When I tell people I live in Oakland, people sometimes respond that Oakland is an "authentic" place with lots of "character." While that can come off as condescending, they got a point. Exhibit A: All the old-school hot dog and hamburger joints around town.
Oakland is a place where the past is very much on display. Not just the Black Panther murals and Hell's Angels bikers that everyone associates with the Town. These burger joints take it right back to the 50s. It's refreshing to be in a place marked by time, where each generation leaves its imprint on the landscape--a far cry from those featureless suburbs that seem to exist outside of history and geography.
Still, what price nostalgia? People these days don't go for hamburgers like they used to. We can't treat our cities like museums of the past, afraid to change anything.
I might be wrong, but most of these joints never seem to get more than a dozen customers in a day. In a more high-demand location, they would be the first to lose their lease. But around here they limp along, year after year.A lot of these places seem ripe for repurposing--keep the original structure as a remnant of the past, but give businesses a chance to find new uses for the space. It's worked with other spaces, such as the now-commonplace conversion of warehouses into lofts. Development fever would really have to hit Oakland hard for anything to change in some of these places though. Maybe that's a mixed blessing.