Category Archives: Local business

Audel Davis continues the Arts and Crafts tradition through his coppersmithing art

Audel Davis copper
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In the third part of a series on expert craftspeople in Berkeley, Melati Citrawireja, who was a photography intern with Berkeleyside this summer, visits coppersmith Audel Davis. (Read Citrawireja’s first story on Klaus-Ullrich Rötzscher and the Pettingell Book Bindery, and her second on  St. Hieronymus Press, the workspace of David Lance Goines.)

Audel Davis and his wife, Lynne, live in a home tucked down a shady street off University Avenue. Apart from a few pesky crows that terrorize their coi fish by day, they have created a lush and quiet sanctuary, greatly influenced by the philosophy and aesthetics of the Arts and Crafts movement – a concept that took flight and reached its peak in the 1890s as a reaction to the age of mass production. It emphasized traditional craftsmanship as a way to put integrity and skill back into the design and manufacturing process. … Continue reading »

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Developers hope to keep Pyramid a beer destination

Retail West, Inc. plans to divide up the Pyramid Alehouse building into several smaller breweries and retail spaces. Image: Retail West, Inc.
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Many local beer drinkers were surprised to learn of the abrupt closure of West Berkeley’s long-running Pyramid Alehouse last month. The closure was part of a consolidation effort on the part of Pyramid’s parent company, North American Breweries, which says it is shifting focus to its Portland and Seattle locations. Now, Retail West Inc., the group behind the Gilman District’s recent spate of development, hopes to transform the 114,000-square-foot building into a “collective campus of makers, food producers, brewers and distillers,” said Matt Holmes, a principal at the firm.

Retail West is collaborating with the Oakland-based real estate group Colliers International on the project, which will potentially divide the building into a series of smaller breweries (with associated tasting rooms), distilleries and retail spaces. Holmes also plans to build out a shared kitchen for up to 40 small food businesses, which could then sell their wares in the retail area. Retail West is currently in talks with two breweries who are interested in leasing part of the space. … Continue reading »

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Diary of a haunted summer at the Berkeley City Club

Harris featured
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When writer and artist L. John Harris had to vacate his Berkeley home for a month, he checked into the Berkeley City Club, a private social club and hotel where he is a member.

The Durant Avenue landmark, designed by the great Berkeley architect Julia Morgan, dates from 1930.

While ensconced in the hotel this summer, from June 18 to July 16, Harris kept a journal and posted the entries on Facebook with photos. After several days at the Berkeley City Club, the Medieval architectural motifs of Morgan’s “Little Castle” started to work their dark magic on Harris and the posts became more like haunted-castle musings than travel diary entries.

Below, 12 entries from his journal.

#1 Living at a hotel

I have always dreamt of living at a hotel. A tidy little room on a high floor with daily maid service. Free morning coffee with gratis New York Times. An exercise room and swimming pool. Afternoon tea service in an elegant lobby. And a good bar and restaurant where you are greeted by your last name.

Did I get this romantic idea from books and movies growing up in the 1950s?

Well, here I am at the Berkeley City Club for a whole month, a decision based on being temporarily dislocated from my home. Of course, my fantasy was always some grand hotel in Europe or New York with lots of glamorous guests coming and going, but Julia Morgan’s monumental Berkeley City Club comes pretty damn close, save the glamorous clientele.

I would describe my experience so far — several days in — as a cross between feeling homeless and deposited into a senior citizen home, albeit with great architectural bones. … Continue reading »

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Friends of Adeline: ‘Our future shall be determined by us’

Community members discussed issues and concerns related to the city's Adeline Corridor revitalization plan during the Friends of Adeline's third community forum, held at the Black Repertory Theatre on Saturday morning. Photo: Emily Dugdale
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Tensions arose Saturday between community members and city staff at a Friends of Adeline forum focused on Berkeley’s Adeline Corridor revitalization project, with members of the group expressing doubt about whether the city will truly prioritize the needs of the neighborhoods.

Held at the Black Repertory Group’s theater on Adeline Street in South Berkeley, longtime residents of the area as well as local activists, business owners and organizers gathered to make sure their voices are heard in the upcoming months. Since January, residents have expressed concerns that the Adeline Corridor project would gentrify the area, threatening the diversity and culture of the historic neighborhood.

Attendees of the forum also addressed concerns over proposed developments, such as a 6-story residential project at Adeline and Russell that has spurred growing comments of gentrification and the “pushing out” of the area’s remaining black residents. About 100 people attended the meeting.

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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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