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Oakland Museum’s restaurant, Town Fare Cafe, to reopen with new chef and menu

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Town Fare Cafe, the restaurant inside the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA), reopens July 13 with a brand new chef and menu.

Michele McQueen, formerly of Gussie’s Chicken and Waffles, takes the helm of the museum restaurant, which used to be run by Tanya Holland. Holland parted ways with the museum at 1000 Oak St. back in January. The new menu will “highlight McQueen’s family roots and Oakland upbringing” and is intended to showcase different flavors from the diversity within the Oakland community..

“Oakland represents many different cultures and I want the menu at Town Fare to be a reflection of that,” McQueen said in a statement. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my food with the community at OMCA.”.

Low-country shrimp and grits, a new dish at Town Fare Cafe, now run by Michele McQueen. - Darius Riley

Diners can expect dishes such as a fried green tomato caprese using fresh mozzarella, and low-country shrimp and grits with chicken andouille sausage, grilled prawns, confit tomatoes and cheddar grits. There will also be grilled salmon over field pea succotash that features fresh corn, an array of field peas, bacon lardons and turnip puree topped with basil oil and lemon aioli.

McQueen used to run the San Francisco favorite Gussie’s Chicken and Waffles in the Fillmore District. The soul food restaurant was famous for using some of McQueen’s grandmother’s recipes, as well as her own creations from 15 years in the service industry. The dining venue closed permanently in 2014, but was reinvented in 2019 as Gussie’s Southern Table and Bar. Its website indicates the business has shifted to a delivery-focused model only open Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

McQueen opened the first Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, a legendary LA-based soul food chain restaurant, in Northern California. Eventually, she worked her way toward TV spots and was featured on television shows such as “Grill It with Bobby Flay” and “Guy’s Grocery Games” on the Food Network, as well as ABC’s “The Taste.”

Lori Fogarty, executive director and CEO of OMCA, said she is excited for McQueen’s arrival. “Her approach to food and hospitality are the perfect fit for OMCA,” she said. “Both embody deep commitment to bringing people together through art, history, and science with a ‘town flare’ that is signature Oakland.” Along with a new chef and menu, the restaurant will debut a sun deck. The new addition will feature an outdoor bar with patio couches and dining furniture. Only select food items will be served outside, but a full list of craft cocktails, wine and beer will be offered. Both the restaurant and outdoor patio will be open to the public, not just ticket-holding museum visitors.

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