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Get a Taste of the Islands at Coco Breeze

Open Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. for outside dining and takeout. Delivery is available through a variety of platforms.

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Coco Breeze Store Front / Photo Cred: Christy Price

Chef Annabelle Goodridge wraps curry chicken in a Roti at Coco Breeze in Oakland, Calif. Photo Credit, Christy Price

Located on the corner of High and Fairfax in East Oakland, stands Coco Breeze, a colorful, Caribbean restaurant. Step inside and you are greeted by a friendly staff that is eager to serve some of the best Trinidadian cuisine found in the Bay Area. Check out their menu here (https://cocobreezeco.myshopify.com/) and learn about their specials here (https://www.facebook.com/CocobreezeCo/). Coco Breeze is located at 2370 High Street. It is open Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. for outside dining and takeout. Delivery is available through a variety of platforms.

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Activism

PepsiCo Called Out for Failure to Fulfill Verbal Contract with National Black Farmers’ Association Members

In a press release on Jan. 27, John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA), said white farmers are given an opportunity to do business with the $70 billion company while Black farmers are now being told that the company intends to “move in another direction.” He said that when PepsiCo decided to change the Aunt Jemima figure in their brand image in 2020, they reached out to the NBFA, but nothing has happened since.

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John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA).
John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA).

John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA), said he’s calling out PepsiCo for discrimination after a year and a half of talks that produced no contract.

Boyd claims that PepsiCo, a multinational company that produces food and beverages, had made a verbal agreement with the NBFA.

In a press release on Jan. 27, Boyd said white farmers are given an opportunity to do business with the $70 billion company while Black farmers are now being told that the company intends to “move in another direction.”

He said that when PepsiCo decided to change the Aunt Jemima figure in their brand image in 2020, they reached out to the NBFA, but nothing has happened since.

As the producer of the potato chip brand Ruffles, Frito’s corn chips, Doritos and Quaker Oats, PepsiCo contracts to get the raw materials: potatoes, corn and grains.

“PepsiCo indicated they wanted to do business with NBFA members,” Boyd said. “The company insisted that our growers share personal information through our national database. A year and a half later, when NBFA growers met all the required elements for a potato delivery contract, the company’s executives apparently had lost interest in keeping its part of the bargain.”

“Our livelihood and financial stability are at stake,” Boyd said. “Some Black farmers have actually lost their farms amid this treatment.”

Boyd, who says he is a shareholder in PepsiCo, announced he will seek a solution for the NBFA from PepsiCo’s CEO and chairman.

This report is courtesy of the National Black Farmers’ Association website. For more information, go to http://blackfarmers.org

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Activism

Home of Chicken and Waffles Serves Free Christmas Brunch to Over 200

“This effort comes as many Oaklanders are experiencing increased food insecurity and economic anxiety due to the pandemic,” Oakland entrepreneur Derreck Johnson said. “After a one-year hiatus, this coalition was eager to bring this annual tradition back while being mindful of COVID’s social distancing and statewide indoor-masking guidelines.”

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A child (center) holds a toy received at the Home of Chicken and Waffles as Derreck Johnson (right) looks on. Photo courtesy of Derreck Johnson.
A child (center) holds a toy received at the Home of Chicken and Waffles as Derreck Johnson (right) looks on. Photo courtesy of Derreck Johnson.

By Cindy Williams

Home of Chicken and Waffles (HCW) opened its doors on Christmas morning to serve more than 200 free meals in the restaurant and to-go meals for the food insecure community in Oakland.

Oakland entrepreneur Derreck Johnson and HCW led the effort to partner with LGBTQ Center, Impact Oakland Now (ION), City Team, and The City Eats to distribute meals to low-income families and unhoused individuals at the restaurant at 444 Embarcadero West.

Johnson told the Post that he and his partners shared a common goal to provide food for needy families with a warm and welcoming dining experience delivered with respect and dignity at no cost.

More than 30 community volunteers helped serve chicken and waffles and handed out toys to the kids while they enjoyed soulful Christmas music.

“This effort comes as many Oaklanders are experiencing increased food insecurity and economic anxiety due to the pandemic,” Johnson said. “After a one-year hiatus, this coalition was eager to bring this annual tradition back while being mindful of COVID’s social distancing and statewide indoor-masking guidelines.”

The coalition recognizes co-coordinator Kieem Baker of The City Eats, Word of Assembly Church Bishop Keith Clarke, Abyssinian Baptist Church Bishop Kevin Barnes, Center of Hope Community Church Pastors Brondon and Maria Reems, Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Mike Wallace, True Vine Ministries Pastor Zachary Carey, Pastor Randy Smith, Greater St. Paul Baptist Church Bishop Joseph Simmons, and all of the volunteers that helped to make the event a success.

