Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

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SliderBar opens today at 2124 Center St. in downtown Berkeley. Photo: SliderBar

SLIDERBAR Today is the opening day for SliderBar, Berkeley’s newest location for tiny, juicy hamburgers (tipped by us earlier this month). The restaurant, at 2124 Center St., between Oxford and Shattuck, is in the former location of the Green Earth Café, and just steps away from Cal. Co-owner Ashwani Dhawan is a Silicon Valley hi-tech entrepreneur who has already created two other SliderBar locations and has plans to open two more in the coming months. To celebrate the opening, Dhawan will give away 1,000 free sliders on Sat. Aug. 24. The menu includes The Old Timer (Niman Ranch beef, gem lettuce, tomatoes, pickled onions, house made pickles, and secret sauce), the Three Alarm (Niman Ranch beef patty, cheddar cheese, habanero pepper jam, sliced serrano chilis, pickled jalapeños), and the Magic Mushroom (balsamic-marinated portobellos, onion rings, pickled onions, Swiss cheese, and arugula). SliderBar will also serve the Red and Gold, which is a concoction of corned beef brisket, sweet red pepper sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and a secret sauce. It’s not named after Cal’s nemesis, Stanford, but the San Francisco 49ers.

rangoonRANGOON SUPER STARS  It looks like the “cursed” location of many a restaurant — 2826 Telegraph Ave. near Oregon — is about to get another eatery. U Win Aye, the former chef at Burma Superstar in Oakland and Rangoon Ruby in Palo Alto, will open a Burmese restaurant, Rangoon Super Stars, on Sept. 5 at 5 p.m. “Rangoon Super Stars brings Asian infusion to the great city of Berkeley,” reads a statement on the restaurant website. “With our unique twist on Chinese, Indian, and Thai foods you are sure to find a dish that you love.” Let’s hope he has better success at the site than Origen, Locanda da Eva, Maritime East, Zax Tavern, and Mazzini’s, all of which have come and gone there.

berkeleyrughouseront-store BERKELEY RUG HOUSE  Mohammad Banie is a third-generation rug expert specializing in Oriental carpets. On Aug. 13, after recovering from a long illness that had forced him to leave his Abraham Rug Gallery in Mill Valley, he opened Berkeley Rug House at 2175 Allston Way near Oxford. With four decades of experience, Banie and his craftsmen can repair, restore, and clean expensive Oriental carpets. Banie also purchases old rugs and sells rugs in the store.

Himalayan-FlavorsWEBPOETRY EXPRESS  Every Monday night for the past 11 years, poets and literature aficionados have gathered at Priya restaurant on San Pablo Avenue to listen to two hours of poetry and short literature. Poetry Express has now moved into a new location at Himalayan Flavors, 1585 University Ave. near California. “The new location allows poets to use a microphone, have musical accompaniment, and free parking in the adjacent lot,” writes Bruce Bagnell, who serves as one of the hosts. There is usually open mic for 20 minutes before and after a featured reader. The theme for Aug. 26 is childhood. Adam Cornfeld will read on Sept. 9.

BRAZIL CAFE  Brazil Café will open its latest outpost on University Avenue on Saturday. The popular eatery, which has a food shack on upper University Avenue and a hole-in-the-wall storefront on Shattuck Avenue, is taking over the space previously occupied by Peruvian rotisserie Brasa, which closed its doors at 1960 University Ave. Permitting delays have pushed back their opening date several times (fancy that!).

BernalCASA BERNAL Mexican taqueria Casa Bernal at 2122 Shattuck Ave. in downtown Berkeley has closed its doors. As tipped in June, it will be replaced by a branch of Seasons of Japan, a chain of traditional Japanese and sushi restaurants that currently operate mainly in the South, although they also have an opening slated for Irvine, Calif. The restaurant’s website describes its offering as “genuine Japanese and all Hibachi styles cuisines that are cooked to order.”

Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 1.44.10 PMGILMAN BIERGARTEN Ever since we revealed plans, back in April, for a German-style beer garden and outdoor dining space planned for the space next to the Westbrae Nursery on Gilman Street, readers have been getting in touch, eager for updates. Dietmar Lorenz of DSA Architects who are working on the project with owners Linda and Carl Lasagna, tells us that, although they are still in the permit process, opening day is getting close. Permits should be issued by the end of this month, he estimates, and then they will need a couple of months to put in infrastructure and improvement. “The end of October is a realistic target at this point,” he said. “Luckily, late fall is the true summer in the Bay Area. Great to hear that folks keep inquiring; we keep receiving positive feedback and encouragement as well!”  The plan is for 3,400 square feet of outdoor dining space with picnic-style seating– not unlike the Hayes Valley Biergarten on Octavia Street in San Francisco. Brazil Café is a strong contender to be one of the food vendors. (View the application to Berkeley’s planning department.)

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

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  • Alina

    Thanks for the updates on the Biergarten. I’m looking forward to it!
    And fyi – Off the Grid will be back on Telegraph starting next Monday 8/26 and every Monday after that. 5-9pm.

  • Speaking of permitting delays, just went to El Burro Picante today after reading about it in last week’s Shop Talk, and I found this note on the door:

    “The city of Berkeley faulted on my business license processing and has now shut me down for the mistake that THEY made. I am doing my best to reopen ASAP. Thank you for your support and understanding!”

  • Alina


  • Chris J

    Stupid bureaucrats. They are the same everywhere.

  • jth

    Stanford’s colors are “Cardinal” and white, not gold. Go Bears!

  • just a thought

    Just curious, does BerkeleySide just take naive owners’ wild guestimates about when they will be open at face value? Cuz, at least recently, the batting average seems to be about .100 on even remotely getting the dates right. I know that permitting and community complaints can really hold up a plan in this town, but then again, doesn’t everyone know that, including the BerkeleySide editors? Don’t get me wrong, I love the updates and scoops on new places, but perhaps you would consider infusing a little healthy skepticism and your own judgement and experience on these things when reporting on planned opening dates in the future? Some places open exactly when they say they will. And you know what, those are usually the ones that have opened restaurants before. ;-)

  • Out: Vinnie’s Cheesesteaks, Euclid and Hearst
    In: D’Yar Mediterranean Cuisine

  • Charles_Siegel

    I think Brazil Cafe is moving from its current location on Shattuck to this new location on University. It will still have two locations, not three.

    The stores in that building are gradually moving to get out of the way of Acheson Commons.

    For the same reason, Krishna Copies is moving from its current location on University east of Shattuck to a new location on University and Milvia.

  • What do you want us to say?”Jo Bloggs says he plans to open on July 10 (but keep dreaming, we know that’s never going to happen!)” We can only report what owners say they are planning and then update readers if it doesn’t.

  • David D.

    I think this a good demonstration of how poor the city’s permitting process is. It’s as if Berkeley does NOT want any new or improved businesses opening up in town. I guess that’s why so much of the good stuff opens in Oakland these days. Oakland is business friendly; Berkeley isn’t. I don’t fault the owners for having realistic expectations.

  • Jacob Lynn

    I discovered Casa Bernal’s fantastic fried fish tacos just a couple of months ago — it’s too bad that they’re shutting down.