Author Archives: Tracey Taylor

Fire destroys downtown Berkeley restaurant

Firefighters fight a fire at the Mandarin Garden restaurant, in Berkeley, on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. Photo: David Yee ©2015
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The Berkeley Fire Department responded to two fires at the Mandarin Garden restaurant at 2025 Shattuck Ave. (at University) Friday morning.

The second, two-alarm fire, which gutted the restaurant, was significant enough to require evacuations from nearby properties, but was mostly under control around 7:30 a.m.

According to Berkeley Fire Battalion Chief Brian Harryman, the second fire appears to have started in a different area of the building from the first one which BFD had determined they had extinguished.

Both the Patelco Credit Union and shuttered Ichiban restaurant that are on either side of Mandarin Garden suffered serious damage. A new restaurant called Venus Café, that was due to open in about a week in the Ichiban location, will now take months to repair, according to its co-owner, Peter Kwong. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates has surgery following injury

Mayor Tom Bates. Photo- Frances Dinkelspiel
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The mayor of Berkeley, Tom Bates, had surgery Sunday following a sports-related injury sustained Saturday.

The mayor fractured his hip while playing basketball with his grandson, according to Charles Burress, the mayor’s communications director. The mayor had surgery Sunday, “which went very well,” Burress said. “He began physical therapy today and expects to return home tomorrow,” Burress said via email Monday.

Mayor Bates had been scheduled to hand out the medals to the winners of the third annual Berkeley Half Marathon which took place Sunday. Vice Mayor Linda Maio stepped in to fulfill the role. … Continue reading »

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Grand Fare Market closes suddenly; future uncertain

Brother & Sister Flower Shop in Grand Fare Market. Photo: Michael David Rose
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Update, 11.24.15: Grand Fare Market owners Doug Washington and Freya Prowe posted a note on the market’s Facebook page Monday about the closure. It reads: “Grand Fare Market is closed until further notice. We are so grateful to our guests, vendors and employees who made it all possible. Unfortunately, the market’s current incarnation simply required too much cost to keep up basic operations and we couldn’t keep it going. We hope that everyone will accept our most sincere apologies and deepest regrets for the troubles. We hope to re-envision the space and concept in a more workable iteration in the new year. Thank you for all your support! ~Doug Washington & Freya Prowe.”

Original storyGrand Fare Market, which opened less than two months ago on Grand Avenue in Oakland, closed abruptly last week. A sign affixed to the door reads: “Grand Fare will be closed until further notice. Our apologies.” A note was also posted on the food establishment’s website. An employee said she was told Friday not to come into work, but she did not know more. … Continue reading »

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Good showing for Berkeley in city’s third Half Marathon

One of the top five finishers in the Berkeley Half Marathon 2015. Photo: Ted Friedman
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On Sunday, Anna Bretan of Berkeley took first place in the women’s race of the 2015 Berkeley Half Marathon for the third consecutive year. Bretan, whose time was 1:18:34, has also finished first in the San Francisco Marathon for the past three consecutive years.

There was also a Berkeley connection for Oakland resident Sam Robinson, who placed first in the men’s race, with a time of 1:12:22. Robinson is a student at UC Berkeley, finishing his Ph.D. in history.

And Holly McIlvaine, also of of Berkeley, took second place in the women’s half marathon with a time of 1:21:12. (See full results on the Berkeley Half Marathon’s website.)Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Berkeley Half Marathon organizers are expecting 10,000 runners to participate this year. Photo:
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BERKELEY HALF MARATHON The third annual Berkeley Half Marathon is closed in terms of signing up to participate, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take part by cheering on the runners. It takes place Sunday, Nov. 22, and features new race options, challenges and post-race festivities that are open to the public. In addition to the 13.1-mile half marathon, runners there is a half marathon relay (two participants), 10K race or 5K race. A Finish Line Festival that is open to the public will be held following the race at Civic Center Plaza, featuring a Lagunitas beer garden and various local food vendors. And there’s a free bike valet service. The half marathon course starts and ends at Civic Center Park, taking racers through the UC Berkeley campus, the Gourmet Ghetto, Telegraph Avenue and along the scenic Bay Trail. Funds raised through the Berkeley Half Marathon helped the Berkeley Public Schools Fund reach its record $1million fundraising goal last year. For more details, visit … Continue reading »

