Benchmark Pizzeria Has Closed Permanently

The Old Oakland location is no more, but the original Kensington location lives on.

Credits: Photo by Kristan Lawson

Benchmark Pizzeria in Old Oakland has closed permanently.

A notice now posted at the restaurant’s website, addressed “to our Friends, Regulars, and Supporters,” reads:

“We have made the very tough decision to close Benchmark Oakland permanently. Without a strong to-go business, we are unable to break even and adequately care for our employees. The end is nowhere is sight, and it is likely that our industry will be forever changed when this is over.  We lack the capital to navigate that future.

“Please come visit us in Kensington for some take-out, or email if you need to get in touch. All gift cards purchased here will be honored in Kensington.”

Drawing the restaurant’s name from the survey markers that his geologist dad enjoyed pointing out to him, chef/co-owner Peter Swanson opened the original Benchmark in Kensington in 2012 with his wife, Melissa Swanson.

The pair had met Rockridge’s Oliveto Cafe & Restaurant, where Melissa worked as a host and server and Peter worked as a lead line cook. Later, Peter helped open, then worked as sous chef at, Dopo in Oakland. Melissa worked as a server at Chez Panisse.

Depicted above in better days, the Oakland location opened in 2018 — serving sumptuous pizza, pasta, and such cutting-edge cocktails as the Colorado Bulldog — containing vodka, cream, seltzer, New Orleans-style coffee, spiced cherry liqueur, and acid phosphate.