Category Archives: Local business

Animal rights activists smash Star Grocery windows

The window that was vandalized at Star Grocery on Claremont Avenue. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Two FBI agents visited Star Grocery on Claremont Avenue on Monday to investigate a broken window the government believes was smashed by animal rights activists.

The large plate glass window of the market, which has been run by the Pappas family since 1922, was smashed around 2 a.m. on Sunday, July 27, according to Nick Pappas, the store’s owner. He wasn’t aware of the animal rights connection until the FBI contacted him a few days later, he said. … Continue reading »

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Local business

West Berkeley’s Pacific Steel sold to equity firm

Pacific Steel Casting Plant. Photo: Michael Layefsky
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West Berkeley’s Pacific Steel Casting, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, is slated to be sold to a private equity firm for $11.3 million, according to the Dow Jones Daily Bankruptcy Review.

Monday, a judge in Oakland approved the offer from Speyside Equity to purchase the steel parts manufacturing plant. A Pacific Steel spokeswoman told Berkeleyside on Thursday that there had been no other offers.

Read past Berkeleyside coverage regarding Pacific Steel.

Pacific Steel attorney Julie Rome-Banks said in court papers that the company employs 410 people, Dow Jones reported. The company was up for auction earlier this month in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Oakland.Continue reading »

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Have you seen this tiny treehouse post office in Tilden?

The Tiny Treehouse at Tilden Park. Photo: Leafcutter Designs
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Have you seen the tiny tree house hidden in the Berkeley hills?

In December, Lea Redmond of Berkeley’s Leafcutter Designs built “The Tiny Tilden Post Office” in a knothole in a tree off the Curran Path in Tilden Park. … Continue reading »

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In Berkeley: Vegan, gluten-free Sanctuary Bistro

The Jones Horton Clan, of Sanctuary Bistro in Berkeley. Photo: Courtesy of Michelle Cehn
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Calling all vegan and/or gluten-free residents of Berkeley (that’s at least half the city, no?) a new restaurant is opening just for you. Not a place with a few vegan and gluten-free options on the menu, no. A sit-down restaurant where vegan and gluten-free diners can choose anything on the menu without having to ask what’s in it.

Sanctuary Bistro is its name, and it’s opening Friday, Aug. 1. The restaurant is at 1019 Camelia St. in West Berkeley, in the space that held Sushi Banzai for over 20 years. It’s also not far from a spate of development happening on Gilman Street in expectation of the Whole Foods Market under construction between Ninth and 10th streets.

A husband and wife are behind Sanctuary Bistro, Barry Horton and Jennifer Jones Horton. (They have two small children as well, but they won’t be helping out much in the kitchen.) The pair has run Local Love Vegan Catering for the past five years. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

West Berkeley Philz on Gilman Street. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Global Exchange logoGLOBAL EXCHANGE REORGANIZED The Global Exchange on the corner of Russell Street and College Avenue recently reorganized its interior to make the store feel more open and better showcase the artwork on sale. The bulky display pieces were taken out to open up floor and wall space, according to lead sales associate Lauren Matley. While it used to feel “cozy, like a marketplace,” the space is now “happy and light,” said Matley. The inventory is also more modern, with less emphasis on tribal crafts. Global Exchange, an international human rights organization “dedicated to promoting social, economic and environmental justice around the world,” has two stores in the Bay Area. The San Francisco store opened in 1989 and the College Avenue store opened in 1991. Both places sell crafts made by artisans from around the world. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Asphalt: New technology will reduce odors

Berkeley Asphalt plant on Virginia St. Photo: Mary Flaherty
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Berkeley Asphalt plans to invest in a new manufacturing process designed to reduce emissions and odors in its West Berkeley neighborhood starting in January, officials announced recently.

Its neighbors have complained about the noise, odors, and pollution from the plant for at least 20 years, most recently in June when a group questioned whether the plant has been violating its use permit with excess odors and noise.

What the company has decided to do is convert to a new technology called “warm-mix” asphalt, which produces paving material at a lower temperature than traditional asphalt, yet performs as well on the road and releases fewer pollutants into the air, according to company officials. The decision was the result of negotiations between the company and city staff that began last year.

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Development may come to Spenger’s lot in Berkeley

Archeologists from Archeo-Tek, Inc. of Oakland excavated a site at 1900 Fourth St. in the winter of 2014 to look for evidence of the Berkeley shellmound's existence. Photo: Archeo-Tek, Inc.
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After months of poking, prodding, sifting and examining soil, an archeological dig beneath the parking lot across from Spenger’s restaurant on Fourth Street found no evidence it had ever been home to a Native American shellmound.

The findings that the site was not historically important means the owners will seek to develop it.

