ALLEY-HO! A new summertime lunch spot launched Monday in Oakland’s KoNo District. Kono Food Alley brings together a handful of Bay Area food truck and food cart vendors hawking a diversity of eats — including empanadas from Javi’s Cooking, tacos from Tacos y Chelas, Latinx boba drinks from La Vida Boba, Filipino-American eats from Curbside Kitchen and Kyoto slow drip coffee from Dripdash — in an unused alleyway between a radiology business and Samuel Merritt University. Kono Food Alley is hosted by Common Grounds, a project from real estate developer George Dy, who is currently renovating the building behind the alley into an outdoor food hall. When the food hall is complete (the aim is to open in 2021), the five vendors from Kono Food Alley will move into their own turnkey kiosks within the building where they can serve customers in front and offer delivery out the back. Dy told Nosh he was drawn to this stretch of KoNo because he had heard from people working in the area that lunch options within walking distance were limited (Oasis Market is currently the main go-to, especially now that Zahara Deli has closed, Dy said.). He hopes that Kono Food Alley will give workers and residents in the area more variety without having to make the haul to Piedmont or Temescal.
Nosh visited on Kono Food Alley’s first day, when Javi’s and Tacos y Chelas were operating (the others will join the pod this week and next). Kono Food Alley is open for lunch, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Thursday through Oct. 10. Dy said if it’s a success, the temporary project may continue for another season or open for dinner hours. Kono Food Alley, 3188 Telegraph Ave. (between Hawthorne and 30th), Oakland
HOLD THE CHEESE If the Cheese Board is a weekly shopping stop or lunch spot, you’ll want to know you’ll need to head elsewhere this week through Aug. 12, when the collectively run cheese shop/bakery and pizzeria in the Gourmet Ghetto will be closed for summer break. The Cheese Board resumes normal business hours Aug. 13. The Cheese Board, 1504 and 1512 Shattuck Ave. (at Vine), Berkeley
THAI CHICKEN SANDWICHES (AND PIZZA) Taking over the recently closed Frausto’s Guadalajara Restaurant in Berkeley will be a new quick-service eatery called Southside Station. Owner Louie Chaivisut told Nosh its specialties will be Thai-flavored crispy fried chicken sandwiches served with housemade potato chips, chicken wings and a daily changing pizza. Chaivisut, who grew up and lives in Berkeley, has a longstanding local restaurant pedigree. He staged at Chez Panisse while attending Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and cooked at former Berkeley spot Fellini’s and Taste, but for the past nine years, he’s been a member of the Cheese Board Collective. In fact, East Bay diners may recall he hosted a pop-up there (called Lou Lou) about two years ago, where he served his chicken sandwiches.
For his sandwiches, Chaivisut brines chicken in coconut milk with Thai herbs before breading it in a mixture of makrut lime and panko. After the chicken is fried, it’s nestled onto a brioche bun and topped with a green papaya slaw. At Southside Station, the sandwich will be offered with a side of chips for $12. As for the pizza, Chaivisut said, like the Cheese Board, Southside Station will have one kind every day, made with a similar dough as the Gourmet Ghetto pizzeria. The biggest difference is his pies will not be vegetarian; expect meaty toppings. Pizza will come as a personal size ($7) or 14″ pie ($22) — and no, Southside will not be doing the signature Cheese Board extra sliver.
Chaivisut said he hopes Southside Station will open by early to mid-September, but the space is currently being remodeled. When it opens, the restaurant will have lighter colored walls than its former occupant, with a new floor and a minimalist style. Southside Station will have limited indoor seating, but Chaivisut is looking into the possibility of outdoor seating as well. Southside Station will be at 2504 Shattuck Ave. (at Dwight), Berkeley
FIRE CLOSES MO’JOE As Berkeleyside reported yesterday, a small fire that began Sunday afternoon has temporarily closed South Berkeley coffee shop, Mo’Joe. The blaze started from within an apartment at Sacramento Senior Homes, a low-income senior housing complex that shares the building with the café. Fire authorities believe a lit cigarette from a visitor in the second floor apartment started the fire. Firefighters contained the blaze quickly, and although Mo’Joe did not burn, it incurred water damage. Co-owner Adil Mouftakir told Berkeleyside the café at 2517 Sacramento St. might re-open this week, but the scope of the repairs may move the opening back.
ODE TO THE MATRIARCHY This Saturday, from noon to 2 p.m., chefs Tu David Phu (“Top Chef” alumnus, BanhMi-Ni), Reem Assil (Reem’s), Fernay McPherson (Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement) and Nora Haron (The FYUB, formerly Drip Line) will join forces with sustainable fish scientist and Fish Revolution founder Crystal Sanders-Alvarado, to host a brunch dedicated to the women who’ve influenced and touched their lives. The brunch takes place at Reem’s in Fruitvale, and is a precursor and fundraiser for the chefs, who will be collaborating on a dinner at James Beard House this October in New York. While the James Beard House dinner is $140-$180 a ticket, tickets to the brunch are a mere $25 each. The Oakland event also features a Q&A panel with the chefs, a raffle and silent auction and music from DJ Chungtech. Reem’s California, 3301 E 12th St. (between 33rd and 35th), Oakland
BRILLIANT COLORS Restore Oakland is a new community resource center in Fruitvale that opened last month. It houses a number of social-justice nonprofits, including two big ones in the food world: La Cocina and Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) United. La Cocina, a food incubator that advocates for immigrant-owned, low income and women-owned businesses, was founded in San Francisco, but Restore Oakland will serve as its East Bay headquarters. According to the East Bay Express, half of the businesses La Cocina serves are in the East Bay. At the new hub, the nonprofit will focus on community outreach and provide space for a marketplace for its emerging business owners to test and sell products. ROC United, an advocacy group for restaurant workers founded by Saru Jayaraman and Fekkak Mamdouh, is one of the two founding organizations that brought Restore Oakland to life (Ella Baker Center for Human Rights is the other). At the space, ROC will hold free front-of-house fine-dining and hospitality classes under its CHOW program and open an Oakland branch of its COLORS Restaurant this fall. As with its locations on the East Coast, COLORS will be part full-service restaurant, part training-facility, where CHOW students can get hands-on experience while earning a fair wage.
COLLECTIVE KITCHEN CLOSES After just three months at 2132 Center St., Collective Kitchen & Bar has closed. The downtown Berkeley restaurant was run by the last three members of the Juice Bar Collective; diners could find some of the same vegetarian and vegan comfort food dishes made popular at the tiny Gourmet Ghetto take-out juice and deli, as well as pressed juices, beer, wine and cocktails. Paper has gone up in the windows, as well as a sign for what’s to come next: “Center pop-up project! Coming soon: Flavia.”
TUESDAY’S GONE Berkeley’s Bartavelle café announced that starting this week, it’ll be closed on Tuesdays. A note posted at the café explains, “After almost 7 years of business we’ve realized we need a day to do boring admin stuff, train new hires, repair equipment, go on field trips, and most excitingly, to dream up new ideas.” Although closed during the day on Tuesday, its nighttime alter ego, Bar Sardine, will add Tuesday evening to its hours. Bar Sardine launched last December as a Friday night wine bar, featuring wines by the glass or bottle and bar snacks like tinned sardines and other Bartavelle bites from 5:30-9 p.m. Bartavelle, 1603 San Pablo Avenue (at Cedar), Berkeley