Bites: Sliver to open in Rockridge, Bear’s Lair reboots, California Rum Fest

Berkeley’s Sliver Pizzeria will be opening a location in Rockridge at the Ridge shopping center. Photo: Sliver Pizzeria

[Updated] SLIVER AT THE RIDGE Over the weekend, we got some hot, fresh pizza news delivered to our inbox from Retail West Inc. broker, AJ Schrader. Five-year-old Berkeley chain Sliver Pizzeria is opening a location in Oakland, its first outside of Berkeley, according to Schrader, who represented the restaurant in the lease transaction. The new outpost will be at the Ridge Shopping Center in Rockridge, within the space formerly occupied by Pieology, which shuttered earlier this year.

Sliver has been in the news a lot since moving out of its original location at 2132 Center St. in Berkeley on Dec. 23, 2017. In early January, it relocated to the former Pieology space in Berkeley at 2468 Telegraph Ave., and then a week later, announced it would be opening a second Berkeley branch downtown via a social media promo. The new location at 2174 Shattuck Ave. near downtown Berkeley BART is still to come.

The Oakland Sliver will open soon. According to Schrader, the takeover of the Berkeley Pieology helped with closing the deal at this new spot. Sliver had “confidence in the existing infrastructure and equipment they could repurpose, helping with the cost and timing of the buildout,” he said.

The Rockridge spot will follow the restaurant chain’s concept of a changing daily menu of one vegetarian pizza and one salad, but the new outpost will feature something that could help change the vibe of the Ridge shopping center — it will boast a large outdoor patio/beer garden, and host live music performances, which may inspire diners to spend more time here and give more business to other area shops. Sliver will be at 5132 Broadway, Ste C-102, Oakland


THE BEAR’S LAIR REOPENS Unless you’re on the Cal campus regularly, you might not have noticed that Lower Sproul Plaza watering hole the Bear’s Lair closed in May. Stepping back a few years, the original Bear’s Lair in the Student Union Building closed in 2012 after 50 years for an overhaul of the plaza. The pub reopened in 2015 at 2495 Bancroft Way under the management of food service company Chartwells, which was also in charge of several other campus restaurants. Last June, Chartwells backed out of its 10-year-lease with UC Berkeley, closing most of the restaurants it managed, and the Bear’s Lair, Equator and True Blue were the last three to shutter. According to the Daily Cal, a public notice was posted on May 26 announcing that the Bear’s Lair was under new management, by catering and events company The Red Door Group. But since then, the Bear’s Lair has been in hibernation

This week, Nosh got word that Oski will soon again have a place to wet his whistle. In mid-September, The Bear’s Lair Tavern, or BLT as it’s calling itself for short, will open. Red Door founder and managing partner Reign Free has tapped chef David Lawrence (who opened 1300 on Fillmore in San Francisco) to transform the Bear’s Lair Tavern into a gourmet gastropub. A sample of the menu includes a mix of shared plates and entrees, like roasted brown sugar-brined Mary’s chicken, sambal chili-honey chicken wings and Lawrence’s signature fried chicken sandwiches from his menu at 1300 Fillmore. There will also be several gluten-free and vegan options, including the now ubiquitous Impossible Burger. To drink, the tavern will offer 20 rotating draft beers, ciders and kombucha, as well as signature craft cocktails, and wines from California and beyond. Food and drinks are ordered at the counter, but diners will have their orders delivered to the table by servers.

The Classic Mac-n-Cheese is one of the new menu items at the Bear’s Lair Tavern. Photo: Chris Andre

Aside from a menu revamp, the space also has a new look, thanks to Ben Frombgen of Bcooperative. The large, airy restaurant will have seating for 100, with many communal tables replacing two-tops. There will also be a community beer garden with patio seating, outdoor games, and several televisions throughout airing collegiate and professional sports games.

The Bear’s Lair Tavern will be open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. The Bear’s Lair Tavern, 2465 Bancroft Way, Suite 104, Berkeley 

Karen Hoskin of Montanya Distillers will be at the California Rum Fest for a panel about women in the rum industry, Sept. 9 at Trader Vic’s in Emeryville. Photo: Montanya Distillers

TAKE IT ON THE RUM The California Rum Fest is returning to the Bay Area next month for its fourth year. The event is for industry professionals, enthusiasts and anyone who wants to get super nerdy about rum. There’ll be speakers, tastings, seminars and workshops diving deep into the sugarcane-based spirit, as well as plenty of products from large, micro and boutique distilleries to learn about and sample. Although the ticketed main event takes place Sept. 8 in San Francisco at SOMArts Cultural Center, the fest continues for a second day at Trader Vic’s in Emeryville with a free panel discussion focusing on women who are leading and redefining the rum industry. Kiowa Bryan (Spiribam Rum Specialists), Karen Hoskin (Montanya Distillers) and Kate Perry (La Maison and Velier) will talk at noon Sept. 9; admission to the discussion is free. Trader Vic’s, 9 Anchor Dr., Emeryville

CIGAR BOX KITCHEN SHUTTERS Just last week Nosh took notice of a new café and live music performance space, Cigar Box Kitchen, that recently opened in El Cerrito. Over the weekend, the eatery at 10064 San Pablo Ave. closed its doors. On Saturday, owner Steve Zwetsch sent an email stating that the restaurant would be closing “due to unforeseen financial circumstances.” Cigar Box Kitchen went out with a bang on Sunday, Aug. 26, with free drinks and live music. We reached out to Zwetsch for more details, but did not hear a response at time of publication, however David Cook, who managed the music acts responded simply that there was “not enough money to keep it flowing.” Cigar Box Kitchen was open for less than two months.