OXTAIL STUDIO & GALLERY South Berkeley’s Oxtail Studio & Gallery has been open now for a few months, but not yet reported here. Reader Catherine Sands alerted us to the locally owned art shop and studio space that focuses on promoting Bay Area makers. Sands describes it as “delightful.” You’ll find prints, jewelry and ceramics there, as well as greeting cards, textiles, original artwork and other handmade goods, all of which are independently produced. Oxtail is owned by siblings Kingston and Serena Lim, who were born and raised in Berkeley, and UC Berkeley grad Jessie Zechnowitz. Oxtail also offers studio-residency opportunities for those looking to produce and sell their work in one place. Writing on Oxtail’s website, the owners say: “We enjoy a diversity of styles – from playful line drawings to elegant oil paintings, and rusty garden sculpture to hand-sewn bags. We love to see raw, rustic naturalism beside by bold, simple color and design.” As for why they chose the name “Oxtail,” the Lim siblings say it came from the wholesome soul food that they enjoyed as youngsters, specifically oxtail stew. Oxtail Studio is at 2976 Adeline St. at Ashby in Berkeley. Visit its website, and connect with Oxtail on Facebook.
SMOKE’S POUTINERIE Southside Berkeley will soon be home to the first U.S. location of Smoke’s Poutinerie, a Canadian chain specializing in poutine, a Canadian favorite that originated in Quebec: French fries covered with gravy and/or meat or other toppings (pictured above). Reader David Yee tells us he stopped by the spot on Durant Avenue that used to house Manhattan Roast & Grill before it shuttered, and chatted with the owners of the forthcoming Smoke’s Poutinerie, which has hundreds of stores in its native land. Writing on its website, Smoke’s Poutinerie says it is the way it combines its fries, seasonings, gravy, curds and toppings that makes its poutine so good. As the business puts it: “Whether your preference is beef, chicken, veggies, pork or simply just a different type of sauce, Smoke’s Poutinerie has the recipe for you. Choose from over 30 core Poutine menu items or create your own.” Smoke’s Poutinerie will be at 2518-A Durant Ave. (just east of Telegraph). Visit its website, and connect on Facebook.
HEAVENLY COUTURE Discount women’s clothing store Heavenly Couture has opened a branch on Telegraph Avenue. The store says it specializes in clothing, accessories and shoes “which are all nothing but divine.” Translated, that means the store sells new clothes but marked down to fixed prices: $16 for most and $22.99 for premium brands. The business says it can offer the low prices because it buys “tens of thousands” of units across many stores to pass the savings directly to customers. The store is currently running a “back to school” $10 off every $100 spent offer. Heavenly Couture is at 2315 Telegraph Ave. (between Bancroft Way and Durant.) Visit its website and connect on Facebook.
FRANCESCA’S We hear from the Telegraph Berkeley Business Improvement District that Francesca’s clothing boutique has opened on Bancroft Way. The first Francesca’s boutique opened in 1999 in Houston, Texas, and the chain now has over 450 boutiques in 45 states across the country. The business describes its stores as being “filled with a winsome collection of hand-picked merchandise which women everywhere instantly fall in love with.” Francesca’s is at 2546 Bancroft Way (between Telegraph and Bowditch). Visit its website and connect on Facebook.
ROAD RUNNER SPORTS Road Runner Sports at 1326 10th St. is hosting its grand opening celebration Sept. 12-14, at its new store in West Berkeley. Road Runner is a family-run chain with nearly 40 outlets. Mike Gotfredson, the founder, started the athletic shoe distribution company out of a garage in Del Mar near San Diego in 1983, but didn’t open his first retail store until 2008. The chain prides itself on fitting shoes perfectly to runners and other athletes with its “Shoe Dog,” state-of-the-art running analysis center. The new Berkeley store introduced a particularly colorful decor and is organizing a lot of community events, such as nutrition classes and Chi running groups. Road Runner is one of several new stores to open in the new Gilman shopping district. Others include Philz Coffee, Soccer Pro, Doughnut Dolly and the forthcoming Farm Burger. The area is undergoing a commercial revival spearheaded by the decision by Whole Foods to open a store nearby. Read more about the Gilman renaissance. Road Runner Sports is at 1326 10th St. (at Gilman). Visit its website, and connect on Facebook.
ELE THAI Just across the Berkeley border, Kensington has welcomed a new Thai café in the location where Sugar Cone Café used to be (as reported by Nosh on Bites last week). Ele Thai is offering Thai bites, coffee and tea for those in a hurry, as well as customers who want to relax over a cup of coffee. The owners describe the restaurant as casual, healthy and friendly, and said their goal is to create a community space that’s comfortable for visitors. Ele Thai is located at 303 Arlington Ave. in Kensington. It’s open from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
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.