DIJITAL FIX It seems like the Elmwood is always expanding its assortment of new shops and among them is the newly opened Dijital Fix Design & Electronics. Originally from Brooklyn, the store made its West Coast debut in San Francisco in 2012, and has just opened its Berkeley location. (The spot used to be Collector, which closed over the summer.) What can you hope to find at Dijital Fix? An eclectic mix of widgets and gadgets and thingamajigs that meet at the intersection of fashion, home decor and electronics. It’s at once a curiosity shop and a resource for functional household items, depending on your interests. Dijital Fix has also kept its San Francisco flagship store at 820 Valencia St. near 19th in the Mission. Dijital Fix is at 2950 College Ave. (at Ashby Avenue). Phone: 510-982-5040. Hours: Weekdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m, weekends until 9 p.m. Connect with Dijital Fix on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter. (more…)
A downtown Berkeley Italian restaurant changes hands; an art shop closes and a popup promises 'endorphins' in the apparel field.
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. (more…)
BODYROK Fitness studios Bodyrok had their grand opening May 21 at 1601 University Ave. (at California). The studios, which offer stationary bikes and Pilates reformer machines, offer full body sculpt classes (using a blend of Pilates, cardio and weight training), and a variety of cycle classes. Bodyrok says its approach is to “take a traditional reformer workout and turns it up a notch by adding strength training exercises and high-energy music to keep the heart rate up the entire 40-minute class. Our method includes a greater variety of exercises, longer segments and quicker transitions, resulting in a more intense, sweat fueled, fast-paced Pilates workout.” Berkeley is Bodyrok’s fourth location as it has two in San Francisco and one in Carlsbad. Bodyrok is at 1601 University Ave. (at California). Connect with Bodyrok Fitness on Facebook. (more…)
HUCKLEBERRY BICYCLES Huckleberry Bicycles, which has been on Market Street in San Francisco since 2011, has just opened a second location at 2424 Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley (which, until they closed in February, housed MSC Custom Bikes). Huckleberry sells Cannondale, Brompton, All City, Surly, Masi, Salsa, Faraday, Shinola and Spot Brand new bikes, as well as a selection of bags (think Brooks England), apparel (Levi’s, Cadence Collection, Swrve) and shoes. There is a full-service repair shop onsite. The owners are Jonas Jackel, Brian Smith and Zack Stender. Jackel tells us they chose Berkeley because “it’s a great bike city with excellent bicycle infrastructure and strong roots in cycling culture.” Himself a Berkeley resident, Jackel sees potential for another good bike shop here. “The population is growing, and many of the new residents ride their bikes every day,” he said. “We saw an opportunity to succeed here with our unique assortment of products. We have a lot of customers from the East Bay who frequent our SF store, so we thought expanding into this market was a good fit for our business. Asked why Telegraph, Jackel said: “We’re in a great spot to serve the needs of the students, families and young professionals who live in the area. Telegraph has a high volume of foot traffic, and this neighborhood and the adjacent downtown area have high population density and bicycle ridership. All good things for a bike shop.” Huckleberry is now in soft opening and plans a “grand opening sale” May 14-22. All bikes plus select categories will be on sale at both of its stores. Huckleberry Bicycles, 2424 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley 94704 Tel: 510-900 1133. Open Mon.–Fri. 11am-7pm Sat.–Sun. 12am-5pm. Connect with Huckleberry on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. (more…)
BONE ROOM CLOSING STORE Berkeley’s quirkiest store, The Bone Room, announced on Tuesday that it is closing its brick-and-mortar store on Solano Avenue (which it had already downsized last spring). A place of wonder for children and adults, scientists and artists for more than 30 years, The Bone Room will be focusing on growing its online sales, “hosting more pop-up shops around California, and … increasing our popular literary events,” according a March 22 Facebook post. The store was founded by Ron Cauble, a brilliant scientist and natural historian, who also opened the East Bay Vivarium in West Berkeley. Cauble died in July 2015. The Bone Room will close its doors on June 1, but the post urged fans not to despair: “Fear not, dear Bone Roomers!!! We are NOT closing down, but rather evolving. Keep following us (and turn on our notifications) for sales, special items, Bone Crew antics, videos and more. Your incredible support is what has allowed our shop to grow. Thank you for the years so far, and for the years to come!” Visit The Bone Room’s shop at 1573 Solano Ave. through June 1; visit its website and online store (real bats in lucite, priced at $30 each!); connect with The Bone Room on Facebook.
