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Comal owners settle suit over Elmwood restaurant

An early rendering of a new restaurant prosed for Ashby Avenue
An early rendering of the new restaurant which will open at  2635 Ashby Ave. in 2015. Image: Abueg Morris Architects

lawsuit brought against the City of Berkeley and the owners of Comal restaurant, who plan to open a new restaurant at 2635 Ashby Ave. in the Elmwood neighborhood, has been settled.

A group called the Elmwood Neighborhood Assocation (ENA), concerned that a new upscale restaurant in the area would make traffic and parking unbearable filed a lawsuit in April. This followed a protracted approval process for the restaurant, including a previous appeal.

According to the terms of the settlement, the city has agreed to compile a report on parking in the neighborhood within 12 months of the August settlement — parking difficulties was one of the key issues raised in the suit — and  the restaurant owners will take steps both to advise customers on where to park, and to manage their alcohol consumption. They will close the restaurant to new customers at 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and agreed to pay $5,000 in attorney’s fees to Stuart Flashman, who represented ENA.

John Paluska, owner with Andrew Hoffman of Comal, said he hopes to start the build-out of the new restaurant, which is likely to serve Northern Californian cuisine and will have a full bar serving craft cocktails, early next year, and be open by the summer of 2015.


Comal's owners are planning to open a new restaurant at 2635 Ashby, but may be delayed by a lawsuit. Photo: Google StreetView
Comal’s owners will open at 2635 Ashby. Photo: Google StreetView

The restaurant will be designed by Berkeley firm Abueg Morris Architects, who worked on Comal, and whose recent projects include Verbena, the San Francisco restaurant opened by the owners of Berkeley’s Gather restaurant.

Flashman said he hoped that the parking study the city has committed to would lead to action being taken down the line. He said the problems will not solely be caused by a new restaurant, although that would exacerbate the lack of spaces for drivers. “It’s a hardship for people who live very near College,” he said.

Flashman said the restaurant had agreed to an alcohol management plan which would include ensuring bartenders were trained to recognize customers who had drunk too much, and they would not serve double shots. He said members of the ENA group had agreed not to challenge the restaurant’s application for an ABC license.

Asked to expand on what the new restaurant will be like, Paluska said it was too early to say. “It’s a wet ball of clay still,” he said.

Related:
Op-ed: Berkeley restaurant has been approved — let it open (07.17.14)
Lawsuit filed to stop Comal owners’ new Berkeley restaurant (06.11.14)
Comal owners get okay for new Berkeley restaurant (03.26.14)
Comal owners get go-ahead for new Elmwood restaurant (12.13.13)
Comal owners plan to open new restaurant in Berkeley (06.25.13)
New Elmwood restaurant seeks city approval tonight (12.12.13)
Nosh Talk: Comal chef Matt Gandin (11.14.12)
Bauer waxes lyrical about Comal: A magnificent package (07.16.13)
Comal: New restaurant takes a bet on downtown Berkeley (04.30.12)


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