Author Archives: Kate Williams

Bites: Newberry Market to Uptown Station, more

Newberry Market & Deli, which will sell fresh produce among other things, is the first tenant to sign on to open in the renovated Sears Building in Uptown Oakland which developers hope to see transformed into a foodie and tech hub for the Millennial generation. Rendering: Steelblue
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Openings, closings…

NEWBERRY MARKET & DELI TO UPTOWN STATION The first tenant to sign on to the ambitious Uptown Station project in the old Sears building above Oakland’s 19th Street BART station is upscale grocery store Newberry Market & Deli, reports Inside Scoop. The 20,000-square foot store will take its cues from artisanal markets such as Bi-Rite and Market Hall, and will offer everything from organic produce and grocery staples to hot and cold prepared items such as sandwiches, salads, rotisserie meats, and soups. Newberry Market also plans to have a a full-service butcher shop, charcuterie and cheese counter, a café, flower shop, and grab-and-go pizza by the slice. Even with all of these amenities, owners Ann Thai and Loren Goodwin hope to keep the prices “affordable and accessible.” Newberry Market, named after the old Newberry’s department store that operated next door many years ago, will be the anchor tenant in the ground floor food hall, which developers Lane Partners hope to fill with other niche food  and tech businesses and turn into a type of hip Ferry Building for the Millennial generation. Thai and Goodwin hope to open the market in fall 2016. Newberry Market will be at 1954 Telegraph Ave. (at 19th Street), Oakland.Continue reading »

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NOSH hot neighborhood guide: West Oakland

Fresh produce at the Mandela Foods Cooperative
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The best part of the East Bay food boom is that it is happening all over the place, not just in already popular neighborhoods like Oakland’s Temescal or Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto. In that spirit, we are launching a new series on NOSH focused on specific neighborhoods in the East Bay. Think of it as your own online neighborhood food tour. We start in West Oakland.

Stretching from Interstate 580 in the north down towards Jack London Square in the south, West Oakland is a sprawling neighborhood. But, despite its size, the largely residential area has historically lacked food options. A few organizations and developers are raising funds and writing plans for full-service grocery stores in the area, but there are several smaller changes taking place. Small restaurants and cafés have slowly been opening up alongside established diners, taquerias, and fried fish joints. Some offer re-imagined versions of the area’s historic soul food cuisine, while others bring new ideas and flavors. Most operate in harmony with the diverse neighborhood, celebrating the homey goodness that is Oakland cuisine. Don’t know where to pop in for a bite in West Oakland? Here are our picks. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Sprouts to Oakland, water restrictions, more

Sprouts Market. Photo: Sprouts
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Openings, closings…

SPROUTS MARKET HEADED TO OAKLAND While protests continue over a potential Sprouts Farmers Market in University Village in Albany (near the contested Gill Tract research field), the grocery store has quietly revealed plans for a location at 3001 Broadway, at the bottom of Pill Hill, in Oakland. Sprouts’ ABC license is pending, and its retail brokerage firm, Lockehouse, has put together a development plan for the space. The development looks like it will also include additional retail tenants. The proposal emphasizes the higher incomes of potential customers living in the Oakland Hills and Lakeshore neighborhoods, as well as the convenience to both the Alta Bates and Kaiser buildings. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as the project develops. Oakland’s Sprouts Farmers Market will be at 3001 Broadway (at 30th Street), Oakland.Continue reading »

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Plum Bar + Restaurant works best as a cocktail spot

Oak Barrel-Aged Negron at Plum Bar + Restaurant. Photo: Kate Williams
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Ten or 15 years ago, it may have been hard to imagine sitting down for a nice dinner at a small, bare wooden table in a cacophonous room. A nice dinner meant spacious tables, white tablecloths, and perhaps a triple-digit bill to match. Today, often the only thing separating a “nice” dinner from a casual one is the price. Yes, yes, there are, of course, Bay Area restaurants that retain the high-end, white tablecloth concept; and yes, yes, there are even restaurants that are returning to formal service after years of bare wood and communal tables. But, when it comes to trending, of-the-moment dining rooms, the formal ones are still in the minority.

