Category Archives: Local business

Berkeley coding school aims to help close tech race gap

Co-founders Bianca Giandolfo and Albrey Brown from Telegraphy Academy. Photo: Melati Citrawireja
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While grinding through software coding courses at San Francisco programming school Hack Reactor, Albrey Brown, 24, often found himself as one of the few students of color in the room.

Meanwhile Bianca Gandolfo, 26 — like Brown a Hack Reactor alum and former instructor — used to view software engineering as a career path for “a white guy in a basement by himself.”

Instead of ignoring these realities, as some might, the tech-savvy duo decided to do something about it.

Enlisting Hack Reactor as a partner, the pair has launched Berkeley-based Telegraph Academy, a tech coding school that aims to teach software engineering to under-represented minorities and create a network of tech workers of color.

The first class of students, arriving at the Academy’s bustling Shattuck Avenue location from as far away as Honduras and the East Coast, will fire up their computers on June 29. … Continue reading »

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Urban Air Market hops the bay, lands in Berkeley

A crowd at the Urban Air Market. The San Francisco-based festival is branching out to Berkeley and Oakland locations. Photo: Urban Air Market
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The Urban Air Market, a festival for local designers, is hosting its first East Bay event in Berkeley on Saturday June 20. The Berkeley market, which has been in the works for nearly ten months, will set up shop on Allston Way adjacent to the weekly farmers market on Center Street.

Vendors hail from across the Bay Area and are independent artists, designers, and curators who use environmentally friendly and sustainable practices to create their products. Repurposed hardware, vintage-style, even products scavenged from landfills and reworked as high-end sustainable goods and fashion, are all markers of a UAM vendor. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

caption. Photo: PocketMe
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POCKETME STUDIO POPS UP A Berkeley couple opened their startup PocketMe’s first portrait studio in Downtown Berkeley last month. PocketMe offers customers a 3D full body portrait of themselves. The studio uses 72 cameras to take pictures of the subject from all angles, and PocketMe sends the 3D print-out to the customer. According to the website, a PocketMe can replace or complement photos for family portraits, holiday gifts, wedding cake toppers, keepsakes of grandparents, graduation portraits, fashion shoots, video game models and more. The couple is testing the local market for interest and hopes to expand. “We live in Berkeley so we wanted to start up in Berkeley and figure out where to go from here,” said co-founder Allison Saloner. “We’ve gotten a lot of interest so far. A lot of people have stopped in to see what we’re doing, and a lot have ordered their own PocketMe.” The studio is located at 2225 Shattuck Ave. (at Kittredge). It is open Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday through Friday by appointment. Schedule an appointment online or by phone at 510-900-1441.Continue reading »

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Books Inc. opens in North Berkeley after move

Books Inc. Photo: Melati Citrawireja
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Workers were still putting the final touches to the store’s exterior Monday morning as both local residents and out-of-town visitors explored the new Books Inc. which opened its doors today in North Berkeley.

Books Inc. shut down its smaller store on Fourth Street to move to 1491 Shattuck Ave., the former location of another independent bookstore, Black Oak Books, which closed in 2009. (Black Oak is now at 2618 San Pablo. Ave.)

“The response from the public so far has been overwhelmingly positive,” said manager Schyler Baker at the store today. “Even as we did construction, passerby would stop and pop their heads in to check if we were open yet.”

“This space is bigger, which is very helpful to us,” Baker said. “It allows us to expand our book and magazine selection, especially children’s books and cookbooks.” Continue reading »

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Jittery John’s cold-brew coffee lands in Berkeley

Judy Schlussel (left), who runs sales for Jittery John's, and co-founder Kristina Barnes at the Berkeley production plant the cold-brew coffee company moved into recently. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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When a man accidentally dropped a Viagra pill into his glass of cold-brew coffee recently, then wrote about it on Reddit, a certain Berkeley startup got a lucky break. The man wrote that he had to drink the coffee — pill and all — because the cold brew was just too good to throw away. For Kristina Barnes, co-founder of Jittery John’s, the first sign that her brand had had a moment of viral internet fame was when she noticed a sudden spike in online sales.

