Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

NATURE’S EXPRESS CLOSING Nature’s Express at 1823 Solano is closing Dec 31 after four years on the Berkeley street. The healthy/vegan fast-food business failed, according to owner Carl Myers, who wrote a long note on the restaurant’s Facebook page. “When ventures fail, it comes down to leadership, so I am painfully aware that the failure has been mine,” he wrote. “I apologize to the employees who have put heart and soul into this venture and the customers who have supported us for our failure to serve them in the future.” Ironically, Myers also salutes McDonald’s who, he writes, “do a lot of things right,” including customer service, locations and advertising. Judging from the response from many loyal customers on Facebook, it will be missed. [Hat tip: Kenneth Goldberg]

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 2.09.37 PMDESTINATION 1440 OUT, FENTON MACLAREN IN Sporting goods store Destination 1440 has closed its shop at 1440 San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley. It’s hoping to open again soon “around Berkeley.” Meantime it has been holding sales at its Oakland warehouse. (Bookmark the Facebook page to find out where it pops up.) Moving straight into the San Pablo space (between Jones and Page) is furniture store Fenton MacLaren, which has relocated from College Avenue in Rockridge. The new store is “much larger, has free parking and offers an expanded furniture selection,” according to Fenton MacLaren’s website.

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 1.53.38 PMFLAVOR CLOSED Flavor Mediterranean Food has closed its take-out restaurant in Gourmet Ghetto’s Epicurious Gardens at 1511 Shattuck Ave. The turnaround at this particular spot seems to be pretty regular, as Flavor only took over the space from the shuttered Picoso Taqueria this summer. However, Flavor’s owner and chef Ezra Malmuth says the closure is temporary as the business is relocating to be able to offer “a one-of-a-kind sit-down dining experience.” We will keep you posted on where that turns to be so you can once again enjoy Flavor’s famous cauliflower salad with date syrup, tahini and mint.

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 2.00.13 PMANTON SALON Anton Salon has opened a hairdressing shop in the long vacant former mobile phone store at 2887 College Ave. (at Russell) in the Elmwood. Reports on Yelp of stylist Joe Escobedo who has set up shop there are so far uniformly positive — and it’s certainly good to see one more empty retail storefront bite the dust.

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 2.43.53 PMFOUR ARTISTS POP-UP SHOP  Staying in the Elmwood, jeweler Lynne Belmont is bringing her “Four Amazing Artists Pop-Up Shop” back to the neighborhood for the holiday season, after it made its debut there last year. The location has changed: This year the pop-up, which will feature works for sale by four artists and opens Tuesday evening, Dec. 17 — will be at 2631 Ashby Ave., two doors west of Dream Fluff Donuts.

Shop Talk is our regular column in which we post updates on Berkeley businesses. 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, and check out Bites for the latest East Bay restaurant news.

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  • Rachel Anderson

    Darn it. I am going to miss that Nature’s Express Avo Quinoa salad.

  • Hyper_lexic

    I know – we’re not vegan but we really enjoyed Nature’s Express. Too bad – it seemed quite busy!

  • batardo

    Don’t fret, you can get a bale of hay down at Golden Gate Fields. Just go around to the back parking lot and the guy sells them off the truck.

    baaaaahhh baaaahhh

  • batardo

    I wonder about Epicurous Garden, who’s making money aside from the landlord? If you aren’t willing to push super high margins like Soop and Kirala, your business model isn’t going to work there.

    Picoso used to make an awesome broth with chicken, tortilla and avocado, but they couldn’t put it on the menu because Soop had a lock on soups and bitched to the landlord. But when Soop started selling beans and rice, pozole, etc. Picoso didn’t have any standing to tell them to cut it out. Not sure why the pecking order, but Soop seems to have an inside connection.

  • guest

    I really enjoyed several delicious lunches at Nature’s Express. I am going to miss those Reubens.

  • batardo

    WTF is a vegan reuben!? Swap out the corned beef and cheese for some kind of TVP or processed soy-based latex junk?

    Sometimes people who don’t eat meat seem to be hung up on meat-like things, like it’s the only food vocabulary they know. I like meat, like to hunt, but grew up as the only omnivore in a family of five. Vegan dogma doesn’t work for me, but I’m down with eating meat nor not eating meat. Either way you swing though, you should enjoy your food for what it really is.

    Now excuse me while I go cook dinner — we’re having faux vegan tofu casserole tonight. I made it myself out of ground veal, a little bit of bacon fat and egg for flavor and texture. Ya I know that’s silly, but if I called it what it is my wife wouldn’t eat it even though she says it’s delicious.

  • Adrian Reynolds

    I agree with everything. Ironic that some vegan food tries to mimic meat flavors.

  • Sue tomasello

    Ha! You have clearly never been to Nature’s Express. Try it, you’ll like it!