ACTUAL CAFÉ AND VICTORY BURGER: LAST DAY WILL BE DEC. 23 After seven years in North Oakland, both Actual Café and Victory Burger will close after service next Friday. Owner Sal Bednarz told Nosh in an email: “This was a sudden decision, but has been long in the making. We’ve been working hard to make adjustments to our business over the past 18 months, but have been losing money for too long, and can’t continue.” In a sign to be posted at the restaurants, Bednarz elaborated on the problems the businesses had been having. Like other East Bay restaurateurs, Bednarz had been struggling to hire and keep experienced workers. He cited issues of low unemployment, which makes it easier for workers to switch jobs, a high cost of living, and the “explosion of our restaurant industry and culture,” making good workers in very high demand. Bednarz also said that the shifting demographics of his neighborhood has made it “harder for us to get new customers.” He is currently looking for a buyer to take over the location, which houses both his café and burger restaurant, “as soon as possible.” In the meantime, Bednarz is working with his staff to help get them quickly resettled in a new job.
ALAMAR TO CLOSE, RE-OPEN AS QUICK-SERVICE RESTAURANT Starting next year, Uptown’s alaMar will change its concept. It will have a similar menu, including its popular “peel ‘n’ eat” shrimp and braised oxtail, but with a lower price point and counter service. AlaMar’s May German wrote in a press release that executive chef Nelson German will also add dishes such as oyster shooters, Cajun seafood boils and a poke bar to the menu. The impetus for the change is a familiar story: “Faced with unprecedented minimum wage hikes, slim profit margins and rising costs of running a full-service restaurant in Oakland, it became clear we had to change our concept and format in order for us to continue doing what we love without compromising quality or charging twice as much,” wrote May German in the press release. She added that these increased costs have made it even harder to afford the sustainable, organic and locally sourced ingredients that the kitchen wants to use. She listed myriad accolades the restaurant had received over the past two years, but noted that “at the end of the day, it did not make a notable difference. We sincerely hope that the City of Oakland will assess the true impact of local mandates and generate programs to help small businesses flourish in this City because we are hurting.” The last day for alaMar in its current incarnation will be Saturday. It will be throwing a party that evening with “insane food and drink specials all night.” The new menu and service will roll out, tentatively, on Dec. 31. alaMar is at 100 Grand Ave. (between Webster and Valdez Streets), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
GROCERY CAFÉ SHUT DOWN BY HEALTH DEPARTMENT, AT LEAST FOR NOW It’s a bad time for tea leaf salad lovers: East Oakland’s acclaimed Grocery Café is currently closed. The East Bay Express broke the news, reporting that the Alameda County health inspectors listed a long tally of violations (included inadequate dishwashing and hand washing stations) in their Nov. 10 visit to the restaurant, resulting in a shutdown. Grocery Café owner William Lue told EBX that he’s spent the last two weeks making the necessary changes. However, he also added that the inspector called later to tell Lue that he would need to have a second inspection from the city’s building department to make sure the restaurant is following all fire and electrical codes. Because Grocery Café is in such an old building, Lue is concerned that the costs associated with meeting those codes may be too high for him to handle, and therefore he may have to permanently close the Oakland location. He would, he said, look for a new location if necessary. We will keep you posted as we learn more. Grocery Café is at 2248 10th Ave. (at East 23rd Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.
BRAZIL CAFÉ EYES LE PETIT COCHON SPACE According to a recently posted ABC license application, a new location of Brazil Café is headed to what is currently Le Petit Cochon on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley. Attempts to reach Le Petit Cochon owners, Todd and Natalie Kniess, to ask about their plans, had proved unsuccessful by press time. The pair opened the French-style spot in 2013, intending for the restaurant to be an affordable, fast-casual version of their first restaurant, Bistro Liaison, which is just down the street. Menu items include charcuterie, cheeses, baguettes, soups, rotisserie chicken, tarte flambée, and specialty salads and sandwiches. If it closes, and Brazil Café opens up in that location, it will likely also be an affordable spot, but it will, we assume, have the same relaxed, Island-themed vibe as its University Avenue take-out shack, brick-and-mortar restaurant (also on University) and its truck at the Westbrae Biergarten. The restaurant is famed for its tri-tip sandwiches, salads and mango smoothies. Brazil Café will be at 1801 Shattuck Ave. #C (at Delaware Street), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.
NEW LONG LIFE VEGI HOUSE NOW OPEN In happier Berkeley news, the new location for Long Life Vegi House opened this week at 1725 University, the former commissary kitchen for food delivery company SpoonRocket. To celebrate its grand opening, the restaurant is giving a 10% discount on meals though Dec. 18. The long-running vegetarian Chinese restaurant had to vacate its original location at 2129 University because the block is slated to become the Acheson Commons complex. Construction on the complex is expected to begin early next year. Long Life Vegi House is at 1725 University (between McGee Avenue and Grant Street), Berkeley.