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New museum gets ready to open in the heart of Berkeley

BAMPFA DSR 15-09 5655
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The staff moved in to their offices in September, planning for its inaugural exhibition is well underway, and construction is almost complete on the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), which is set to open in January 2016.

Anyone who passes through downtown regularly will have, over the past months, had the chance to observe the gradual transformation of the Deco Moderne former UC Berkeley printing plant into a striking structure sporting a gleaming silver roof, a cantilevered section that juts out over what will be the museum’s entrance on Center Street, and a gaping rectangular space on the Addison Street side that will soon be a giant canvas for screening images and films.

Read more about the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

The inside of the new museum offers a mix of large white exhibition spaces, several enticing open-plan areas for public events or where visitors can simply hang out, and stairwells and a womb-like café painted a deep shade of chili red. The new building is 20% smaller than it predecessor, the Mario Ciampi-designed concrete structure on Bancroft Way, but it has more usable space. The new building totals 83,000 square feet, with 25,000 square feet of gallery space. The $112 million project was funded through a philanthropic capital campaign and private sources.

Aside from some difficulties with the installation of the distinctive stainless-steel roof (see below), there have been no significant delays on the museum’s timeline, according to the museum’s owners, UC Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Help needed to restore Berkeley’s favorite big whale

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The Lawrence Hall of Science is asking the community for help to restore its “Big Whale,” the life-size replica of a fin whale that is located on the museum’s plaza. It hopes to raise a total of $65,000 for restoration work. The much-loved mammal is appreciated by many, and has been climbed on by several generations of children, ever since it was installed in the 1970s (see photo below of the whale being carried by helicopter to its Berkeley home).

Pheena, for that is her name, requires “tip-to-tail” restoration, and the UC Berkeley-owned museum is joining in the university’s Big Give 24-hour fundraising blitz — which happens on Thursday Nov. 19 — to help preserve what it say is a symbol of the Hall. Essential fixes are required to repair “significant damage” to the whale’s shell and frame, according to the museum.

“Pheena is a symbol of the discovery and imagination that can be found at the Hall, where we help children and adults think bigger and imagine the possibilities of science discovery,” the Hall wrote in a press release. “From our public science center to classrooms around the world, we activate science learning everywhere, for anyone.” … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Caribbean Allstars
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CARIBBEAN ALLSTARS The Caribbean Allstars, pioneers on the Bay Area reggae scene, return to Ashkenaz on Saturday Nov. 14 at 9:30 p.m. The ensemble, whose geographical roots range from Jamaica and South America to West Africa and the U.S., began joining together their musical forces and international backgrounds during the early 1970s. Not only do the Caribbean Allstars play Jamaican reggae with a traditional electric bass-drums-guitars-keyboards lineup, they also add steel drums to bring in South Caribbean calypso and soca styles of Trinidad and Tobago, producing rhythms that drive listeners to the dance floor. Tickets: $15 ($10 for students). More info at Ashkenaz. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley High students wear black to show solidarity

Photo: Portrait of 500 students and staff at end of Blackout day at #BerkeleyHigh
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UPDATE, 10:48 a.m. BUSD Superintendent Donald Evans sent out an email to the school community at around 10:30 a.m Friday in which he talked about the recent incident and the school’s response to it. Of the student-led walkout, he said he “felt fortunate to be part of a community in which our young people are standing up against terror and racism.” And he outlined efforts the administration will be making going forward, including providing support needed “to uplift our students,” investing in professional development and “opportunities for courageous conversations;” changing discipline policies “recognizing that the school disproportionately suspends African American students,” and recruiting and retaining more teachers of color. Read the full communication from Evans.

