Bites: Smoke Berkeley given July 31 close date; Minnie Bell’s Juneteenth supper

Texas-style BBQ ribs from Smoke Berkeley.
Texas-style BBQ ribs from Smoke Berkeley. Photo: Smoke Berkeley/Facebook

UP IN SMOKE Last April, Nosh reported that Texas-style BBQ and beer garden Smoke Berkeley on San Pablo Avenue was in danger of closing. At the time, owner Tina Ferguson-Riffe said she was looking for a new spot after the property owners said they’d be demolishing the restaurant, which she runs with her son Sean Hagler, to build a new drive-through car wash. Smoke was able to hold on at the space for more than a year, but Ferguson-Riffe told Nosh that she was recently given a July 31 move-out date.

Originally, the property owners asked Smoke Berkeley to leave after its lease ends on June 30, but Ferguson-Riffe was granted an extension through July, the restaurant’s busiest month, especially right around July 4. Ferguson-Riffe is still looking for a new space and is holding onto hope that the restaurant can remain in Berkeley. Stay tuned on Nosh for more updates. Smoke Berkeley, 2434 San Pablo Ave. (near Channing), Berkeley

THAT’S A WRAP FOR FISH FACE Fish Face Poke Bar at Public Market Emeryville has closed. The Sacramento-based restaurant from chef-owner Billy Ngo (who also owns Kru Contemporary Japanese Cuisine) specializes in traditional Hawaiian-style poke. The Emeryville location, opened in October 2017, was Fish Face’s third location, its first outside of Sacramento. Its second Sacramento location at Carmichael’s Milagro Centre closed in January and according to Public Market owner City Center Realty Partners, the Emeryville outpost followed suit on May 31. City Center Realty Partners was vague about why the business left, but offered this statement: “There’s always a variety of reasons for any one business’s success or failure, which can include everything from product offerings to operations. We are currently exploring a couple of different concepts for that space.” We reached out to Fish Face Poke Bar for comment, but had not heard a response at time of publication.

Animal Place's Vegan Republic in Berkeley donates 100% of proceeds to nonprofit farm animal sanctuary Animal Place.
Animal Place’s Vegan Republic in Berkeley donates 100% of proceeds to nonprofit farm animal sanctuary Animal Place. Photo: Animal Place’s Vegan Republic/Facebook

TROUBLE AT THE REPUBLIC Berkeley vegan specialty store Animal Place’s Vegan Republic is calling on its fans for help. According to an Instagram post published last week, the store has seen a drop in business and believes the “huge popularity” of veganism is partially to blame. In the post, Vegan Republic writes, “Chain stores are pulling away customers with their newfound openness in carrying vegan products, and it’s a blessing and a curse.” First opened as Republic of V in February 2014, it was the first grocery store in the Bay Area to offer completely vegan products. About a year after opening, its founders Joe Haptas and Noelle Callahan sold the store to Grass Valley nonprofit sanctuary Animal Place. Since then, 100% of profits from the store have gone to Animal Place, which provides a home for neglected farm animals. Whether or not you agree that veganism as a trend is behind Vegan Republic’s slow business, locals may want to come out to support the shop, especially given that another Berkeley vegan fixture, Sanctuary Bistro, is closing soon. Animal Place’s Vegan Republic, 1624 University Ave. (between California and Jefferson), Berkeley


MORE PIZZA TO COME AFTER PIZZAHHH The restaurant space last operating as Pizzahhh in Northside (at 2503 Hearst Ave.) will reopen as a new pizza spot, according to its former owner, Dick Reimann, who also owns Berkeley hot dog institution, Top Dog. For more than 40 years, the location was a Top Dog, but in 2013, Reimann decided to try offering New York-style slices and pies. Last year, the business closed and was taken over by a new owner, Lobsang Dorgee. Nosh has not received comment from Dorgee, but Reimann said, if all goes as planned, the new business will also serve pizza and will boast a Cheese Board veteran at the kitchen’s helm. Nosh will share more updates as we get them.

Minnie Bell's Soul Movement at Emeryville Public Market.
Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement at Emeryville Public Market. Photo: Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement/Instagram

MINNIE BELL’S JUNETEENTH FÊTE Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement in Emeryville is hosting a special dinner to commemorate Juneteenth, the June 19, 1865, pronouncement of emancipation. Although chef Fernay McPherson was born and raised in San Francisco, her extended family was part of the Great Migration, when more than six million African Americans relocated from the rural South to urban areas in the Northeast, Midwest and West after the end of slavery. McPherson’s family were from Port Arthur, Texas, and for her, Juneteenth is a time to gather with family “to celebrate what we have achieved and to take note of all that remains to be done.” The menu for the event is still being determined, but McPherson has invited a few of her favorite local chef friends to help prepare the family-style, sit-down supper. Tickets are $65 ($95 with a signed La Cocina cookbook). Proceeds benefit Dusty’s Fishing Well, a Bay Area nonprofit supporting local black youth. Minnie’s Bells Soul Movement, Public Market Emeryville, 5959 Shellmound St., Emeryville

EATS, DRINKS IN RICHMOND In April, downtown Richmond welcomed a new food hall. Found in the Richmond Business Hub, the Richmond Food Hall shares a space with co-working facility Oakstop. So far, two businesses have opened within upcycled shipping containers inside: Oakland’s Red Bay Coffee and Richmond soul food restaurant Roux.

The Richmond Red Bay is the coffee company’s third full-service coffee bar (its fourth is in San Francisco). The café is now open for limited hours (8 a.m. to 2 p.m.), but starting Friday, will be open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. As for Roux, the business comes from Lydia Walker, who once ran The Bay Leaf, a soul food joint in Oakland that closed in 2013. Walker describes her cooking as “California southern fusion,” tweaking traditional recipes she learned from her mother to include fresh, local Bay Area ingredients.

