Daily Archives: August 7, 2012


The Berkeley Wire: 08.07.12

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Pasta perfect. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
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MELT IN YOUR MOUTH Its tag line is “Yup, It’s just cheese and bread,” but somehow we suspect the way MELT puts those two ingredients together is something special. How about fontina and provolone on garlic bread? Or pepper jack with jalapenos on sourdough? Those are only two of the options at MELT, the brainchild of  Jonathan Kaplan, who founded Flip Video (now sadly defunct). As tipped by Berkeleyside in May, the fifth branch of MELT opened Aug. 6 at 2400 Telegraph Ave., just a few steps away from Sproul Plaza. Customers can order via their smart phones, scan in the QR code when they get to the restaurant, and move to the front of the line for pick up.

IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME The introduction of the high-concept Comal on Shattuck Avenue seems to be having the effect Berkeley city planners and economic development types hoped for. Diablo Magazine reports that first-time restaurateur Paul Oprescu is planning to open Belli Osteria next door at 2016 Shattuck in October. He is taking over the space that once belonged to Green Papaya and morphed for a brief period in February to Thanu’s Kitchen. Belli will be an affordable osteria serving many different types of pasta and ravioli made on the premises. “Oprescu, a former Montessori teacher who has dabbled in cooking, including interning at the late Eccolo where he learned to make his own charcuterie, says he has more than 150 recipes for raviolis that he plans to rotate into the menu,” writes Diablo. “A couple of examples? How about black squid ink ravioli with seafood or another with seared prawns, gorgonzola, and caramelized shallots in a cream sauce.” Belli will also be open for lunch, serving affordable panini. … Continue reading »

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With stadium reopening near, Cal revamps ticket sales

A rendering of Cal Memorial Stadium. Source: Cal Bears website
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See update at bottom of article

Three weeks before the refurbished Cal Memorial Stadium is set to open, university officials are taking a new, more aggressive, approach to selling the premium seats that are the backbone of the stadium’s financing plan.

Instead of relying on Cal’s sports development office to reach out to loyal alums, the athletic department is hiring a professional sales staff to target prospects, according to Solomon (Solly) Fulp, the athletic department’s COO. Officials hope the outreach program will jump-start sales for the Endowment Seating Program, which offers ticket holders premium club seats for 30 years for prices ranging from $40,000 to $225,000.

Cal has sold about 70% of its 3,200 premium seats and has raised $145 million through the Endowment Seating Program, well short of its $309 million goal, according to the Cal Bears website. The university has only sold 14 premium seats since Dec. 2011, according to the website, a rate that is lower than officials expected. … Continue reading »

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Rare bluebird sightings bring happiness in a Berkeley park

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Birds are singing. Children are laughing and playing in patches of sunlight. And I am strolling through large fields of grass here at Berkeley’s San Pablo Park, aiming my camera at flocks of finches, sparrows — anything with wings — looking for flashes of sapphire blue.

“Are you here for the bluebirds?” asks a friendly father, lifting his gaze from his daughter’s stroller. Only one pair of bluebirds has moved into this popular neighborhood park, but they are well known and well loved.

“In 20 years, I can think, maybe twice, of when I ran into western bluebirds in a town like Berkeley,” says Rusty Scalf, a tall, red-headed birdwatcher known in city circles as the “Bluebird Guy.” In fact, he is a trip leader for the Audubon Society and an expert at spotting and identifying birds.

Rusty first noticed bluebirds in San Pablo Park in 2008 — a brilliant indigo male that glided overhead as he crossed the park on an errand. Knowing that bluebirds nest in tree cavities, Rusty quickly tracked down the woodpecker hole that had become their nest. It was located in the branch of a sycamore tree — a tree that Rusty would come to visit sometimes twice a day for five years. … Continue reading »

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Chevron fire is out; investigation begins

The Chevron refinery fire on Monday Aug. 6, 2012. Photo: Mimi Vitetta
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More than 80 firefighters spent five hours battling a blaze that erupted at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, finally extinguishing it around 11:20 pm on Monday. While the main fire is out, Chevron is conducting a small controlled burn to allow hydrocarbons to escape, Chevron spokesman Brent Tippen said at 6 am.

The Contra Costa County Health Services Department lifted its “shelter in place” order for residents in Richmond, North Richmond and San Pablo around 11:31 pm on Monday, and the refinery lifted its “shelter in place” instructions about 20 minutes later, said Tippen.

Even though people only immediately around the refinery were formally told to stay inside, shut their doors and windows, and turn off air conditioners, people throughout the East Bay were affected by the fumes and smoke from the fire. The Oakland police issued an advisory at 8:07 pm telling residents of the North Hills about “a large plume of smoke” coming their way. … Continue reading »

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