Charlie Hallowell is planning to open a new restaurant in downtown Berkeley. It will be his first outside Oakland and is slated to be a second location of his Boot & Shoe Service restaurant, according to Carly Roemmer, a spokeswoman for the restaurateur.
The restaurant will take over the Build Pizzeria space at 2286 Shattuck Ave. (at Bancroft), which closed abruptly in April 2015 after being in operation for just two years.
“We are in the very early stages of planning and it will most likely be a year or so until we plan to open,” Roemmer said Tuesday.
Jordan Klein, acting economic development manager in Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development, said he was very happy Hallowell had chosen Berkeley.
“Charlie Hallowell is an exceptional entrepreneur and a talented chef, and I’m so thrilled that his next project will be in Berkeley,” he said.
Hallowell currently operates three restaurants. He opened Pizzaiolo on Telegraph Avenue in the Temescal neighborhood in 2005, and followed up a few years later with Boot & Shoe Service and Penrose, both on Grand Avenue in Oakland. All are rooted in Mediterranean cuisine, with the first two focused on Italian fare and pizzas, while Penrose’s menu leans towards North-African flavors. It’s a fair guess that Berkeley’s Boot & Shoe will offer wood-fired pizzas as well as a selection of antipasti and pasta dishes, if the Oakland spot’s current dinner menu is a template.
Hotel developers Lisa and David Holt poured time and money into rehabbing the 1906 Morse Block building on the corner of Shattuck and Bancroft to open a spacious, ‘build-your-own pizza’ restaurant there in 2013. At the time, they said their intention was to roll out more Build spots once they had bedded down the Berkeley restaurant. They also transformed the building’s basement-level club, Shattuck Down Low, into nightclub and music venue Berkeley Underground. However neither venture was ultimately successful. The Holts sold their interest in Build’s holding company, Rustic Restaurants, to the Moana Restaurant Group, and then, in October 2015, filed for bankruptcy.
Hallowell’s lease includes the 8,000 sq ft basement as well as the restaurant space, but, as yet, he has not decided how he will use it, according to Roemmer.
“We have taken over the whole space, including the venue space, but have no plans for the downstairs as of now, including a name,” she said.
The restaurant and nightclub space have sat empty since spring 2015.
Hallowell cooked at Chez Panisse before opening Pizzaiolo, and his restaurants are grounded in the Alice Waters ethos of seasonal, responsibly sourced ingredients prepared well. They all seem to have hit the sweet spot, proving popular with diners and garnering favorable reviews. The restaurateur is also known for his support of nonprofits and local community initiatives, regularly holding fundraisers for causes he believes in, such as the Sunday Supper series at Pizzaiolo.
Klein said downtown Berkeley was increasingly being known for its restaurants as well as for its theater, music and comedy venues. He said spots like Comal, Ippuku and Gather are drawing people from around the region.
“Charlie’s project will be a great addition to that list. And the space on Shattuck is perfect for him,” he said.
According to Klein, the signing of the 2286 Shattuck Ave. lease brings the storefront commercial vacancy rate in downtown Berkeley down to about 4%, the lowest it has been in the ten years since the Office of Economic Development started tracking this data.
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