Popular restaurants closed by fires face further delays

All that remains of the Sequoia Building is the one-story façade on Telegraph that housed Café Intermezzo and Raleigh’s. Photo: Lance Knobel

It looks like a number of Berkeley restaurants won’t be recovering as quickly as hoped from a recent set of fires.

The Daily Californian is reporting that the proposal to erect temporary tents to replace Café Intermezzo and Raleigh’s Bar & Grill, which were destroyed Nov. 18 when the Sequoia Building burned down, hasn’t gone forward. Property owner Greg Ent submitted a permit application in January, but has not responded to changes requested in mid-March by the city. Ent has also stopped talking to the project’s architect, Kirk Peterson, according to the Daily Cal.

“The latest I’ve heard is a rumor that the (Ent’s) insurance company’s money couldn’t be used for the temporary structures,” City councilmember Kriss Worthington told the paper. “That may mean the owner of the building has switched gears from the temporary operation into looking at getting into a permanent building operation.”

The intersection of Telegraph and Haste is one of the most blighted in Berkeley, as three corners are vacant or under-utilized. Just one wall of the Sequoia Apartments remains standing. The old Cody’s Books building, owned by Rasputin Records’ owner Ken Sarachan, has not been rented. Sarachan’s other lot at that intersection is also vacant. (The city of Berkeley has filed a lawsuit against Sarachan threatening to seize his lot to pay off $640,000 he owes in liens. In April, Sarachan unveiled a Moorish-looking design for a new building on the lot.)

Luke Tsai, who writes the What the Fork column for the East Bay Express, points out that Great China’s website reveals that the popular eatery won’t be reopening at its old spot on Kittredge, right next to the California Theater. Instead, Great China will be moving to the old Looney’s Barbecue spot at 2190 Bancroft Way. The place needs to be remodeled extensively, so the restaurant won’t open until the spring of 2013.

The restaurant shut down in January after a grease fire erupted in the kitchen.

Telegraph site owner plans for temporary resurrection [02.06.12]
Berkeley files lawsuit against owner of blighted lot [01.31.12]
Fire at Berkeley’s Great China Restaurant [01.25.12]

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  • Guest

    Thanks for the Great China update!

  • Bryan Garcia

    I think it’s better that they move ahead with a permanent plan anyways. The whole tent thing wasn’t a terrible idea, I just felt like there was the possibility that it may become sort of permanently “temporary” and keep the corner looking worse in the long run.

    As for Great China, the wording leaves me a little bit confused. So they are moving to Bancroft/Fulton until their former space is renovated in Spring 2013, or the Bancroft/Fulton space is going to be their new permanent home, but not until Spring 2013? If it’s the latter, a year sure seems like a long time to renovate that space. It was already a fully functional restaurant until just recently.

  • mes

    Ah gee.  Couldn’t Cafe Intermezzo consider taking pity on Northside customers, and check out a lease at 1845 Euclid?  (Used to be Northside Books ages ago.)  It would be incredible for all of us long-time fans on Northside to have it close by.  Plus we desperately need healthier options on Northside!!!

  • Frances Dinkelspiel

     Great China is moving permanently to Bancroft/Fulton but won’t open until the spring of 2013.

  • berkopinionator

    If Intermezzo remains unwilling to rent other space, they could do a good business selling pre-made Veggie-Delights through local retailers.

  • Heather_W_62

    I like this idea! I miss those salads.