Johnson cited a 2015 California Health Interview Survey’s data for West and East Oakland which revealed that 51% of low-income residents were classified as “food insecure” because they were frequently unable to afford enough food.

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Bay Area

Uncle Willie’s Barbecue Seeks Damages from Marriott Corporation

Jerome Taylor, an employee of Uncle Willie’s and a family member shared, “When Marriott showed us their plans, we indicated they were encroaching on our property, which they denied, but they are. Scaffolding and cranes loom 180 feet over our property. The property next door abandoned their business and when Marriott tore the building down, they damaged our building, did a cosmetic fix with plaster, ignoring the cracks. Thick dust and filth in our backyard forced us to shut down a million-dollar business because the health department said we could no longer cook using the backyard.

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Unable to operate their business, Uncle Willie’s has contracted with Central Kitchen and Deeply Rooted to provide meals for the homeless, seniors and Oakland Unified School District students, creating enough income to pay the mortgage and keep the lights on.
Unable to operate their business, Uncle Willie’s has contracted with Central Kitchen and Deeply Rooted to provide meals for the homeless, seniors and Oakland Unified School District students, creating enough income to pay the mortgage and keep the lights on.

By Tanya Dennis

In 2018, Marriott Residence Inn and Hotel, which is building an 18-story, 286-room project at 14th and Jefferson, approached Uncle Willie’s Barbecue restaurant to buy their establishment. After refusing to sell, Craig Jones, co-owner of Uncle Willie’s, was suspect of Marriott’s intentions when he was approached for “air rights” and tiebacks that would encroach on their property for a mere $5,000.

Thomas’ response was “no,” yet Marriott moved ahead with construction encroaching not only on air rights but land rights after installing a narrow barrier of netting.

While large cranes loomed over their yard where cooking was done, Marriott did nothing further to mitigate dust or prevent dangerous objects from falling onto Thomas’ property.

They could neither cook nor offer outdoor dining. It was too dangerous, because of truck fumes, dust, and noise. One tenant moved out of their apartment over the restaurant, and the apartment has remained vacant for two years. Marriott didn’t take into consideration that erecting an 18-story building would create a wind tunnel making the Thomas’ premises perpetually cold.

The Thomas family approached Marriott about how this construction was impacting their business to no avail.

Beverly Thomas says, “We complained to the City, but the City said there was nothing they could do, and that we should hire a lawyer, which, thus far, has been ineffective, leaving us unable to operate our successful, 15-year business.”

Edward Lai, attorney for the Thomas family, said he had never seen tactics like Marriott’s. “I’ve seen a lot of commercial construction in my career, but I have never seen practices like this. I’ve seen this type of construction in San Francisco and seen the care. I’ve never seen a business shut down for fear of debris falling on people’s heads.

“There are practices here that could be cleaner and different to allow my client to continue operating, but it’s not happening,” Lai said. “A boxcutter with the blade extended and a 10 to 15-pound metal piece fell in the backyard of my client. It could have been deadly.”

Uncle Willie’s, which closed for 18 months, is demanding compensation for mental anguish, loss of tenants and two years of being unable to operate their business. The Thomas family estimates their losses at several million dollars.

In response, Marriott is offering $58,00 to rent out their backyard for the next two or three months, but if accepted the Thomas’ can’t go after Marriott for past damages.

Marriott, on the other hand says there are acting in good faith.

“We’re working to be good neighbors,” said Marriott attorney Josh Byrd. “We’ve offered solutions and safety measures but haven’t heard from them yet. We want to engage with them and help them but it’s a work in progress. We’re doing our best. An offer is pending but has not been accepted.”

Unable to operate their business, Uncle Willie’s has contracted with Central Kitchen and Deeply Rooted to provide meals for the homeless, seniors and Oakland Unified School District students, creating enough income to pay the mortgage and keep the lights on.

“They feel it is OK to infringe on us with no recourse,” Jones said. “…They have a figure of an African American on their building yet stick their finger up at an African American business, not caring how we have been negatively impacted.”

Jerome Taylor, an employee of Uncle Willie’s and a family member shared, “When Marriott showed us their plans, we indicated they were encroaching on our property, which they denied, but they are. Scaffolding and cranes loom 180 feet over our property. The property next door abandoned their business and when Marriott tore the building down, they damaged our building, did a cosmetic fix with plaster, ignoring the cracks. Thick dust and filth in our backyard forced us to shut down a million-dollar business because the health department said we could no longer cook using the backyard.

“We’re known for our barbecue in the community, Taylor said. “Marriott shut us down. We’ve been damaged.”

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