Category Archives: Local business

Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Getaround
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GETAROUND LAUNCHES IN BERKELEY  Car-sharing service Getaround, described as Airbnb for cars, has just launched in Berkeley. A peer-to-peer car sharing company based in San Francisco, Getaround says it has been building up a community in Berkeley for the past few weeks and has had a great response. “We have close to 100 owners sharing their cars in Berkeley and Oakland and close to 10,000 renters,” said spokeswoman Hailley Griffis. Like Airbnb, Getaround works through its app: if you’re looking to use a car, you search for one nearby, enter your license and credit card numbers, and, once you’ve found it, book and unlock the car with your phone. (The car key will be waiting for you in the visor.) Sign-up is free, with no monthly or annual fees and all rentals include insurance and 24/7 roadside assistance. Typical charges might be $5.50 an hour for a 2008 Smart Car, $7 an hour for a 2014 Toyota Prius, or $20 an hour for a 2012 Model S Tesla. Cars are vetted before being accepted into the service, and renters can rate cars (the ability for car owners to rate renters is coming, said Griffis). Getaround says car owners make an average of $500/month sharing their car, and that the service will result in fewer cars on Berkeley streets, as studies have shown that each shared car takes 10-13 cars off the road. Visit Getaround’s website for details. Connect with them on Facebook.Continue reading »

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12 apply to operate Berkeley’s fourth cannabis dispensary

Forty Acres cannabis collective is on the second floor of 1820-1828 San Pablo Ave. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Twelve organizations have submitted applications to open a fourth medical cannabis dispensary in Berkeley, according to city officials, but the public won’t know who they are for 45 days.

The deadline to apply for one of the lucrative franchises was 4 p.m. on March 20. But Berkeley won’t release their names during a review period in which staff determines all the applications are complete.

Read more about medical cannabis issues in Berkeley.

“In order to keep a level playing field among applicants until applications are finalized, we won’t be releasing more information until all applications are complete,” Elizabeth Greene, a planner who staffs the Medical Cannabis Commission wrote in an email. “This period is expected to last approximately 45 days.” … Continue reading »

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Work begins to transform UC Theatre into music venue

City officials, downtown business owners and others gathered with David Mayeri Wednesday for the groundbreaking for the UC Theater. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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By Frances Dinkelspiel and Tracey Taylor

The long-shuttered UC Theatre on University Avenue was buzzing again Wednesday as city officials and supporters gathered for an official groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of the renovation of the former movie palace.

While David Mayeri, president of the Berkeley Music Group and the driver of the project, and others posed with gold shovels in front of the theater, the transformation of the 1917 building at 2036 University Ave. began in earnest inside with workers beginning to tear into the building’s floor with jackhammers.

Rehabilitating the theater is expected to cost $5.5 million — with a capital campaign still seeking $2 million worth of support. Mayeri and the five-strong board hope to put on their first show in the building this fall. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Inside the Addison Yoga Loft. Photo: Anna Volfes
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NEW: ADDISON YOGA LOFT Opening March 23, Addison Yoga Loft is the newest yoga studio to settle in West Berkeley. Sharing the same building with the new Highwire Coffee shop, which recently bought Local 123, Addison Yoga Loft will offer a variety of yoga classes from Ashtanga Flow to Prenatal. “I’m in love with the sense of community Berkeley has,” said owner Anna Volfe. “There is such a positive creative spirit in the city.” The Loft will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and it offers a new student intro package — three classes for $20 — as well as a free beginner yoga class at noon every first Saturday of the month. Addison Yoga Loft is at 2051 San Pablo Ave. (between University Avenue and Addison Street).
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At community forum in Berkeley, W. Kamau Bell and Elmwood Café launch ‘implicit bias’ training initiative

Kamau Bell Elmwood Cafe forum Photo: Pete Rosos
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At a community forum held in the wake of a well-publicized accusation of racism at a Berkeley café, a new initiative was announced to help train local businesses in handling implicit bias.

