Listen. Inspire. Vibe. Eat.


California Hotel Live! Cultural Hub is a visual and performing arts cultural hub in West Oakland, that pays homage to its historic past. With its unique and mission driven local businesses, including a public music conservatory, recording label, show-stopping local eatery and performing arts venue (coming soon), California Hotel Live! provides local community members and visitors a fun and welcoming place to Listen, Inspire, Vibe and Eat.




The California Hotel opened its doors on May 18, 1930. A 5-story structure with mezzanine and penthouse, it was the tallest building in the area at the time. It cost $265,000 to build the 150-room hotel with commercial space on the ground floor.

California Hotel, Oakland, California (circa 1930)

California Hotel, Oakland, California (circa 1930)

From its opening through World War II, the California Hotel was a commercial hotel for whites only. After the war, it began accepting Black entertainers as hotel guests and was the first and best East Bay hotel to do so.

In 1949, the California Hotel became one of the few hotels where African Americans could perform. Big Mama Thornton, Charles Brown, Little Willie John, BB King, Lou Rawls, James Brown, Sam Cook, Gaylord Birch, Cal Tjader, Ray Charles and Richard Pryor all performed at the Historic California Hotel.

On January 16, 1953, as new ownership took control, the hotel ended its discrimination policies. A grand "reopening" was held with invited guests that included Oakland-born comedian Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, boxing champion Joe Louis and acclaimed singer Lena Horne. The hotel attracted many high profile black visitors to Oakland. At that time, it was the only full-service hotel that welcomed black people in the East Bay. 

The Historic California Hotel became the principle and highest quality social center for East Bay Blacks in the 1950s and 1960s.  Black entertainers met each other there, found a favorite barber right in the Hotel (Alfred Keyes 1959-1972), used its Ray & Ray's Flowers, and after shows would unwind in its Club Zanzibar and its all-night restaurant which were located in commercial spaces fronting on San Pablo. The original banquet room, later called the Gold Room and beginning in 1963 the Side Door, was the balconied space behind the main lobby. The California Hotel was also known for its Big Mambo and Afro Cuban scene. Pete Escovedo got his start playing at the California Hotel. Patrons came for Pete Escovido's Sunday mamba dances, and for a host of Black musicians, especially blues and gospel performers. Both jazz and Latin music lovers flocked to see performers like Carlos Federico, Benny Velarde, and Cal Tjader. A bevy of sports and political figures came to listen, inspire, vibe, eat and be seen, for the California Hotel was the Black social center.



In 2012, an initiative was made to restore the historic hotel; and finally in 2014, after a renovation costing $43 million, the hotel was converted to affordable housing by East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation.

The California Hotel is now home to nearly one hundred residential tenants, and five commercial business owners including Blackball Universe Music, soon to be a local eatery with the Zanzibar Stage, Oakland Public Conservatory of Music, and SPARC-It Place. Managed by East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, each commercial tenant offers the unique local flavor of their own Oakland roots with mission-driven programming, home-style cuisine, and award-winning musical talent.

Soft launched in October 2018, the California Hotel Live! transforms the historic hotel plaza, welcoming residents and visitors to exciting programming and fun community events. Looking forward to early 2019, with the opening of a local eatery and the Zanzibar stage, the California Hotel Live! Cultural Hub will continue to pay homage to its strong artistic history and preserve the significance of Oakland’s vibrant culture.

Emphasizing our historic and continuing commitment to Asian and Pacific Islander communities, EBALDC works with and for all the diverse populations of the East Bay to build healthy, vibrant and safe neighborhoods through community development.






Blackball Universe started off as a record label, and grew into multimedia creative collective.



3443 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland, 94608

The Zazibar will be heating up the whole neighborhood with the new lounge at 3443 San Pablo in early 2019! The lounge will feature local musicians on the Zanzibar Stage, a commercial kitchen, libations and good vibes.

More Information Coming Soon






We are dedicated to providing musical education grounded in the African American Experience, with an understanding of its role in the development of American music and culture. Our programs are designed to foster learning for people of all ages in Oakland, CA and the greater Bay Area.

“Preservation Through Music Education”

3445 & 3461 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland CA 94612

Phone: (510) 836-4649


sparc it.jpg

SPARC-it-Place History

The SPARC-it-Place was founded in Fall 2016 through a generous donation from the anonymous donor of The San Francisco Foundation. The idea of SPARC-it-Place was born out of the work of the San Pablo Area Revitalization Collaborative (SPARC). SPARC is a group of organizations and residents working together to improve the business and public safety of San Pablo Avenue.

SPARC-it-Place Future

The SPARC-it-Place was intentionally designed as a temporary site. The site will eventually become a mixed-use, affordable housing building with ground floor retail. EBALDC is the developer of this future project. Read more on the SPARC-it Official Site.




Culinary Cruiser at SPARC

We take pride in participating in our Oakland Community. Look for us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for our daily menu specials. We also cater private and corporate events.


Phone: 510-671-0720



Buzz! Here is the news and media surrounding California Hotel Live!

Fantastic Negrito Wins His First Grammy at the 2019 Grammy Awards

Fantastic Negrito Wins His First Grammy at the 2019 Grammy Awards

‘Paint the Town’ Mural Comes to West Oakland with a Tribute to Music History at the California Hotel

‘Paint the Town’ Mural Comes to West Oakland with a Tribute to Music History at the California Hotel


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