Category Archives: Local business

Live Oak Park Fair is leaving Berkeley after 44 years

A glimpse of the 2011 Live Oak Park fair through a display of hula hoops. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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One of Berkeley’s most treasured outdoor celebrations, the Live Oak Park Fair, is leaving the city after 44 years.

Jan Etre, the producer of the fair since 1988, is moving it to the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond and turning it into a benefit for the radio station KPFA. It will still be a fair focused on the arts, but the June fair may be twice as large and will be known as the KPFA Summer Arts Fair.

“It’s been wonderful,” said Etre, who has worked on the fair for 27 years. “It’s been a joyful community garden party every year. We are sorry Live Oak is ending. We are all kind of sad but we see this is as a bigger, better picture.” … Continue reading »

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Rae Dunn: A Berkeley potter, a dog, and a way with words

Rae Dunn featured pic
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Take one very photogenic dog who poses for the camera, the creative eye of an accomplished potter whose life has been shaped by a series of serendipitous events, and you have the newly published book “Wilma’s World: Good Advice From a Good Dog” by Rae Dunn, a ceramist with a studio in West Berkeley.

Just as she didn’t plan to publish a book, Dunn didn’t set out to make clay the foundation of her career. A graphic designer for many years, she was riding the merry-go-round in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park one day when she happened upon the Sharon Art Studio on Bowling Green Drive. Loving the space, she decided she would take a class there and flipped a coin as to whether to learn how to make stained glass or how to throw clay. … Continue reading »

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TargetExpress opens in downtown Berkeley with very local customers in mind

Target Express downtown Berkeley. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Veteran Berkeley dwellers are wont to say that there is nowhere to buy underwear downtown. It’s a complaint that has historically underscored the lack of broad-based retail options in the heart of the city. With the opening of TargetExpress at the corner of  Shattuck and Allston Way today, that is less of a problem, however. One aisle of the 12,000-square-foot store — only the third TargetExpress in the country — offers a selection of men’s briefs and women’s undergarments.

With nearby Cal students in mind, the store also stocks hangers, ironing boards and sheets in its Home section, printer cartridges and legal pads in its Stationery aisle, ready-made margaritas and frozen pizza in the Food section, and — in its gleaming Tech section — wireless routers, speakers and iPads. There is even a small selection of Cal hats and T-shirts for sale.

This should be welcome news for UC Berkeley students, 86.9% of whom, in a 2011 study, expressed a desire for an “all-purpose” store that sold general items — like a Target. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Sutter Health East Bay Medical Foundation opened a new clinic in 2500 Milvia St. on Jan. 26. Photo: Seung Y. Lee
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NEW: SUTTER HEALTH BERKELEY CARE CENTER  Sutter Health opened a new clinic in the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center/Herrick campus on Jan. 26. The new center houses pediatric, family medicine, and obstetrics and gynecology departments, as well as lab services and some imaging, according to a Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation press release. The urgent-care clinic is also open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends. Sutter Health Berkeley Care Center is at 2500 Milvia St. (at Dwight Way).Continue reading »

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Felon to face 2012 Berkeley robbery, carjacking charges

Image: Google maps
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A 37-year-old Concord man is set to face charges after a 2012 robbery series in Berkeley that targeted the Magic Fingers massage parlor on University Avenue, which has since closed.

Samay Pomsouvanh was charged in the case in 2012, but he was not tried in the matter because he was sent to prison in connection with an armed robbery at the home of a prostitute in San Mateo.

Pomsouvanh was released from prison into the custody of the Alameda County sheriff’s department in early February to face the pending charges against him for the 2012 incidents in Berkeley.

According to court documents, Pomsouvanh and four associates — Quoc Bui, Eddie Chiwei Cheung, Aaron Boungnarith and Whitney Sullivan — were tied to robberies in 2012 at Magic Fingers, at 2047 University Ave. (west of Shattuck Avenue), on June 18, June 23, July 1 and July 6, along with another incident of robbery and carjacking June 27. The suspects reportedly posed as law enforcement officials, and tied up their victims with zip ties or duct tape during the robberies. … Continue reading »

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Soda distributors frustrated at city of Berkeley’s lack of guidance on soda tax

Dr. Pepper Snapple Group is one of multiple distributors frustrated by the lack of guidance from the city of Berkeley over the soda tax. Photo: Eric Lynch
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As the co-owner of the San Francisco-based Waterloo Beverages company, Camilo Malaver enjoyed doing business in Berkeley. But he did not want anything to do with Berkeley after voters adopted a soda tax in November.

In January, when the tax was implemented, Malaver decided to stop restocking his supply of craft sodas and naturally sweetened beverages in Berkeley to avoid further confusion.

His gripe was not against the tax itself; his frustration was aimed primarily at the city for what he saw as a poor job relaying information on how to comply with the tax. He’s keen to restock in Berkeley again, but, for now, he is waiting to see how the tax will develop.

“Berkeley is a good city to do business with the university, but now, it’s tough,” Malaver said. “We’re in limbo. Everybody’s lost and [we] don’t know what to do.” … Continue reading »

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Community effort may see Berkeley’s Oaks Theatre reopen with Bakesale Betty on board

The Oaks Theater at xxxx Solano Ave. has been empty for several years. New plans may see it reopen if a deal can ben reached. Photo: Ian Ransley
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The Oaks Theatre on Solano Avenue may have a future after all, after five years of sitting vacant. Jim Whitty, a Berkeley local and his non-profit group, From Little Acorns Grow, is working with Gordon Commercial Real Estate Services to lease and re-open the theater in what will be a true community effort if it succeeds.

