Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Replacing Green Papaya: Thanu's Kitchen. Photo: D.H. Parks

GETTING MEATY Green Papaya, the Thai vegetarian restaurant at 2016 Shattuck in downtown, is switching it up. It’s changing its name to Thanu’s Kitchen and is adding meat to the menu. A notice on the door says that the new spot will open soon. “Although we’re changing things up a bit here, we will still offer vegetarians our selective menu and, no worries, our utilities such as pots, pans, and ingredients for vegetarian will most definitely be separated from non-vegetarian,” write the owners, who say the change is due to “a low volume of vegan/vegetarian consumers”.

Open: Pappy's on Telegraph

SPORTY OPENING Berkeleyans who are still missing Blakes, which closed its doors last year after 71 years, can now patronize Pappy’s on Telegraph, which opened a couple of weeks ago in the old Blake’s space at 2367 Telegraph Avenue. According to the East Bay Express, there is “a giant TV screen, plenty of sips, pitchers and noshes, and enough blue and gold to satisfy any Oski devotee”. The name is a nod to former football coach Pappy Waldorf.

WIGGLY LAUNCH Urban Adamah, the one-acre faith-based farm which opened last June in Berkeley, is set to open a spin-off composting business any day now. As founder Adam Berman told Berkeleyside’s food writer Sarah Henry, “We’re moving into the worm business.”

New: Alchemy Collective on MLK

NEW COFFEE SPOT Tablehopper reports that Berkeley boasts a new “teeny-tiny coop café” at 3140 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Alchemy Collective is the grown-up version of the coffee cart that the owners used to operate in the parking lot of BioFuel Oasis. The café is all about third-wave coffee and serves Verve on a La Marzocco machine.

SHARP CUTS “Oh please, you have to write something about the new Platform Barbers. These guys are the coolest!” writes reader Kristin Leimkuhler. The new African American owned and operated barbershop at 1715 University (between Mcgee and Grant) does both designer and kids cuts for $8. “They are so welcoming of all people — they even told me they will do dogs by appointment on Sundays!” says Leimkuhler, who signs off “Mother of a sharp looking boy”. Platform Barbers are on (510) 504-6953.

Healthy Heavenly Foods back with food truck on Cal campus

BANH MI ON WHEELS Healthy Heavenly Foods, which left the Bear’s Lair Food Court two years ago, is back on campus with a trendy food truck. Owner Ann Vu’s Vietnamese sandwiches (Banh Mi) proved so popular on her first day she sold out. The sandwiches features Acme bread, which, according to those in the know, is “the closest thing to Vietnamese baguettes in the western hemisphere.” Find the truck in front of ASUC near Bancroft and Telegraph.

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.

Berkeleyside publishes many articles every day. To see all our stories in chronological order, and read ones you may have missed, check out All the News.

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  • Guest

    Green Papaya had a low volume of vegans/vegetarians after it was discovered that they were using shrimp paste in their food, and they refused to stop doing so after getting called out. The uninspired menu and so so food didn’t help either.

  • what in the heck is third-wave coffee?  

  • Here’s an article about third-wave coffee (coincidentally written by me):

  • Stefan Lasiewski

    It comes after the second wave, but before the fourth.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, was that really undisclosed on the menu?  Given the number of people with severe shellfish allergies, it’s pretty shocking.  

    With that said, at least one other restaurant in the area around campus ended up adding meat to an originally all-vegetarian line up because the clientele demanded it.  Fa La La is the one I’m thinking of.

  • Anonymous

    Funny typo in the 12th paragraph:  “Once the third waivers….”  How’d that sneak by legal? *smile*

    A more serious inquiry:  Alchemy Collective’s hours are unusual, even for a coffee place:  closing at 1pm on weekdays and 2pm on Saturdays, closed Sundays.  Is that a function of staffing expense associated with adding later shifts?  I know coffee is a morning indulgence for most, but Peet’s seems to do plenty of business after those hours, especially on weekends.

    I’m asking because I’ve occasionally wondered about some other strange (to me) operating hour decisions that have made it difficult for me to patronize businesses in the area.  Some examples:

    There was a great pizza place on Center — Pie in the Sky — that closed at 6pm.  Not really a dinner option with those hours.

    Cinnaholic, on Oxford, doesn’t open until 10 am, even on weekends.  Aren’t cinnamon rolls primarily a breakfast food?  

    Same story with some of the area bakeries:  I wish there were one place in town that catered to us early risers.  Bringing fresh baked rolls home to the family after an early run just doesn’t happen when the bakery opens at 9.

  • Alan Tobey

    Actual Vietnamese baguettes in-country are made with up to 50% rice flour, making for a wonderful balance of lightness and crispy crust.  Acme is wonderful too, but not the same thing.  Perhaps the new referent is the American-style baguettes from shops like Saigon Sandwich on Larkin in SF. 

  • Bryan Garcia

    Yeah, but now Fa La La is closed. They seemed like a very poor rip-off of Maoz Vegetarian the one time I went there for lunch.

  • Anonymous

    You’re right — I hadn’t noticed that and am sorry to hear it.

  • Chris

    So true! Acme bread authentic for banh mi? BAHHHHH!!!!

  • I’ve seen that Vietnamese food truck… 5 dollars for 3 spring rolls.

  • thanks!

  • Alchemista

    Hey there!  I’m one of the founders of Alchemy.  As cooperative worker-owners, we’re currently working for no pay until we start making the profit to pay ourselves, so we have to be smart about cost effectiveness.  The thing is, serving coffee alone isn’t enough to justify anyone working late hours.  Since we don’t have tables, it can’t be an evening hang-out/study space and we can’t serve meals or have events or shows.  Our end goal is to expand to a bigger space and have music, art, and events with beer on tap and food, so that we could have enough business to pay workers for extended hours.  So we’re with you, and we’re workin’ on it!  For now, we’re just focused on awesome coffee/pastries in the morning and being an effective democratically owned business.

  • Chrissy Mama

     Well, the best of luck to you. I’m guessing that in ordinary circumstances with a full-service restaurant, if the money were available to small start-ups (and its questionable), you’d have borrowed enough money to pay yourselves and staff with a business loan until such time as your business could support itself. Not always feasible, I’m guessing. Still–one has to applaud the tenacity to go the route of worker-owned and the sad result of a slower build of business. Customers like and expect consistency and ‘normal’ business hours, but not always possible. Thank god for so many different ways to approach business, eh?