Category Archives: Local business

New plan calls for 10 theaters at 2211 Harold Way

The developer of 2211 Harold Way and Landmark Theatres are nearing a deal to build 10 new theaters in the proposed complex. Photo: Sharon Hahn Darlin
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The developer of 2211 Harold Way and Landmark Theatres are nearing a deal to increase the number of movie theaters in the 302-unit building in downtown Berkeley to 10 — but detractors say the changes do not go far enough.

After discussions with Ted Mundorf, the CEO of Landmark, Joseph Penner of HSR Berkeley Investments has submitted a new set of plans with the 10 theaters. Previously, the number of theaters proposed had ranged from zero to nine.

The current plan, which still needs city approval, would place the box office by the sidewalk on Shattuck Avenue, much like it currently is. There would be four theaters on the street level. Patrons would take an escalator, stairs or an elevator one flight down to the six other theaters. There would also be bathrooms, a bar, a lounge and a snack bar on the bottom level. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Peets on Domingo
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SOURCE MINI SHUTTERS UNEXPECTEDLY Source Mini, an offshoot of San Francisco’s Source restaurant, opened to great fanfare in the Gourmet Ghetto’s Epicurious Garden at 1511 Shattuck Ave. in January 2014. Owner Mitchell Fox said his vegan place was “like a Subway or McDonald’s-esque vegan fast-food menu,” with vegan burgers and sandwiches, gluten-free tacos and quesadillas and dosadillas. Fox shuttered his San Francisco locale in January because of the escalating costs associated with a higher minimum wage; the Berkeley restaurant followed suit last week, apparently because business was slow. Fox left a short note on the restaurant’s Facebook page saying the place closed July 18: “Sorry to say yesterday was our last day in Berkeley, we want to thank everyone for their support.” When fans asked why, he replied: “Wasn’t able to do enough business.” The management of Epicurious Garden has a sign up announcing that a new restaurant will be opening soon. … Continue reading »

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Oakland hears restaurants over compost fee hikes

Oakland restaurant owners gathered by its city hall steps to protest a sharp rise in compost fees. Gail Lilian, owner of Liba Falafel and organizer of the protest, speaks. Photo: Seung Y. Lee
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After Oakland restaurant owners staged a protest to make clear their opposition to skyrocketing compost bills, thanks to the city’s new garbage collecting contract, Oakland City Council held an emergency meeting on Monday to address the issue.

In the end, however, the council chose not to make any changes proposed by city staff, citing lack of information and communication with business owners as reasons for the delay.

Council members repeatedly apologized to the restaurant owners for the unforeseen rises in compost fees.

“I made a promise to businesses we would meet with them on composting rates prior to moving anything forward and next thing I know, I’m at this meeting,” said council woman Annie Washington at the meeting. “I feel like it’s putting my integrity into question.” … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Nature's Express has closed. Photo: Nature's Express
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VANISHING ACT FOR NATURE’S EXPRESS The vegan eatery Nature’s Express, which has been in flux for two and a half years, has moved out of its location at 1823 Solano Ave. but is promising to return “close by” soon, according to its Facebook page. The store’s last day was July 16. In December 2013, longtime owner Carl Myers announced he was shuttering the healthy fast-food joint. But an outpouring of support let Myers keep the store open. The restaurant still struggled, losing $10,000 to $28,000 a month, and Myers shut it unexpectedly in July 2014. A new management team bought the business and stepped in, raised some cash, and managed to keep the restaurant afloat. “Things at the restaurant are going well,” Josh Levine, the new manager, wrote in a blog post in September 2014. “We have a new lease, food is coming out well, the team is amazing, and we are all having fun! The customers love us again, and though sales have been down since the changeover, morale is up! Because the food is coming out well.” No word on where or when a new Nature’s Express will open. … Continue reading »

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Lower Sproul restaurants, bar opening this fall

Photo: Equator Coffee
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Cal’s Lower Sproul Plaza is scheduled to re-open in the fall after two years of construction with a new selection of food, coffee and drink purveyors, all of which will be open to the public. The choice will include a burger joint, a salad and sandwich spot, a pizza place and a Mexican restaurant.