Speaking at the Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association (TONA) meeting Thursday night at the Thousand Oaks Baptist Church Auditorim, Whitty, a veteran Oakland firefighter and Secretary Treasurer of the Oakland Firefighters’ Union for the past ten years, said he was well down the path of negotiations with John and Kevin Gordon who were being very supportive of the initiative.

“The rental negotiations are up in the air, but we are not too far apart,” said Whitty who said he was well used to negotiating as a union leader. He is at the “letter of intent” stage, he said. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Honda hopes to take over Any Mountain space

Berkeley Honda is hoping to take over 2777 Shattuck Ave.,the space now occupied by Any Mountain. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Berkeley Honda, which was displaced from its home at 2600 Shattuck Ave. in November, is making plans to move down the street into the building now occupied by Any Mountain, at 2777 Shattuck. Any Mountain has yet to find a new location in the city.

If Berkeley approves the auto dealership’s application, it would end a seven-year odyssey for one of Berkeley’s largest generators of sales tax. The dealership learned in 2008 that it had to leave its home of 40 years on Shattuck Avenue to make way for a mixed-use development called Parker Place. The dealership attempted to move to other locales in Berkeley, only to see them fall through. It is now renting temporary space at 2627 Shattuck Ave.

“It’s going to be Honda’s latest showroom design,” said Tim Beinke, the dealer/operator who owns the business with his father, Steve. “We have a lot of new products coming out. We have plug-in cars and a list of smaller vehicles.” … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Kaffa Ethiopian Restaurant. Photo: Kate Williams
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NEW: KAFFA ETHIOPIAN CUISINE Kaffa, the popular Ethiopian vendor who sells vegan food at the South Berkeley farmers market, now has a brick-and-mortar restaurant on Sacramento Street. Open Tuesday to Sunday, Kaffa has a short menu, selling nothing but a large, medium and small plate, and a side dish called sambusa. But in the very short time it has been open, Kaffa and its owner have received high marks on Yelp: “It’s as if you’re sitting down in her kitchen and she cooks you up a meal,” says Elli N. describing the experience of eating there. Kaffa Ethiopian Restaurant is at 2987 Sacramento St. (at Ashby Avenue).Continue reading »

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Highwire buys Local 123 café and coffee trailer

Interior Local 123.#2_JDelaney
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Highwire Coffee is buying Local 123, the popular West Berkeley café opened by Frieda Hoffman and Katy Wafle six years ago at 2049 San Pablo Ave. (at University). The deal, which also includes Local 123’s coffee trailer at Flowerland Nursery in Albany, closes on Saturday.

Hoffman said she is excited about the sale as she believes she has found the perfect people to take Local 123 to its full potential.

“They will honor what we’ve been doing, with our focus on quality coffee,” she said, speaking of Highwire’s three founders: Rich Avella, Robert Myers and Eric Hashimoto. … Continue reading »

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Film of famous Moe’s Books party found at Berkeley dump

Screen shot 2015-02-19 at 2.19.50 PM
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The film was stuffed in an old cardboard box at the Berkeley dump, resting next to other rolls of footage documenting long-forgotten events.

But when the scavenger pulled out the reel, he saw “New Mo Cut” written on a piece of tape on the film. Could that be a reference to Moe’s Books, the scavenger (who asked not to be named) wondered? He took the film home to find out more.

When he unraveled the black-and-white, 16mm film he saw images of a man in a black top hat and tails getting out of a vintage Rolls Royce affixed with a sign that reads “Moe’s Books: To the Trade Since 1965.” The scavenger recognized the man as Moe Moskowitz who founded Moe’s Books on Telegraph Avenue. The man had never met Moe, who died in 1997 at the age of 76. But he was a regular at the bookstore and had seen a photo above the front counter depicting Moe dressed in a top hat, tails, and white gloves — an image that looked similar to what was on the film. … Continue reading »

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Developer of downtown Berkeley hotel offers ‘tapered’ tower; hopes for quick design review

The new plans for the 18-story hotel at 2129 Shattuck Avenue. Photo: JDRV Urban Architects
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Berkeley’s Design Review Committee will get an early peek this week of new, revised plans for the high-rise hotel on Shattuck Avenue and Center Street — part of the developers’ push to get the project through the planning process quickly.

The plan just submitted shows an 18-story building, rather than 16-story hotel, although both the new and old designs called for structures 180-feet high, according to the documents sent to the city. There will be 254 hotel rooms, all with bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens. There will be 30 condominiums on six floors (floors 13-18), a restaurant, a bar, a new Bank of America branch, and two lobbies fronting Center Street. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Trivia night at the newly opened Daiily Pint. Photo: Daily Pint
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DAILY PINT New gastropub Daily Pint is now up and running on Euclid Avenue in the space that used to house The Pho Bar (as tipped by us in October). The menu is heavy on gourmet sausages (co-owner Jonathan Chu also owns a sausage shop franchise in San Francisco called What’s Up Dog, according to his LinkekIn page), and burgers, as well as a selection of appetizers and salads. Monday night is trivia night at Daily Pint with $3 nachos and prizes for the winning teams. Reader Kristin Nolan is already a fan, writing: “They have a great bar and food menu that is good quality and a great value.”  Daily Pint is at 1828 Euclid Ave. (between Ridge and Hearst). Connect with them on Facebook.Continue reading »

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