Bites: Free Grand Lake Kitchen burger, Augie’s Montreal Deli update

Make a blood donation, get a free burger from Grand Lake Kitchen on Thursday. Photo: Grand Lake Kitchen/Facebook

THERE WILL BE BLOOD Oakland’s Grand Lake Kitchen has given new meaning to a “bloody burger.” For the second year, the restaurant is a hosting a biannual blood drive. Community-based nonprofit Blood Centers of the Pacific will park its bloodmobile outside the restaurant from 3-7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 25, for prospective donors to give blood. All donors will get a free Grand Lake Kitchen burger as a thank you.

Grand Lake Kitchen owner May Seto told Nosh, “We started this particular event because there’s so much going on in the world. We want to do our part to help be prepared on a community level. Besides disasters, [on a daily level] there are patients whose survival relies on these donations. Hosting a blood drive is actually very easy for us to do.”

Appointments for Thursday’s drive have already been filled, but the bloodmobile will take walk-ins as possible. And if you miss out this time, the next Burger for Your Blood Drive will happen Aug. 9. Grand Lake Kitchen, 576 Grand Ave. (between MacArthur Boulevard and Euclid Avenue), Oakland.

GOOD FOOD, EAST BAY Good Food Awards just announced its 2018 winners. The annual honor recognizes American craft food and drink producers that “demonstrate a commitment to creating tasty, authentic and responsibly made products.” This year, Good Food chose 199 winners in 15 categories. Several of these makers are based in the East Bay. Let’s give it up for Drake’s Brewing Company in San Leandro (Beer), Far West Cider in Richmond (Cider), Yumé Boshi (Elixirs, Preserves), Akka’s Handcrafted Foods in Fremont (Pantry), Tsar Nicoulai Caviar in Concord (Fish) and Fra’Mani Handcrafted Foods in Berkeley (Charcuterie).


A MATCH(A) MADE IN HEAVEN Late last year, Taiwanese shaved ice and dessert spot Vampire Penguin left the space on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley it shared with Uji Time, an Asian ice cream shop that’s best known for its “soft cream” in Instagram-worthy fish-shaped taiyaki cones. But recently, a new partner has filled the vacancy.

Uji Time announced on Facebook that Chatte, a new drink and pastry shop specializing in matcha products opened inside the Berkeley location (Uji Time also has a shop in San Francisco’s Japan Town). Chatte offers drinks made with ceremonial grade matcha powder from Japan, including matcha shots, lattes, smoothies and floats. It also serves desserts like tiramisu, cheesecakes, egg waffles and jelly cups flavored with the potent green tea powder. Chatte and Uji Time, 2575 Telegraph Ave. (between Parker and Blake), Berkeley

GILMAN, ONE YEAR ON TAP This Saturday, Jan. 27, Gilman Brewing commemorates its taproom’s one-year anniversary. To celebrate, it’ll throw an all-day party with games, photo ops, a charity raffle and the release of a very special brew: its bourbon barrel-aged Russian imperial stout. The fun takes place from noon to 11 p.m. Gilman Brewing Company, 912 Gilman St. (between 7th and 8th), Berkeley.

IN THE (ELM)WOOD Earlier this month, Nosh reported that Cugini Manzone quietly closed shop in the Elmwood, and we heard rumors that another Italian spot was opening in its place. A sign in the window confirms that a new business, In the Wood, will occupy the space. Although it will serve pizza as did Cugini Manzone, In the Wood is not calling itself Italian. Rather, this “wood-fire gastro pub” will also offer small and large plates featuring locally sourced meats, fish and produce, along with vegan and gluten-free options and beer, wine and cocktails to drink. In the Wood hopes to open in February. In the Wood will be at 2930 College Ave. (near Russell), Berkeley

The Classic Italian sandwich at Stay Gold Deli in West Oakland. Photo: Stay Gold/Facebook