An estimated 300 people turned up to Willard Middle School Friday night to take part in the public discussion prompted by the incident which happened when comedian W. Kamau Bell and his wife, Melissa Hudson Bell, were at the Elmwood Café on Jan. 26 this year.

The comedian, who is African-American, made public on his blog how he was asked to leave the café on College Avenue while he was talking to his wife and her friends, who are all white, at an outdoor table.

After he read Bell’s blog post, Michael Pearce, the owner of the Elmwood Café and a social justice activist, reached out to the Bells and they agreed a public conversation would be a way to turn a negative experience into a teaching opportunity. Their goal was to achieve a broader understanding of racial issues, in particular the implicit bias that can explain micro-aggressions inflicted on people of color. … Continue reading »

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‘Blade Runner’ screenwriter made lost film of Moe’s Books

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The film of a 1965 party at Moe’s Books that was recently discovered in the Berkeley dump was made by an Academy Award nominated screenwriter who was just starting out in the business when he shot the footage.

David Peoples, who arrived in Berkeley with his wife Janet in 1959 to attend Cal, shot the film of Moe Moskowitz arriving at his store on Telegraph Avenue in a Rolls Royce, dressed in a top hat, tails, and white gloves. Peoples had not watched the film in decades, and was surprised when a friend, who had seen the footage on Berkeleyside, contacted him to say it was on the Internet.

For Doris Moskowitz, the daughter of Moe and the current owner of Moe’s Books, finding out who made the film of the legendary party was a satisfying ending to a story that began when a scavenger brought the found footage into the store in November. … Continue reading »

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National construction company moves to Berkeley, will repurpose Flint Ink building as its HQ

ProVen Management building. Image: courtesy Trachtenberg Architects
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PrōVen Management, a national engineering construction company that specializes in large-scale infrastructure projects, is moving its operations from San Francisco’s Jackson Square area to West Berkeley, and is turning the old Flint Ink factory into its new headquarters.

Berkeley architect David Trachtenberg is overseeing the transformation, and he said it’s one of the most exciting projects he’s worked on for some time. The plans for the site, at 1350 Fourth Street (at Gilman), include a contractor’s yard for storage of heavy equipment, a new 5,000 sq. ft equipment repair shed, and renovation of the existing 35,000 square feet of buildings for use as storage, offices, conference space, and a private art gallery. The project has received landmarks and zoning approvals and is currently in design development.

PrōVen founder Alan Varela said the company chose the Berkeley location for a number of reasons: much of the company’s large construction equipment is stored in nearby Oakland, the cost of the site was appealing compared to San Francisco (though he says Berkeley’s property taxes have proved a “surprise”), and Varela himself is now closer to his principal home in Lafayette. “I don’t have to cross the Bay Bridge,” he said. … Continue reading »

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Live Oak Park Fair is leaving Berkeley after 44 years

A glimpse of the 2011 Live Oak Park fair through a display of hula hoops. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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One of Berkeley’s most treasured outdoor celebrations, the Live Oak Park Fair, is leaving the city after 44 years.

Jan Etre, the producer of the fair since 1988, is moving it to the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond and turning it into a benefit for the radio station KPFA. It will still be a fair focused on the arts, but the June fair may be twice as large and will be known as the KPFA Summer Arts Fair.

“It’s been wonderful,” said Etre, who has worked on the fair for 27 years. “It’s been a joyful community garden party every year. We are sorry Live Oak is ending. We are all kind of sad but we see this is as a bigger, better picture.” … Continue reading »

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Rae Dunn: A Berkeley potter, a dog, and a way with words

Rae Dunn featured pic
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Take one very photogenic dog who poses for the camera, the creative eye of an accomplished potter whose life has been shaped by a series of serendipitous events, and you have the newly published book “Wilma’s World: Good Advice From a Good Dog” by Rae Dunn, a ceramist with a studio in West Berkeley.

