Oakland’s popular Woods Bar & Brewery, known for its jazz concerts, closes for good

Woods Bar & Brewery, a staple of Uptown Oakland nightlife, is definitely closing its doors on Wednesday. Owner Jim Woods, who announced the closure on Instagram, says they were unable to come to an agreement with their landlord on the renewal of their seven-year lease. However, Woods Beer & Wine Co. will keep its other five locations open (four in San Francisco, one on Treasure Island).

“We planned to stay in perpetuity. We put a lot of blood and sweat and tears in the building and the space and thought we would leave at sunset,” said Woods. “It’s a tough decision but it’s the right one.”

In 2013, when the Woods team acquired the building at 1701 Telegraph Ave., it was a “giant concrete box housing a shoe store.” After starting the demolition, they found the original architecture of the building hidden in the stucco, with windows and an ornate facade. They set to work to fully restore the building to its former glory, a massive and expensive project. But Woods says he “loved every minute”.

From the start, Woods Bar & Brewery has become a destination not only for creative craft beers and cozy fireplaces, but also for live music. Jazz and brass bands, from Mission Delirium to the East Bay Brass Band, performed on Friday and Saturday nights, and the tight space was always crowded. And good luck even blasting your way if Oakland’s First Fridays were on.

Woods Bar & Brewery, a staple of Uptown Oakland nightlife, is closing its doors for good after seven years.

Rebekah T. and Marian S. via Yelp

“It was very energetic bands that came out and brought the place to life,” Woods recalls. “I don’t think there was a cooler place than our patio on a Friday or Saturday when there was live music. The feel was like nothing you might find in the bay area.”

Sadly, since shelters-in-place began, Woods said business in Oakland has declined by about 85%. Its other San Francisco locations are more neighborhood-focused and therefore saw a survivable amount of business from people living nearby – but the former nightlife destination of Uptown Oakland was a ghost town.

“During the week a lot of our business was people going to the Fox Theater and people going to the office,” Woods said. “We would have a lot of happy hours to bring down the whole office. Now no office is open here, and Fox? Who knows when that will reopen.”

In June, Woods opened a location in Lower Haight in the former Mad Dog in the Fog Space, and he said he plans to bring some of the equipment from the Oakland location there. It might be goodbye to East Bay for now, but he hopes to return eventually.

“We just felt like we really found a place in Oakland’s Uptown community,” said Woods. “That’s the hard part – all of these relationships that we’ve forged and the community that we’ve built is kind of falling apart. But hopefully we can get back in some form soon. “

Ada J. Kenney