Category Archives: Local business

Local business

Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Susan Scott stands in Hatch, the home store she and her husband Ashesh Patel recently opened on College Avenue near Alcatraz Avenue. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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AMAZON TO OPEN TWO BRICK AND MORTAR LOCATIONS IN BERKELEY Amazon is moving to Berkeley in a big way by opening two locations – one a store on the UC Berkeley campus and the other a distribution center in West Berkeley. The store, part of Amazon’s roll out of campus pick-up points, will be located near the new ASUC center on the UC Berkeley campus, according to university officials.  The idea is to smooth delivery of packages to students who live in dorm rooms or who are on the go. Students can specify that a package goes to the Berkeley store, and they can pick it up from a clerk or request a combination for a locker so they can go by on off-hours. The store will be on the Upper Sproul Plaza level, according to Emily Marthinsen, an assistant vice-chancellor for physical and environmental planning. Amazon has also signed a letter of intent to lease 20,000 square feet in the old Marchant Buiding on San Pablo Avenue, according to Darrell de Tienne, whose de Tienne Associates is expediting the permitting process. The building, which straddles Berkeley, Oakland and Emeryville, is right near the freeway, which is perfect for Amazon’s business, he said. The company has applied for a construction permit to fix up the space, which has the address of 1000 Folger Ave., said de Tienne. It will be a distribution center. … Continue reading »

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Halal Guys headed to Berkeley’s Center Street

Halal Guys. Photo: Halal Guys/Facebook
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Last week, we broke the news that Center Street’s Le Regal closed. We’ve now received confirmation that the space will be filled by the first Bay Area location of New York-based restaurant The Halal Guys.

The hyper-popular restaurant announced its West Coast expansion earlier this year, but had until this point been mum on its Berkeley location. The new restaurant is part of a huge growth effort on the part of The Halal Guys, which got its start in 1990 as a converted hot dog truck in New York. … Continue reading »

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Uncharted Berkeley Festival of Ideas 2015: The best yet

Meklit Hadero performs at Uncharted 2015. Photo: Pete Rosos
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The third annual Uncharted Berkeley Festival of Ideas closed Saturday after two days of engaging and compelling conversations that ran the gamut from the inadequacies of the criminal justice system — outlined in no uncertain terms by Judge Alex Kozinski — to the flaws in our education system, articulated by extraordinary 18-year-old reformer Adora Svitak, the perils of Vladimir Putin, who writer Masha Gessen described bluntly as “a thug,” and the dangers of over-treatment in the healthcare system, articulated all too clearly by activist and author Shannon Brownlee.

The festival, held in downtown Berkeley and on the Cal campus, was far from being one long downer, however. For what emerged from nearly all the sessions and discussions, on and off the stage, was a call to action of sorts: to get uncomfortable and to fight back. Or, as Krissy Eliot interpreted it in her excellent report for California Magazine of the festival’s first day, “Screw the system” — let’s dismantle and then reconstruct some of those systems to create a fairer society.

And perhaps that, ultimately, is what an ideas festival is all about: people coming together with a diverse range of experiences and perspectives to wrestle with the pressing issues of the day and then to begin to look for creative ways to make progress. And what more fitting place for that to happen than in Berkeley? … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s Telegraph Academy graduates first class

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After months of hard work and dedication, Telegraph Academy has graduated its first class. On Sept. 26, 17 participants in the program proudly made their transition from student to graduate.

The Berkeley-based tech coding school aims to teach software engineering to under-represented minorities and create a network of tech workers of color.

“If you would have asked me two years ago if I would be here giving this speech I would have looked at you like you were crazy,” Albrey Brown, co-founder of Telegraph Academy, told graduates.

It wasn’t long ago that Brown and his co-founder, Bianca Gandolfo, were pitching their idea to possible investors in the hopes that someone would give them a chance to see their vision come to life. They launched their program in February, and kicked off their first bootcamp in late June.

“Our goal was to provide an inclusive opportunity for minorities in the tech industry,” said Brown, a native of South Berkeley and a 2009 Berkeley High graduate. “Tech is completely dominated by white and Asian males. We just wanted to give others an opportunity to get involved and contribute their unique perspective.” … Continue reading »

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Local business

Berkeley Honda says its future is at risk

Berkeley Honda is now located at 2627 Shattuck Ave. but hopes to relocate to 2777 Shattuck, now occupied by Any Mountain. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Representatives of Berkeley Honda told the Berkeley City Council earlier this week that its future in the city may be in jeopardy, particularly in light of a new petition filed last week to landmark the building Honda hopes to one day occupy.

