Orange Park

May 21st, 2012


When Yellow Tail Japanese Bistro moved out of 1315 Park Street, it left behind a potential venue too choice to pass up. Dan Nguyen, co-owner of Dragon Rouge Vietnamese Bistro down the street at 2304 Encinal Ave., thought about using the space as an art gallery.

“There’s so many local artists that I’m friends with and they don’t have a showcase,” Nguyen says. “And I think art and food go hand in hand.”

Nguyen got the go-ahead from Yellow Tail, which still held the lease for the space, to use the location as an art venue, “Orange Park,” during the weekend of the Park Street Art & Wine Faire. He tapped his employee, Vera Tour of Alameda, to curate an art exhibit there.

On her Facebook page, Tour jokingly lists her job title as “Best Server Ever” at Dragon Rouge. She is also a painter, and the restaurant’s acting art director, hanging fresh work every three months. “She’s developed relationships with many artists,” Nguyen says. “I give her a lot of credit for putting all the art together.”

“It’s pure enthusiasm,” Tour says. “For me, it’s because art is a passion. It’s a payoff, right away.”

The collaboration was a success, with Orange Park featuring a DJ and live music entertaining visitors as they perused artwork. Many of the pieces were dark and pleasantly creepy, including werewolf paintings by Ryan La Bonte. They were “more film and character-oriented from classical literature,” Tour says.

Building on this success, Dragon Rouge hoped to expand its art offerings. Nguyen began looking for a larger space to grow into, especially after an appearance on the TV show “Check, Please!” bumped up business. Although they were outbid on the old Yellow Tail space as a permanent home, they had several other prospects — “bigger and better and able to do more events, crafts and arts”—most of which were in Alameda, Nguyen says. One of them panned out: Aroma Restaurant at 2337 Blanding Avenue.

With the owner of Aroma retiring, Dragon Rouge celebrated their grand re-opening in the new location on March 9.

“It’s a lot bigger space,” Nguyen said. “There’s a lot of room in here to do a lot of stuff and art is definitely something we’re going to showcase.”

Michael Singman-Aste
Postdiluvian Photo

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