Skip to main content
Arts & Entertainment

They lit up Oakland with drag brunches during Covid. Now they’re opening a queer club

Sean Sullivan, left, and Richard Fuentes, right, are the co-founders of Fluid510. | Courtesy Joseph Victoriano

In the wake of shelter-in-place, the once-vibrant nightlife corridor along Broadway in Downtown Oakland stood largely lifeless. The Port Bar, a neighborhood lounge on Broadway near 21st Street, was one major exception.

Throughout 2021, the watering hole hosted triumphant outdoor drag brunches that shone a light through the pandemic’s darkest moments. Now, the bar’s co-owners, Richard Fuentes and Sean Sullivan, will debut a brand-new queer bar right down the street.

Fluid510 soft-opens this weekend, with a ticketed grand opening party planned for May 20. Named to celebrate LGBTQ+ fluidity within the East Bay’s area code, Fluid510 takes over an event space called 1544 Events that closed during Covid. Originally scheduled to open around New Year’s, Covid-related construction delays set Fuentes and Sullivan’s plans back several months. 

Fuentes told The Standard that while Fluid510 is first and foremost a queer club, he also hopes to cater to the youngest generation of bargoers, who he said have come to expect inclusivity. 

“Fluid means fluidity, which includes everyone,” he said.

The bi-level club includes two glass and steel bars, a full kitchen and hardwood floors that Sullivan said were reclaimed from the former Oakland Army Base.

In developing the menu, Fuentes and Sullivan called upon the talents of chef Alessandro Campitelli, formerly of Chiaroscuro in North Beach and Contrasto near Lake Merritt. The duo teased a few dishes, including bacon-wrapped dates, charcuterie, grilled octopus and a delicately whipped tiramisu. After the initial opening, Fuentes and Sullivan said they plan to add a Saturday brunch. 

Fluid510 will serve small plates like bacon-wrapped dates. | Joseph Victoriano

The team said it plans to serve the same twists on classic cocktails that regulars of The Port Bar have come to love—like the Coconut Fizz and the Mandarin 75—as well as beer and wine flights. Fluid510 will also offer traditional bottle and table service.

The Oakland residents both split their time between the hospitality industry and various civic responsibilities. Fuentes manages special projects and funding strategy for BART, and he said it’s no accident that The Port Bar and Fluid510 are steps away from Downtown Oakland’s two BART stations. Sullivan is a longtime entrepreneur who serves on the boards of the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation and Pridefest Oakland. 

Sullivan said that he hopes Fluid510 will become a main character in Downtown Oakland’s post-pandemic renaissance.

“We’re so grateful people have stayed with us, and we’re excited to have a larger space where people can gather and dance,” he said.