Last November, Berkeley Honda left its longtime location at 2627 Shattuck Ave. to make way for a large mixed-use development called Parker Place set to be built in the neighborhood. After struggling since 2008 to find an appropriate new location, it came to an agreement with the property owner of 2777 Shattuck, two blocks away, after Any Mountain requested an early termination of its lease there.

It has been difficult to find a site due to state laws that prohibit dealerships from operating within 10 miles of existing similar-brand dealers. According to Matt Beinke, who owns Berkeley Honda with his brother Tim and other family members, the company was unable to secure sites in northwest or southwest Berkeley due to the proximity of competitors in El Cerrito and Oakland. This left them with just a 1-mile radius around their former South Berkeley location to explore, Beinke said.

Any Mountain closed in May. Since June, Berkeley Honda says it has been paying “tens of thousands of dollars” in rent each month at 2777 Shattuck, but has not yet moved into the space, pending city approval. It has instead been operating out of two temporary locations, at 2627 Shattuck and 1500 San Pablo Ave. Initially, Berkeley Honda hoped to move to 1500 San Pablo but “lost that site to a multi-national developer,” according to project documents.

Berkeley Honda representatives told council Tuesday night during the public comment period for items not on the agenda that the company has spent more than $700,000 since April on architectural and engineering work, as well as fees to the city and consultants. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Photo: Mid Century Møbler
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MID CENTURY MØBLER OPENS Furniture store Mid Century Møbler has opened in Berkeley (on Ashby Avenue near Orchard Hardware and Looking Glass Photo), having relocated from a small warehouse in San Francisco’s Mission district. Owned by Julian Goldklang, the store specializes in importing vintage Danish Modern and authentic 1950s and 1960s furniture. All its inventory is hand-selected on quarterly buying trips to Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, England and Scotland. According to marketing director Tomas Hemstad, the 7,500-square-foot showroom makes the store the largest supplier of vintage furniture in Northern California. Hemstad says that, though they loved San Francisco, the four partners who run the business wanted to continue to grow the company in a location that had “a strong existing design community and more space to expand physically.” “We wanted our new location to be a space where customers could easily come and browse our huge collection. Our new shop also provides a massive space to hold events and workshops, which will be regular happenings in the coming months,” he said. Mid Century Møbler is at 1065 Ashby Ave., Berkeley 94710. Current hours are Friday through Sunday, 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., and by appointment the rest of the week. Connect with the store on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.Continue reading »

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Donkey & Goat workers face wine theft charges

Jared Brandt, who co-owns Donkey & Goat with his wife Tracey, stands by some empty barrels during the 2015 harvest. Three former employees of Donkey & Goat are facing charges in court connected to either the embezzlement or sale of stolen wine. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Two former employees of Donkey & Goat will face charges in court Tuesday that they allegedly embezzled as much as $70,490 worth of wine from the Berkeley winery.

Zachary Gomber and Morgan Hall have been charged with embezzlement and receiving stolen property. A third former employee, Kate Sylvan, faces charges of receiving stolen property.

Police believe the trio was involved with the theft and sale of 138 cases with 1,644 bottles over an extended period of time in 2014, according to court documents.

Gomber and Sylvan, who were boyfriend and girlfriend, were arrested Dec. 23 after Berkeley police did a stakeout and observed the pair loading three cases of wine from Gomber’s Richmond home into a car, according to court documents. Sylvan drove off with the wine and was arrested a few blocks away. Police recovered 33 bottles from her car, worth $1,320, and another seven bottles from under Gomber’s bed at a home on Santa Cruz Avenue in Richmond, according to a police affidavit. The wine was from Donkey & Goat. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley councilman Laurie Capitelli profited from $500,000 housing loan given to police chief, paper says

Laurie Capitelli, Espresso Roma, Berkeley, CA, Oct. 10, 2012.
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Update, Oct. 5: Councilman Laurie Capitelli issued a statement Monday to clarify his role in the purchase of a home by Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan in 2010 following a City Council vote the prior year to loan the chief money toward the purchase. Capitelli told Berkeleyside he never served as the real estate agent for the home purchase and did not split a $30,000 commission for the deal, contrary to what was reported Friday by the Bay Area News Group. Capitelli told Berkeleyside he received an unsolicited payment after providing another agent advice about sewer lines and creeks, which he says he now plans to donate to charity. He initially kept the money because he said he was advised by Berkeley’s city attorney that there was no ethical conflict related to the vote and his role in the later transaction.

