What some may call a retro diner, Pretty Lady in West Oakland is reminiscent of a small town diner where you are welcomed by a warm and friendly staff. That feeling that you are home among family, yet don’t know anyone by name yet. However, you soon will because once you walk in and sit down, you immediately become community and it becomes your go-to place for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Maybe it is the U-shaped counter or the artwork on the walls or the old photo of the original “Pretty Lady” whose father owned the building. But really, it is that delicious smell of waffles and maple syrup wafting out to greet you when you exit your car and walk towards the building. The vibe: comfy, welcoming, homey, chill.
Your servers love their jobs. Nelly Anstuther has only been working there for a little over a month and feels like she belongs. Why? “We have a lot of locals and it’s nice for me to know them by name and what they like.”
Co-owner Steve Mills successfully started up Rudy’s No Fail Café in 2005 in Emeryville and Rudy’s in Uptown Oakland a little later. He had eaten at the Pretty Lady over the years and one day his friend and future partner Fra Kepler came to him with the proposition to buy the Pretty Lady. Since Steve had been a customer and loved it because of his experience with Rudy’s in Emeryvile – a retro with a twist also, he jumped at this opportunity.
“The primary chef at Pretty Lady, ‘Sunny’ Juliana Yoo, was here probably for ten years when we came in,” says Steve. “She had the Korean expertise to even transform our Tater Tots.” He calls Pretty Lady the Classic American Korean Fusion Diner. “ We have taken her strength with the Korean and combine it with American, and maybe in a comfort food mode.”
Steve always wanted to offer a great breakfast /brunch on the weekend and he did. Specialties on the brunch menu include house made biscuits and sauces and the Pretty Lady Eggs Benedict are presented atop home fries.
“I love the community,” continues Steve. “It’s a growing and changing community, and has its grit, its strength and power by people who walked its footsteps here in West Oakland.”
Pretty Lady has a dog friendly patio and family style seating outside with European fashioned tables for sharing. Happy Hour is Tues. – F