Artful Dining with Mua Oakland Owner, CP-37


Mention Oakland's festive First Fridays, and Mua instantly springs to mind for any art-loving foodie in The Town. The super-hip, award-winning eatery is the brainchild of artist and seasoned restaurateur CP-37, who regularly exhibits his own works alongside those of select local artists on Mua’s soaring walls.

Trained in architecture at UC Berkeley, CP-37 opened his first Bay Area restaurant, Cafe Pastoral, with his chef-wife San-ju Dong in 1989. Since then, he has run a series of eclectic and acclaimed venues, including Soizic Bistro and Nex. Each space has involved art shows as well as community art events such as “Social Sketch,” where, over the course of a few days, customers bring their own drawing materials to the restaurant and doodle together with friends.

Pausing mid-brunch with his family, CP-37 shared his secret to living well and artfully.

Mua’s menu is inspired by… urban life, which is always changing.

The best part of running a restaurant is… learning and getting to know the people, the neighborhood, and the overall community, especially in Oakland where we come into contact with diverse cultures and individuals.

My dream guest list would include… the customers we have now, and Rihanna.

I do my best artwork when… I’m free from everything and when there is no answer. Times of great sadness or happiness, or when I feel the contradictions in my life, are highly productive.

My art reflects… our world and emotion as well as people and current events. I use various recycled materials, oil sticks, and house and spray paint to draw what I feel in the moment. Most people see a strong connection to Basquiat in my work, but I feel a stronger connection with Picasso and Twombly.

My signature style piece is… Mua T-shirts, my Comme des Garcons sweater, and Red Wing boots.

A recent San Francisco find is… a ram taxidermy, from the Mission. 

The last amazing meal I had was… brunch with my family at home, right now.

For a weekend getaway, I… go to Kalihiwai in Kauai, Hawaii.

An indulgence I would never give up is… wine.

Art is… everything and nothing.

Food is… an enjoyment best experienced with others. But don’t eat too much. 


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