Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

The ceiling of Namaste restaurant is painted with sayings about thrift by Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, and other early American leaders

CLASSY INDIAN The landmark former Citibank building at 2323 Shattuck — sitting empty for the last five years — is the new home of Namaste Madras Cuisine, a restaurant featuring food from south India. Prasad Lakireddy and his partners installed cherry wood detailing throughout the building to complement the ornate beamed ceiling designed in 1926 by architect Walter Ratcliff. The chef and owner is Venkat Yaramala, who has 20 years experience running restaurants in Roseville, Chico, and the Bay Area. Meals will be served family-style and the restaurant will be open from 11am to 10pm seven days a week.

Himalayan goods at the pop-up store Tenzing Collections

TIBETAN POP-UP For the next few months, the space at 2213 Shattuck Avenue will be the home of Tenzing Collections, a Bay Area family-owned firm that sells clothes, jewelry, home décor, prayer rugs, and other items from Nepal, India, Tibet, and Bhutan. Tenzing Jigme, whose family owns similar stores in Tiburon and San Anselmo, but who lives in Berkeley, said he has a month-to-month lease on the space. He is calling it a “holiday season” store that might stay if business is good.

HOMEMADE CRUNCH  When the construction business slowed down in the recent economic downturn, Tom Ashkenas decided to do what family and friends in Berkeley had been encouraging him to do for years: turn his homemade granola into a business. That was in November 2010 and Tom’s Best Ever Granola is now changing palates at every turn. His crammed-to-the-brim-with-dried fruit mixture is toasted longer than most granolas, giving it a crispy crunch, and it is handmade in small batches using locally sourced ingredients. It’s so popular at Monterey Market that Ashkenas had to restock supplies three times last week. (It only lasted a day at this reporter’s house.) The granola, packaged in half pound and pound compostable bags, is also sold at Star Market, the Kensington and Mill Valley farmers’ markets, Farmer Joe’s, and Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco.

INDIAN GOES MEXICAN Udupi Palace at 1901 University Avenue has undergone an overhaul under owner Uday Shetty and rather than being a popular dosa vendor it is now Fresco Burrito. Fresco Burrito serves affordable Mexican food freshly cooked to order, and is offering only take-out at the moment. The fact that Fresco Burrito serves lamb but not beef burritos might be the only clue as to the restaurant’s former incarnation. Hours are 11am to 9:30pm, but are subject to change. Correction, 10.13.11: Thanks to reader Terri for alerting us to the fact that Udupi Palace is still in operation and that Fresco Burrito is in the corner space that’s been empty for some time.


New on Fourth St -- Outback. Photo: Nancy Rubin

THROWBACK Outback in The Temple of Venus, a vintage clothing boutique that has been a fixture in Point Richmond for years, is now returning to its roots and opening an outpost at 1717D Fourth Street in Berkeley. (Owner Devi’s original store was on Sacramento and Dwight several decades ago.) The new space is across the parking lot from Z Gallery and shared with the Fourth Street Studio and other artists so one can browse paintings, and see artists at work while finding fun and fabulous fashions and unusual treasures. Open every day, 12-6pm.

Shop Talk is our regular column in which we post updates on Berkeley businesses — openings, closings, new directions, relaunches, relocations. If you’re a Berkeley business with news, or a Berkeleysider who has spotted a change in your neighborhood or on your travels, shoot us an email with the details. Read previous Shop Talk columns here.

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