Category Archives: Local business

Berkeley preps new cell phone radiation safety law

Please destroy cell phones before entering: A front gate in Berkeley, Calif. Photo: Fragmentary Evidence
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The city of Berkeley is investigating whether to require retailers to hand out radiation-related safety sheets to customers who buy cell phones in town.

Last week, a Berkeley City Council majority — with seven in favor and two opposed — voted to have staff prepare language for the new cell phone law. But whether council ultimately will vote to adopt that law is unknown.

The cell phone ordinance — brought forward Nov. 18 by council members Max Anderson and Kriss Worthington — would require vendors to hand out an info sheet to consumers to remind them to study up on device-specific safety standards for radio-frequency (RF) energy emissions. In particular, customers could be advised not to hold or carry the phone close to the body while using the device, and directed to consult the manual to learn the “recommended separation distance” between the phone and one’s body. Anderson said he has been working on the law for several years. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

85C Bakery Cafe opening in San Diego
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LONGBRANCH SALOON San Pablo Avenue’s Longbranch is now open, according to tipster Amanda Fox. The restaurant, which took over the old Sea Salt location, describes itself as a “New American Restaurant/Gastro Pub.” It serves a range of comfort-food-style dishes and has an extensive list of beers, whiskeys and cocktails. Some dishes have a distinctly British-sounding spin, including potted pork trotter, the goat cheese and leek tart, and bangers and mash. Also on the menu: toasted farro and roasted cauliflower salad, pan-seared black cod and bone-in ribeye with béarnaise sauce. Longbranch is located at 2512 San Pablo Ave. (at Dwight Way) in Berkeley. Connect with the business on Facebook.Continue reading »

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Berkeley may consider new rules for cannabis grow sites

Cannabis being inspected at Berkeley Patients Group. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Update 11/19/14: The City Council voted on Nov. 18 to refer this item to the Planning Commission for further review.

Even though Berkeley residents voted in 2010 to allow six commercial cannabis grow sites to operate in the city’s manufacturing zone, none has opened – and none probably will unless the city changes its guidelines, according to a report that will be presented tonight to the City Council.

When Measure T was adopted in 2010, it restricted cannabis grow factories to the city’s M (manufacturing) zone. But space appropriate for operations of 30,000 square feet (the maximum allowed for each site) is extremely limited, according to the report prepared by the city’s Medical Cannabis Commission. Moreover, very few properties in that district come up for rent.

“In trying to relocate to expand our operations, we encountered scarcity of suitable space in the M District, compounded by apprehension from Berkeley landlords to lease to cannabis related businesses,” one cannabis businessman testified to the MCC in November 2013. His words were included in the report. … Continue reading »

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Zoning Board says cannabis collective a public nuisance

Berkeley officials contend that Forty Acres operatied an illegal cannabis operation on the top floor of this building at 1820-1828 San Pablo Avenue. Photo: Google Street View
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Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board voted unanimously Nov. 6 to declare the Forty Acres Medical Marijuana Growers’ Collective a public nuisance – the latest step in Berkeley’s three-year odyssey to shut the place down.

ZAB officials listened to two and a half hours of testimony at the hearing, including impassioned pleas from neighbors who said the area near 1820-1828 San Pablo Ave., right above The Albatross pub, had become a no-go zone.

The smell of marijuana in the area is so strong that numerous families don’t let their children play outside, according to testimony of several neighbors. Cars routinely block driveways – and the drivers become aggressive when asked to move. Groups of people openly smoke cannabis on the sidewalks. Sometimes the partying goes on until the wee hours of the morning. Those that can’t make it home sometimes sleep in door-wells or on the sidewalk, according to neighbors. … Continue reading »

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New club aims to spice up downtown Berkeley nightlife

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Berkeley is saturated with places to eat and drink, but conspicuously missing is a place to dance afterwards. Soon that will change, when a nightclub called Berkeley Underground opens this weekend in the basement space at 2284 Shattuck Ave.

Owners Lisa Holt and David Shapiro, who also own BUILD Pizzeria upstairs, envision a multi-purpose venue that will one night host an internationally known electronic dance music act, and the next a private bar mitzvah party.

“This needed to be something that would marry the idea of being a fun club that people would go to in the evenings, as well as being a live performance venue for all those bands and music artists and comedians that don’t really have a place to go,” Holt said. “If you’re going to go to the [Berkeley] Rep, you need to fill 1,000 seats. And it’s just seats – there’s no milling around or dance floor.” … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

New York's MSC Customs bike store will open on Telegraph Avenue later this month. Photo: Ted Friedman
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COMING SOON: MSC CUSTOMS Manhattan’s MSC Customs bicycle and apparel company has opened its first West Coast shop at 2422 Telegraph Ave. The company assembles and sells made-to-order single-speed track bikes. They’re custom-made, meaning customers get to select a variety of trendy pastel and neon shades for the frames, tires, and rims. MSC Customs’ new clothing line is designed for cyclists, so it’s entirely reflective. This is the company’s second location. “We thought the West Coast would be a great move,” said co-owner Thomas Leong. “Berkeley is a great place for riders.” The store soft-opened on Thursday last week and its official opening is Saturday, Nov. 22. And curious shoppers can drop by a grand opening party the day before. Read more at the MSC website. [Hat tip: Ted Friedman] … Continue reading »

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Photos: Sports Basement preparing to open Nov. 11

Those are not stained glass windows, simply the sunset as seen from the interior of the new Sports Basement opening on Tuesday next week. Photo: courtesy Sports Basement
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Sports Basement will open in the former Berkeley Iceland location on Tuesday next week, 10 days later than originally forecast. It will follow with a “Grandish Snowpening” on Saturday, Nov.15, when Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates will officially cut the ribbon on the new retail store in the 71,862-square-foot building at 2727 Milvia St.

