Stay Gold Deli: The Double-Life Deli

Check out the happenings of Bay Area teens’ favorite venue and sandwich spot.

Stay Gold Deli: The Double-Life Deli (Siah Brawley for YR Media)

Since 2016, the Stay Gold Deli has found its home in downtown West Oakland. Bringing its renowned Italian American style flavors and reasonable prices with it. Stay Gold has an average of four stars across respective food platforms. However, there’s more than sandwiches for this deli. Stay Gold serves a double life as a hotspot for local starters and established punk, hardcore, and other alternative bands of the young generation. 

Being an 18-year-old from the Bay Area with friends and interests in the mentioned scenes, I found that this local staple was worth talking about and that what previously could feel more like a word-of-mouth venue can become appreciated by many. To take this story a step further, I attended a 21st Birthday Bash/concert by a local band member of the band SAINTSPØSSE. They were featuring acts from some local fan favorites. 

Arriving at Stay Gold, I could feel the bass in my core. After a yelling conversation with the not-so-usher that I was attempting to hear directions from over the band, I found my way to the crowd. I quickly found out that I was watching Jazzhv. I was captivated by their colloquial lyrics as they emceed, “All my people from the Bay put your hands up…” and I quickly eased into the environment. 

During the break between sets, I further took in the atmosphere. There was an array of neon signs, coin games, tags, and a vinyl wall. But what most stood out to me was the strictly young audience, even having some people I knew, except for the kitchen staff and the Stay Gold owner Jason Herbers. He was previously the proprietor of a punk venue called Eli’s Mile High Club. It was no surprise that he was taking in the show, even making several appearances in the mosh pit.

Stay Gold has a lot to offer for Gen Z’s young creators. They provide new bands with a first venue and young photographers with a place to document. 

My friend Lenci Gravereaux, 17, has been attending Stay Gold shows for about eight months now and disclosed to me that the shows usually have more of a presence in the back patio of the deli, where people socialize and sell merch, but due to the raining that night that was less of a reality. “I wish they had more time with Jellyfish Method. They are fun guys because, between songs, they engage with the crowd. It's kinda like a comedy show and concert in one…” 

However, she also expressed an appreciation for Stay Gold’s branching out of genres. Creating a more diverse audience, for example, a newer presence of screamo rap/hip-hop styles. Ending her raw opinion with praise for the deli’s beloved sandwiches.

The Bay Area has been a long-standing cultural melting pot, establishing a punk scene that has been around since the late 80’s. At this time, California introduced a wave of skate punk/hardcore punk and continues to be a home for newer acts of that caliber. Many hotspots are present in the Bay Area punk scene. These are continuously an enjoyed part of the culture. Anyone interested can refer to the San Francisco Bay Area Punk Instagram account to keep updated on local shows and venues. Stay updated with local bands' socials, or ask a friend to see when the next shows at Stay Gold will be.

Just attending the show made me feel exhilarated. It wasn't just the Italian po-boy that made my night (although that was a plus) but the crowd. Being punk is about accepting people outside of society's norms and all who choose to participate. That message carries through the energy of the night. It's apparent that the people are all there to have fun, and I left with good memories and some new bands to listen to.  

Here are some of my favorite bands from that night:

Stay Gold Deli has been facing recent issues with local government as information has been emerging on how Oakland has fined the Deli thousands for other people's illegal dumping (discussed in a recent SF Chronicles article). Additionally, the deli has experienced a series of break-ins and, with reluctance, has asked for help from their community. One way that we can help this small business is by simply supporting it. Pay a visit and buy some food, attend events, and if able, you can donate to their GoFundMe

Locals hold appreciation with donors sending messages such as “Thanks for giving kids a safe space to be a part of and all the bands that get to play.” and “We need more spaces like what Stay Gold provides. Thank you all for your work.” and I couldn't agree more.

Siah Brawley (she/her) is a high school senior interested in media and culture. 

Edited by Nykeya Woods

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