New restaurant opening in Café Fanny space in Berkeley

A new restaurant, Bartavelle Coffee & Wine Bar, will open soon in the old Café Fanny Space which closed in March. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Update, May 24: Because many readers have expressed an interest, Berkeleyside made inquiries about whether the Café Fanny staff who lost their jobs after the restaurant closed down received severance pay. A Chez Panisse spokesperson said that Alice Waters personally ensured all of the staff were looked after.  “Alice Waters paid the severance of all Café Fanny employees,” he said. (Separately, look out for our feature to be published tomorrow on Bartavelle!)

Two months after the sudden closure of the Alice Waters-related Café Fanny, a new coffee and wine spot is set to open in the west Berkeley space that is sandwiched between two Berkeley institutions: Acme Bread and Kermit Lynch Wines.

Details are sketchy, but Bartavelle Coffee & Wine Bar should be opening in about eight weeks at 1603 San Pablo Avenue, in part of the building that is owned by Kermit Lynch, according to a source close to the business.

Chef Suzanne Drexhage and coffee guru Sam Sobolewski are believed to be involved in the new venture, and it is rumored Suzanne Fuoco will be offering up her Pink Slip jams there.

Café Fanny, which was co-owned by Chez Panisse restaurateur Alice Waters and her brother in law Jim Maser, closed abruptly on March 9 after 28 years in business. A perennial favorite lunch and coffee destination for many Berkeleyans, it was named after the heroine in Marcel Pagnol’s 1930s movies, as well as Waters’ daughter.

Until Bartavelle opens, local resident Luigi Oldani is serving Sightglass coffee from a vintage espresso machine on the restaurant’s patio, every day from 7:30 am.

Blue Bottle offers consolation to former Cafe Fanny patrons [03.10.12]
“It’s the end of a generation: Fanny has grown up” [03.09.12]
Alice Waters’ Cafe Fanny in west Berkeley to close [03.08.12]

Print Friendly
Tagged , , , , ,
Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comments policy »
  • Bryan Garcia

    So, did the abruptly laid-off Cafe Fanny workers ever get the severance packages they were promised?

  • Guest

    Yes, we would very much like to know the facts around that issue.

  • The deer

    Moving forward, huzzah to something new that won’t close in the afternoon! It’s sure to be yummy!

  • Chrisjuricich

    I’ll be very curious to see how it all falls out. I will admit that I’m not enthusiastic about overpriced local restaurants within walking distance of my home, but will wait and see.

  • Heather_W_62

    I’m just happy the space will be used for something the neighborhood can enjoy. Hopefully it won’t be super over-priced. Oh, and perhaps they’ll offer some jobs to the Cafe Fanny workers??

  • Cammy

    Sketchy indeed as to what will be served. Just coffee and wine?  Maybe they’ll be more information in the near future… As for severance pay for the workers at Cafe Fanny – I’m not sure if that information has been released….

  • Chrisjuricich

     Not to dismiss Cammy’s concerns above about severance pay for the Cafe Fanny workers–as others as well as myself have broached this topic, but seriously! What business of it is ours as to the final relationship financially between ownership/management and the staff of that place? There’s almost a presumption that, unless the closed business stated such, that workers have been screwed.

    How many workers lost their jobs? How much notice did they get? Standard hiring is still at-will with little protections for retail or kitchen workers in any case, so there’s no legal framework to complain about it if they DIDN’T get compensation…and if I were the owners, I would probably feel that it was none of our
    #$ing business (to put it with a spin) how things ended.

    We could simply presume that the owners/managers treated the workers fairly…couldn’t we?

  • Marc Weinstein

    VERY exciting news…  >> WHATEVER they serve is BOUND TO BE GREAT…  Suzanne has a stellar reputation and will treat this project with great care—> the mere mention of Pink Slip jam has me salivating.
    -hopefully a less “uptight” environment than the previous business there…  Can’t wait !!!

  • Chris, you’re a moron. Ms Waters, with her hand so eloquently placed on her heart while in front of a group of reporters (and cameras) promised to take care of the Cafe Fanny workers, who had one day’s notice.

    Ms Waters is also big and loud about serving the community, taking care of the community and all that flack…so, if you spout it, you should sprout it.  Put up or shut up.  Why should we care? Because we are human and we live in a democracy (for now).  What happens to our neighbor can or will happen to us, and if we allow it to happen and do not question corporations, business owners, etc. then we are to blame if something like this happens to us.  

    Presume nothing.  We have a right to know.  I won’t go near this new venture, and have cancelled my reservations at Chez Panisse, until this is resolved.  If Ms Waters had just shut up or said something along the lines of “we are still working on the details” that would have sufficed.  Yes, it would be vague, but it would not have been an empty statement.

  • Bryan: We have just updated the story with the news that they did.

  • Chrisjuricich

    “Presume nothing.”
       James got that right.
    “We have a right to know.”
       That’s completely ridiculous.
    “Why should we care?”
       I never said I didn’t care and I resent your implication that I don’t. And yes–we as people shouldn’t sit still for unfairness in this world and we should speak loudly when exposed to it–at least when we know what the facts are.

    Oh–and thanks to for moderating out the personally disparaging comment which James included. We can agree or disagree, but we don’t need to call each other names.

  • Chrisjuricich

     And one more thing–if it’s true that Ms. Waters and the ownership did give one day notice, well…that’s really not very accommodating for the workers, I admit. I also have a general predilection to side with workers when dealing with management/staff issues.

    Ultimately, I vote with my wallet in terms of ethics, for at least one criteria on choosing where to eat or do business. I also admit to a modest measure of disdain for Alice Waters and Chez Panisse because of their outrageous pricing–despite how good the food is. I’ve eaten there once and it was truly memorable and an exciting time–then the bill came and at somewhere near to $300 for the two of us, as good as it was, it was not an experience that we (my wife and I) would bear to repeat more often than once every few years–if.

    My dream as a ‘foodie’ (hate that term, personally) is for food to be not only from sustainable sources, local sources etc., but also affordable. With Chez Panisse, its two out of three.

  • Guest

  • Daisynyc

    Oh – thank goodness the pretentiousness vacuum will be filled. I was worried that Alice Waters might have one less thing to be sanctimonious about, but looks like that’s covered. Sorry – but the woman is tiresome and rapidly becoming irrelevant.