There’s no doubt that businesses have a role and responsibility in helping to create a more just world that centers economic equity. Reem Assil, founder of Reem’s, gets this. Her bakery is helping to fuel the People’s movement with more than just her award-winning Arab street food. By providing community benefits, living wage jobs with career paths, and support to local businesses and farms, her business model leads with economic justice principles, helping to create a thriving community.

Reem’s is the 2019 recipient of the Local Business Townie Award. Enjoy their award-winning food in community with us as we celebrate at the Oakland Progressives Party + Townie Awards on June 20.

Reem combined her background in labor and community organizing with her passion for the flavors of Arab street-corner bakeries and the vibrant communities where they’re located. Growing up in a Palestinian-Syrian household, Reem was surrounded by the aromas and tastes of food from the homeland and the connections they evoked of her heritage, family, and community. In 2010, Reem went on a soul-searching trip across Lebanon and Syria and – inspired by the sanctuary of street corner bakeries – brought her take on Arab street food back to Oakland.

Before dedicating herself to a culinary career, Reem worked as an organizer at SEIU 1877 and East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE). Reem spent more than a decade training organizers and leaders at the Arab Organizing and Resource Center (AROC), School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL), DataCenter, and Center for Third World Organizing (CTWO).

Reem’s offers the warmth of Arab hospitality to nourish our community. The bakery has survived attacks over a mural celebrating Rasmea Odeh, who fought for the liberation of Palestine, and has gone on to host many community events from cultural film nights to fundraisers.

We are by far not the first to recognize the treasure that Reem’s is to our community, though other honors have focused primarily on the amazing talents of the chef. Honors that chef Reem Assil has received include San Francisco Magazine and Thrillest 2018 Chef of the Year, San Francisco Chronicle 2017 Rising Star Chef, and a 2018 and 2019 James Beard Semi-Finalist for Best Chef: West.




570 14th Street, Suite 1
Oakland, CA 94612

Sign up

Get our email updates and stay connected.


Oakland Rising is a project from our hearts for the people of Oakland. Thank you for your contribution!