See photos of Blackout Day at Berkeley, taken by BUSD’s Mark Coplan.

ORIGINAL STORY: Berkeley High students arrived on campus Friday morning wearing black to show solidarity with students of color. The move was prompted by a request from the Berkeley High School Black Student Union which, in an email message to students and the school community sent out at around 6:30 p.m. Thursday, asked that “everyone continue to show solidarity with Black students both at Berkeley High and across the nation by wearing all black tomorrow (November 13th).” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s newest parklet opens outside Saul’s Deli

Photo: Saul's Restaurant & Delicatessen
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Berkeley’s second parklet is now open for visitors. The outdoor seating area in front of Saul’s Delicatessen in the Gourmet Ghetto neighborhood was unveiled today. It comes on the heels of the recent move of the Thursday Farmers Market to its new location in the off-road strip in front of Saul’s and neighboring businesses.

The parklet was funded in part by a successful $15,000 Indiegogo campaign earlier this year. Saul’s owner, Peter Levitt, hopes the space will be a boon to farmers market shoppers, in addition to regular day-time foot traffic.

Saul’s parklet, at 1475 Shattuck Ave., was designed by Berkeley architect David Trachtenberg, who is also responsible for the building that houses Saul’s, as well as many other buildings in Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Hundreds expected to attend ‘Million Student March’ on UC Berkeley campus

Campanile by D.H. Parks
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Hundreds of protesters are expected to take part in a “Million Student March” demonstration Thursday, Nov. 12, on the UC Berkeley campus at 2 p.m.

UC Berkeley students and other activists plan to join a nationwide day of action demanding tuition-free public higher education, cancellation of student debt and a $15 wage for all university workers.

According to the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC), the student governance body, “over 700 activists will descend on Upper Sproul Plaza at 2pm to hold the UC Berkeley Million Student March in conjunction with universities across the nation.”

The ASUC says the protest is expected to include Berkeley High students, city of Berkeley community members and 500 nurses from the California Nurses Association.

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Veterans Day in Berkeley: Remembering city’s casualties

Veterans Day 2015. Photo: Ted Friedman
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On Veterans Day Berkeley came together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its Electronic Vietnam War Memorial, with an observance at the Berkeley Veterans Memorial Building at 1931 Center St.

The event, which began at 11:11 a.m., included a keynote speech by former Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean, who, according to Ted Friedman, who was there for Berkeleyside, became visibly upset while talking about an acquaintance who was a casualty of the Vietnam War. Dean also acknowledged the irony of Berkeley being traditionally an “anti-war” city while losing so many residents to war. She also talked about the history of the electronic memorial, which is an online record of U.S. military personnel from the city of Berkeley who died in the Vietnam War. The website also includes a guest book for visitors to sign and share their memories. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

YJM Photography and Gallery of Fine Arts. Photo: Yves Mozelsio
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NEW: GALLERY OF FINE ARTS Yves Mozelsio has just opened YJM Photography and Gallery of Fine Arts at 1865 Solano Ave. (a few doors west of the Oaks Theater in the former KNA Copy Center). Monday was the first day for the gallery which, Mozelsio says, he opened as a way to provide people with an alternative to online shopping, as well as a space for him to continue practicing his photography (a third of the space is devoted to his photography studio). The gallery has a lovely turn-of-the-century style décor, with Mozelsio’s personal collection of European paintings (dating from 1850-1950) on the walls. The gallery sells paintings by local artists and Mozelsio himself, sculptures by Mozelsio’s uncle, and 11 Queen Anne-style cases of jewelry, mostly silver, crafted by local jewelers. “This is a dream space for me,” said Mozelsio shortly after he made his first sale of a bracelet to his first customer. He said he hoped he has created a feel-good environment for people to enjoy, surrounded by wonderful art. He is happy to hear from local artists who might want to collaborate. Connect with YJM Photography on Facebook. … Continue reading »

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