Category Archives: Local business

Berkeley may soon have 6 cannabis dispensaries

Cannabis
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Two months later, the council is on the verge of approving another two new dispensaries, which means Berkeley may soon have six places to buy medical cannabis.

The rapid turnaround came in part because city council members were so impressed by the presentations made by the six finalists vying for the fourth spot, said City Councilman Kriss Worthington. He said the presentations were “compelling,” and the applications were very different from one another.

 “The council was reluctant until they saw the depth and breadth of the applications,” said Worthington.

Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of medical cannabis.

Adding another two dispensaries will also add to the city’s coffers. In 2014, the existing three dispensaries contributed $638,938 in taxes, according to a staff report. Another three dispensaries would almost certainly generate several hundred thousand dollars in taxes annually. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: Belli Osteria, Collector Art Shop, more

The interior of the now-shuttered Belli Osteria. A new Italian restaurant with a pizza oven will soon open in the space. Photo: Belli Osteria
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BELLI OSTERIA SHUTS DOWN After four years of serving exquisite pasta such as homemade black ravioli, pasta with clams and other Northern Italian fare, Belli Osteria, at 2016 Shattuck Ave., has shut its doors. Paul Oprescu, a Cal alum who majored in American history, opened the gem of the restaurant in Oct. 2012, right next door to the extremely popular Comal. “I had decided, some time ago, to go back to teaching and focus on my personal life, Oprescu told Berkeleyside in an email. He tacked a sign up on the front windows sending his regards to loyal customers. “Thank you for four wonderful years.” Oprescu sold the business to Steven A. Dumain, an Italian-American from New York, and Alessandro Uccelli, an Italian from the northern part of Italy. The pair will open reopen as an Italian restaurant soon with a wood-fired pizza oven, wrote Oprescu. … Continue reading »

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How Quirky is Berkeley? Lanesplitter’s action figures

Lanesplitter action figures, 2033 San Pablo. Photo: John Storey
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San Pablo Avenue has long been the funky boulevard of Berkeley — folk music clubs, punk clubs, the now-gone Twin Castle, hip breakfast spots, bars, sex-toy shop, ethnic grocery stores, liquor stores, Ohmega Salvage, automobile repair shops, rib joints, and so on. But, like all of Berkeley, San Pablo Avenue is changing. The Quirky Berkeley jury is out on what is happening on San Pablo, but it is in on Lanesplitter Pizza just south of University Avenue, and, in particular, its collection of dozens of action figures depicting past and present staff . … Continue reading »

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Local business

Berkeley women use thrift shopping as a form of activism

Merav Walklet (left) and Cherry Bogue (right) run Pussy Parlor, a popup thrift store. The women believe that buying and wearing used clothing can be a positive medium for social change. Photo: Kossisko Konan
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In a time when many millennials pride themselves on being social activists, two women with Berkeley ties are hoping to make thrift shopping part of a social movement.

Cherry Bogue and Merav Walklet, the founders of Pussy Parlor, have a passion for fashion and they believe clothes can be a medium for positive change. Pussy Parlor hosted its first popup sale in South Berkeley at UFO Art Gallery on July 5, and the pair hopes it will be the starting point for a larger, ongoing fashion and culture initiative. The next popup will be July 19 at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market. … Continue reading »

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Potter Sarah Kersten: Ceramic pieces tell stories

Sarah Kersten. Photo: Melati Citrawireja
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When Sarah Kersten decided the academic life wasn’t for her, she promised herself she would pursue something equally educational. What she didn’t expect was that inspiration and guidance would come in the form of a fermentation jar. Well, the idea of one. She had yet to create it: the jar became her manifesto.

Since childhood, Kersten has enjoyed having her hands in clay. She had a knack for it, but it was never a core focus in her life. After leaving college and moving to the San Juan islands to work on a lavender farm, she struck up the practice again, finding a renewed satisfaction in the cups she would spin in her free time. Then her friends challenged her to make a fermentation jar — a culinary venture they were all becoming quite fascinated with — and she decided this complex undertaking could be an opportunity for her to make a living.