NEW OWNERS FOR THE FRENCH HOTEL The three-story brick French Hotel on Shattuck Avenue in the Gourmet Ghetto has long been a favorite spot to get an espresso or latte. Now the hotel has a new owner/operator that is planning to renovate the 18-room hotel, make it more upscale, and convert the coffee shop into a bistro. It will be renamed SenS Hotel and Bistro Berkeley. Dean Banks, the associate vice president and director of operations for Prima Donna Hotels, which purchased the property, said standards will be kept high and customers shouldn’t worry, even though the source of the coffee will change. (The hotel and café had been owned and run previously by David “Sandy” Boyd, who operates a number of other coffee shops through his Emeryville-based company Espresso Roma) “It’ll be the same,” said Banks. “I doubt people will taste the difference.” The hotel operator plans to bring in high-quality coffee and add soups, sandwiches, and other menu items, he said. Prima Donna Hotels, which is owned by Michael W.N and Shirley N. Chiu of Los Gatos, will renovate the rooms and decorate them in an east-west style similar to the hotel it operates in Bali in Indonesia. The hotel group also operates the Residence Inn by Marriott in Livermore. It just sold three hotels in Portland, OR, and is building another hotel in Indonesia, said Banks. Watch for the temporary banner out front announcing the new name change. (more…)
SVENSSON AUTOMOTIVE CLOSING AFTER 50 YEARS Svensson Automotive, which was founded in Berkeley by Rune Svensson in 1966, has closed up shop at 1740 San Pablo Ave. Current owner Baljeet Pal, who most customers know as BJ, said the business is closing as the property owner intends to turn the land into apartments (Berkeleyside has not been able to confirm this yet). The auto shop originally specialized in servicing and repairing Swedish car makes, such as Saab and Volvo, but subsequently expanded to include Toyotas. BJ immigrated to the U.S. in 1977 from India, and began working at the auto shop with his father, who then owned the business, in 1980, according to Jerome Solberg who spoke to him recently. BJ bought the business in 1985. “I really want to thank all of the loyal customers I have had over the past 35 years, they made my job enjoyable and rewarding,” BJ said to Solberg. “I am proud to say that my business put all three of my children through college and all of them pursued postgraduate educations. I now plan to semi-retire, play a lot of golf, and tour the world!” BJ will spend the non-leisure part of his retirement at Svensson’s second location in Lafayette which he opened in 1994. (more…)
PEOPLE’S CAFÉ CLOSED People’s Café, at 2015 Shattuck Ave. (at University) in downtown Berkeley has closed to make way for two new businesses moving into the ground floor of the WeWork Berkeley building. As we have reported, Ippudo NY ramen restaurant and Blue Bottle coffee shop are moving in there. With its late opening hours and selection of cheap eats, from bagels through sandwiches, People’s Café was a favorite among Cal students. Its lease expired about a month ago, according to architect Ben Farrell who is responsible for getting the two Soma Capital-owned spaces ready for their new tenants. Farrell said the café was given an extended grace period until construction began at the corner spot. Ippudo will be at 2118 University and Blue Bottle at 2015 Shattuck. Farrell added that, if all goes well, Blue Bottle may be able to offer outdoor seating on a widened sidewalk, depending how quickly the Shattuck Square improvement project, which calls for a more pedestrian-friendly environment in the area, is implemented. (more…)
