Noted restaurateur Reem Assil has decided to close her Fruitvale restaurant, Reem’s California.
“From the bottom of our hearts, we’d like to thank everyone who has supported us in keeping our humble oakland restaurant operation a force in our community. Today will be our Fruitvale location’s last day open to the public for the foreseeable future,” Assil announced on Istagram late last week.
“After much reflection and conversation, we have decided that it is no longer viable or desirable to try to sustain our current model in an economic system that will never allow us to live out our values,” lamented Assil, a former labor organizer who was named a Rising Star Restaurateur last year by the Star Chefs organization, and who attracted controversy because one wall of Reem’s California featured a large painting of Palestinian activist Rasmeah Odeh, who was convicted of being linked with a 1969 grocery-store bombing in Jerusalem that killed two students.
“Instead we want to use this time as an opportunity to be more radical–to act from a place of love, not fear and panic,” wrote Assil, who recently opened a new bakery in San Francisco — Reem’s Mission — which she assured readers would stay open for lunch “with limited hours” for the foreseeable future.
“The scrambling for dollars just to keep us ‘in the game’ is a distraction from the more important work we must do. That is to take care of our own in the absence of government and confront power to demand change.
“We need healthcare for all, regardless of employment. We need human rights for all, regardless of status. We need a society with no walls and no cages. And we need redistribution of wealth immediately.
We have no desire for the food industry to return to the way it was. When we rebuild it we must ensure we do so equitably, centering those who have been hurt the most by its exploitation,” Assil wrote.
She also reassured fans that, over the next few months, “we will turn our space into a commissary kitchen providing hundreds of meals a day to those most vulnerable in this pandemic.”