Jack London Square Announces New Restaurant Tenant, The Forge, Scheduled to Open Early 2013

Oakland, CA – Jack London Square Ventures, which manages Jack London Square in Oakland, announced today that the new restaurant group Les Bon Temps has signed a 10-year lease with options on a 4,739-square-foot space at 66 Franklin Street. The group plans to open a new artisan pizza and beer establishment named The Forge in early 2013 that will feature views of the famous Oakland waterfront.

The Forge (“forge” refers to a hearth used to bake items at very hot temperatures) will specialize in artisan pizza and handcrafted beer, cocktails and a robust wine list. It is the first restaurant venture from Les Bon Temps Restaurants, a partnership between restaurant entrepreneur Bob Burke (Pat Kuleto Restaurant Group and Gordon Biersch Brewing Co.), restaurant entrepreneur Michael Karp (owner of Barbacoa and Table 24 in Orinda) and architect/designer/builder Andy Byrnes (The Construction Zone Ltd.).

“We chose Jack London Square as the home for our first restaurant because we love the waterfront location and the ‘rustic’ feel of the space for The Forge,” said Michael Karp, partner of Les Bon Temps.  “Jack London Square’s management team is committed to creating an entertainment center with world-class dining and we are flattered to be part of that movement.  We’re also committed to the local Oakland community and using local suppliers whenever possible.”

Les Bon Temps also announces Jeffrey Amber as The Forge’s new executive chef and Jeff Krupman as its director of pizza R&D. Formerly, Amber was the executive chef at W Hotel’s XYZ restaurant, receiving accolades from Gourmet, Wine Spectator and Sunset magazines, as well as Hotel Chef of the Year from the American Tasting Institute and an invitation to be a guest chef at the prestigious James Beard House in Manhattan.  He was also tapped to oversee all the restaurants in the Chow Restaurant Group and enabled the iconic Moose’s restaurant achieve its one and only “Top 100 Restaurants” designation from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Krupman (aka the Pizza Hacker) is known in the Bay Area for his carefully crafted pizza creations baked in his FrankenWeber portable ovens at venues all over the Bay Area.  Krupman will work in tandem with Amber to offer his special blend of handmade sauces made with dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes, handcrafted dough and toppings sourced from local businesses. Krupman’s pizzas have earned a cult-like following among pizza aficionados.

“A restaurant like The Forge is a perfect addition to Jack London Square’s rapidly growing roster of local, innovative dining establishments,” said Will Miller, Vice President of Leasing for Ellis Partners LLC and Jack London Square Ventures.  “It is part of the growth pattern of the revitalized Oakland waterfront, which is offering visitors additional high quality options for dining, entertainment and recreation.”

True to its name, nearly 80 percent of The Forge’s menu items will be prepared using the new 800-degree Italian Valoriani oven, lovingly nicknamed the “pizza altar.”  The massive oven will sit center stage in the restaurant and is reminiscent of a large blacksmith’s forge used to melt iron and other materials at hot temperatures.  In additional to 20-plus local artisanal beers, the restaurant will offer a full bar.

The new venue will feature a fire-and-wood industrial look, designed by Byrnes.  The interior features custom tables, bar tops, and a wood floor crafted from pre-burnt wood, plus a mosaic tile arch over the pizza station.  The outdoor, water-view area will consist of casual, movable seating and outdoor fire pits; each pit has the potential to be converted to a portable pizza oven. Byrnes, a believer in the honest use of materials, will use reclaimed wood and old railroad ties in much of the design. Planters on the exterior patio will be planted with herbs such as basil and rosemary, with the intention to use the harvested herbs in the restaurant’s recipes.

About Jack London Square:

Situated in Oakland along a San Francisco Bay estuary, Jack London Square is Oakland’s only publicly accessible mixed-use waterfront area and a well-known landmark since the mid 1800’s.  With its rich history as the heart of Oakland’s Port operations, Jack London Square is a historic working waterfront and is one of the Bay Area’s premier recreational, dining and commercial districts. Jack London Square offers visitors, residents and commercial tenants an authentic, vibrant hub for outdoor recreation, events and dining.  For more information on Jack London Square and its events, leasing space and amenities, please visit www.jacklondonsquare.com.

About Jack London Square Ventures:

Jack London Square Ventures is a partnership between Ellis Partners LLC and DivcoWest created to provide investment in and management of Jack London Square, Oakland.

About Les Bon Temps:

Le Bon Temps is a full service restaurant firm that offers a turnkey solution for restaurants and bars. It specializes in market based real estate, concept and menu development, full scale design/build services and pre-opening and on-going operations management.  The team consists of Michael Karp, Bob Burke and Andy Byrnes, each with over 20 years experience in their respective fields, enabling Les Bon Temps to be a firm with client or developer access to a one-stop shop.  The team provides everything from culinary research and development to logo treatments and applications, set -up of accounts payable, payroll, human resources and inventory packages.

Editor ’s Note: For interviews with Jack London Square Ventures leadership or additional information about Jack London Square, please contact Donna Glass at 415-359-2315 or donna@landispr.com or Jordana Heinke at 415-359-2313 or jordana@landispr.com.