Category Archives: Local business
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.
“[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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
Target is coming to town.
The Minneapolis-based retailer is poised to turn a long vacant building at the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Allston Way into one of its new-concept TargetExpress stores by March 2015. The store will only be 12,000 square feet — compared to the average Target store size of 80,000 square feet — but will sell food, clothing, accessories and consumer electronics that will appeal to students, commuters and downtown’s growing residential population. … Continue reading »
OXTAIL STUDIO & GALLERY South Berkeley’s Oxtail Studio & Gallery has been open now for a few months, but not yet reported here. Reader Catherine Sands alerted us to the locally owned art shop and studio space that focuses on promoting Bay Area makers. Sands describes it as “delightful.” You’ll find prints, jewelry and ceramics there, as well as greeting cards, textiles, original artwork and other handmade goods, all of which are independently produced. Oxtail is owned by siblings Kingston and Serena Lim, who were born and raised in Berkeley, and UC Berkeley grad Jessie Zechnowitz. Oxtail also offers studio-residency opportunities for those looking to produce and sell their work in one place. Writing on Oxtail’s website, the owners say: “We enjoy a diversity of styles – from playful line drawings to elegant oil paintings, and rusty garden sculpture to hand-sewn bags. We love to see raw, rustic naturalism beside by bold, simple color and design.” As for why they chose the name “Oxtail,” the Lim siblings say it came from the wholesome soul food that they enjoyed as youngsters, specifically oxtail stew. Oxtail Studio is at 2976 Adeline St. at Ashby in Berkeley. Visit its website, and connect with Oxtail on Facebook. … Continue reading »
Diners have a cool, new option in Berkeley with the opening last month of Townie, at 1799 University Ave., in what was for decades Caffe Venezia until it closed last year. The interior has gotten a major overhaul and Chef Dana Ryan is at the helm of this small plates New American restaurant at Grant Street, not far from downtown Berkeley.
The menu is small, but features one hit after another, using seasonal ingredients and what the owners describe as “the highest quality meats and seafood.” Potato croquettes, the garlic cheese toast and the mussels with chorizo and white wine were some of the favorites during a recent meal. … Continue reading »
The former Restoration Hardware store on Fourth Street in Berkeley is reopening next week as Ruby Livingdesign, a modern furniture and design store that has three other locations: in San Francisco, Mill Valley and Menlo Park.
The new store will be open Monday, Sept. 1, from noon to 5 p.m. and will serve bubbly all day to celebrate its arrival in Berkeley. It will also have special opening-day deals.
Ruby Livingdesign was founded 10 years ago by Dee Dee and James Littrell. The store stocks high-end lines, such as Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Hickory Chair Furniture,and Environment Furniture. It also offers custom furniture design services.
The 6,000-square-foot store has been remodeled to incorporate galleries with complete room vignettes, according to a statement released by the store. The shop will also feature the work of local artists in its room set-ups. The work of Berkeley-based glass artist Erik Eiserling will be on view in the store when it opens. … Continue reading »
TOPO Abigail Rothacker and her partner have opened a small terrarium and handmade gift shop on University Avenue in Berkeley. Called Topo Terrarium Design, the store features many local artists and is open on Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. “We have partnered with a local jewelry maker and leather worker to start hosting small workshops in our live/work space,” Rothacker said. “We have spent almost two years building our space to make it a functional store, class space, as well as a living space for us and our small daughter in the far back. It is truly a unique set-up.” Topo has also launched a program of monthly classes. Sign up for a Make Your Own Terrarium class on Sat. Sept. 13 (Orbs, plants snacks, wine included — cost $65), or an all-ages Candle-Making Workshop on Oct. 17. Topo is at 1640b University Ave., two blocks east of Sacramento. Connect with Topo on Facebook for updates on classes, and to find out what’s in store. … Continue reading »
There are mounds of dirt where once there was ice, and construction crews where there used to be skaters. If work continues on schedule, Sports Basement will open on Nov. 1 at 2727 Milvia Street, the former site of Berkeley Iceland.
The 71,862-square foot building is currently undergoing a seismic upgrade. Heavy construction began in June 2014, with crews building a new roof and new walls on the north and south sides of the building, and beginning rough plumbing and electrical work in the interior.
This is the sixth location for the Bay Area sporting equipment chain, which started in San Francisco in 1998. … Continue reading »
WELCOME STRANGER A new menswear store with distinctive buffalo signage is opening in the Elmwood at 2633 Ashby Ave., next door to the Dailey Method in the old Wright’s Garage building. Welcome Stranger SF already has a store on Gough Street in San Francisco, as its name suggests. The store’s wares are described as “upscale, rugged men’s apparel and goods,” and include brands like APC jeans, Barbour jackets, Rag & Bone T-shirts and Battenwear board shorts. Welcome Stranger also sells its own brand of shirts, chinos and waxed jackets. A member of the construction crew working on the build-out said the store was expected to open this week. … Continue reading »
Walking into Shattuck Avenue Spats in downtown Berkeley, it’s hard to believe it’s been out of operation since 2009. Tables and chairs are still in place, there’s liquor behind the bar. The quirky decor — complete with, among many other touches, taxidermy trophies and a Greco-Roman-styled mannequin woman — appears to be free of dust and ready to entertain once again.
It looks like all it might take is the flip of a switch to get the business running and, with a new team of owners having recently bought the building where Spats operated for decades, the bar may be poised to open again this fall.
Nathan George, a local developer who describes his approach as “Berkeley building Berkeley,” is one partner of about a dozen people who bought 1974 Shattuck Ave. with the goal of reopening Spats under its old name. The team is also exploring, longer term, the possibility of housing on the property. … Continue reading »