our space, and double Reem's team.
Where it All Began...
Six years ago, the dream of Reem's was born at the doorstep of a street corner bakery in Beirut, Lebanon. The scent of za'atar, yeasted bread, and sweet orange blossom syrup right out of the oven and the sounds of laughter and chatter in Arabic all around me conjured up every forgotten memory I ever had of loving my childhood and every hope I've ever had of creating home and community in the United States.
It was in watching the bread flying out of the oven, literally into hungry people's hands, and witnessing the life inside those bakery doors despite the political turbulence outside of them that I realized my people are masters of bread and hospitality: the lifeline of our history and what has kept us resilient over many generations despite colonization, war, drought, and famine in the Arab world.
On this soul searching trip to Lebanon and Syria, I decided to bring this experience to the Bay. I wanted to bring more than just a bakery. I wanted to create a transportive experience of the sights, sounds, tastes and aromas of the streets of Damascus and Beirut, and at the same time a space that feels familiar and inviting to all cultures.
The Evolution of Reem's
In 2015 we launched our business as a proud participant of La Cocina, a women's food business incubator program.
We have since grown into a staff of 8, serving our breads and street food fare at farmers markets (including the renowned(CUESA Ferry Building Farmers Market), food festivals, events, and a series of pop ups attended by hundreds. Over the last year, we built a recognizable brand and were covered by numerous publications, including the San Francisco Chronicle.
Our specialty is the quintessential street food of the Levant called the man'oushe, a fresh baked pillowy flatbread with a variety of toppings, most notably za'atar- an herb and spice blend of wild thyme, sumac and sesame seeds. Anywhere on the streets of Beirut, you can see people eating these flatbreads topped with spices, cheeses, meats and veggies and wrapped to go.
We're a Community-Built Enterprise!
At Reem’s we know it takes a village, and we value each and every contribution that will make building our dream bakery possible. We are offering rewards for a variety of contribution levels, so each person in our community can see themselves reflected in our bakery, take part in building this community enterprise, and be rewarded for their contribution.
For all contributions of $250 and above, contributors will get their names in Arabic calligraphy included on the mural in our brand new bakery. Contributions of $500 and above will receive experiential rewards, bringing the warmth of the Reem’s experience directly into their spaces. From hands-on cooking classes, to Reem’s signature catering, to intimate dinners prepared just for you, contributors at this level will experience the warmth of Reem’s Arab food and hospitality at its best.
Risks and challenges
With the help of La Cocina staff, who have extensive experience in building out restaurants, we are working tirelessly to create a plan and timeline that works for us. We are working with kitchen designers, architects, and lawyers to come up with a feasible plan for build out. We hope that this project will be completed by the end of the year to be able to open the doors of a brand new bakery by early 2017. We are confident that with the resources around us and the partnerships we have built, we can make it happen.
We will be able to provide the smaller gifts within a month of your contributions and the experiential gifts in the next 3 months. We will continue our markets and catering in this time but the challenge will be taking on this project and continuing to keep up with our demand during our regular farmers market operations.
We anticipate that the next 3 months will not come without challenges. Signing a lease and building out a restaurant is no easy feat. We consider this project a community partnership and collaborative process and will be transparent about the challenges as they come. We will continuously update you on the progress and journey. We cannot get through this next phase without you!
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