Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

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Café La Rennaisance: recently opened at 3045 Shattuck Avenue in south Berkeley. Photo: Café La Rennaisance

CAFE LA RENAISSANCE Christina Sun, who owns 3045 Shattuck Ave., a building that has been a neighborhood flashpoint for years, has opened up a cozy cafe on the ground floor. Called Café La Renaissance (pictured top), the eatery two blocks south of Ashby Avenue opened its doors May 6 selling coffee and other beverages. Now it has introduced sandwiches, salads, pastries from The Bread Workshop, as well as gluten-free sandwiches from Sista Sandwich in Oakland. The interior is inviting, with couches, posters, a Renaissance-style oil painting, and a fireplace mantle. “Renaissance means rebirth,” said manager Dani Stewart. Sun “wanted to set up an environment where people could come and leave all their worries behind. It’s a play on words.” The building, once known as “the flying cottage,” was declared a public nuisance by the City Council in 2003. It was heavily damaged in a 2006 arson fire and then rebuilt. The hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

bazaarofindia2 (1)BAZAAR OF INDIA Bazaar of India has been a fixture at 1810 University Avenue since 1971. The store, owned by Kirpal and Neelan Khanna, was a destination for decades for Indians from throughout the Bay Area. They came to find Indian clothing, brass statues of Hindu gods, Indian music recordings, Hindu wedding altars, Ayurvedic herbs, and Indian food. In mid-April, after 42 years, Bazaar of India shut down and migrated to the web, according to Kirpal Khanna. He had sold the building and the new landlord had other plans for the space. So he moved some items next door to 1814 University (his son owns the space) and is selling at Bazaar of India and Indus Imports. “This way I don’t have to open the store at 10 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. at night,” said Khanna. “It gives me more freedom to do things I want to do.” Khanna, 78, came to Berkeley from India in 1961. “I worked very hard. We made good money. I love Berkeley,” he said.

SUMO GRUB Sumo Grub, known for its deep fried sumogrubIMG_0193pizza, Oreos and Twinkies, has shut its doors. The space at 2235 Miliva St., across the street from Berkeley High. had gotten too small, said owner Jason Sum, while the concept of his tempura battered deep-fried delicacies has grown. Sum  has spent a lot of time in the last three years showcasing his fried food on the Food Network, the Discovery Channel, and other travel channels. Sum said he shut the store because he wants a better location and is considering a number of possibilities — anywhere from San Leandro to Las Vegas. He also wants to take some time to focus on his other restaurant, The Berkeley Thai House on Channing near Telegraph.

themixphoto (5)THE MIX PLUS The Mix Plus has opened in Sumo Grub’s old location and it is firmly focused on the thousands of  students who spend their days across the street at Berkeley High. Pat Pham, who once waited tables at The Homemade Café, opened the new restaurant April 15 and said she is still changing up the menu to meet the needs of the students. The offerings are an eclectic mix of kids’ favorites: burgers, quesadillas, and Mexican food. There is a glass case at the front counter with quick grab-and-go items like bagels and candy. Pham’s daughter, Katherine, a freshman in Berkeley High’s IB program, came up with the restaurant name after a brainstorming session with friends. The Mix Plus is currently open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pham said she may open earlier when school resumes in the fall and serve coffee and breakfast pastries.

Screen-Shot-2013-05-09-at-5.54.41-PMNEXT DOOR RESTAURANT Next Door has now opened in the old Addie’s Pizza Pie location, at 3290 Adeline St. in Berkeley (as tipped by Nosh in March). Eater SF reports that the “menu has a little bit of everything,” from red curry tofu to fried chicken. See the full menu here. Chef Sharon Lorraine Anderson, formerly of The Purple Plum, is running the kitchen. Henry Alvarez, the controversial former head of San Francisco’s Housing Authority, and his wife Dionne Roberts, are the owners. Hours run from 5-10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, as well as Sunday; and 5-11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is closed Mondays. Breakfast is available Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Learn more at Next Door Berkeley.

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 our recently launched All the News grid.

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  • Bill N

    We have very fond memories of the Bazaar of India and the restaurant they had in the back on the second floor. We were such regulars that they spread a sheet for us so that the rice our daughter (now 25) spread around would be easy to clean up after. WE used to get Sandalwood soap there and other spices on occasion. They are really nice people.

  • Biker 94703

    The new Mediterranean place on Kittredge (next to Razan’s, the old Great Wall location) has opened. Haven’t tried it yet, but I’m a fan of Razan’s.

  • Japhy Writer

    It’s too bad they spell it “Mediterranian”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1391541743 Greg Merritt

    Renaissance….c’est pas un jeu de mot, c’est un mot….

  • curiousjorge

    Just like that. I was curious about both Cafe La Renaissance and the shuttering of Sumo Grub, and then there it is, instant gratification… you guys are relentless.

  • Frances Dinkelspiel

    We aim to please. ;) But seriously, we rely on tips from readers to help us keep on top of the news.

  • 4eenie

    Frances, any updates on the Berkeley Iceland building? I’d love to give a tip to what’s happening, but it doesn’t look like much at all is going on, even though past articles on Berkeleyside have quoted the owners as saying work was going to start this past Jan/Feb. It would be great to get an update. Thanks!

  • b-brahma

    Fairly tasty stuff. They make their own pita bread in-house, which, when warm, tastes a lot like English muffins. And now I’m hungry again.

  • curiousjorge

    seriously. also, a “vacant lot round-up” would be a great read – there’s dozens of vacant lots, including high profile lots like Ken Sarachan’s lot across from Amoeba, and low-profile lots like the ones within walking distance of my house ;) (one on San Pablo at Hearst, on one Sacramento and University, one on University between Sacramento and University…)

  • Biker 94703

    And how about an “urban blight / paint your damn rental property” wall of shame?