Original story, Oct. 3: Seven months after City Councilman Laurie Capitelli voted in November 2009 to loan incoming Police Chief Michael Meehan $500,000 in public funds to buy a house, he helped sell Meehan a home and garnered a $15,000 commission, according to a report by Thomas Peele for the Bay Area News Group.

Capitelli had not been hired as Meehan’s real estate agent when he voted with the rest of the City Council to provide the housing loan. Consequently, he does not feel he broke any ethical boundaries, he told the newspaper. … Continue reading »

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Aduro Biotech leases entire West Berkeley building

Wareham Development has rebuilt a historic building at 740 Heinz Avenue as part of its Aquatic Park Center, an 18-acre biotech campus in West Berkeley.
Photo: Wareham Development
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By Lisa Tsering

A biotech company that did the largest IPO in Berkeley history has leased an entire West Berkeley warehouse and will move its labs and offices there by 2016, helping to bolster the city’s reputation as a world-class life sciences hub.

Aduro Biotech Inc., led by UC Berkeley biochemist Stephen T. Isaacs, specializes in creating drugs designed to strengthen the immune system to fight off cancer. They work on some of the toughest-to-fight tumors, such as pancreatic cancer and mesothelioma.

The company went public in April, raising $119 million in Berkeley’s largest-ever initial public offering. It currently employs around 80 people in a smaller space on Bancroft Way. … Continue reading »

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Court rules for Berkeley in cellphone right to know case

Lawrence Lessig (left) chats with Theodore Olson (right) before the two lawyers battled with each other in Federal District Court. Photo: Lance Knobel
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The City of Berkeley’s cellphone right to know ordinance, passed in May, largely survived a legal challenge in federal court by the mobile phone industry. The law requires mobile phone retailers to provide consumers with notice of FCC guidelines on cellphone use.

CTIA – The Wireless Association, the plaintiff, had sought a preliminary injunction to stop enforcement of the law, arguing that federal law preempted Berkeley’s law and that First Amendment rights were being violated.

In a ruling issued yesterday, federal district judge Edward Chen granted in part and denied in part the CTIA’s motion. The grant, however, concerned a single sentence of the Berkeley law, referring to greater risk for children. On the central legal argument, whether Berkeley’s law violated the First Amendment, Chen ruled for the city.   … Continue reading »

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West Berkeley now has a coffee roasting incubator

Berkeley Co-Roasting provides everything necessary for small roasters to prepare their beans. Photo courtesy: Berkeley Co-Roasting
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Uptown Kitchen. The Berkeley KitchensPort Kitchens. Kitchener. The East Bay has a growing legion of upstart shared kitchen spaces for small food businesses, but has had little in the way of shared coffee roasting space — until now.

Berkeley Co-Roasting (BCR) is a new shared coffee roasting facility at 2322 Fifth St. Operated by the four-person team of Paul Goldstone, Tim Hansen, Michael Pappas and Floy Andrews, the facility intends to “offer specialty coffee roasters and inviting light-filled and spacious hub for creating, roasting, and processing their artisanal coffee products,” according Andrews, BCR’s business manager. Roasters can lease space by the hour, half day or full day. … Continue reading »

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Vandalism, crime cause problems at Allston Way Garage

The Allston Way Garage has reported an uptick in students loitering, graffiting, and engaging in sexual activity in the garage area. Photo: Franchesca Paris.
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When lunchtime at Berkeley High rolls around at 11:38 a.m., the gate on the Allston side of the Allston Way Garage comes down. Security guards stand sentry. The gate is not pushed back up until the lunch hour is over at 12:18 p.m.

Even though the closed gate is an inconvenience for potential parkers, the owners of the garage have resorted to such extreme measures because the garage has been trashed by students in the past.

In the spring, groups of high-school students loitered in the garage, painted graffiti, gambled with “large wads of cash,” smoked marijuana in the stairwells, and engaged in sexual activity with other students and occasionally prostitutes, according to Heather Scott, property manager at the Allston Way Garage. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Berkeley Labor Commission’s $19 nightmare

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When President Obama proposed in 2013 to raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour, one retort designed to call attention to his flawed economic logic went like this: “If $9 is so great, why not $19?”

Less than three years later, the Labor Commission in Berkeley has taken this rhetorical device to heart and proposed making it a reality by 2020.

Such is the state of the minimum wage debate in 2015, where starting wage levels that … Continue reading »

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