“Investigators found no historically significant remnants of the West Berkeley Shellmound within the parking lot grounds and have concluded to near certainty that none exist within the property,” says a report on the findings by archeologist Allen Pastron and his team from Archeo-Tec Inc., an Oakland-based firm. The dig team included an Ohlone Indian observer, Andrew Galvan. … Continue reading »

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Nature’s Express closed; may re-open next week

Nature's Express on Solano Avenue is set to re-open Saturday. Photo: Nature's Express
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Popular North Berkeley restaurant Nature’s Express closed this week unexpectedly, with promises to re-open soon, leaving many nearby residents wondering what had taken place.

According to management, the vegan and vegetarian eatery at 1823 Solano Ave. has faced “abysmal” financial struggles and had to make changes, including staff reductions, to survive.

But former employees — many of whom quit in solidarity after several other staffers were let go — have launched a campaign to raise money as they look for new jobs, and to raise alarm bells about what they say are the negative business practices of new management. … Continue reading »

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In Memoriam: Ron Cauble, founder of The Bone Room

Ron Cauble in The Bone Room. Photo: Kaia Diringer
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Ron Cauble, who founded two iconic stores, The Bone Room and Vivarium, died unexpectedly July 19.

Cauble, who also went by the nickname “Dr. Science” was a brilliant scientist and natural historian, with a doctorate in chemistry, experience with rocket science, and 23 years in the study of herpetology. He was a treasure in the Bay Area community. He is survived by many of his loyal customers and friends, his devoted employees, and his loving long-time partner Diana. Read a … Continue reading »

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Local business

Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

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Bellhops logo BELLHOPS Moving just got a little easier. In May, Bellhops set up operations in Berkeley. Using a business model akin to Uber or Lyft, the company hires local college students, or “bellhops,” to provide customers with moving help. The company started three years ago in Auburn, Alabama, and rapidly expanded to 145 cities across the country. Currently, around 80 UC Berkeley students are available for customers within 15 miles of campus, according to co-founder Matt Paterson. Operations are decentralized, and the company doesn’t own any trucks or garages, but its employees can rent moving vans if the customer requests it. As Patterson puts it, Bellhops is perfect for those who don’t need a professional service and instead could just use some helping hands. And the company recognizes that letting strangers handle your possessions can be nerve-racking, which is why it sends customers pictures and profiles of bellhops before they arrive. Trust and exceptional customer service are central to the company’s mission, said Patterson. Continue reading »

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West Berkeley Whole Foods to open Nov. 4

An architectural rendering for the West Berkeley Whole Foods. Image: Field Paoli
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Whole Foods Market has announced the opening date for its new West Berkeley location on Gilman Street.

The 47,800-square-foot complex is scheduled to open on Gilman at 10th Street on Nov. 4, the company said Tuesday.

It’s the second Whole Foods location in Berkeley, and the 41st in the region. The company’s other Berkeley store is at Telegraph and Ashby avenues.

Read more about the new Gilman shopping district on Berkeleyside.

In addition to the 31,000-square-foot grocery store, the complex is slated to include a 1,666-square foot coffee roastery and 2,000 square feet of retail offices on site, according to project documents submitted earlier this year.

The grocery store, at 1025 Gilman, is expected to bring 180 to 200 new jobs to the area, said Jen Monaco, store team leader. … Continue reading »

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Popular biergarten poses challenges for neighbors

Before the World Cup final, about 40 people lined up to get into the Westbrae Biergarten. The beer and food spot has been more popular than expected and neighbors are worried about noise and parking. Photo: Natalie Orenstein
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As the final match of the World Cup began Sunday, July 13, some 40 people stood patiently in an orderly line outside the new Westbrae Biergarten on the corner of Gilman and Curtis streets. A bouncer guarded the entrance to the beer garden, where patrons sat calmly watching the game on non-amplified screens.

The tranquil scene was a far cry from the whistles and whoops and massive crowds that were mainstays at the beer garden during the earlier World Cup games. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Slash Denim
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SLASH DENIM Slash Denim at 2840 College Ave. has reopened its doors two months after a smoky fire damaged the inventory. The store, which sells high-end denim, is adding a mix of vintage clothes from its vintage store downstairs, according to owner Carla Bell. She opened Slash Denim eight years ago and the vintage store 35 years ago. The denim store will still carry new jeans, but will expand its vintage Levi collection, she said. On May 7, a light fixture fell from the ceiling and set part of the wall on fire, said Bell. Two people from the 7-11 store across the street spotted the flames and ran to a nearby fire station. The fire department responded at 4:20 a.m. and quickly extinguished the flames. Slash Denim held a 25%-50% off sale for two months while it was fixing the store, said Bell. The store was not insured, said Bell. … Continue reading »

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