Rasputin to sell organic ice cream on Telegraph

A photo presented to the City Council on Tuesday night shows Rasputin's Dream ice cream for sale in San Francisco. Photo: Emilie

A photo presented Tuesday night shows Rasputin’s Dream ice cream already for sale in San Francisco. Photo: Rasputin Music

Rasputin Music on Telegraph Avenue won a permit to serve ice cream, but not out of a take-out window on Channing Way, the Berkeley City Council ruled Tuesday night.

Popular ice cream sandwich spot C.R.E.A.M., which stands for Cookies Rule Everything Around Me — in reference to the 1993 Wu-Tang Clan song “Cash Rules Everything Around Me” — had appealed the permit request by Rasputin owner Ken Sarachan, citing concerns about disabled access on the sidewalk and potential traffic violations at a red curb should the take-out window open. Cookies Rule is located across the street from the proposed window at Rasputin.

Many of the council members said they too were concerned about access and traffic issues, and voted to allow Sarachan to sell his ice cream from inside the shop rather than via a window.

C.R.E.A.M. co-owner Gus Shamieh said after Tuesday night’s meeting that he was satisfied with the council’s decision. Shamieh had stressed in his presentation that the appeal was not about competition but was focused on traffic and access issues. The business didn’t argue when another frozen treat spot opened nearby, he added.

“Our concerns were addressed by the council,” he said. “We’re happy with that.”

Ken Sarachan said he still plans to sell ice cream at Rasputin, even without the take-out window, though he called it “half a victory.” He said the council’s concerns about access due to the proposed window were “a made-up problem,” and pointed to a take-out window already in existence at Yogurt Park nearby on Durant Avenue that doesn’t result in sidewalk blockage.

“The window just means we could serve people more efficiently, twice as fast,” he said after the meeting. “It’s all a bunch of nonsense. People get by at C.R.E.A.M. People get by at Cheese Board. People in Berkeley know how to line up and get out of the way. It’s a made-up ‘straw dog’ dilemma.”

Ken Sarachan (left) and Gus Shamieh (right) wait to speak before the City Council. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Ken Sarachan (left) and Gus Shamieh (right) wait to speak before the City Council. Photo: Emilie Raguso

In response to concerns about the similarity of the name chosen by Sarachan for his ice cream business, Rasputin’s Dream, in comparison to C.R.E.A.M. across the street, a manager at the Rasputin store in San Francisco told the council that Sarachan has already been selling ice cream under that moniker in the city for a year and a half.

Sarachan, in his remarks to the council, said the name came to him in a lucid dream.

“I was at Rasputin in Red Square, and all the buildings were edible,” he said. “I was eating chocolate cake off the Kremlin, and St. Basil’s [Cathedral] was melting.” (The Rasputin’s Dream logo, pictured above, features St. Basil’s prominently.)

He said Cookies Rule had no exclusive rights to the generic word “cream,” which is already part of “ice cream,” and appears in the name of many frozen treat spots. And Dream ice cream, he said, would take that one step further: “Rhyme is not a crime. That’s my point.”

Ray Lai of Atomic Ice Cream is already working with Sarachan to create the Dream product line. Sarachan said he’s been trying to open in Berkeley since August.

Sarachan stressed that he didn’t think his business would pose much competition to C.R.E.A.M., but would instead likely capture people who aren’t coming to the avenue or aren’t willing to wait in a long line for ice cream. He also said his product would be different, with ice cream made from berries and stone fruit grown at his organic farm in Fairfield, and low-glycemic cookies made with less sugar.

A long line of supporters for both ice cream endeavors waits to speak before the council. Photo: Emilie Raguso

A long line of supporters for both ice cream endeavors waits to speak before the council. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Numerous people spoke before the council in support of both ice cream endeavors. Many from the C.R.E.A.M. camp said it is a family-run business that treats its employees like family, and deserved council support due to its popularity and active approach to community engagement. Those who spoke in favor of Rasputin’s plans said that business has been an important part of the neighborhood’s history, and also puts a premium on a family-like atmosphere, as well as supporting independent music.

Sarachan’s wife, Laurie Brown, said Tuesday night that Ken launched Rasputin on Telegraph in the 70s when there were five music stores on the avenue.

“I asked him, wasn’t he afraid of all the competition?” she told the council. “He looked at me with incredulity and said, ‘That’s what’s called a regional draw. That’s what makes a neighborhood thrive.'”

