Category Archives: Local business

Berkeley City Attorney: Main Post office may have been sold

Post Office by Darius Wekwerth
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The Berkeley City Attorney has informed the City Council that he believes someone has purchased the Main Post office  at 2000 Allston Way and that it is time for Berkeley to file a lawsuit against the United States Post Office to stop the sale.

A letter to that effect was leaked to the Berkeley Daily Planet, which published it on Thursday.

Zach Cowan, the city attorney, told Berkeleyside that he could not share the letter he sent to council since it was privileged attorney-client communication. But Cowan said the version on the Planet website was accurate.

“It is my conclusion that at a minimum a buyer has been chosen, and that it is likely that there is at least a letter of understanding in place, if not a contract and perhaps an open escrow,” Cowan wrote to the council, according to the Daily Planet.Continue reading »

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Berkeley author Elizabeth Rosner’s “Electric City” is a lyrical coming-of-age story

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When Elizabeth Rosner was growing up near Schenectady New York, a company town dominated by the General Electric Corporation, she couldn’t wait to leave. Her parents, who were Holocaust survivors, had moved there after the end of the war and did not mind the provincial atmosphere. But Rosner found the town confining.

When Rosner was 16, she won a scholarship to study in the Philippines. “I got as far away from home as I could without leaving the planet,” she likes to say. She never really went back. She graduated from Stanford and moved to Berkeley in 1986.

See Elizabeth Rosner at Pegasus bookstore, 1855 Solano Ave., tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Rosner’s first two highly acclaimed, award-winning novels, The Speed of Light and Blue Nude, were set in Northern California. She didn’t think she had anything to say about Schenectady. … Continue reading »

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Josephine: Creating home-cooked meals, community

Julie Hotz for the photo of Charley & Tal
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On Thursday evenings, a black clapboard sign sits outside Terry Betts’ West Berkeley home. A steady trickle of people stops by to fill their own containers with Greek-style chicken cooked with honey, cinnamon, tomatoes and garbanzo beans, rice pilaf and a cucumber salad on the side.

While there, they can choose from a few add-ons, like home-made granola, fresh juices and a plum cake for dessert. Some sit around the living room and chat for awhile before leaving.

Betts is a talented home cook who is making additional income each week through Josephine, a new start-up offering home-cooked meals for sale. On another night, she offered Vietnamese tamarind chicken with rice noodles, and on another, it was Polish stuffed cabbage. … Continue reading »

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Bookstore moving into old Black Oak Books in N. Berkeley

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After five years of sitting empty marked with a “For Lease” sign, the former Black Oak Books on Shattuck Avenue in North Berkeley will soon open its doors as a new business.

And that business is: a bookstore.

Books Inc., a Bay Area business that says it is “the west’s oldest independent bookseller,” will open in the former Black Oak sometime in early 2015, said owner Michael Tucker.

At the same time, Books Inc. will shutter its Berkeley store at 1760 Fourth St., essentially moving from one local spot to another, which Tucker hopes will boost Berkeley sales.

“The biggest issue we have on Fourth, beyond the fact it’s a little too small for us… is we just couldn’t get people to come in. We couldn’t get people to think of it as their neighborhood bookstore,” Tucker said. … Continue reading »

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Going green: Frog conservation finds new HQ in Berkeley

Frog. Elaine Miller Bond4387.720pix
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For a long time, I’ve wanted to write an article on frogs for Berkeleyside. In fact, my first “kiss” came from a frog in Tilden Park. It jumped to my lips as I drank water from a fountain on a scorching-hot day at summer camp.

But that was the 1970s. Frogs were more common then. Loud throaty choruses of Pacific treefrogs kept me awake (in a good way) on spring nights, and tiny tadpoles wiggled through the algae-laden waters of a ditch along my street in Kensington. … Continue reading »

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Video: 36 hours in Berkeley, California

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This week, the New York Times turned its attention to Berkeley for its regular “36 Hours in…” series. It’s not the first time the city has been viewed through this lens. It was also featured in 2003.

This time, however, they also created a video to give readers a sense of life in the city (scroll down to watch it).

Many favorite local businesses and organizations are featured it the video and the accompanying article, including the Tilden Steam Train, the Lawrence Hall of Science, UC Berkeley’s Hearst swimming pool, Alchemy Collective, La Botella Republic, Cheese Board Collective, Chez Panisse, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Comal, Ici, Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, Ippuku, Elmwood Café, Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore, and the Berkeley Path Wanderers Association. (Prizefighter cocktail bar also sneaked in, although it is actually in Emeryville.) … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Bayer needs to come clean on Aspirin’s inventor

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This past March I attended the 100th birthday of my uncle. Many of my relatives were gathered, including cousins from Israel. I learned that one of our distant cousins, Arthur Eichengrün, invented Aspirin, the most widely used drug in the world, with over 50,000 tons of it consumed annually.

There’s understandable family pride in having such an illustrious ancestor. But for me in Berkeley, that pride is tainted because of the actions of Bayer — which has a large presence in … Continue reading »

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Local business

Berkeley stealth start-up seeks unsigned musical talent

David Hyman
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David Hyman is that rare thing: a successful serial entrepreneur who is committed to Berkeley. And he wants people to audition for his new start-up.

