Hugh Groman, owner of Phil’s Sliders in Berkeley, tells us he will be closing his 6-year-old downtown Berkeley burger spot at 2024 Shattuck Ave. on July 1. Groman said Phil’s neighbor next door, California-Mexican restaurant Comal, will take its place.
John Paluska, co-owner of Comal — which opened a year after Phil’s, in May 2012, at 2020 Shattuck Ave. — confirmed the news.
“While we haven’t settled on our operating hours, or any other details for that matter, we expect to be open for lunch and dinner and possibly breakfast. All other concept details are in the exploration phase — we’ll be making announcements in the coming months as things come into focus and we have a better handle on our timeline,” he told Berkeleyside via email.
Groman, a chef who also runs two catering companies — Hugh Groman Catering and Greenleaf Platters — said that he will close Phil’s to concentrate on his catering ventures. “Catering is what we’re best at,” said Groman.
Although the brick-and-mortar restaurant at 2024 Shattuck will close, Phil’s will live on as a new catering option. With at least 48 hours notice, Phil’s can be hired for outdoor festivals, fundraisers, weddings and just about any other event that calls for feasting on mini hamburgers. Groman said he plans to unveil a mobile version of Phil’s Sliders that allows the burgers to be cooked fresh on site.
Groman opened Phil’s in 2011, naming it after his father. “My dad is someone who has always cared so much about how people feel, and that’s why I wanted to name my new venture after him,” he told Berkeleyside six years ago, a month before opening. The focus at Phil’s has always been to offer “healthful” fast food. That means using high-quality, sustainably raised ingredients like local grass-fed beef; organic, free-range Mary’s chicken and organic dairy and produce. Groman has also taken the care to make sure all of the packaging at his restaurant is compostable.
Comal, co-owned by Paluska and Andrew Hoffman, has become a Berkeley staple over the years, and is even credited for helping revive downtown Berkeley. In 2015 the pair opened California-Mediterranean restaurant, The Advocate on College Avenue, but closed it just 14 months later, as it never found its footing in the Elmwood.
After its closure, Paluska and Hoffman decided to concentrate on what was successful — Comal. In April, Comal began serving its food at Fieldwork’s West Berkeley taproom. The “Foodwork” menu features Comal fan favorites, like chicharrones and tamales, as well as new bar food created especially for Fieldwork, like grilled cheese sandwiches.
We’ll keep you abreast of any updates on the Comal expansion. But until then, keep in mind that Phil’s Sliders’ last day of service on Shattuck is Friday, June 30. You have 14 days to get your fill of tots and mini burgers.