Tag Archives: West Berkeley

NOSH neighborhood guide: Berkeley Design Loop

Missouri Lounge at night. Photo: Steve Hanna/Flickr
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We know that there’s more to East Bay dining than Temescal, Rockridge and the Gourmet Ghetto. NOSH’s neighborhood guides explore the best of the rest. This month, we explore the south side of Berkeley’s San Pablo Avenue, a.k.a. the West Berkeley Design Loop.

West Berkeley’s dining scene has been on fire the last few years. With the opening of the Gilman Whole Foods came a slew of restaurants on the city’s northwest corner. Yet the southern end of West Berkeley’s San Pablo Avenue has long been a destination for barbecue and dive bars. Today, the neighborhood advertises itself as a design and antiques mecca — furniture stores, salvage yards and antique shops are everywhere — but there many great restaurants and bars, both new and old, to visit after shopping. Below are our picks for the best in the area, and we’ve included a handy map so you know precisely where they are. … Continue reading »

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Rent Romus, and past and future Finns of West Berkeley

Rent Romus
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The determination to explore his Finnish ancestry didn’t come to Rent Romus in a sudden epiphany or a burst of inspiration. Rather, the Richmond saxophonist and composer spent years painstakingly parsing The Kalevala, a compendium of epic poetry, folklore and mythology that played an essential role in sparking Finnish national identity in the mid-19th century.

Eventually, he created a singular synthesis of postmodern jazz and traditional Finnish music in The Otherworld Cycle, an expansive suite he presents 4 p.m. Saturday as part of the Annual Vappu Spring Festival at Berkeley’s Finnish Kaleva Hall. The event, which also includes a buffet supper, a silent auction and a performance by Heikki Koskinen’s Kaleva All Stars, harkens back to a time when West Berkeley was commonly known as Finntown (more on that later). … Continue reading »

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Local man pushes for better restrooms at Berkeley park

Berkeley resident Martin Nicolaus has been petitioning for cleaner, more permanent restrooms in Cesar Chavez Park since this March. Photo: Seung Y. Lee
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For years, Berkeley resident Martin Nicolaus has been coming out to César Chávez Park to admire its natural beauty and take photographs — a collection of which he published in a book last December.

But over the past four months, Nicolaus, who is arguably the park’s number one fan, has been engaged in a more earnest mission: to persuade the city to install cleaner, permanent restrooms in Berkeley’s largest park.

A Berkeley resident since 1992, Nicolaus sets up his base-camp by the two portable bathrooms by the park’s entrance on Spinnaker Way to collect signatures and video-interview park users on their experiences using the toilets. He said over the past decade he has often seen the portable toilets in near-unusable condition, and has been frustrated by the lack of action to improve them. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Shiba Ramen, KoJa Kitchen to Public Market

Emeryville Public Market where a new Off The Grid food truck market will launch on Aug. 23. Photo:  Public Market Emeryville
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Openings, closings

EMERYVILLE PUBLIC MARKET TO GAIN TWO NEW RESTAURANTS Emeryville’s Public Market is about to get even more interesting, food-wise. The shopping and dining center added a full line-up of food trucks earlier this year, which will soon be joined by two new restaurants in the market hall portion of the building: Shiba Ramen and KoJa Kitchen. We brought you news of the Shiba Ramen project last week; the fast-casual ramen shop is the brainchild of two ex-chemists who plan on bringing Japanese style service and noodle soups to the neighborhood. KoJa Kitchen will be the second brick-and-mortar location for the Korean-Japanese fusion food truck of the same name. (Its first location is at 2395 Telegraph Ave., at Channing Way, in Berkeley.) “We’re excited to welcome Koja Kitchen and Shiba Ramen to Public Market Emeryville,” said City Center Realty Partners’ Co-Founder Mark Stefan in a prepared statement. “They embody our vision for the new Food Hall — unique purveyors who want to be part of the community.” Shiba Ramen and KoJa Kitchen are both part of a larger renovation project. This first phase includes adding food stalls and reconditioning the existing structure. The second phase of the project, expected to wrap up by this summer, includes installing a living wall, replacing the ball-pit with a new children’s play area, upgrading the entries, and putting up local artwork. Public Market Emeryville is at 5959 Shellmound St., Emeryville. Connect with Shiba Ramen on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Connect with KoJa Kitchen on Facebook and Twitter.Continue reading »

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Ms Barstool: Spirits aplenty at Longbranch Saloon

Longbranch Saloon. Photo: Risa Nye
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While the décor at Longbranch Saloon may be minimal, the bar menu is not. If you’re looking for a staggering array of whiskeys (or “whiskies,” and more about that distinction later), you need look no further than Longbranch, now occupying the former location of Sea Salt restaurant on San Pablo Avenue in West Berkeley.

