Oasis Cafe: Big on Flavor and Friendliness
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Above: Oasis Cafe owners (as well as husband-and-wife duo) Taddasse Haile and Gedam Abeba
Would you find yourself perplexed given 24 coffee blends to choose from? No worries, Oasis Cafe owner Taddasse Haile will give you a helping hand. He makes all of his blends in-house and is influenced by his Eritrean and Ethiopian roots to make the most satisfying roasts possible.
If you’re not in the mood for some java, perhaps a clean-tasting veggie plate will hit the spot. Known for their traditional Ethiopian vegan plates, simmered lentils and spiced spinach fly out of the Oasis Cafe kitchen.
Keeping the Legacy
Born and raised in a restaurant-owning family, Haile describes that “the food business was born in me. I remember my mom and dad working, rushing to open the restaurant. They made food for people to live.”
Working in retail before opening Oasis Cafe, Haile had to venture out to Oakland and San Jose to eat the right food. He wanted to improve the food he tried and provide the Eritrean and Ethiopian communities in San Francisco with the grub they desired.
So, with the fervor to open a restaurant and continue his family’s legacy, he founded Oasis Cafe with his wife Gedam Abeba in 2013.
Made From Scratch
Haile gets experimental by mixing coffees from all over the world to create neighborhood-loved roasts, and specifically his brand – Haile’s Choice.
“It’s our most popular blend! Coffee is the thing I grew up with traditionally. I make them a cup at a time, and the customers always make a line,” he says.
Ethiopian cuisine is also known for its unique Injera, which is a sour, spongy, and fermented flatbread. The cafe prides itself on using 100% teff, a native Ethiopian grain that’s typically used for the dough.
“Even though we have meat on the menu, 75% of our sales are vegetarian,” Haile explains. The secret to bringing greens and beans to life is berbere, an Ethiopian and Eritrean staple spice mix made of garlic, chili, fenugreek, and more.
Centered in the Community
“Luckily my business is in San Francisco. The city supports Black business owners and my neighborhood and customers do too. There are special funds and plans for Black businesses, and recently I’ve been getting more support and attention than before,” says Haile.
The popular restaurant owner has shown love for his community through great food, and the people love him and Oasis Cafe right back. Around the time Black Lives Matter protests began and the pandemic seriously hit the Bay Area, Haile’s customers created a fund for the restaurant to help him cover losses.
“I remember my dad and how he calmed customers, made them happy, and changed hostilities into smiles,” says Haile.
To Haile, happiness is exponential. “If I serve 5 people who are happy today, they’ll spread the news to other people.” His key to having a good relationship with customers is to always be present and available so any questions or concerns can be answered. Heavily attached to the community, Oasis Cafe has also been hosting meetings for free for the surrounding neighborhood’s association since the eatery opened.
“I let them feel like my place is their home,” Haile intimates.
Due to COVID-19, Oasis Cafe has cut down its staff by 50% and has been doing takeout orders only. As the pandemic continues, Haile has an idea to keep the business going.
“I’m planning to deliver food myself to areas in a 5-mile radius,” says Haile. Due to companies such as Uber Eats and Grubhub taking a large percentage of restaurants’ profits, Haile’s motivated to take delivery into his own hands.
Until conditions become safe again, Oasis Cafe will continue to serve up delectable takeout and coffee.
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