“I saw that if I could figure out how to make one I would have a lot more skills at the end than I would at the beginning,” Kersten says as we lounge in her spacious West Berkeley studio. It feels a bit like a sanctuary — dried flowers collected on recent hikes dangle from the walls, and leafy indoor plants happily sip up the diffused light that eases lazily into the space. It’s a warm June day and we can hear the kids across the street singing and hollering on the playground.

“I think the most important thing is to keep on going and get through the ‘not great’ phase to reach the end. And you definitely don’t know what that’s going to be when you’re at the beginning. Otherwise you would just start there, right?” … Continue reading »

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Bites: Eatsa, Grand Fare, Rhetoric Coffee, more

Photo: Eatsa/Facebook
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Openings, closings

EATSA TO TAKE OVER FORMER CREPES-A-GO-GO IN BERKELEY The robots are coming. Sort of. The high-tech automated quinoa bowl restaurant Eatsa is planning to open its third Bay Area location on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, in the recently vacated Crêpes A-Go-Go. According to Eater SF, Eatsa hopes to open by the time students show back up at Cal’s campus in the fall. Eatsa serves a mostly-healthy menu of grain bowls and salads like the Spice Market Bowl (corn curry, roasted yams, saag paneer, cucumber raita, tandoori tofu, warm lemon-herb toasted quinoa, pita bread and fried chickpeas) and the Bento Bowl (stir-fried quinoa with egg, edamame, crispy wonton strips, teriyaki sauce, miso portobello mushrooms and apple-cabbage slaw). Select locations also offer breakfast. What makes Eatsa stand out amongst the other bowl-and-salad spots now popping up in the area is that the restaurant does not employ any front-of-house staff; instead, customers place orders on iPads or smart phones and then pick up their food in a glass cubicle. (Actual human prep cooks prepare the bowls behind the scenes.) Another difference? The price. Each lunch Eatsa bowl is a mere $6.95 and breakfast items are all under $4  — good news for college students and budget conscious diners alike. Eatsa will be at 2334 Telegraph Ave. (at Durant Avenue), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.Continue reading »

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Mandy Aftel: A world master of artisan perfume

Mandy Aftel. 6/27/16 Photo: Melati Citrawireja
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Mandy Aftel’s love of perfume is all-encompassing.

This verve is apparent in her immaculate collection of 19th-century books on perfumery that fill the nooks of her workspace in North Berkeley. Or, in the way she tends to her rose garden — plants carefully chosen and imported from Turkey — the petals smelling of winter tangerines, or the most delicate tea. Still, even, in how she slowly, gently uncorks a 100-year-old bottle of vanilla for me to inhale, its notes hauntingly deep, smoky, and complex. There is not a bone in her body that isn’t absolutely enthralled with what she does. This is what makes her so special.

Aftel — now edging into her late 60s — wasn’t always a perfumer. In fact, this career sort of happened by accident. After spending thirty years as a psychotherapist and a writer, Aftel decided she wanted to write a novel about a perfumer, of all things, and signed up for an aromatherapy class to understand a little about the art. What she thought would be a brief educational foray soon became her new favorite thing to do.

“I tend to follow in an artistic way what is deeply meaningful and attractive to me. I fell down a rabbit hole and I haven’t been able to leave,” she says, giving her voluminous ruby-colored hair a tousle. We sit in her perfumery, watching as peachy light seeps in through the windows and dances off her collection of antique perfume bottles that line the sill. “It all seemed familiar to me, like I just could find my way with the materials. It just made sense.” … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: Mad Monk, Neeko, Serena & Lily, more

The Mad Monk Center for Anachronistic Media. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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MAD MONK CENTER FOR ANACHRONISTIC MEDIA Ken Sarachan’s Mad Monk Center for Anachronistic Media threw open its doors in April after years of construction. The spacious space at 2454 Telegraph Ave. that formerly housed Cody’s Books now holds thousands of used books and LPs (brought from the basement of Rasputin’s down the street). There are no CDs or DVDs, only “analog” media. Thus the name. Sarachan has said he has plans to install a café and music venue in the space, but those elements have not arrived yet. Bookmarks, T-shirts, and book bags are also on the way. … Continue reading »

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Teance owner branches out into cold-brew drinks

Pouring Fogdog cold-brew tea at Teance in Berkeley. Photo: Courtesy Fogdog
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It’s summer once more, and here in the Bay Area that means longer days, warmer afternoons, and thick spells of fog that send a chill through the evening. Though it may be the naysayer of summer, the iconic San Francisco fog is also the namesake of Fogdog, a cold-brew coffee and tea company with a hydrodynamic patent-pending process that is set to change the way you sip this summer.