The Lower Sproul Plaza Redevelopment program, construction for which began in early 2013, replaces the old, seismically unsound Eshleman Hall with a 50% larger (though shorter) building. It will house the MLK Jr. Student Union which has been upgraded with the addition of a new space on the sides facing Lower Sproul and Bancroft Way, among other renovations.

The new food options will include four restaurants on the plaza level, two coffee shops and a Bear’s Lair Bar and Kitchen at the west end of Eshleman. The dining commons in MLK will have a small stage for student performances and DJs. … Continue reading »

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An afternoon at Pettingell Book Bindery in Berkeley

Klaus-Ullrich Rötzscher from Pettingell's Book Bindery. Photo: Melati Citrawireja
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In the first of a three-part series on expert craftspeople in Berkeley, Melati Citrawireja, a summer 2015 photo intern for Berkeleyside, visits a Berkeley bookbindery run for the past 21 years by Klaus-Ullrich Rötzscher.

As I push open the glass door to Pettingell Book Bindery on Bancroft Avenue, I am greeted with a pleasant quietness, a rare occurrence in the busy hub of downtown Berkeley. The owner and master bookbinder, Klaus-Ullrich Rötzscher, greets me warmly and invites me into his workspace.

Rötzscher is a middle-aged tall and slender fellow, wearing a glue-coated apron and wire-rimmed spectacles. The long, narrow room is dimly lit, with quirky artwork and tchotchkes lining the walls. Ribbons, rolls of colorful paper, and old tools fill every nook.

“I designed this place myself, and I am skinny,’ he jokes in his thick German accent as we squeeze through the walkway. “Actually, the bindery was set up this way when I bought it and I just filled it with more crap.” A Javanese wooden puppet dangling from a shelf seems to wink as I pass. … Continue reading »

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Localwise offers community-oriented jobs platform

Localwise's two founders and crew of interns are based out of SkyDeck, UC Berkelely's incubator for start-ups. Picture: LocalWise
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If you’re a local business searching for employees, Localwise may be the place for you. If you’re Starbucks, look elsewhere.

Localwise is the creation of UC Berkeley alums Benjamin Hamlin and Maya Tobias. It’s a job board for local businesses in Oakland and Berkeley, but it seeks to be more than that: its website describes it as “the start of the work local movement.”

Since its inception in January, only local businesses, non-profits and households around the Bay Area are eligible to advertise on Localwise. The platform aims to bridge the gap between job seekers and owners of small, local businesses. Jobs advertised on the site range from full-time positions to internships and gigs.Continue reading »

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Telegraph restaurants, shops face uncertain future

The Village is a smorgasbord of small businesses and restaurants, offering a quiet refuge from Telegraph Ave. Photo: Emily Dugdale
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Tenants at Telegraph Avenue’s The Village may be facing the end of their time at the quaint shopping mall, as a proposed 7-story mixed-use building, which would involve demolishing the complex, awaits approval by the city of Berkeley.

The Village, constructed in 1946 and located at 2556 Telegraph Ave. (at Blake Street), is home to a small, diverse collection of restaurants, offering Japanese, Korean, Swiss and Ethiopian food, among others, each with its own loyal customer-base. Also on site is a longstanding hair salon, and, until recently, a music shop. The Village customers include local residents, business owners, families, and UC Berkeley students, said merchants at the mall.

