Merchandising! Where the real money from the service industry is made. But seriously — giving locally flavored promotional gear that celebrates East Bay food and drink is an inspired way to show support for a favorite business. And with apparel and collectibles as sought-after and useful as these, it’s a win-win.
Go ahead — have yourself a merch-y little holiday, and help local venues help your friends and family look good.
Note: Items available for online purchase as of publication time will be hyperlinked, other merch is available for walk-in purchases only. If you have your heart set on something that reads as “sold out” online, check with the bar, restaurant or cafe in-person, if you can — many places set aside stock for diners.
Wear your East Bay beer love on your sleeve
Like wearing a big, boozy hug, the local craft beer hoodie is a staple of many an East Bay uniform, and a gift that only gets better with time. We love the grit and loyalty represented in these hoodies from Faction Brewing in Alameda and Ghost Town Brewing in west Oakland and the Laurel District, but really, it’s hard to go wrong — choose your favorite brewing company and snuggle up.
For a subtler way to show love for local craft brews, check out these enticing little enamel art pins of Richmond standout East Brother’s award-winning ales. Collect them all!
East Bay coffee gifts that go beyond the bean
Independent coffee is always upping its merchandise game, with products and branding as buzzworthy as the rich drinks that keep us coming back. Don’t miss Mother Tongue’s hot tank tops, Catahoula’s snap back hats with retro appeal, the Oakland skyline on Mr. Espresso’s insulated camp mugs, and Lazybird’s lazy bird on a hefty, diner-style cup.
Food-related fits abound in Berkeley, Oakland and beyond
Oakland is such a hotbed of community pride and great indie gear. Tacos Oscar’s taco stalkers are long familiar with the spot’s crave-worthy designs; the $10 bumper sticker is a classic choice (and if you see t-shirts for sale, invest, trust us).
Does your chosen giftee love Aburaya? Colonial Donuts? Lois The Pie Queen? Buy them a super cool t-shirt, either online or at the shop counter. (Aburaya also has aprons…and guitar picks.) OK’s Deli’s brand-new crop of merchandise is as fire as the restaurant itself, and Joodooboo’s cute Korean-school design reassures us that we’re all doing a good job (phew).
Over in Berkeley, Delirama is winning all the nostalgia awards with its bold, playful cotton shirts in sherbet colors. Meanwhile, U:Dessert Story’s hats keep things to the point — “Bye gym, hello bingsu.” Looking to support a Berkeley classic? Saul’s Deli t-shirts are wry, wonderful works of art from departing co-owner Karen Alderman, and Zachary’s is doing something special this year – the new design your own shirt contest, much like the annual poster art contest, with submissions accepted up through New Year’s Day. As for the pizzeria’s O.G. merchandise, check out the Zachary’s Swag Pack that combines a logo hat, shirt and pint glass into one mega-merch gift basket for the true fan.
Of course, there is restaurant-based booty to be found across the East Bay. Alameda’s new Left Field Dogs has a shirt that swings for the fences. This Nosh writer’s Rudy’s Can’t Fail hoodie ranks among her favorite gifts outta Emeryville, and we’re hoping the revived diner keeps the cool varsity t-shirts in perpetuity. And we can’t help but point out the splendid new designs available at the Bull Valley Roadhouse in Port Costa (hint, family) that are right up our alley.
Spirited apparel nods at the East Bay cocktail scene
We lead with Viridian’s wildly cool bowling shirt, a dramatic face-off between tiger and crane. So hot. Kona Club’s glamorous “Real men drink Chi-Chis” tees are old-school classic enough to bring a tear to our eye, and available for purchase in person at the bar; run, don’t walk. Seventh West’s “No Bad Days” beanie reminds us everything’s all good. And though it’s reaching for the merchandise stars, we had to mention Sobre Mesa owner chef Nelson German’s custom Levi’s created to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month this year; for fans of the chef and his cocktail-rich properties, such a fun stroke of genius to see his very personal emblems on iconic denim.
Up north in Albany, the iconic Hotsy Totsy is the only venue on our list with promotional dog apparel, journals AND baby pajamas among its merch, but we guess it is well in-tune with its neighborhood’s clientele — and we’d personally purchase one of each.
Market bags that you’ll actually use
For the friend on your list who would rather cook, drink and eat at home, a roomy bag from local indie grocer Monterey Market is an affordable and endlessly useful gift; fill it with farm-fresh produce or prepared foods, or just fill it with love. Oakland Yard’s extra-large canvas totes are also infinitely totable, as much as their wines are infinitely potable, and the same can be said for Redfield Cider Bar & Bottle Shop’s cute blue bags with built-in sleeves and art by Kate Robinson. As they say in their description, “That’s a nice bag!”
Remember — this holiday season, make shopping easier with this helpful motto: Wherever they love to sip or eat, give your loved ones a promotional treat!
Featured image: an OK’s Deli t-shirt. Courtesy: OK’s Deli