Cream vs. Dream: Telegraph Ave. ice cream face-off (05.22.13)
The food lines of Berkeley: Nosh worth waiting for (07.09.12)
Top food stories from Berkeley in 2011 (12.30.11)
Where’s the best ice cream in Berkeley? You tell us (07.21.11)
Lush Gelato in, Ciao Bella out in Epicurious Garden (04.15.10)

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  • Charles_Siegel

    Though some people don’t agree, I actually think Sarachan is finally moving seriously to develop the property. He submitted a complete proposal for what I consider a good design by an excellent architect who has designed many other projects in Berkeley (Kirk Peterson). He also put up a sign in the vacant lot asking Tom Bates to help move the project along.

    Apparently, one reason for continuing delay is:
    “Before the 2501 Haste Street lot can be developed a solution needs to be
    found for removing the 1870s Victorian Woolley House which is on the
    property, and also owned by Sarachan.”


  • The_Sharkey

    What a uselessly vague comment.

  • The_Sharkey

    The properties in question are a block from two of Sarachan’s other businesses.
    The area was in much better condition when Sarachan bought the empty lot that he’s refused to develop.
    I’ve never been a fan of what the city and University have allowed to happen on Telegraph, but pretending that Sarachan’s refusal to develop the properties he buys in that area seems pretty stupid to me. His real estate plays have contributed to the blight in that area significantly.

  • guest

    It’s the witches that have been hunting us, for too long. Along with their little warlock offspring pawing and snarling for spare change and crapping in the street.

  • guest

    The Grinch steal didn’t our Christmas, we did. Face it, Telegraph is the final exam for Berkeley’s social policies. We got an “F” and “F”‘ed ourselves at the same time…Woo Hoo!!!

  • guest

    Per Charles…”Many of your points might be correct, even though they are ideologically motivated”[!?]

    How gracious of you to recognize the presence of ideology in forming our world views. And in Berkeley of all places!

    IF the Cody’s site is developed, it’s because a) Sarachan has decided the time is right (we’ve hit the nadir in enabling street suicide) and b) HE can dictate the terms, not the wee folks posting on Bside or filling up the council chambers.

    You can bet the same holds true for the rest of the properties.

  • guest

    “…he is singlehandedly trying to destroy what used to be one of the major business districts in the city…”

    In response to a delusional hysterical remark…they’re a matching pair!

  • Charles_Siegel
  • PragmaticProgressive


    A question for you having nothing to do with this thread: if it were up to you, what course would Berkeley architecture / city planning take? Is there a city that already embodies enough of your vision that one could view photos and get a feel for your desired end state? Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Thanks for asking. In general, I believe in traditional urban design (like many New Urbanists). I would like to see:

    — areas around major transit nodes developed to look like traditional European cities, which would involve filling in empty spaces (surface parking lots and drive-ins) and underused sites (one-story buildings) with four- to six-story buildings in traditional architectural styles that harmonize with their context. Acheson Commons is a perfect example in Berkeley. Any traditional European city would give a feel for my desired end.

    — areas on major arterial streets developed to look like traditional American Main-Street style shopping streets, which involves filling in empty and underused sites in much the same way, but with maybe a five-story height limit. Any traditional urban shopping street in an American neighborhood built around the end of the nineteenth century would give a feel for my desired end.

    — streets rebuilt so they work for pedestrians and bicyclists as well as for cars. The change approved for Hearst is a good example.

    I support a version of smart growth that is different from the most popular version. It is based on the idea that the traditional urban fabric was destroyed during the twentieth century by modernist urbanism and architecture, and that smart growth should be designed to restore this traditional fabric.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    Thank you. This does sound very appealing.

  • The_Sharkey

    Too busy trolling to notice a jocular tone, I take it.

    Ah well, I suppose even the devil deserves a defense.

  • guest

    It must be tiring, believing you bear the burden of truth all the time.

  • guest

    You are the future, and others like you will be the saviors of Berkeley. Someday soon all the causes Berkeley has chased will be lost or won, and we shall concentrate on being a city that fulfills it’s responsibilities to its citizens. Bless you for the comment!

  • Beth

    A witchguest hunt?

  • The_Sharkey


  • guest

    From below…”Telegraph is the final exam for Berkeley’s social policies. We got an “F”…”

    How is that not true?

    We’ve had decades of progressive leadership – from Worthington and the Council. There’s been millions in public funding spent on schemes devised by our leaders to relieve the situation.

    Yet the park remains. Drugs are dealt openly. Predatory beggars harass us without penalty. Muggings and beat downs are commonplace.

    All this pain suffered, all this opportunity and money wasted: Why?

    Surely some one has an opinion.

  • Bill Bartell

    Blame Sarachen or not, the city has overseen the incredible decline of a once vibrant destination. I noticed the throngs of tourists on San Francisco this past week & was remembering when they all used to come to Telegraph. The city has allowed this selfish real estate king to do as he pleases with them, and US…