Noriko Taniguchi, co-owner with her husband of the popular Japanese restaurant Norikonoko located at the entrance to The Village, expressed her frustration and dismay about the pending development.”They didn’t tell us anything,” she told Berkeleyside last week. “We’ll all come together to fight this new building.” … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley business

The Sundays on Telegraph street festival runs through Sept. 21 in Berkeley. Photo: Ted Friedman
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TELEGRAPH MERCHANTS MEET NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Members of the Telegraph Business Improvement District (TBID) gathered June 29 to meet their new executive director, Stuart Baker, and to discuss ways to improve the stretch of Telegraph between Bancroft Way and Dwight Way. Baker introduced himself to the group of 15-20 merchants who attended and invited them to get in touch with him with any ideas or concerns regarding TBID. They also announced that Sundays on Telegraph, the weekly summer street festival, will be limited to seven weeks this year. (Last year it ran for 11 weeks). Matthew Taecker of Taecker Planning and Design spoke to the group in a presentation outlining possible steps to make the Telegraph area more pedestrian-friendly and welcoming. Some of the suggestions included raised planters, informational installations describing the history of the area and painting the street, sidewalks, and crosswalks in bright colors. The Telegraph Business Improvement District is a non-profit that sponsors local events and advocates for positive change along Telegraph Avenue.Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s Ashby Village celebrates fifth year of helping seniors help themselves

At Ashby Village, volunteer Mark Goldman helps Chana Bloch with her computer. Photo: Ashby Village
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As Ashby Village marks its fifth anniversary, no one could be more pleased—or surprised—than co-founders Pat Sussman and Shirley Haberfeld. In 2006, Sussman read an article about Beacon Hill Village in Boston, an organization formed by older people who wanted to stay independent as long as possible. Sussman, having worked as a healthcare administrator, hospice director, and staff and board member of Lifelong Medical Care, knew how challenging it could be for older people to stay socially connected, remain in their homes, get the help they might need, and make their own decisions.

“Let’s start a village,” Sussman said to her longtime friend Haberfeld, an educational psychologist. Haberfeld didn’t hesitate. She’d just gone through a frustrating time of trying to find resources in case her mother moved to town. Sussman and Haberfeld bought a how-to manual from the Beacon Hill group, and got to work. … Continue reading »

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Revolution Books: Berkeley’s radical bookstore relocating

Larry Everest (right) and Reiko Redmonde, have volunteered at Revolution Books for decades. Photo: Emily Dugdale
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Storied progressive Berkeley bookstore Revolution Books hopes to relocate this summer and has launched a crowdsourcing campaign to cover the moving costs.

The 27-year-old bookstore has been described as a “Berkeley institution” by celebrated local poet Robert Hass.

With its all-volunteer staff, and calendar of panel discussions and  programs in venues across Berkeley, the radical store sets itself apart from other independent bookstores in the Bay Area by its emphasis on social change. … Continue reading »

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University Village, Sprouts get (final) green light

A rendering of the new University Village development. Image: courtesy the City of Albany
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The disputed UC Berkeley land next to Albany’s Gill Tract is in contention no more. Last week, the California Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the university to build a senior housing development and Sprouts Farmers Market grocery store on San Pablo Avenue in University Village.

Read more on Berkeleyside’s coverage of Occupy the Farm.

The development, on a long-vacant lot next to the Gill Tract research field, has been the site of protests since April 2012 on the part of Occupy the Farm, which has stated that UC Berkeley’s plans would “pave over a rare natural resource” and that the Gill Tract is “public farmland that belongs to the people.”

Stefanie Rawlings, of Occupy the Farm, originally filed a lawsuit against the city of Albany and UC Berkeley that alleged that the city’s approved Environmental Impact Report was deficient. When Rawlings lost the suit, she filed an appeal on the grounds that the report did not lay out appropriate alternatives for the building plan, and that the city did not appropriately consider the alternatives listed. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Phoenix Gym
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PHOENIX GYM OPENING Phoenix Gym opened its doors in West Berkeley this month. Phoenix Gym offers personal training and group bootcamps for all fitness goals and levels of expertise. Owner Kelly Mills plans to add more class times based on neighborhood interest and availability. “Moving into our own space has been nerve-wracking but really fun and exciting,” Mills said. The gym is in soft opening model in preparation for its mid-July grand opening, and is currently available for classes or training sessions. Sign up for personal training or a bootcamp at Phoenix Gym’s website, or by phone: 415-260-1112. Phoenix Gym is located at 1390 10th St., one block south of Gilman Street.Continue reading »

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