STAY GOLD, TEMESCAL In December, Sacred Wheel Cheese Shop closed after seven years on Shattuck Avenue, and there was concern that the spot would stay vacant for a while, as Nosh heard from its former owner, there are $50,000 worth of structural repairs needed on the space. However, The San Francisco Chronicle reported last week that West Oakland’s Stay Gold Deli will be taking over, opening a second location here. Stay Gold is a hybrid “Italian-American deli counter, Central Texas BBQ spot, grocer, restaurant, coffee shop, market, arcade and beer garden,” with a twinge of punk-rock aesthetic, which makes sense, as owner Jason Herbers once owned punk dive bar, Eli’s Mile High Club. Herbers told The Chronicle that he hopes Stay Gold will fill the void left when Genova Deli, once located in the strip mall just across the street from his new location, closed two years ago. The new Stay Gold will offer many of the same menu items as the original location, plus some exclusive new additions. If all goes as planned, Stay Gold will open on Feb. 15 in Temescal. Stay Gold Deli, will be at 4935 Shattuck Ave. (at 51st), Oakland

MORE DELI LOVE Speaking of delis, Augie’s Montreal Deli has finally announced an opening date for its Berkeley brick-and-mortar location. As Nosh reported in December, Augie’s was in the last phases of construction of its fast-casual Montreal-style Jewish deli — a sit-down restaurant, which will also have a large deli case for food to-go. This week, Augie’s announced its Grand Opening will be on Valentine’s Day. Augie’s will open with a full spread of Montreal-style smoked meats (including a version made with smoked turkey), latkes, matzo ball chicken soup, three versions of poutine and more. Augie’s Montreal Deli, 875 Potter St. (near 7th St.) Berkeley

DOWNTOWN OAKLAND GETS MORE MODERN Earlier this month, Modern Coffee announced it was opening a third location in Downtown Oakland. Modern first opened at the Tribune Building (411 13th St.) back in 2009, when the area was still recovering from the recession. Co-owner Martina Nemling told Nosh, “There were a lot of empty store fronts and a dearth of quality coffee or food options. We were one of the first [coffee shops] to open Downtown during that time that really cared about quality.” Modern is also unique in that it is a multi-roaster café, serving a rotating selection of coffee from various roasters, as well as its own coffee (which it roasts at Highwire in Emeryville).


In 2014, Nemling and co-owner Kristen Nelson opened a second spot Downtown, at 381 19th St. And now, they’re preparing to open the third café across the street from the Federal Building at 1300 Clay St. in early February. When so many dining and drinking spots in the East Bay — and Bay Area at large — struggle to exist, we wondered, how is Modern getting it so right?

The secret of Modern’s success, of course, is a combination of things. And, it’s not really a secret, either. “We’ve spent the past 8 years creating relationships with our customers and I think that goes a long way to explaining our success,” Nemling said. “Modern is owner operated which means that Kristen and I are usually in the shops, working closely with our team, listening to customer requests and concerns, improving operations, minimizing waste — we’re always trying to make the shops better. We have great employee retention because our employees feel valued and listened to. When that happens, your employees are able to get to know your customers and make them feel special, and that causes customers to come back again and again. It’s all connected.”

STILL NOT IN SEASON Bad news for those who’ve been eagerly awaiting the opening of New Seasons Market in Emeryville — the grocer’s opening is indefinitely delayed. According to The E’ville Eye, the Portland-based chain, which was originally supposed to open in 2017 at 6201 Shellmound St., will not open in 2018 and there is no set timeline for when it may open — if at all — in the future. A New Seasons public relations representative was not able to give a concrete reason for the indefinite delay. Concern that the New Seasons in Emeryville may abandon the project is elevated, as the market recently pulled the plug on its Hayes Valley location in San Francisco, citing “operational complexities, construction delays, other considerations” for the cancelled lease. The location in Emeryville has been similarly challenging, with several construction delays, but the New Seasons representative told The E’ville Eye that the stall on the Emeryville store is not connected to the failed Hayes Valley plans. So for now, New Seasons is in a holding pattern. We’ll keep you abreast of the market’s future as the details come.