Just as she didn’t plan to publish a book, Dunn didn’t set out to make clay the foundation of her career. A graphic designer for many years, she was riding the merry-go-round in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park one day when she happened upon the Sharon Art Studio on Bowling Green Drive. Loving the space, she decided she would take a class there and flipped a coin as to whether to learn how to make stained glass or how to throw clay. … Continue reading »

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TargetExpress opens in downtown Berkeley with very local customers in mind

Target Express downtown Berkeley. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Veteran Berkeley dwellers are wont to say that there is nowhere to buy underwear downtown. It’s a complaint that has historically underscored the lack of broad-based retail options in the heart of the city. With the opening of TargetExpress at the corner of  Shattuck and Allston Way today, that is less of a problem, however. One aisle of the 12,000-square-foot store — only the third TargetExpress in the country — offers a selection of men’s briefs and women’s undergarments.

With nearby Cal students in mind, the store also stocks hangers, ironing boards and sheets in its Home section, printer cartridges and legal pads in its Stationery aisle, ready-made margaritas and frozen pizza in the Food section, and — in its gleaming Tech section — wireless routers, speakers and iPads. There is even a small selection of Cal hats and T-shirts for sale.

This should be welcome news for UC Berkeley students, 86.9% of whom, in a 2011 study, expressed a desire for an “all-purpose” store that sold general items — like a Target. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Sutter Health East Bay Medical Foundation opened a new clinic in 2500 Milvia St. on Jan. 26. Photo: Seung Y. Lee
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NEW: SUTTER HEALTH BERKELEY CARE CENTER  Sutter Health opened a new clinic in the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center/Herrick campus on Jan. 26. The new center houses pediatric, family medicine, and obstetrics and gynecology departments, as well as lab services and some imaging, according to a Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation press release. The urgent-care clinic is also open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends. Sutter Health Berkeley Care Center is at 2500 Milvia St. (at Dwight Way).Continue reading »

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Felon to face 2012 Berkeley robbery, carjacking charges

Image: Google maps
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A 37-year-old Concord man is set to face charges after a 2012 robbery series in Berkeley that targeted the Magic Fingers massage parlor on University Avenue, which has since closed.

Samay Pomsouvanh was charged in the case in 2012, but he was not tried in the matter because he was sent to prison in connection with an armed robbery at the home of a prostitute in San Mateo.

Pomsouvanh was released from prison into the custody of the Alameda County sheriff’s department in early February to face the pending charges against him for the 2012 incidents in Berkeley.

According to court documents, Pomsouvanh and four associates — Quoc Bui, Eddie Chiwei Cheung, Aaron Boungnarith and Whitney Sullivan — were tied to robberies in 2012 at Magic Fingers, at 2047 University Ave. (west of Shattuck Avenue), on June 18, June 23, July 1 and July 6, along with another incident of robbery and carjacking June 27. The suspects reportedly posed as law enforcement officials, and tied up their victims with zip ties or duct tape during the robberies. … Continue reading »

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Soda distributors frustrated at city of Berkeley’s lack of guidance on soda tax

Dr. Pepper Snapple Group is one of multiple distributors frustrated by the lack of guidance from the city of Berkeley over the soda tax. Photo: Eric Lynch
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As the co-owner of the San Francisco-based Waterloo Beverages company, Camilo Malaver enjoyed doing business in Berkeley. But he did not want anything to do with Berkeley after voters adopted a soda tax in November.

In January, when the tax was implemented, Malaver decided to stop restocking his supply of craft sodas and naturally sweetened beverages in Berkeley to avoid further confusion.

His gripe was not against the tax itself; his frustration was aimed primarily at the city for what he saw as a poor job relaying information on how to comply with the tax. He’s keen to restock in Berkeley again, but, for now, he is waiting to see how the tax will develop.

“Berkeley is a good city to do business with the university, but now, it’s tough,” Malaver said. “We’re in limbo. Everybody’s lost and [we] don’t know what to do.” … Continue reading »

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