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    Oakland’s Fluid New Space – Inclusive Venue Fluid510 Welcomes Diverse Crowds

    By Carole Barrow–

    As founders of The Port Bar, a vibrant LGBTQ+-focused establishment that has survived and thrived through the pandemic and beyond, Richard Fuentes and Sean Sullivan are bar industry veterans who have earned their stripes. With the opening of the 5,000-square-foot venue, Fluid510, they are making a splash and expanding their nightlife offerings to create an inclusive and sophisticated gathering space.

    Photos by Karina Patel

    Partners in life and in business, the duo are well matched to bring hospitality concepts to life while pushing boundaries and setting new trends in the industry. Fuentes’ recognition as one of 40 under 40 by the San Francisco Business Times in 2016 highlights his exceptional leadership and entrepreneurial skills. Sullivan’s distinction as a “Playmaker” by the San Francisco Super Bowl 50 Committee demonstrates his talent and creativity in the realm of mixology. 

    Their shared belief in Oakland’s potential as a vibrant and thriving city drove them to establish The Port Bar, a place that reflects the unique spirit and culture of the community. Now Fuentes and Sullivan are creating a new venture that not only showcases their passion for mixology and hospitality but also contributes to the vibrancy of the Oakland community. Fluid510 will welcome patrons of all backgrounds to gather and celebrate in a versatile space serving exceptional food.

    I recently spoke with them for the San Francisco Bay Times about this new East Bay destination.

    Carole Barrow: Can you share your founder story and any details that make the Fluid510 story unique?

    Sean Sullivan: Richard inspires me to be a go-getter and to actually live the dreams that I have in my head to make them a reality. As founders of The Port Bar, Ritchie and I were tuned into the community and what is needed to serve it—Fluid510 would be filling a very important niche. Along with being local business owners, we have been very active members of the community in Oakland, to the point where many people have seen us as community champions, and we’ve embraced that. 

    I believe The Port Bar has been so well received because of our love for the community. We built it with input from feedback groups, ensuring we were hearing what people wanted, so we’ve always been plugged into the community. 

    We are very hands-on, and you’ll see us at The Port Bar several nights a week. We greet customers like old friends, so we’ve always made it a family welcoming experience. And we’ve had such great success with it that, prior to the pandemic, we saw that we were getting even busier to the point where we really hit a critical mass. We didn’t have the space for everybody. So, we knew we would have to find a new space, and that is where the search for Fluid510 began.

    Richard Fuentes: Yes, creating Fluid510 was a labor of love. And most importantly, we had stakeholder meetings when we created The Port Bar, which really is what led to the place’s design. We incorporated the community feedback into the creation of Fluid510 as well.

    So, with Fluid510, we very much wanted to create a space that was for everyone. Having The Port Bar as an LGBTQ+ destination has worked very well. We don’t plan on moving any of our programming from The Port Bar to Fluid510. Since Fluid510 is a space for everyone, we want to make sure that Oakland’s melting pot is reflected within the space. And by that I mean that we’ll have some nights at our program for LGBTQ+, andwe’ll have other nights where folks can rent out the venue, for example, for a whole buyout. We will host comedy shows, or we will do DJ brunches on the weekend. We have elevated food that is another difference from The Port Bar—we will serve creative, high-end food on the premises. 

    Carole Barrow: What is your long-term vision and strategy for The Port Bar and for Fluid510?

    Richard Fuentes: Our goal is to continue The Port Bar’s operations next to the iconic Paramount Theater. And we plan to keep expanding the programming that our customers have come to love, which is what we’re known for; especially the drag shows that we have. We also have gay drag on Wednesdays, and we have our gay drag brunch on Sundays.

    Our drag brunch began during the pandemic, because we had to be outdoors. We built our parklet because we saw that people really wanted to be outdoors and be safe while still enjoying some comic relief. That worked really well for us, and we want to continue to do that. 

    And as for Fluid 510, we’ve seen that there has been a need of the nonprofit community and small companies and large companies in Oakland to have spaces here where they can gather and host happy hours after work. But The Port Bar has been limited in capacity to about 100 people, while at Fluid510, we will be able to host up to 250 people. So, that really changes the dynamic of the experience that we will be able to provide to our customers. 

    Carole Barrow: Is The Port Bar’s drag programming more important than ever, given the current anti-drag and anti-trans legislation sweeping red states?

    Richard Fuentes: Yes, absolutely! You know, you don’t have to go so far from the Bay Area to find people who are anti-trans and anti-drag, so sending a strong message and being right next to the Paramount Theater on Broadway broadcasts the message that the LGBTQ+ community is here, and we’re here to stay. We’re not going anywhere. And I think that’s key for our role here at The Port Bar. 

    But with the role of Fluid510, I think it allows us to continue what we’ve done at The Port Bar, while we also aim to make this an inclusive space for all kinds of different folks; they might be gay, they might be straight or anything at all on the spectrum. The goal is basically to be able to have a space that is for everyone. So, we continue to expand, and people continue to enjoy the programming that they’ve seen, not only at The Port Bar, but they’ll also see new programming that is fluid.

    Carole Barrow: What is your main message to the Oakland community and future customers from throughout the Bay Area and beyond?

    Richard Fuentes: Fluid510 is a space for everybody. We encourage everyone to join us.

    Carole Barrow: What would you say to potential patrons from San Francisco? Why should they make the trip to spend time at Fluid510?

    Sean Sullivan: When it comes to getting here, if they don’t want to get on a bridge, they won’t have to, because we’re in between the 12th and 19th Street BART stations, so it is very convenient for folks to come across the bay. 

    Just as San Francisco residents probably feel that their city is getting maligned in the press for issues that may be concentrated in a few neighborhoods, they should have that kind of openness towards Oakland. While we are a major U.S. city that has the same problems every other major U.S. city has, we have great diversity here. And the great energy of the Bay Area spirit that is shown here is across so many different-looking faces. That melting pot is reflected in the faces of our patrons—a lot of people of color come here from San Francisco because they enjoy the diversity. That diversity spills out into the streets and into our establishments. 

    Also, you have a lot of other great institutions, including the Fox Theater and The Paramount. Fluid510 is a place for those people to keep the energy going after the show. And although we really are very bullish about the food experience that we have coming up at Fluid510, it’s more elevated bar food. For folks looking for a full sit-down dining experience, there are also incredible restaurants like Duende and Calavera to visit before spending the rest of the night with us. And after a couple of drinks, you might need one of our delicious Fluid510 pizzas, paninis, or other gourmet bites. So, if you’re ready to get your dance on, have a craft cocktail, and a beautifully prepared bite, we’re definitely your spot.

    Carole Barrow: What kind of dining experience should customers look forward to?

    Richard Fuentes: We’re bringing an elevated experience to Fluid510 by having a world-class kitchen, which is pretty unique to the area. In addition to our pizzas, we will have paninis and desserts like tiramisu, along with gelato. For that after-work crowd that wants to stick around and enjoy, we have a happy hour menu every day that runs until 9 pm. We are also going to have a small menu of happy hour items available throughout the day to capture a lot of the people who are living and working in downtown Oakland. So, it’s a way to encourage people to come out and enjoy the neighborhood.

    Fluid510 opens on May 20. For more information, visit 

    Carole Barrow is an Account Director at the San Francisco-based firm Bospar.

    Published on May 18, 2023