The historic ice­ skating rink has been renovated with the intent of preserving the look and feel of the original Berkeley Iceland. Structural updates include a new roof and floor, new walls on the north and south sides of the building, and the addition of 44 off­-street parking spaces and 64 off-­street bike parking spaces.

Read more about the work done to transform Berkeley Iceland into Sports Basement and the store’s plans for the community. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley temporarily blocks sale of main Post Office

Post Office by Darius Wekwerth
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The city of Berkeley has gotten a temporary restraining order blocking the sale of the city’s main post office on Allston Way.

U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup ruled Nov. 5 that the U.S. Postal Service cannot sell the building before he conducts a full hearing in San Francisco on Dec. 10. USPS has committed to not closing a sale on the property before Dec. 17.

The city of Berkeley, along with its outside counsel Antonio Rossmann, filed for the TRO after learning online that the USPS was in contract to sell the building. Despite repeated requests and a Freedom of Information Act request, the USPS has refused to disclose the identity of the buyer.

On Nov. 5, Berkeleyside revealed that local developer Hudson McDonald was in negotiations to purchase the historic property. The firm would like the post office to remain in the front part of the building, according to Chris Hudson, a principal. The firm plans to put retail in the back portion of the property, which is currently sitting empty. … Continue reading »

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Exclusive: Local developer Hudson McDonald in contract to buy downtown Berkeley Post Office

Post Office by Darius Wekwerth
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After weeks of silence, Berkeley developer Hudson McDonald has acknowledged that it is the company that is negotiating with the USPS to buy the main Berkeley Post Office at 2000 Allston Way.

If successful, Hudson McDonald, which is best known for the construction of the Trader Joe’s building on University and MKL Jr. Way, said it plans to restore the 1914 building and develop the back for retail operations while offering the Post Office the opportunity of continuing to use the front lobby for postal services.

“There is a lot to be determined,” Chris Hudson, co-principal with Evan McDonald of the developer, said Tuesday. “But we want to preserve and restore the building, including retrofitting it, and we are having a conversation with the post office about them being tenant in the front part.” Currently about 80% of the building is empty.

Hudson said the Post Office had received several offers for the building but that Hudson McDonald was the only bidder in negotiation with USPS. … Continue reading »

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New Whole Foods store wake-up call for Andronico’s

Whole Foods Gilman first day in the produce section photo Neil Mishalov
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Today at 9:30 a.m. a new Whole Foods Market broke bread rather than cut a ribbon, and opened for business in the rapidly transforming Gilman shopping district in West Berkeley. The store, and the competition it represents, has been a catalyst for at least one other local grocery chain to sharpen up its act. Early reports suggest the market will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood for local residents.

An estimated 600 people took tours of the new Whole Foods store last week in the lead-up to today’s opening at its location on 10th and Gilman streets. This is the second Whole Foods store for Berkeley (the first one opened at Ashby and Telegraph in 1990), the 41st Whole Foods in Northern California, and the 401st nationwide. It will be open 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily while the Whole Foods-owned Allegro Coffee roastery in-store, its first outlet on the West Coast, will be open from 6 a.m. every day.

The 47,000-square-foot market, with 85 car parking spaces, including electric charging spots, and 12 bike spaces, is employing 200 staff, two-thirds of them from other Whole Food stores while the rest are new staff members, said outreach team leader Kristen Tantarelli. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley teacher sees future for parenting mag RAD DAD

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By Tara Taylor/Bring Them Along

It’s hard to imagine, but there was a point in time when being a parent was a very isolating and lonely place. Parents looking for advice or community couldn’t fire up their computer and seek out a forum or mommy blog. You had one choice, mainstream media or nothing at all. It was the lack of different voices that birthed the parenting zine RAD DAD.

Ten years ago Tomas Moniz was looking for someone — anyone — who shared his feelings about fatherhood. Of course, there were parenting books and magazines, but not a single one addressed his concerns as a young father of a teenage son. There were no articles on how to talk to your kid about porn, drugs, politics, the police, or racism. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley city attorney: Main post office may have sold

Post Office by Darius Wekwerth
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The Berkeley city attorney has informed the City Council he believes someone has purchased the downtown U.S. post office at 2000 Allston Way, and that it is time for Berkeley to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service to stop the sale.

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

Zach Cowan, Berkeley’s city attorney, told Berkeleyside 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 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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