WILLIAM STOUT CLOSES/RELOCATES Architectural bookstore William Stout has closed its Berkeley store, at 1605 Solano Ave., and is merging the business with its publishing arm on the Richmond waterfront. Owner Bill Stout told Berkeleyside the North Berkeley store never really met his expectations. “Moving means we can consolidate our inventory and service our mail-order customers quicker,” he said. Stout, whose flagship store has operated on Montgomery Street in San Francisco for more than 40 years, opened the Berkeley store in fall 2010. At the time, Bill Stout said he chose Berkeley because of the store’s publishing collaboration with UC Berkeley, and because he saw the Solano district as being “a more vibrant residential neighborhood than where we are now.” Stout also homed in on Berkeley because he believed there were more bibliophiles in the East Bay. “In San Francisco an interest in books is dying,” he said in 2010. Stout is hopeful that this latest decision”should be a good move.” William Stout‘s East Bay outpost is now at 1328 South 51st St., Richmond. (more…)
BAUBLES & BEADS TO CLOSE Baubles & Beads in North Berkeley will be closing its store, probably in March, after 25 years of serving the city. Owners Lisa and Jim Kaufman say the reason is partly due to rising expenses. As they write in a letter to customers: “We have struggled with this decision since the recession of 2009, the closing of our San Rafael location in 2012, and again today with rising costs of rent and operational costs. The success of our website, BaublesAndBeads.com, allowed us to keep our Berkeley bead shop open over the past several years. The decision to close the store was never taken lightly as we fully understand the impact it will have on the local beading community.” Meantime, there are lots of discounts being applied to merchandise. Baubles & Beads is at 1676 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA 94709 Tel: 510 644-BEAD. Connect with Baubles & Beads on Facebook for updates. (more…)
TOTALLY RAD ART GALLERY A new art gallery has opened on San Pablo Avenue in the old Leslie’s Ceramics building. Totally Rad, run by Amber Mueller, is dedicated to exhibiting contemporary works by emerging local and national artists. On Jan. 9, 6-9 p.m., there will be an opening reception for the gallery’s new exhibition, “Daft Affect: “Dear Volunteers” showing work by Tra Bouscaren and John Schlesinger. Totally Rad Gallery is at 1212 San Pablo Ave. ( at Harrison St.). Connect with the gallery through its website and on Facebook. (more…)
PREMIER CRU SHUTS ITS DOORS Premier Cru, the subject of numerous lawsuits over the alleged non-delivery of wine, has shut the doors of its retail store at 1011 University Ave. “We have transitioned to ONLINE SALES only,” reads a sign on the front door. “We apologize for the inconvenience.” The sign says to email email@example.com to schedule a time to pick up past orders. The closure is only the latest blow for the high-end wine business owned by Fox Ortega Enterprises, a corporation formed by John Fox and a partner. Premier Cru moved its operations from Emeryville to Berkeley in 2011 and opened a 29,000-square foot, state-of-the-art wine shop designed by architect David Trachtenberg. Premier Cru sold wine through the store, but conducted much of its business through online sales. There are currently $130,000 in unpaid taxes on the building and it has been listed for sale. Gordon Commercial is offering the property, made up of three parcels and three buildings, for $6.8 million (down from $7.5 million). In late October, Berkeleyside reported that seven people had filed numerous lawsuits claiming they were owed more than $3 million. The plaintiffs all said that they had purchased wine from Premier Cru that had never been delivered. Since then, numerous disgruntled customers have come forward and contacted Berkeleyside and other news outlets to report similar issues. Others have filed additional lawsuits. Premier Cru’s owner, Fox, did not respond to a request for a comment. Some unhappy customers have been given refunds. Andrew Matarese, a 25-year-old wine aficionado from New Jersey, received a $12,000 refund from Premier Cru shortly after Berkeleyside ran its article. However, other customers have been repeatedly promised refunds but have received nothing. (more…)