First conceived of by Winnie Yu, a long-time Berkeley resident and the owner of Teance on Fourth Street, the Fogdog process takes cold-brew to a whole new level by efficiently extracting aromatic oils and rich natural flavors that aren’t brought out in traditional brewing methods for iced teas and coffees. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Red Bay Coffee Box, Agrodolce, Firebrand

Red Bay Coffee Box. Photo: Red Bay Coffee Roasters/Facebook
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Openings, closings

RED BAY COFFEE BOX NOW OPEN AT THE HIVE Close to a year after announcing it would be opening a café built out of a converted shipping container in Oakland’s Hive complex, Red Bay Coffee Roaster‘s “Coffee Box” is now open. In addition to coffee, we hear from East Bay Dish that the Coffee Box is offering baked goods from Oakland-based Tart Bakery. Funds for the café were raised through a successful $80,000 Kickstarter campaign last spring — the most successful coffee campaign ever on the crowdfunding site, according to Red Bay founder Keba Konte. But permitting issues delayed the opening of the café, despite the fact that Konte had finished construction on the container months ago. In the meantime, Red Bay launched several farmers market stands, including one at the downtown Berkeley market, added Uber as a client, and built out a new headquarters in a converted factory in Fruitvale. The Red Bay Coffee Box is at 2327 Broadway (between 23rd and 24th streets), Oakland. Connect with the coffee roasters on FacebookTwitter and InstagramContinue reading »

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Fire at former Sliderbar in downtown Berkeley

BFD responded to a fire at the former Sliderbar location 2124 Center St. Photo: Paul Kealoha-Blake
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The Berkeley Fire Department has responded to a fire on Center Street in downtown Berkeley that caused the evacuation of several buildings and is backing up traffic in the area.

The fire, reported at about 3:30 p.m., took place at 2124 Center St. between Shattuck Avenue and Oxford Street.

Donna McCracken, deputy fire chief, said the fire broke out in a wall at ground level in the commercial building.

Firefighters had been able to knock down the fire by putting water on it, but were having difficulty accessing its source due to the tight quarters.

Traffic was jammed up on Center between Shattuck and Oxford, McCracken said.

Firefighters remained on scene as of about 4:15 p.m. to make sure the fire had been extinguished. … Continue reading »

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Premier Cru lawsuit: Some customers to get refunds

Premier Cru on University Avenue.
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Six months after the wine store Premier Cru abruptly shut it doors, leaving thousands of customers without access to the wine they had purchased, relief may be on the way.

The bankruptcy trustee appointed to liquidate the wine company’s assets recently reached a settlement with a disgruntled patron that will allow many customers to recoup a portion of their investment — but only for pennies on the dollar.

The settlement affects about 4,800 customers but excludes another 2,300 or so who may not see any refunds. … Continue reading »

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Oxford Street parklet, Berkeley’s third, opens today

The Oxford Street parklet. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Berkeley’s third parklet, and downtown’s first, will officially open at 5 p.m. today. The outdoor seating area covers 2130 to 2136 Oxford Street in front of Sunny Side Café, East Bay Spice Company, Cinnaholic and Suya African-Caribbean Grill.

The Oxford Street parklet’s design was inspired by the west entrance to UC Berkeley, which is almost directly across the street. It has a concrete wall inspired by the classical buildings on campus adorned with metal cutouts of a Cal Bear, the Bay Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. “Our communal vision was to create a similar aesthetic, that of ornate cement and metalwork with an old world field,” Joel DiGiorgio, co-founder of Farm League Design and Management Group, told Nosh in an email. Farm League is the management company behind East Bay Spice Company.
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