Longtime Berkeley residents and fans of Asleep at the Wheel may be confused by the reappearance of the Longbranch name. There may be mixed feelings about the long-gone $1 cover charge, the sawdust on the floor, the free draft beer and the indoor motorcycle parking — none of which feature at the new incarnation. (Our server informed us that the old joint was further up the street on San Pablo anyway.) So those with long memories are advised to come around and see what the 21st-century version is all about. … Continue reading »

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Old Berkeley animal shelter to become live-work units

A photo simulation of 2013 Second St. Image: Levy Design Partners
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A new live-work project for artists and craftspeople has been approved in West Berkeley by the zoning board, to take the place of the city’s old municipal animal shelter, which closed in 2012.

The project, at 2013 Second St., was unanimously approved April 9 by the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board, with no one speaking against the proposal.

The four-story, 26,500-square-foot building would include 19 one-bedroom live-work rental units of approximately 1,000 square feet each. It is also set to include one vehicle and one bike parking spot per unit. According to the project staff report, “A large landscaped courtyard will provide shared work/live open space for the residents.” The old animal shelter would be demolished to make way for the new project.

Read more about West Berkeley.

The building is the latest to win approval in the increasingly busy neighborhood, where the nearby Grocery Outlet, at University Avenue between Fourth and Fifth streets, is set to be demolished and replaced by a large housing complex (152 units), and plans are underway at 800 University (between Fifth and Sixth streets) for a five-story building (58 units). In recent years, new apartment developments have gone up nearby at Fourth & U (171 units) and The Avalon (99 units), which opened last May.

City staff noted last week that there aren’t very many live-work complexes in Berkeley. The West Berkeley Plan — from 1993 — put the number at about 2% of the area’s housing, but also noted that the city had no comprehensive directory of those properties.

Chris Hoff, who owns the Second Street property with his brother Greg, said theirs is the first project of its kind to come to the city in more than a decade.

“We want to run a great artist, ‘maker’ community,” he told the board. “We think it’s a great idea.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

3 men charged after Berkeley beating, stun gun assault

A crowd waiting outside 924 Gilman in 2010 (file photo). Photo: Daniel Gies
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Three men have been charged with battery, and one with assault with a stun gun, after an attack on a former friend outside a West Berkeley music club in March, according to authorities.

According to court papers, Jackson Achorn, Jack Moore and Devin Schorger assaulted their former friend outside 924 Gilman St. on March 14. Police who responded for a report of a fight found a motorcycle in the street, and the victim’s property — including a bicycle — scattered on the ground.

The victim told police that Schorger had punched and choked him, while Moore “helped during the assault.” Achorn, 20, of Berkeley reportedly joined in the assault by using a stun gun on the man’s legs. … Continue reading »

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Bayer invests $100M in new testing facility in Berkeley

Bayer
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Bayer HealthCare on Wednesday announced an investment of $100 million to build a new product testing facility at the company’s 45-acre manufacturing site in West Berkeley. The funds will support the pharmaceutical company’s next generation of hemophilia A therapies.

Bayer said the investment represented its continued commitment to the Bay Area, which is its U.S. headquarters for research, development and biotech manufacturing.

“Building upon our legacy in hemophilia A, we are delighted to continue Bayer’s leadership in working to bring treatment options to patients around the world,” said Joerg Heidrich, a senior vice president and site head for Bayer in Berkeley, in a prepared statement. … Continue reading »

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Apartment, townhouse complex slated for San Pablo Ave.

A rendering of Shorenstein Properties proposed complex. This would be the view from San Pablo Avenue and Jones Street. Pyatok Architects
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One of the region’s biggest developers has set its sights on Berkeley and is proposing to build a 5-story, 170-unit mixed-use complex at 1500 San Pablo Ave.

Shorenstein Properties is developing the 1.65-acre-site that covers most of a square block and is bounded by San Pablo Avenue to the east, Jones Street to the north, 10th Street to the west, and is near Hopkins. The land, long owned by Michael McNevin, once served as the home of McNevin Cadillac and is now the service department of Berkeley Honda.

