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Oakland Restaurant Week Expands to Include Local Businesses Struggling Amid Pandemic

OAKLAND (KPIX) -- It's Restaurant Week in Oakland but this year it's unlike any other. For businesses that are struggling to survive, the event is more like a lifeline to keep their doors open.

There are about 55 restaurants in Oakland taking part in Restaurant Week. Home of Chicken and Waffles is one of them.

Normally during this event, restaurants would be packed. Instead, all meals are being served to go.

This year, the annual event is called Restaurant and More Week to include other businesses that need a helping hand during the pandemic.

"We wanted to convey the message that Oakland is resilient, Oakland is open and we wanted to send a message of 'we,'" said Jean Paul Zapata with Visit Oakland.

Just driving around the Embarcadero in Oakland, the devastating impact of the pandemic can be seen as many businesses have closed their doors.

Derreck Johnson, the founder of Home of Chicken and Waffles says at least 12 of his neighbors have had to close up shop and he's making a plea.

"Support African American-owned businesses and all businesses, all restaurants because everybody is hurting," Johnson said.

Johnson's restaurant is offering a special for Restaurant Week: a full meal including a drink and dessert called "the Kamala."

"She (Vice President-elect Kamala Harris) gives hope to Oaklanders," Johnson said. Johnson and Harris are longtime childhood friends.

"The one amazing thing about our vice president is that the same person I met at 16 is still the same person she is today," Johnson said.

Local artist Bobby Arte painted a mural of the soon-to-be VP inside the Home of Chicken and Waffles. A mural that suggests anything is possible.

"To see so many of our peers struggling, going out of business, losing jobs. It's been a major struggle to see," Arte said.

While Home of Chicken and Waffles is offering delivery service. For some other restaurants it's takeout only. With app-based delivery services eating so much of the cost, it is difficult for many to offer matching deals.

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