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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

RUSTIC ON SHATTUCK  The lamented closure of nightclub Shattuck Down Low will be assuaged for some by the word that a new, stylish casual restaurant will be opening on the site, perhaps as early as January. Lisa Holt and David Shapiro of Rustic Restaurants LLC have a strong pedigree, having developed and launched the Milliken Creek Inn & Spa in Napa and the revamped Hotel Yountville. Holt told Diablo Magazine that the Berkeley project is planned as the first of several in the Bay Area. You can get a glimpse of the design aesthetic that Holt prefers from her current Pinterest page for Rustic. According to the Daily Cal, Down Low owner Daniel Cukierman is looking for a new site in downtown Berkeley.

IS RAVIOLI THE NEW PIZZA?  The characterful building next door to Comal on Shattuck is being redesigned for Belli, which plans to specialize in fresh, housemade pasta dishes, with an emphasis on ravioli (as we flagged up in August). According to Tablehopper, Belli will open initially for dinner six days a week, with lunch service expected to start once the restaurant settles down. Founder Paul Oprescu teaches home salami making, home meat curing and pasta from scratch at Oakland’s Institute of Urban Homesteading. With Belli, Comal and Phil’s Sliders, the northern stretch of Shattuck downtown is turning into quite a restaurant strip.

MORE ROOM FOR CANTONESE  Like many Berkeleyans, you may have tumbled out of a movie at the California theater on Kittredge and sought good Chinese food next door at the Great China. Too often, those desires are frustrated by lack of space in the small restaurant. The restaurant suffered a serious fire in January and has not been open since. Now the Great China is hoping to reopen in the former Looney’s building on the corner of Oxford and Bancroft. The application for expansion of the existing building has been filed with ZAB and the restaurant says construction is under way with an expected opening date in spring 2013.

CHANGE ON DURANT  Pepe’s Pizza, which opened 18 months ago on a promise of cheap pizza for students, closed last month at 2516B Durant. But a little bit further up at 2550 Durant, U Cafe opened at the end of August, selling Asian pastries, coffee, smoothies and cake. U Cafe is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to midnight and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m.

Shop Talk is Berkeleyside’s 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.

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