The complex, which would be just a short walk to Acme Bread, Bartavelle Café, and the Kermit Lynch wine shop, will be a mix of two-and-a-half-bedroom townhouses, two-bedroom apartments, one-bedroom, junior one-bedroom, and studio apartments. The average unit size would be more than 800 square feet, according to documents submitted to the city, and should appeal to singles, professionals, couples, families, and retirees. The building will also have space for either offices or retail. The developer is including applications for permits for a restaurant with a bar, a café, and outdoor eating space. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley to spend millions to fix up James Kenney Park

James Kenney is set for major improvements. Photo: City of Berkeley
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James Kenney Park in West Berkeley is slated for major repairs in the coming fiscal years, which will likely require closure of parts of its community center for 6-8 months, according to city staff.

Staff provided an update regarding municipal park projects to the Berkeley City Council at a March 24 worksession.

That update included some news about Berkeley’s Tuolumne Camp, which was destroyed by fire in 2013, as well as an overview of park facility plans over the next two fiscal years, from July 2015 through June 2017. (An update on the camp was published separately on Berkeleyside.)

Read more about Berkeley parks.

The city plans to spend most of its capital money for parks through fiscal year 2016-17 on pressing needs at James Kenney Park, at 1720 Eighth St. between Virginia and Delaware streets. The city plans to spend more than $3.7 million to address building repairs and seismic issues at the community center, as well as updates to the picnic and play areas. Staff intends to use $2.3 million from the parks tax and general fund on the repairs, as well as nearly $730,000 from a FEMA grant for seismic improvements, and $750,000 in Measure WW funds to pay for other aspects of the projects. … Continue reading »

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Community

The unsolved mystery of the Berkeley boom

Some have posited that homemade firework rocket may be causing the Berkeley boom. Photo: Jeremy Brooks
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For more than a month, residents around Berkeley have wondered online about a recurring nighttime boom that has woken babies, freaked out pets and set off car alarms.

The sound, which has become known on Twitter as the #BerkeleyBoom, has been heard around the city, though it has been concentrated primarily in the southern part of town.

On numerous instances, police have gone out to investigate, but were unable to locate the source and found no indication of a crime. City spokesman Matthai Chakko said Monday there have been no calls to Berkeley’s 311 service center about the sound. So its source remains a mystery.

On Sunday, a Twitter user named LP described the “Loudest #Berkeleyboom yet. Scared me half to death. @berkeleyside – seriously – is this still ‘fireworks’?!”

Heather Hardison added: “I could hear all my neighbors up talking about it in startled voices. What the heck is it?”

Wrote cirus206: “I might not know what #berkeleyboom is but damn would I like to find out.” … Continue reading »

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Dog lovers to help eliminate foxtails in César Chávez Park

Foxtails at Pt Isabel. Photo- Kathy
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Dozens of dog lovers are expected to join a city of Berkeley crew in the off-leash area of César Chávez Park on Saturday, March 28, in a novel attempt to rid the area of foxtails.

Berkeley has been mowing a 2-acre patch of the 17-acre off-leash area for 15 years, but the effort has not eliminated foxtails, an invasive grass whose barbed seed heads can cause serious injury to dogs. The city has left the grass about 6 inches high so it could also act as a ground cover for squirrels and other animals in the park.

In 2014, dog owners complained to the city that the drought was making the foxtail situation worse and asked that officials step up their mowing and even consider mowing a larger area. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley police arrest man wanted after brutal attack on his mother

Randy Francis. Photo: Stockton Police
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Police officers arrested a man found in a stolen truck at the Berkeley marina who authorities say tried to kill his 86-year-old mother in Stockton earlier this month in a brutal assault.

Police have been looking for the man since the March 14 attack, which left the woman unresponsive. Doctors said initially she was not expected to survive, according to media reports.

According to a statement released Thursday by Officer Joseph Silva, spokesman for the Stockton Police Department, Berkeley officers found Randy Francis in a stolen 2004 Chevrolet Silverado pickup Thursday morning. Police said he stole that truck when he fled the scene of the Stockton attack.

Thursday morning, Berkeley officers impounded the truck and took 55-year-old Francis into custody without incident.

According to Silva, Francis had been wanted by police in connection with the March 14 attempted homicide of his mother, which occurred at her home in the 7300 block of North Pacific Avenue in Stockton. … Continue reading »

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