Local business

Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

The Phoenix Pastificio, which has been selling its fresh pasta and baked goods at farmers markets for years, will again open a storefront, this time at Addison and Bonar streets. Photo: Phoenix Pastificio

PHOENIX PASTIFICIO Pasta company Phoenix Pastificio, which once occupied the space at 1788 Shattuck Ave. where Trattoria Corso is now, plans to take over the former Café Zeste storefront at 1250 Addison St. and reopen a retail space there. Phoenix Pastificio had been operating out of the Café Zeste kitchen space for about seven years, doing most of their sales at farmers markets across the East Bay. When the café closed at the beginning of this year, Phoenix owners Carole and Eric Sartenaer decided to occupy the remaining space. When they open the restaurant in mid-July, they’ll be offering Italian soul food, starting with soups, salads and pasta dishes before getting more ambitious with pizza and calzone, which they didn’t offer at their old Shattuck location. “We’re going to sort of ease into it,” Eric Sartenaer said. 

Sweet potato and black bean chili from SpoonRocket. Photo: SpoonRocket

SPOONROCKET After successfully launching fast-food favorites like Phở Me Now and Munchy Munchy Hippos under umbrella company LateNightOption.com, UC Berkeley graduates Anson Tsui and Steven Hsiao felt the need to bring a healthier delivery service to the Berkeley community. “We want to change the way people eat,” Tsui said. “Fast food shouldn’t be the only option that’s cheap and affordable and convenient.” So they’ve introduced SpoonRocket, a speedy mobile service that delivers healthy, gourmet meals made by executive chef David Cramer, who has led operations at multiple restaurants in Napa, including Jonesy’s and Bayleaf Restaurant. SpoonRocket offers a daily changing menu with just two options, one of which is always vegetarian or vegan. “We focus on making these two things really, really good,” Tsui said. “It’s really simple.” Eventually, the service will run on a membership system to help finance delivery operations, but for the next few weeks, customers can request a free lifetime membership on the SpoonRocket website. So far, the SpoonRocket team is living up to its promise of being fast and affordable — it delivers its $6 entrees in an average 8-9 minutes.

LEGION OF SUPERWINGS The owners of SpoonRocket also recently opened Legion of Superwings, a beer-and-wing joint at 1725 University Ave. with a menu that honors comic book classics. Currently open daily from 6-11 p.m. (though they hope to extend hours soon), the eatery offers eight varieties of chicken wings named after superheros — the Bumblebee, for example, is flavored with honey mustard, and the Sandman features their dry-rub seasoning. More daring customers can try the Incredible Hulk, which is coated in a green jalapeño-cream-cheese concoction.

Owner Marcia Walden has seven years of experience applying eyelash extensions. Photo: Magnolia Salon de Beauté

MAGNOLIA SALON DE BEAUTÉ A new salon specializing in facials, makeup and eyelash extensions will open in mid-July at 2001 Hopkins St., where Hopkins intersects Sutter Street at the entrance to the Solano Avenue tunnel. Owner Marcia Walden wants Magnolia Salon de Beauté to offer a relaxed atmosphere where clients “can come early and have a cup of tea or have a cup of coffee… and just enjoy the space.” Walden, who has worked in the salon business for more than 30 years, decided she wanted to open her own salon and was drawn to the newly remodeled building, which is owned by Tom Sawyer Software. She describes it a “lovely little space” with floor-to-ceiling windows. In addition to her years of experience with cosmetics and eyelash extensions, Walden is in the process of adding the art of natural perfume-making to her repertoire.

Small boba teas from Purple Kow. Photo: Purple Kow

PURPLE KOW The San Francisco boba tea favorite Purple Kow is expanding to 2164 Center St., the former home of La Cascada Taqueria, which closed in January. The café, which advertises itself as “a place for comfort,” sells milk tea and fruit tea to which customers can add mango, peach, lychee, classic boba beads or one of many other toppings. Snacks include sweet potato fries, fish balls and fried zucchini. Although Purple Kow originally planned to open its Center Street store in April — as noted on Bites in March — interior construction is still underway there, and San Francisco employees tell us the new location will likely open in early July.

The newly independent Bay Ink and Toner is across the street from Cancún Taqueria. Photo: Camille Baptista

BAY INK AND TONER As of June 1, what was formerly a branch of the Cartridge World franchise is now the independently owned Bay Ink and Toner, at 2161 Allston Way near Shattuck Avenue. In addition to recycling old cartridges, which customers can drop off at any time, the store offers a cartridge refilling service. Owner Ken Wong says this service does double duty by “saving our customers money and keeping the plastic and other materials out of the waste stream.” The store also runs fundraising programs with local schools and nonprofit organizations that help collect and recycle empty ink cartridges from the community.

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. Check out also our weekly Bites column which provides food news for the whole East Bay.

Camille Baptista is a summer intern at Berkeleyside. She studies creative writing and human rights at Barnard in New York City, where she writes for the Columbia Daily Spectator.

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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  • bingo

    Happy to hear about the Phoenix!

  • originalone

    Does anyone know when the Saver’s used clothing store is opening?

  • emraguso

    We can check — thanks!

  • emraguso

    I used to go to Phoenix when it was brick-and-mortar. I’ve continued to love the bakery’s awesome and unique macaroons since then, and look forward to seeing it return.

  • zaza1

    I saw that the Bread Workshop on University & Acton is closing on Friday. (It occupied the Cafe Zeste space before Cafe Zeste.) Any idea what happened?

  • meme

    Any idea what is going into the space on University/San Pablo with “Leased” in the window?

  • http://berkeleyside.com Tracey Taylor

    We understand a furniture company is moving in. But it’s top secret which one! We will keep asking and report more when we find out.