Hyman was CEO of founded music database company Gracenote in Berkeley in the ’90s before going on to found streaming music service MOG in 2005 — in Berkeley again. MOG was bought by Beats Electronics in 2012 and moved to Southern California (Beats, in turn was bought by Apple in August this year). Now, Hyman has returned to Berkeley intent on making a success of another music start-up, Chosen.

But don’t expect to follow that link to find out anything about Chosen. It’s currently in stealth mode. There’s a small team in west Berkeley and a team of developers in Israel.

Here’s all Hyman will say: “Chosen is a new online performance platform geared towards unsigned talent and is aiming to change the way people interact and engage with music and video content.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s minimum wage is $10 starting today, Oct. 1

Minimum wage rally in May 2014 in Berkeley. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Starting today, Oct. 1, a new minimum wage goes into effect in Berkeley with a citywide rate of $10 an hour. This is a dollar higher than the state’s minimum and puts Berkeley among the American cities that have a local minimum wage that exceeds state and federal minimums.

The move is the first step in a three-stage plan that sees today’s hike to $10, followed by increases annually for two years after that: on Oct. 1, 2015, to $11; and on Oct. 1, 2016, to $12.53. This last rate will match the amount expected in Oakland under a ballot measure in that city likely to pass in November. The Berkeley plan received final approval in an unanimous council vote June 24.

Read Berkeleyside’s coverage to date of what led to the minimum wage raise.

“[The] boost to $10 is an important milestone in our efforts to improve the conditions and rights of low-wage workers in Berkeley,” said Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates. … Continue reading »

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A kosher harvest at Covenant Winery in Berkeley

Jeff Morgan, the co-owner and wine maker at Covenant Winery
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Jeff Morgan couldn’t keep his hands off the grapes

The gleaming purple clusters were heaped in crates in the parking lot of Covenant, his new winery in Berkeley. Morgan, a saxophonist and writer turned award-winning winemaker, had just brought the fruit down from Sonoma. As he wrapped the straps that had tied the crates onto the flatbed truck, he kept plucking grapes. A smile spread across his face every time he popped one in his mouth,

“These are really good,” said Morgan, a man with abundant kinetic energy and a laugh to go with it. “I am very excited about these grapes. I have never made wine with them before.”

The Grenache grapes were beautiful. They had only been picked about two or three hours earlier from the 700-acre Kunde Vineyard and they glistened in the sun, plump and juicy and without a hint of shrivel. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Equipment ready for roll-out at a new Berkeley gym and resource center for kids on the autism spectrum. Photo: We Rock the Spectrum
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OPENING: WE ROCK THE SPECTRUM An innovative new spot for kids on the autism spectrum is opening in West Berkeley this month. We Rock the Spectrum is described as a “full inclusion, full integration educational fitness camp and community resource center” that addresses children’s, parents’, caregivers’ and advocates’ wellness and health. Co-founder of the Berkeley branch Barbara Brodrick tells us the inspiration for the new venture was her 4-year-old son, who is on the autism spectrum and has benefited enormously from intensive early intervention treatment. “We built this facility to have all the resources available to all families with different-abilities children, and a safe fun place for all children and families where we can all feel a sense of belonging, away from the isolated feeling most of us feel,” Brodrick said. We Rock the Spectrum is having its grand opening Saturday, Sept. 27, when kids can try out the facility’s trampoline, zip line and swings. There will also be face-painting, music and a raffle. Tickets are $12 per child, with 20% of the proceeds going to My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Foundation. We Rock the Spectrum is at 2920 Seventh St. in Berkeley. Learn more at We Rock the Spectrum’s Berkeley website. Connect on Facebook. … Continue reading »

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Catahoula ‘Kaffeegarten’ hits West Berkeley

Catahoula is working on its new West Berkeley location. Photo: Catahoula
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Coffee lovers rejoice: The old Sketch soft serve spot on Berkeley’s Fourth Street is now Catahoula’s Kaffeegarten.

The Richmond-based artisanal roaster is all about “high end coffee at a moderate price,” but takes its mission further: “We are about bringing people together and community. Not the ‘Third Community’ liquid culture of Starbucks, but an authentically local flavor where people from all walks of life… gather.”

Timber Manhart runs the business, and sells signature blends as well as single origin beans. He describes Catahoula as a “no char zone,” meaning roasts meant to draw out flavor are king. … Continue reading »

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Local business

Bayer HealthCare may expand in West Berkeley

Bayer HealthCare. Image: Flad Architects
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Bayer HealthCare won unanimous approval Thursday from the city of Berkeley’s zoning board to make significant changes at its West Berkeley campus, on Grayson Street, to prepare it to manufacture a new generation of the company’s recombinant DNA treatments for hemophilia.

Bayer spokeswoman Trina Ostrander said in May that the new 3-story facility would house testing operations — on an existing parking area and empty lot — “for various raw materials and final product” related to the treatments.

Berkeleyside wrote about the project, at 801 Grayson St., west of Seventh Street, in May. The project was approved as part of the consent calendar before the Zoning Adjustments Board on Thursday evening. … Continue reading »

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