Category Archives: Local business

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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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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