Category Archives: Local business

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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UC Berkeley close to deal for long-empty Telegraph lot

Ken Sarachan, who owns multiple properties on Telegraph Avenue, bought 2501 Haste St. in 1994. The Berkeley Inn was located there until a fire destroyed it. The mural was recently removed. Photo: Ted Friedman
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UC Berkeley and property owner Ken Sarachan are close to a joint-venture development deal for the long-empty lot at the north-east corner of Haste and Telegraph, which means that new student housing might be in place there by August 2017.

“We are in negotiations, deep negotiations,” said Robert Lalanne, UC’s Vice-Chancellor for Real Estate. Lalanne said he would like to think they are getting very close to a deal.

The university would take over Sarachan’s entitlement of the proposed development for the site: a six-story Moorish, palace-like structure inspired by Italian hill towns, Tibetan forts and the rock-cut architecture of Petra in Jordan. The university would then turn over the project  to a developer, who would build the structure. Lalanne declined to name the developer as a contract had not been signed. … Continue reading »

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‘The Dam Keeper,’ a short animated film by a Berkeley studio, nominated for an Oscar

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On a recent morning before dawn, two former Pixar animators, Dice Tsutsumi and Robert Kondo, met up at their Berkeley studio to watch live as the nominees were announced for the  2015 Academy Awards. It was worth the 5 a.m. start, as their beautifully crafted short, The Dam Keeper, was indeed nominated for an Oscar. The 18-minute film tells the tale of a young pig encumbered with an important job, and how meeting a new classmate changes everything. Kondo and Tsutsumi have worked as art directors on Ice AgeRatatouilleMonsters University and Toy Story 3. Berkeleyside caught up with Tsutsumi to learn more about their new film and about the two filmmakers who made the leap to go it alone a year ago this month.

What did it feel like to find out your animated short, The Dam Keeper, was nominated for an Oscar? 

We got together at our studio, Tonko House, at 5 a.m. so we could watch the announcement live together. We did Google Hangout with our producers and editor as well. One of our producers, Duncan Ramsay, who now lives in London, saw it from London but still managed to watch it live with us. The internet at our studio is slower than everyone else’s and we had a bit of a delayed streaming. We saw other guys scream with joy while we were still watching the previous category! … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Himalayan curry by Nancy Rubin
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NEW: HIMALAYAN TANDOORI AND CURRY HOUSE Himalayan Tandoori and Curry House had a grand opening buffet on Feb. 2 in the space that used to be Everest Café on Solano Avenue. Former patrons of Everest Café, and other friends in the community, were invited in for a free meal. Says manager Umesh Manandhar: “The restaurant serves authentic Nepalese and Indian cuisine. We hope that our friendly environment will be a place in the community for neighbors to come for tea or a delicious meal. All the pumpkin that we serve here is from our farm in Sebastopol and we are trying to grow most of the vegetables from the same farm. We also serve some vegan meals. Our main objective is to serve healthy food with friendly service.” Himalayan Tandoori and Curry House  is at 1645 Solano Ave., Berkeley. [By Nancy Rubin] … Continue reading »

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Shotgun Players to create studio at old Serendipity Books

Shotgun Players are transforming the old Serendipity Books on University Avenue into a rehearsal space. Photo: Google Images
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Berkeley’s Shotgun Players has purchased the building on University Avenue that once housed Serendipity Books and will turn it into a new rehearsal and shop space.

A large gift from an anonymous donor allowed Shotgun to buy the 5,200-square foot building at 1201 University (at San Pablo) in March 2014. The Board of Directors and other donors have contributed $1.6 million to renovate the space. Shotgun will now look to the broader community to raise an additional $175,000.

“I am humbled and awed by the outpouring of support from the Shotguns community,” Patrick Dooley, the theater’s artistic director, said in a press release. “The generosity of our supporters is truly inspiring. After years of being nomadic, Shotgun realized the secret to longevity is not just in great theatre, but also in long term investments like real estate.” … Continue reading »

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New 16-story downtown condo/hotel project to appeal to empty nesters, visiting professors

Jim Didion of Center Street LLC (left) and Richard Kelleher, CEO of Pyramid Hotels, are teaming up to construct a 16-story hotel in downtown Berkeley. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The new developer of a 16-story hotel in downtown Berkeley plans to build up to 35 condominiums and include kitchens in every room so people can stay for extended periods of time.

The Pyramid Hotel Group has extensive experience constructing hotels near universities, according to the company’s founder and CEO, Richard M. Kelleher, who was in Berkeley this week to discuss the project with city officials and community activists. Many people who visit university towns are academics or family members who want to stay in the area for a long time, he said. The new hotel will cater to them, although there will also be guests who stay for short periods of time, he said.

The hotel will be built with union labor and staffed with union employees — part of Pyramid Hotel Group’s commitment to be a good community member, said Kelleher. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley movie theater under scrutiny for staff safety

Rialto Cinemas Elmwood has not changed their signs for over a month following a safety investigation. Photo: Seung Y. Lee
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The Rialto Cinemas Elmwood has been ordered not to change the movie titles on its marquee until it develops a safe way for employees to switch out the letters.

The state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, also known as Cal/OSHA, sent a Dec. 29 letter to the theater ordering it to stop changing the movie names on its marquee. Since then, the theater, at 2966 College Ave., has not changed its sign. Three of the four movies currently featured outside are no longer playing; only Boyhood is still screening there. … Continue reading »

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