On Friday, Red Bay celebrates its official grand opening at the hub, with free drip coffee from 3-4 p.m. and a music set by DJ Bryson Wallace. On Saturday, from 4-8 p.m., Red Bay and Roux, both black-owned businesses, will host a free Juneteenth Food Showcase, featuring local artisans and food vendors from Richmond. Joining the festivities will be Lupita’s Organics, Sparkle’s Creations, the Veggi Patch and Tiffany’s Juice Bar. Red Bay Coffee and Roux are at the Richmond Food Hall, 1503 MacDonald Ave., Richmond

The fish fry platter at Hopscotch features deep-fried seafood and vegetables, as well as latkes with crème fraiche and apple butter.
The fish fry platter at Hopscotch features deep-fried seafood and vegetables, as well as latkes with crème fraiche and apple butter. Photo: Hopscotch

HOPSCOTCH CELEBRATES 7 YEARS Uptown Oakland diner Hopscotch is celebrating its seventh anniversary this week, and as it always does on its birthday, it’s offering a special menu of deals. Through Friday lunch service, Hopscotch is offering its popular First Base Burger and Maple Old Fashioned cocktails for $7 each. The celebratory feasting continues through the weekend, from Friday evening through Sunday, with a fish fry. Diners can feast on a seafood and veggie platter ($43) featuring a medley of ocean delights, including deep-fried crab claws, giant squid, king salmon, rock cod, gulf prawns, smelt and Tai snapper, along with fennel and onion, latkes, apple butter and crème fraiche. Finally, on Sunday, Hopscotch hosts a Father’s Day whiskey tasting, offering a flight of California, Japanese and Scotch whiskeys for $25.  Hopscotch, 1915 San Pablo Ave. (at 19th), Oakland

FARLEY’S EAST TURNS 10 Also in Uptown Oakland, Farley’s East will celebrate its 10th anniversary next Tuesday, June 18 with festivities throughout the day. The original location in San Francisco’s Portero Hill recently reached its 30th year, but the business is equally proud of its little sister across the bay. General manager and co-owner Chris Hillyard says, “Running a small business in Oakland, or anywhere for that matter, is no easy task! Thus, we want to celebrate this accomplishment and say thank you to all those who have been involved in numerous ways.” Farley’s East will commemorate the milestone with a special food and drink menu, an art show featuring various artists who’ve been displayed at Farley’s over the years, DJ performances by Katiecrimson and Yero, and a reading by Shut-Up & Write. Every month, both Farley’s locations raise money for, and donate a portion of its sales to, a “nonprofit of the month.” For its 10th anniversary, Farley’s East aims to raise $5,000 for The East Oakland Collective. Farley’s East, 33 Grand Ave. (near Broadway), Oakland 


A large mixer is wheeled into the upcoming Boichik Bagel shop in Berkeley.
Construction and progress is happening at Boichik Bagel shop in Berkeley. Photo: Lisa Sibony

PROGRESS AT BOICHIK BAGELS Last May, Nosh reported that Alameda-based Boichik Bagels was taking over the former Noah’s Bagels storefront in Berkeley. We’ve been checking in regularly with Boichik owner Emily Winston, who said that construction delays have pushed back the opening. In May, Winston was hopeful because construction was “finally picking up speed” and she felt more confident about a summer opening. This week, she shared details of the progress in the Boichik newsletter, including new flooring, walls and equipment going into the space, as well news of her first employee, general manager Jim Quimby. Winston says she’s aiming to bring her New York-style bagels to the Berkeley spot in August. Boichik Bagels will be at 3170 College Ave. (at Alcatraz), Berkeley

1951 COFFEE KIOSK ON HIATUS  A couple of Nosh readers sent us tips that the 1951 Coffee kiosk in downtown Berkeley is currently out of service. We spoke with the Berkeley nonprofit coffee company’s co-owner Rachel Taber, who confirmed the BART-adjacent stand is temporarily closed as the company focuses on settling into its new Rockridge brick-and-mortar in the former Spasso café. Taber said getting the Rockridge space was an unexpected “windfall.” Elizabeth McCoy and Tim Choate, the former owners who converted Spasso into a nonprofit business, donated the entire café (with more than $300,000 in improvements) to 1951 Coffee, where it’ll continue its mission to train, hire and advocate for the refugee community. Taber said the company had planned to keep all its locations open, but at the end of May, one of its managers got promoted to another company (“a dream job for him,” Taber said). Suddenly, the company didn’t have the capacity to do it all, and with Berkeley students clearing out for the summer, 1951 Coffee decided to put the kiosk on hold until the fall. As for the new Rockridge café, that will open on June 21. 1951 Coffee Company will be at 6021 College Ave. (near Claremont), Oakland

FEEL THE BYRNE Talking Heads fans will want to head to BAMPFA on Thursday at 7 p.m., when the museum is hosting a free outdoor screening of “Stop Making Sense,” Jonathan Demme’s 1984 rock doc capturing David Byrne, Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz, et. al, performing live. Considered one of the best concert films of all time, the 88-minute movie is a treat for both the eyes and ears. And with all that bobbing of your head, shaking of your shoulders — hey, maybe even full on dancing — you’ll be doing while watching, you’ll likely work up an appetite. Fortunately, eats and drinks will be provided by the museum’s café Babette, which will be selling food and — with the Downtown Berkeley Association — co-hosting a beer garden at the screening. Better run, run, run, run, run, run to BAMPFA. Outdoor screen, Addison Street (at Oxford), Berkeley