“People on Reddit asked the guy which brand of cold brew was so good, and after he told them it was Jittery John’s, it led to lots of new customers,” she said a couple of weeks ago at the cold-brew coffee company’s new West Berkeley production facility. “We couldn’t have asked for better free marketing!”

Marketing is not something the young company has done much of so far. Word of mouth has been the main way people have discovered the rich-tasting coffee concentrate that is sold in sturdy glass bottles evocative of those that held tinctures and tonics in days of old. … Continue reading »

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Shakespeare & Co. closes after 51 years in Berkeley

Shakespeare & Co. on Telegraph Avenue and xxx closed on June 2, 2015. Photo: Ted Friedman
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Shakespeare & Co., a used bookstore that has been operating on Telegraph Avenue since 1964, closed its doors for good this week.

The owner, Jon Wobber, said the store was not earning enough income for the time he was putting in. He made the decision to shutter yesterday, on June 2, and served his last customer before locking the door for the last time around 8 p.m.

The building that houses Shakespeare & Co., at 2499 Telegraph Ave., on the corner of Dwight Way, was bought last year by Telegraph Partners, LLC, which plans to extensively remodel the building. Telegraph Partners managing member Ito Ripsteen said the company was open to the bookstore remaining, said Wobber. But the store would have had to close for three months, so Wobber thought the time was right to close the business. … Continue reading »

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Sunset is moving to Oakland’s Jack London Square

A rendering of Sunset's new headquarters in Jack London Square. Image: Sunset
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Sunset, the venerable Californian publishing company best known for the monthly Sunset Magazine, is moving its headquarters to Jack London Square in Oakland.

The move, which is set for December, will see the company leave the beautiful Cliff May-designed Menlo Park campus that it has occupied since 1951. That property was sold last year by Sunset’s owners, Time Inc., to Embarcadero Capital Partners, a San Francisco real-estate investment and management company.

Along with the company’s Oakland editorial and business offices, to be designed by San Francisco architects RMW, Sunset will establish an additional presence at Cornerstone in Sonoma. That will include a test garden, outdoor kitchen and live programming.

The new headquarters will be located at 55 Harrison Street, Sunset announced today. The company will be in the same building that will house the Water Street Market, an artisan food marketplace being developed by Carlin Company, the team behind San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace and Napa’s Oxbow Public Market. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: As an East Bay fast-food worker, I say we need $15 minimum wage and a union

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If you listen to the big business lobbyists, you might actually hear them claim that the Bay Area’s higher minimum wage laws will have no impact or might even hurt our communities.

But that’s missing the real story: the lives of tens of thousands of workers like me who will benefit.

I have worked for two years at a McDonald’s in Oakland. I took the job to help my mom, who is also a low-wage worker, pay the rent and put … Continue reading »

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Berkeley rental rates skyrocket, causing headaches for students and those on middle incomes

An apartment for rent on Spruce Street. Photo by Melati Citrawireja
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This is the second in a Berkeleyside series on housing. Read our first story on short term rentals.

The heated economy has pushed Berkeley rental rates significantly higher this past year, a jump of anywhere from 10% to 30.9%, depending on which study you look at, forcing some students to double and triple up in mini-dorm-like situations, and middle-class workers to stretch to meet their rents.

At the same time, technology workers and those in finance or other well-paying professions are snapping up luxury apartments that can cost from $2,500 a month for a studio to $5,400 for a three-bedroom, two-bath pad.

