Here's how this community-focused coffee shop, wine bar is helping revive downtown Oakland

ByJason Beal Localish logo
Monday, January 22, 2024
This coffee shop, wine bar is helping revive downtown Oakland
Kinfolx is coffee and wine bar that wants to stay in the city despite challenges with crime and a changing business landscape.

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Creighton Davis is a born and raised San Franciscan, who as a kid, always loved spending time across the bridge in Oakland.

"I remember growing up and just walking up to people, dapping, you know just showing that love and showing that openness that is very much emblematic of the Bay," Davis said.

That sense of community is part of the reason why after many years of living around the country, Davis moved to the Town, but things are different.

"As the characteristics and the demographic of the Bay has changed, more tech, more in your home, we've lost some of that feeling of community," Davis said.

All of the feelings that Davis addressed, led to Kinfolx. It's a coffee shop by day and wine bar by night in downtown Oakland, co-founded by Davis alongside two friends. The space was a coffee shop before, that closed at the start of the pandemic and sat empty.

"You see the sign on the door that says, 'for lease,' and a little voice in your head says, 'call the number, call the number.'"

Davis has no experience owning a brick and mortar. He's an attorney for a tech company, but last November Kinfolx opened and it continues to make a splash in the community.

Brianna Atkins was visiting the shop for the first time. "I've been watching them on Instagram and how they've partnered with a lot of different events and create like a really good vibe," Atkins said.

Adam Bentley is a regular. "I come in here and I see so many Black and Brown folks and a lot of them look like they're doing all kinds of interesting, important work and it's a great place to meet people," Bentley said.

"I think there are too few low barrier to entry public places where people can come and gather, and I think that's a really special element of Kinfolx," Davis continued. "So, when you think about the divestment in community centers and parks, and the departure from churches, what's left?"

The word "kinfolk" means people related by blood. Within Black communities, it also refers to a common ancestry and can even stretch to people who feel like family.

"Kinfolx was intended to be a platform, a platform for people to share their gifts and talents and skills with others," Davis said. "The walls feature pieces by Oakland-based artists, locally made food is served, and musicians have transformed the space with sound."

"I really want to also dive deeper in the civic discussions and the community discussions that are also so central to the activist character of Oakland," Davis said. "Sadly, like many other businesses, Kinfolx has struggled with lower foot traffic and break-ins. Kinfolx has had four break-ins this year alone."

"People are afraid to come downtown, people are afraid to park their cars," Davis said. "We're really opening up to the community and asking the community to be thought partners in how we address and solve these problems, knowing that these problems aren't just situations we're dealing with, but situations that are existing throughout Oakland."

Davis plans to launch a series of town halls next year and an advisory board of community members in hopes of leveraging their skills to help Kinfolx succeed.

Davis continued, "This is an opportunity for them to see Kinfolx that so many people enjoy, and be a part of the journey."