STARLINE SOCIAL CLUB’S OAKLAND TEA PARLOR The Oakland restaurant/music venue is adding tea service and a light lunch menu — the “Oakland Tea Parlor” — in partnership with West Oakland’s Steep Tea Company. Starline Social Club‘s chef Nate Berrigan-Dunlop, who joined the restaurant about six months ago, has developed the food menu, which includes dishes like shrimp cocktail, vegan butternut squash soup, scones and (of course) tea sandwiches, according to Eater. Starline is also showing old movies, such as Twin Peaks, at 12:30 p.m., and it is encouraging neighbors to come and work out of the cafe, free WiFi included. While the Tea Parlor was open for about a week this month, Starline has posted in Instagram that it is now postponing its daytime service until Jan. 2 because “we got holiday party madness up the wazoo (amongst other things).” Starline Social Club is at 2236 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way (at West Grand Avenue), Oakland. Connect with the club on Facebook and Instagram.
REVIVAL COFFEE BAR HAS OPENED The downtown Berkeley restaurant has now opened its coffee bar in the mornings and early afternoons Tuesdays through Fridays. While we originally reported that Revival would be partnering with Highwire Coffee Roasters, it is now working with Wrecking Ball Coffee and serving bold, rich coffees, plus creative twists on café beverages. One signature drink, The Goldfinch, is a spicy, soothing take on a pumpkin spice latte, made with kabocha squash, almond milk, and coconut milk. It’s both dairy- and caffeine-free, but you can add a shot of espresso to it if you need a boost. In addition to drinks, the coffee bar is serving sweet and savory scones, as well as cookies. The coffee window portion of the project has been delayed due to permitting, but it will open in January. Revival Bar and Kitchen is at 2120 Shattuck Ave (at Addison Street), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.
TIDBITS: SIEM REAP SANDWICH SHOP, JACK’S OYSTER BAR CLOSED After only a couple of months, the Cambodian-style banh mi restaurant has closed, according to a poster on Hungry Onion. Siem Reap received mostly positive reviews for its concise menu of sandwiches and salads, but commenters suggest that its prices were too high for the neighborhood. Also closed is Jack’s Oyster Bar in Jack London Square. According to the East Bay Express, it closed two weeks ago. There is a sign posted on the window reading: “It is with a tremendous amount of sadness and a tremendous amount of not wanting it to be true, that we realize our only course of action is to close Jack’s permanently.”
Dinners and events
SLOW CLUB TUESDAYS AT KRONNERBURGER Chef Chris Kronner’s eponymous burger restaurant will play host to Sante Salvoni, the former chef of San Francisco’s Slow Club, which closed last summer after 24 years in business. Kronner used to work with Salvoni at Slow Club, and as he writes on KronnerBurger‘s Facebook page, “we are excited to share some of the food and energy of the Slow Club with you … in our quest to be the perfect neighborhood restaurant.” The Slow Club events will take place during lunch and dinner Dec. 20 and 27, and menu items include dry-aged beef and pork meatball sandwiches, aged-beef bolognaise with fresh pasta, chickens slow-roasted over the grill, and Dungeness Crab with crab tomalley aioli. Special Italian wines will be on the drink menu, courtesy of Ordinaire, as well as Italian cocktail specials from bar manager Alexander Phillips. Reservations are recommended. KronnerBurger is at 4063 Piedmont Ave. (at 41st Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Connect with Tacos Oscar on Instagram and Twitter.
What else is going on…
ALAMEDA’S BARON’S MEATS EXPANDING TO SF The sustainable butcher shop Baron’s Quality Meats and Seafood has signed a lease at the former Drewes Meats in San Francisco’s Noe Valley, according to Eater. Baron’s opened its original location in the Alameda Marketplace in 2005. Owner David Samiljan named the shop after his great-grandfather’s Brooklyn butcher shop, and he offers humanely-raised meat in traditional and specialty cuts (like thick-cut cowboy steaks), as well as sausages and seafood. Samiljan has written on the shop’s Facebook page: “Just because we’re taking on another location doesn’t mean we’re ever going to leave the Marketplace! We’re gonna be in Alameda as long as you’ll have us.” Baron’s Quality Meats and Seafood is in The Alameda Marketplace at 1650 Park St. (at Buena Vista Avenue), Alameda. It will also be at 1706 Church St. (at 29th Street), San Francisco. Connect with the shop on Facebook.