Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

The Institute of Mosaic Art has moved to 805 Allston Way from its original Oakland location. Photo: Institute of Mosaic Art

INSTITUTE OF MOSAIC ART After eight years at 3001 Chapman St. in southwest Oakland, the Institute of Mosaic Art has moved to Berkeley and will open July 6. Students Isle Cordoni and her daughter Sophia Cordoni recently purchased the organization from mosaic artist Laurel True, who founded it in 2005. The new Berkeley location, at 805 Allston Way between Fifth and Sixth streets, will provide more studio space and allow the new owners to offer a larger inventory of art supplies for sale. According to information released by the institute, it is the largest and oldest mosaic school in the United States.

GROCERY OUTLET Although its Berkeley store will stay where it is, the headquarters of Grocery Outlet will soon move from its space at 2001 Fourth St. in West Berkeley to a bigger location in Emeryville, at 5650 Hollis St. According to the San Francisco Business Times, the retailer has been growing in recent years and adding corporate jobs, and desperately needs more office space.

BREAD WORKSHOP After more than 20 years as an eco-friendly wholesale bakery and café, the Bread Workshop‘s retail space at 1398 University Ave. closed Sunday. Although he didn’t provide details about why he decided to close, owner Bill Briscoe wrote on his website recently that “all streaks come to an end.” Briscoe provided a bittersweet history of the bakery, which he founded with friend John Simmet in 1989 as a wholesale bakery focusing on “bread with a sustainable bend.” They started composting early on and used vegetable-made to-go containers and utensils, and barred ingredients like trans fats and high-fructose corn syrup from their kitchen. Eventually they opened the Bread Workshop Café alongside the bakery, serving soups, salads and sandwiches six days a week. “I intend to always keep my head in the sustainable game, even if my hands aren’t,” Briscoe wrote on the website. Although the café closed June 30, the Bread Workshop will continue producing bread for wholesale until July 15.

NATURAL GROCERY COMPANY Despite rumors that the Natural Grocery Company, at 1336 Gilman St., will close, general manager Bob Gerner has assured Berkeleyside that the neighborhood store is here to stay. Gerner, who has leased the space as Natural Foods for more than 40 years, said he recently renewed the lease and has no plans to move. In a comment on a Berkeleyside article earlier this month, Gerner wrote, “We are indeed a small employee owned neighborhood store and we intend to continue to be successful in this location.”

double dutcheryDOUBLE DUTCHERY A clever initiative born in Berkeley has blossomed into an online business, bringing clothing swaps into the 21st century. Double Dutchery is an online clothing exchange platform that allows parents to post photos of their kids’ outgrown clothing, shoes or sports gear and exchange those items for new ones using a point system. Co-founders and parents Robbie and Wendy Whiting said they hope to help families save money and at the same time do their part to help the environment, by reducing the 12 million tons of clothing sent to landfills annually, as cited on their website. Through July, new members can get six free points when they create an account on the website and then enter the code “julynewmembers” on this page.

BAR METHOD BERKELEY An extension of the Bar Method, an exercise center and formulated fitness routine started in Greenwich, Conn., opened in Berkeley on June 29. The new 2095 Rose St. studio, owned by Helen Liu, sits across the street from CVS Pharmacy in North Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto area and offers classes that focus on strengthening and elongating muscles using a method that founder Burr Leonard has been perfecting since 1991. The Bar Method Berkeley website is offering new clients a 30-day unlimited class package for $100. The studio also offers a low-cost childcare program during classes.

minuteman pressMINUTEMAN PRESS Minuteman Press, which operates in a warehouse at 1101 Fifth St., is bringing in new clientele and equipment thanks to a recent merger with Hunza Graphics and Anto Printing, both formerly of Oakland. Minuteman president and CEO Fred Fassett said in a press release that most of the staff from the three combining companies was retained, and that “many faces that Hunza and Anto customers are used to seeing are now welcomed as part of Minuteman Berkeley operation.” Minuteman supplies a number of local commercial and nonprofit businesses, including the city of Berkeley, the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra and departments at UC Berkeley.

heywood1ROSSMANN AND MOORE In search of lower rent and an easier commute, San Francisco water and land use law firm Rossmann and Moore is coming to Berkeley. The firm will move into the historic Heywood building at 2014 Shattuck Ave. between University Avenue and Addison Street on Tuesday, according to the Berkeley Daily Planet. Tony Rossman said the new location is ideal because the firm’s lawyers all live in the East Bay and will now be able to bike to work. The 1917 building, which houses Belli Osteria on the ground floor, was designed by James Placheck.

VITAL SYSTEMS Vital Systems, a “flexible purpose corporation” focused on growing regenerative communities and supporting local food and farming infrastructure, has opened new offices at 1600 Shattuck Ave. between Cedar and Lincoln streets. Founded in 2009, the company provides tools, including literature and multimedia resources, to support community projects and help promote healthy lifestyles and economies. According to its website, Vital Systems’ mission is to “facilitate and support our human family’s deep connection with all living systems.”


A1 SUN After starting operations in a single-car garage, family-owned solar installation company A1 Sun recently moved into a warehouse and office space at 1435 Fourth St. The business is 100 percent solar powered itself and installs both common forms of solar energy systems in residential and commercial locations: photovoltaic energy systems, which directly convert sunlight into energy, and solar thermal energy systems, which use mirrors to concentrate heat that can be stored in different mediums. A1 Sun is currently hiring for the positions of crew chief, senior installer and junior installer.

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.

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.

-By Camille Baptista