Tag Archives: A’ Cuppa Tea

Elmwood business quotas may change to help startups

City Council District 8 includes the Elmwood shopping district
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The decades-old retail and food quotas in Berkeley’s Elmwood commercial district face a potentially dramatic overhaul with Councilmember Gordon Wozniak set to propose a review of the quotas to the Planning Commission at tonight’s City Council meeting. If it’s adopted, Wozniak’s scheme would eliminate retail quotas and collapse the current three-tier food quota into a single quota.

“I want to make it easier for startups, but still maintain the special character of the Elmwood,” Wozniak, who represents most of the Elmwood business district, said. The area is centered on the intersection of Ashby and College Avenues in south Berkeley. “There’s a need to keep the balance between food and retail, but having three distinct categories for food is very destructive and consumes an inordinate amount of staff time.”

Under the current quotas (see table below), there are six distinct retail categories and three food categories — carry out, quick service and full service. Wozniak said that the system can be a “real disincentive for a new business”, because of the cost and time needed for permitting.

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

The interior of A Priori on Vine Street
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FIRST THINGS FIRST A Priori, which calls itself a store where “global meets local” had a soft opening on Monday October 17th. The shop, owned by Lisa Tana, is at 2112B Vine Street and sells modern sustainable products, including home decor and gifts  made by local artists.

OUT OF THE CLOSET As reported last month, California Closets has opened in Berkeley, bringing on-site manufacturing and new jobs to Fourth Street. An official ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce will be held Wednesday October 19th at 6pm.

ITALIAN DELICACIES Clarine Hardesty launched Clarine’s Florentines in Lafayette in 2007, but then saw sense and moved to a production facility on Gilman Street in Berkeley. Hardesty was a 2nd-grade teacher for seven years before deciding to launch the florentine-focused company. She took inspiration from time spent in Florence while in college and from her dad, a successful entrepreneur. Her buttery caramel and chocolate cookies are available locally at the Pasta Shop on Fourth Street, as well as at several other Bay Area locations. … Continue reading »

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A’Cuppa Tea move raises issues of Elmwood quotas

Lynn and Lee Vu at A'Cuppa Tea: "completely mom and pop". Photo: Lance Knobel
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Update, 9:50pm: At its meeting tonight, the Berkeley City Council upheld the ZAB decision to give a use permit to A’Cuppa Tea in the Elmwood.


At tonight’s City Council meeting, the 36th item on the agenda is an appeal against a decision of the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) to allow A’Cuppa Tea to move to a vacant site on College Avenue in the Elmwood. Why would a unanimous decision of the ZAB on a zoning adjustment for a business to move two blocks by a City Council matter? It’s the vexed issue of neighborhood business quotas.

The Elmwood Commercial District is one of several in Berkeley with quotas for different kinds of businesses. In the Elmwood, only seven so-called quick-service food establishments are allowed in the quotas, but there are currently eight operating, and licenses have been issued for 10.

A’Cuppa Tea is currently on the corner of College and Alcatraz, but plans to move to 2992 College, just north of Webster in to space formerly occupied by H. Tulanian & Sons Oriental Rug Cleaning & Repair– about four-tenths of a mile. Its current site, however, is outside the Elmwood quotas.  … Continue reading »

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