I want to be clear — I have little problem with this blurring of the casual-formal divide. It can be done well. Restaurants like Gather, Camino, and Shakewell all manage to hit that sweet spot. At some point, however, the blurriness can result in a lost identity. Here is where Plum Bar + Restaurant fits in. … Continue reading »

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Recipe: Greek-style yogurt with cardamom mango

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By Kate Williams/Bay Area Bites

Single-serve Greek yogurt cups are doing big business. A glance at their growing real estate in the dairy aisle says plenty about the snack’s growing popularity. Most yogurt companies tout their product’s healthfulness, but they gloss over the added sugars, flavorings, dyes and binders used to make their yogurt shelf-stable and kid-friendly. That’s not exactly what I call health food.

Still, I see the food’s appeal — colorful, fun, and protein-packed, one single cup has enough nutrient heft to get me through an afternoon lull. But the truth is, it is easy to do better, much better, by making yogurt at home. It requires patience, about 24 hours of it, but most of the time is hands-off. Plus, I can control the quality and fat content of the milk, as well as the sugar content of the fruit. I call it a win-win-win. … Continue reading »

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Kaleidoscope will merge coffee and storytelling

Storyteller and barista Cassie Cushing. Photo courtesy: Cassie Cushing
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Point Richmond has the Richmond Plunge, Keller beach, an historic downtown, and a vibrant local arts scene. But it has lacked its own dedicated, independent coffee shop — until now.

Meet Cassie Cushing, a barista and trained storyteller who moved to the Bay Area from Phoenix in 2012. Cushing is in the midst of building her dream coffee shop smack dab in the middle of the Point Richmond historic district. The shop, called Kaleidoscope, will serve great coffee, of course, but it will also be much more than a watering hole — it will also be home to performers of many stripes. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Rec Room, Octopus Literary Salon opening

The Rec Room Cafe. Photo: Sean Rouse/Twitter
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Openings, closings…

THE REC ROOM A café and education space is coming to South Berkeley, hopefully by April. The Rec Room bills itself as a “family spot,” an indoor space where parents and caretakers can come with small children to eat, learn and chat. In addition to local, organic, and nut-free food, coffee and tea, The Rec Room will offer everything from free pre-school activities and child-minding, to classes on creative writing, cooking and science for elementary-aged children. The Rec Room will be at 3222 Adeline St. (between Fairview and Harmon streets). Connect with the café on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.Continue reading »

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The Double Standard brings cocktails to KoNo

Ali Tahsini of The Double Standard. Photo: Emily Tinkey
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Ali Tahsini grew up in a bar family. His father owned a string of watering holes in San Francisco in the 1980s. When his kids were born, he consolidated his operations to one single bar, Chelsea Pub, and it was there that Tahsini had his first job and found his true passion.

As a kid, Tahsini spent his afternoons in the bar. He’d mop up the previous night’s mess and play Ms. Pac-Man on the sit-down game console tucked away in the bar’s corner. When he was 12, his father passed away and the family sold the bar. But the bar experience stuck with him. Tahsini knew he wanted to grow up to do just what his father had done: create a neighborhood bar.

Fast forward about two decades and Tahsini has finally been able to fulfill that dream. Last month he opened the doors to his first independent bar, The Double Standard, in the old Kim’s Backyard space on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland’s KoNo neighborhood. (KoNo as in Koreatown Northgate defined as Telegraph between 20th and 35th streets)  … Continue reading »

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Bites: Oakland raises minimum wage, more news

Coffee. Brunch at Camino in February 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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OAKLAND RAISES MINIMUM WAGE Oakland’s minimum wage went up to $12.25 on Monday. Many local restaurants are in support of the wage hike, and have been actively informing customers that prices will rise as a result. Restaurant owners and their staff have joined in on a hashtag campaign, #oaklandlivingwage, to garner city-wide support for small businesses. Piedmont Avenue’s Homestead and Dopo, as well as Camino on Grand Avenue, have made the most drastic changes to their pay structure: all have eliminated tips and increased prices to accommodate the increased wage for employees. Aunt Mary’s Café and Toast have added 15% service charges to their bills to be divided up among the entire staff. Guests may tip in addition to the service charge. Other restaurants will simply raise prices to make up for the wage increase. Actual Café‘s Sal Bednarz has been an active supporter of the wage hike, despite the challenges he and other business owners are facing. In a press conference on Wednesday with Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf, he said: “It was a difficult thing for me to do as a business owner, and I’m still unsure what the ongoing customer impact will be of having done that. We’re here today to remind all of Oakland that we’re doing this for good reasons. Spend your dollar where your vote was. Support the minimum wage increase by supporting small businesses in Oakland.”  … Continue reading »

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SF’s Millennium aims to open Rockridge restaurant

Millennium, which is closing its Geary Street restaurant, hopes to reopen across the bay in Rockridge. Photo: Google Images
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San Francisco’s Millennium restaurant, which is closing its Geary Street restaurant in a few weeks, hopes to open again in the heart of the East Bay’s Rockridge neighborhood.

