Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Book repair at Coriander Reisbord

BETTER BOOKS Reader Carla Shapreau writes in to say she had the pleasure of visiting a new business in Berkeley where rare books are restored and the book arts are taught. “I have an old book in disrepair that needed some conservation, which is what led me to the Family Book Lab on MLK, which is also the workshop of book conservator Coriander Reisbord,” she says. Reisbord, who has been repairing and restoring books for more than 20 years, has just opened Family Book Lab which offers a program of workshops for both adults and kids (or both together, as the name implies). She teaches bookbinding, paper decoration and typesetting among other skills. Both that business and the book repair store are based at 1413 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, three doors down from Mr Mopp’s. Reisbord can be reached at

Skates: re-opening

NEW LOOK Skates on the Bay, Berkeley’s restaurant that literally floats over the bay, is re-opening following an extensive interior redesign. Look out for the restaurant’s new menu, that includes oysters, sashimi, lobster and crab when in season, and an “extensive” raw bar. Skates is at 100 Seawall Drive Berkeley, CA 94710. Tel: 510-549-1900.

Vegi Food: may close

UNDER THREAT Vegi Food on Vine Street, a popular Chinese vegetarian spot that has been run by My and her husband Kim for over 28 years, is facing a relocation or possible closure after being given notice on their premises. Reader Naomi writes in to say she’s sure many Berkeleysiders will be sorry to see them go. “They’ve been an important part of this community for nearly three decades,” she says. Owner My says the hope is to find a new location, but so far they have had no luck. Vegi Food is at 2085 Vine Street (between Henry Street and Shattuck Avenue).

A digitally enhanced photo by Frin Graphics

IMAGINE THAT Nas Kahn’s new Frin Graphics, at 1936 University Avenue combines photography with digital processing to create unique photos, like the one featured here of a little boy swimming under water. Kahn opened Frin Graphics last month and brings a background in fine arts, including 15 years as a creative director at an international ad agency, to the business. Kahn said he chose Berkeley for his new venture because it’s full of artistic people who like to be innovative. Customers can also get traditional photographs, such as graduation prints, made.

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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  • Andrew

    Regarding Vegi Food, I never seen anyone in there. Is it good? Regarding Skates, I bet we see new prices too ; ) BTW I’ve never been there.

  • Anonymous

    My son and I did the mother’s day project at Family Book Lab and it was a huge hit. Highly recommended.

  • Biker 94703

    VegiFood is pretty good overall.  The walnut “prawns” are great.  It’d be a shame to have them go.

  • Anonymous

    Oh No! Vegi Foods is awesome. Why oh why would anyone want to lose a paying tenant? Especially when there are so many empty shops and restaurants in Berkeley and in Gourmet Ghetto in particular.

  • SarahSiddell

    I hope VegiFood comes downtown. I believe an ice cream shop just closed on Shattuck between Durant and Channing. And there are some other empty spaces.

    Is it my imagination or do downtown restaurants seem to survive more often than is usual in the restaurant industry? I’m trying to think of ones that didn’t make it around here, the heart of the city, but I can’t recall many. A really great Thai restaurant at the corner of Fulton and Bancroft, which always seemed to be full, closed mysteriously to be replaced by a barbecue restaurant which never seemed to have a large clientele and recently closed, but other than those, I can’t think of any

  • Nakdchef

    Why are you commenting on places you’ve never been to? If you’ve never been to Skates then I guess you wouldn’t know the difference if the prices changed or not. As for Vegi Food, yes, it’s good. Maybe you should try them both and then comment.

  • Haselstein

    The former location of Bacheesos, at the corner of Dwight and San Pablo, is still vacant. 

  • TN

    It has been years and years since I ate at Vegi Food but I still remember the walnut prawns. Vegi Food in Berkeley was actually the off shoot of the restaurant of the same name located on Clement Street in San Francisco’s Richmond district. Having at the time eaten at both, I thought the food at the Clement Street location was much better though they used the same recipes.

    Google tells us that Vegi Food in San Francisco still exists at its original location. When I used to eat there, there was always a line out the door.

  • The Sharkey

    I doubt they’ll find a decent replacement any time soon, with that usurious “WE BUY GOLD” storefront next door.

  • Anonymous

    It’s a nice tax write-off if you’re a big commercial real estate company my anonymous brother/sister. Many are priced so high (with correspondingly high comps often made artificially through pay-back scams) that it’s clear they’ve calculated they can make more with the tax dodge than actually renting with less hassle. Ah, the grifter class…such clever people.  If you squint and the light is just right certain buildings in downtown look just like large stacks of T-bills.