“The problem is that we are an extremely desirable community,” said Mayor Tom Bates. “With high rents in San Francisco a lot of people choose to be here. As a consequence we have huge demand.” … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Himalayan Handicraft
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ALCATRAZ ALLEY GRAND OPENING Nine shops on Alcatraz Avenue are coming together for a Grand Opening on May 28 from 3-6 p.m. Many of the businesses, found along the stretch of Alcatraz west of Adeline Street, are new or have revamped their style. “We thought it was time for a Grand Opening – a big get-together to celebrate the diverse businesses,” said Jess McCarter, co-founder of the Easy Creole restaurant. To facilitate the event, the block of Ellis Street between Harmon and Alcatraz will be closed to traffic, and an array of artists, performers, and activities will take over the alley. Passersby will find discounts on food and wares from Empress Vintage, Easy Creole, Ankara StyleGalleria, the Hoi Polloi Brewpub, and Alchemy Collective, as well as bike repairs from the Biketopia Community Workshop. To top it all off, Beats Antique, an experimental fusion and electronic band, will perform at the event. The Grand Opening will be held on Ellis Street between Alcatraz Avenue and Harmon Street on Thursday, May 28 from 3-6 p.m. Read more about the event on its Facebook page.Continue reading »

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Short-term rentals are squeezing out Berkeley renters

The owners of this rent-controlled apartment complex at 3100 College Ave. are renting out three of its apartments on Airbnb. Berkeley law does not allow rentals shorter than 14 days. Photo: Melati
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This is the first story in a Berkeleyside series on housing. Read the second story on rental rate increases here

In late January, Daniel Moore came home to his apartment in a 12-unit complex on College Avenue to find there was a new keypad lock on the front gate.

Moore, who had been living at 3100 College for 12 years, didn’t have the combination to the keypad. He was locked out of his own building.

That was just the first of a series of mysterious changes to the apartment complex, alterations that his landlords never told him about. Suddenly, washer and dryer units were installed on every landing. New couches appeared in the hallways.

Then Moore started hearing loud noises from the unit above him. It appeared as if a family of five had moved in suddenly and the kids were stomping on the new stone kitchen floor. That family moved out, but was replaced by others, people who stayed up until 3 a.m.

It turns out that three units in Moore’s rent-controlled building had been converted into short-term rentals through online rental company Airbnb.

“Airbnb has replaced our quiet environment with noise, anxiety and the nuisance of a steady flow of transients who have no investment in living here,” Moore wrote in a letter he sent to the City Council and the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board.” … Continue reading »

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Artist Rich Black gives Berkeley’s UC Theatre a new mural

Rich Black mural 5/22/15 Photo: Melati Citrawireja
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Rich Black, the artist and muralist known for his high-impact art, has spent the last few days painting an eye-catching mural on the front of the UC Theatre at 2036 University Ave.

Black, who is probably best known for the murals adorning the front of the Ashby Theater (on Ashby and Martin Luther King Jr. Way), spelled out “SUPPORT” in huge yellow letters against a black background at the emerging UC Theatre. He interspersed the phrases “Employment,” Education,” and “Music” in between the letters.

Black is the creative force behind all the marketing material, programs and literature produced by Berkeley’s Shotgun Players who are based at Ashby Stage. (Watch a Berkeleyside video about Black made in 2011.) He paints the entire wall of the theater every time it puts on a new production — adapting a design he has devised to promote the play to fit the large expanse of the building’s façade. He is also the author of the flipbook, “Futura, L’Art d R. Black”
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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Waterside Workshops is a community bicycle sop and youth education program  oeprating since 2007.  Photo: Waterside Workshop
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WATERSIDE WORKSHOPS The West Berkeley community bike store and education center is opening a new bike repair shop and has a newly renovated rental shop. It will hold a Grand Opening to showcase both on Saturday, May 30, 12-6 p.m. at 84 and 90 Bolivar Drive. The event will also serve as a bike drive: bring a bike to donate and receive a gift card from Waterside Workshops’ list of sponsors. Waterside Workshops began offering wooden boat building and bike mechanics classes for local youth in 2007, and expanded to include a bicycle store and rental facility in the following years.”The creation of Waterside Workshops served a two-fold purpose, addressing the need for vocational training as a part of a healthy community and revitalizing a highly under-used urban park,” the organization states on their webpage. The weekly Public Shop event where mechanics assist attendees in fixing their own bikes, will take place in the new building at 90 Bolivar Drive. Retail sales and bike rentals will continue to operate from the old site at 84 Bolivar Drive (between Addison and Bancroft). Visit the Waterside Workshops website and connect with them on Facebook.Continue reading »

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