Ceron Kitchen, a new restaurant from a duo of first-time restaurant owners, is taking over the former Otaez Mexican Restaurant space at 1619 Webster Street in Alameda with plans to open its doors by mid October. Chef Juan Jaquez describes the menu as New American with global influences — think, ceviche, risotto, and fresh pasta, alongside a braised short rib in mole and sous vide Spanish octopus. There will be a full bar with beer, wine, and cocktails, plus weekend brunch. Jaquez brings experience from Paradiso, San Leandro’s fine dining spot with a similarly global menu, where he worked for more than a decade; prior to that he spent time in the kitchen at Boulevard, Nancy Oakes’ newly renovated and reopened San Francisco dining institution.
Jaquez, who grew up in Fruitvale and was born in Mexico, posted on Instagram about the long journey that brought him to Ceron Kitchen, saying the pandemic created space for him to re-evaluate what he wanted to do with his career. “I never wanted to [open my own restaurant] because I see how difficult things can get,” Jaquez says. “But after COVID I could sit down and breathe and think about what I should do. COVID actually pushed me to think about to what I can do next.” He started selling food from his home on the weekends during the pandemic, then planned to buy his own food truck. But when his friend Vicente Ceron approached him about partnering on a business he knew he wanted to take the risk.
It’s been quite the feat for Jaquez and Ceron to flip the restaurant. Otaez only shut its doors at the end of June, but the duo has spent the intervening weeks doing renovations at breakneck pace; Ceron owns a construction company, which helped keep things on track. Jaquez says they were drawn to the space for its good bones and, frankly, because it was a good deal. They’re excited to take a risk on bringing the concept to Alameda, he says. “Yes, Alameda, I heard is tricky. But I don’t see why we shouldn’t [try].”
Ceron Kitchen plans to open mid October, and will be open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch, dinner, and brunch. Follow Ceron Kitchen on social media for updates about the opening date.