The Oaks Tavern in Sherman Oaks, CA has been your local watering hole and go-to karaoke spot for almost a decade!
YOU CAN WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW FOR MY STORY OR IF YOU PREFER READING, WE HAVE THAT OPTION TOO :)
While restaurants were allowed to reopen here in LA County, bars like mine have been excluded because we don’t have kitchens. We partnered with a food source for a few weeks in June but the County arbitrarily decided to shut down bars because we were still too "dangerous". We have been waiting on the government to change their rules, but things have only gotten worse. We have been closed down for almost NINE months now. We feel like the government is criminalizing bars, so rather than waiting any longer for those in charge to allow us to reopen, we are taking charge of our destiny. It seems crazy, but the only path forward is to put in a kitchen, after having virtually no income for the past 9 months. Because of these costs, coupled with more than sixty thousand dollars in back rent and outstanding bills, we know the only way we can get through this is with a little help from our community.
The Oaks has employed, on average, 20 people for the better part of a decade. Our employees want to work. Unemployment is not enough for any of us to survive on. My bartenders, karaoke hosts and regulars have become a family over the past 10 years. We all need your help to reopen.
For those of you who don't know me, I am Camila and I am the managing owner at The Oaks. My first job was at Islands Restaurant in Encino as a busser, when I was 16 years old, then I worked at The Cheesecake Factory, where I learned how to tend bar. When I was 23, I got pregnant with my son and decided to go back to school, eventually graduating from CSUN with my BS in Business. After ten years in the service industry, I got a “real job,” but I soon realized that having a small child while working a 9-5 meant I was missing all of the big moments in his life, so I went back to bartending. This meant I could go to work when he went to sleep and be there during the day when he needed me most. This eventually led me to work at a little dive bar called Off Kilt, which is the bar you know now as The Oaks Tavern.
My way into the bar-owning business was not typical. I was a bartender at Off Kilt, then I got offered a partnership if I could dig the bar out of its financial hole. That’s a big jump from bartender to owner. I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into. I cleaned the crap out of the place, brought on new staff, brought in craft beer, upgraded the alcohol selection and got a popcorn machine. I tried new things like live bands, game nights and karaoke. I made sure it didn’t SMELL like a “bar.” A lot of things didn’t work, but a few did. The bar didn’t make money for a while. It was really rough, I had a second job on the weekends and then I worked as many shifts at The Oaks as I could. It was literally a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, I almost gave up many times. Luckily, I had good friends (and my now husband, who I met at the bar) who talked me out of it. Every time I threatened to run away, they wouldn’t let me. Then little by little, it started getting busy and eventually it became the valley karaoke hot spot is is today (or was pre-pandemic).
If you are a stranger reading this, thank you for helping our little bar... and for everyone else, thanks for being a part of The Oaks Family, with your support hopefully we can make it ten more years!
Miss you all,
- Christina Klaes
- Nancy Reimer
- Michael Mazza
- Gary Armlin
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