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Ava Cafe + Lounge to open next week

Ava Cafe + Lounge will open at 304 N. Craig St. in Oakland once the water lines are inspected for the coffee and espresso machines.

"It looks like next week, hopefully, we'll be rolling," said Justin Strong.

The two-story space "will definitely be different," from his Shadow Lounge in East Liberty that closed last March after a 12-year run. He closed Ava Bar and Lounge, also in East Liberty in June.

"We'll definitely have DJs, open mike nights and jazz," he said, "but it will be a place where you can also get a good meal."

The ground level will house the cafe and bar, while the second floor is for special events or overflow. Each floor can accommodate about 50 people.

Mr. Strong said he's going forward with a "less is more" approach rather than blowout parties such as the Legacy Series that marked the closing of the original location in March.

Upon opening, the cafe will feature coffee from Jill MacDowell, formerly of Quiet Storm in Garfield, the coffeehouse that shuttered in October. She is also steering the cafe menu, with vegetarian and vegan-friendly options, as well as plates for meat eaters.

Mr. Strong said he's hoping for the kitchen buildout to be completed within a month or two, followed by his securing a liquor license within 60 to 90 days. As the kitchen construction wraps up, he'll decide on a chef and more extensive menus.

In the meantime, events will be BYOB, "old-school style," he said, which should not be a deterrent to fans of Shadow Lounge and Ava.

"We have to be patient. Doing everything by the book takes time."


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