Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Berkeley Public. Photo: Ted Friedman
Berkeley Public. Photo: Ted Friedman

NEW: BERKELEY PUBLIC FOOD AND BILLIARDS It has only been a couple months since Thalassa closed, Nov. 9, but now the owners of the beloved bar and billiards spot have opened Berkeley Public Food and Billiards on Durant Avenue, next to Smoke’s Poutinerie. For the time being, Berkeley Public does not sell alcohol —  there’s root beer and soda, along with bar food like burgers, pulled-pork sandwiches and mac n’ cheese. But the plan is that Berkeley Public will expand into a 2-story business next month, to include a German-inspired beer hall called Taphaus. The plan is to sell craft beer and liquor downstairs. When Taphaus opens, the upstairs Berkeley Public will close temporarily for further renovations, including the construction of an indoor stairwell to connect the two floors, according to Berkeley Public employee Kevin Shea. Berkeley Public is at 2518 Durant Ave.

The Optician. Photo: Seung Lee
The Optician. Photo: Seung Lee

NEW: THE OPTICIAN Tucked in the tight, quaint building complex that houses Cakes & Purls on Allston Way, The Optician opened last August. An optician with 28 years of experience under her belt, owner Karen Flynn primarily sells frames from family-owned businesses, or used frames, rather than mass-produced brands like Ray-Ban and Oakley. “I called the store The Optician because there’s a move toward buying stuff online and people don’t appreciate the craft,” Flynn said. The Optician also sells vintage eyewear like lornettes, pince-nez and monocles. The Optician is at 2115 Allston Way.

Earth's Bazaar. Photo: Ted Friedman
Earth’s Bizarre. Photo: Ted Friedman

NEW: EARTH’S BIZARRE Earth’s Bizarre, an emporium filled with antique, vintage, alternative and downright quirky collectibles, opened on Durant Avenue a month ago. Filling in the cavernous space that was previously occupied by Eid’s Electronics — and formerly was a movie theater according to one local writer — Earth’s Bizarre’s merchandise seemingly stretches for miles. The collection includes a large supply of statues representing a variety of world religions from Christianity to Tibetan Buddhism. Prices range from $1.50 for a pack of incense candles to $35,000 for an electric guitar said to have been signed by members of The Rolling Stones. Earth’s Bazaar is at 2510 Durant Ave.

Global Exchange
Global Exchange. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

CLOSING: GLOBAL EXCHANGE The store featuring handmade and fair trade goods has been a fixture on the corner of College Avenue and Russell Street for decades, but it will be closing its doors at the end of February. The parent organization of the store is an international human rights group that has decided to focus on priorities other than retail, according to a store saleswoman.


2627 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley Honda Autocenter at 2627 Shattuck Ave. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

MOVING: BERKELEY HONDA AUTOCENTER The imminent construction of a new apartment complex has forced Berkeley Honda Autocenter to move. Its sales department has relocated across the street to 2627 Shattuck Ave., the site where the company formerly only sold used car sales. The service department is now at 1500 San Pablo Ave., site of the old McNevin repair shop.

Seung Y. Lee is a journalist who has previously worked at the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and the Daily Californian.

Shop Talk is our regular column in which we post updates on Berkeley businesses. If you’re a Berkeley business with news, or a Berkeleysider who has spotted a change in your neighborhood or on your travels, shoot us an email with the details. Read previous Shop Talk columns, and check out Bites for the latest East Bay restaurant news.