The restaurant’s owners — executive chef Eric Tucker and general manager Alison Bagby — have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds for the move. They are looking to generate $50,000 in donations, and as of this afternoon, have already raised close to $20,000 with 29 days to go. The proposed funds are only part of the money needed: Tucker and Bagby are contributing their own money, and have also raised investment capital.

In January, the venerable vegan restaurant announced that it would be closing its doors this spring. The owners of the hotel in which the restaurant is located decided to sell the building, and the new owners did not want to keep the restaurant. Faced with a deluge of disappointed customers, Tucker and Bagby insisted that they would find a new location.

Today, the pair announced the potential new spot — Rockridge — and it looks like they have their eyes on James Syhabout’s recently shuttered Box and Bells at 5912 College Ave. (at Chabot). … Continue reading »

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Bites: Fieldwork Brewing opens in Berkeley, more

Fieldwork Brewing Company menu. Photo: Fieldwork Brewing's Facebook
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Openings, closings…

FIELDWORK BREWING OPENS The newest West Berkeley brewery is up and running after previewing its beers during SF Beer Week. Fieldwork Brewing Company‘s taproom, at Sixth and Harrison streets, offers guests a rotating selection of seasonal and limited release brews in addition to its flagship offerings. Beers on tap right now include Fieldwork’s Double IPA, Rye Pale Ale, Burning Daylight IPA, Morning Time Breakfast Stout, and Hella Revolutionary, a collaboration with Altamont Beer Works in Livermore. On the food menu are British-style meat, vegetable and vegan pies (“pasties”) made by Oakland’s The Pie Shop. Fieldwork plans to host beer-pairing dinners in the future, as well as pairing seminars and scheduled tours. It is also selling beer to-go in 32- and 64-ounce refillable Fieldwork growlers. Leading the beer program is Alex Tweet, formerly of Modern Times Beer and Ballast Point Brewing, both in San Diego. Fieldwork Brewing is at 1160 Sixth St. (at Harrison Street), Berkeley. Connect with the brewery on Facebook and Twitter.Continue reading »

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Opening today: Tupper & Reed, a classic cocktail bar

Tupper & Reed opens tonight in Downtown Berkeley. Photo: Brian Sheehy
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The East Bay is becoming quite the drinking destination. With West Berkeley’s booming craft beer scene and Uptown Oakland’s growing nightlife scene, it feels like we are quickly catching up with San Francisco. More proof if it were needed: downtown Berkeley is now home to Tupper & Reed, the latest project from SF’s Future Bars team.

The long-awaited bar opens its doors tonight at 6 p.m. at 2271 Shattuck Ave. (at Bancroft). Tupper & Reed is modeled on the Future Bars‘ SF flagship, Bourbon & Branch, a speakeasy-style bar. It will boast a menu of 70 cocktails and hundreds of spirits, said co-owner Brian Sheehy, featuring classic drinks, twists on those classics and a number of cocktails created exclusively for the bar. In addition, Sheehy said, it will serve a small selection of beer and wine for “people who insist on not drinking cocktails.” … Continue reading »

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Thalassa space becoming music venue, beer garden

Site of new music venue and beer garden. Photo: Kate Williams
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The former Thalassa space in downtown Berkeley is not going to sit empty for long. The popular pool hall shut down last fall after losing its lease on the building, moved up the hill to Telegraph and Durant, and re-opened as Berkeley Public.

Now the enormous former pool hall, which is located at 2367 Shattuck Ave. between Channing and Durant, is being reconfigured as a craft beer garden and live music venue, says Alex Popov, who is spearheading the effort. Popov is a familiar name in the Berkeley food and drink scene; he founded Smart Alec’s in 1996 and Pappy’s Grill in 2012, and is running Liquid Entertainment, the company in charge of the music venue project.

The entirety of the venue, whose name has not been finalized, is huge — 12,000 square feet in total — and will be able to host special food and drink events in addition to concerts. Popov says that they will make use of the two large store-front entrances, one on Shattuck and one on Durant, which allow the venue to have a separate entrance for both the music and restaurant areas. … Continue reading »

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