Bites: Ba-Bite owner crowdfunds for more silky-smooth hummus; The Octopus Lounge is closing

Mica Talmor, owner of Pomella.
Mica Talmor, former owner of Ba-Bite, is crowdfunding for her new restaurant, Pomella. Photo courtesy of Mica Talmor

A BA-BITE AWAY Since announcing her intentions of returning to Piedmont Avenue, former Ba-Bite owner Mica Talmor has been busy planning for Pomella, a restaurant she’ll open in the former Chow Oakland building this fall. Like Ba-Bite, Pomella will specialize in Israeli cuisine in a counter-service format, but the eatery will also have a grab-and-go market and serve as home base for her catering business. As fans of Ba-Bite will recall, hummus was one of the shining stars on its menu, and it will be at Pomella, too. To be able to meet the hummus demands of all aspects of her forthcoming business, Talmor says she needs a new hummus-making machine that costs $25,000 and will allow her to make five times more hummus than she can now. A few days ago, she launched a Kickstarter with a goal of raising 80% of the cost to buy the machine, which she says “will help us keep up with your love of our hummus with greater efficiency and even better silky-smoothness! (And most importantly, it will save my sanity!!!).”

In just three days Talmor surpassed the $20,000 goal. But with more than 20 days left of the crowdfunding campaign, Talmor is asking for supporters to help her reach new goals: With just another $5,000, the campaign will cover the entire cost of the machine; a total of $35,000 will allow Pomella to make its own bread (something she didn’t think she’d be able to do until year two or three of the business) and $50,000 will allow the restaurant to get the ABC permit to serve beer and wine. Along with the updated milestones, Talmor has added new thank you gifts for supporters, but she tells Nosh, “We’re keeping some surprises up our sleeves.” Pomella will be at 3770 Piedmont Ave. (at Yosemite), Oakland

SUPER NIDO Speaking of crowdfunding, Eater reports that Jack London warehouse district Mexican restaurant Nido is looking for community support to open its long-anticipated expansion, Nido’s Backyard. The idea for the project started four years ago, when Nido owners Silvia and Cory McCollow started to feel they were outgrowing their modest-sized spot at 444 Oak St. They dreamt big — Nido’s Backyard will be an indoor-outdoor space for dining that includes a mezcal and margarita garden and plenty of space for community gatherings, like live music performances. But the ambitious plans meant the owners had to meet lots of requirements to build it. The largest cost was designing and building a crosswalk, which the McCollows say has “taken all of our available funding set aside for bringing 30 new jobs to Oakland.” So far they’ve raised just under $9,000 of their $35,000 goal, but they’re continuing to move forward, hiring staff and planning for a grand opening, which they say is coming soon. Nido’s Backyard will be at 104 Oak St. (at Embarcadero West), Oakland

The front entrance at The Octopus Literary Salon in Downtown Oakland.
The Octopus Literary Salon in Downtown Oakland is closing its doors at the end of the month. Photo: Rebecca Grove

A FAREWELL TO EIGHT ARMS Uptown café and venue The Octopus Literary Salon will close at the end of the month. In a Facebook post written on Aug. 15, owners Rebecca Grove, Ian Patton and Mike Linn explained the Octopus will close its doors on Aug. 31 due to financial difficulties. “We have been struggling for months to get our heads above water, but the reality is we simply aren’t bringing in enough money to continue. The abruptness of this news comes as a shock to everyone involved, and we wish that we had more time with you all.”


The Octopus opened in 2015, serving as a daytime café and bookstore and hosting events in the evenings, like readings, live music and other performance art events. In April, Grove told Nosh that although the business had a following, it was struggling to stay afloat due to a large construction loan she took out to renovate and open the space. The loan was an extra $3,500 monthly payment, on top of rent and operating costs. The owners launched a GoFundMe in an attempt to raise $185,000 to pay the remainder of the loan in full, but the seven-month campaign fell short.

Although The Octopus is resigned to closing, the owners are packing the last days with events “to sing, play, raise a glass, and gather as a community.” Visit the website for the remaining events, and stop by after 7 p.m., Aug. 28 and 29, to say goodbye. “Come hang out and have a drink with us and bid the Octopus bon voyage,” the trio writes. “We plan a Viking jazz funeral followed by a karaoke wake. Do we know any archers comfortable shooting flaming arrows into Lake Merritt?” Now that’s an idea! The Octopus Literary Salon, 2101 Webster St. (at 22nd), Oakland 

LAMBRUSCO + PIZZA Clear your Thursday night schedule for this one. Vintage Berkeley and Nabolom Bakery in the Elmwood are joining forces to bring you a pretty amazing dinner deal. From 6-8 p.m. this Thursday, diners with $15 will enjoy a flight of four Lambruscos, a slice of Caponata pizza, a little gem salad and dessert (additional glasses of wine start at $5). Reservations are encouraged (Contact dan@vintageberkeley.com to save your seat). Nabolom Bakery, 2708 Russell St. (at College), Berkeley

A can of Fort Point Export beer sits at a dock with the USS Potomac in the background.
Ode to Export: A Fort Point Boat Party sets sail from the Port of Oakland Sept 7. Photo: Fort Point Beer Company

BREWS CRUISE San Francisco’s Fort Point Beer Company invites guests to set sail Sept. 7 for a three-hour tour of the bay aboard the USS Potomac. Its seasonal brew Export is made like a lager from German port city Dortmund, but Fort Point dedicates its version to a port city closer to home — Oakland. The boat party travels from the Port of Oakland to Fort Point and back, with snacks provided by Oakland’s Tacos Oscar and lots of Fort Point beers. Tickets are $85; 21+ only.

COMAL + GHOST TOWN Comal’s next Abajo Dinner — a series where the downtown Berkeley Mexican restaurant collaborates on a drink-paired multi-course meal with a craft vintner, distiller or brewer in its private cellar dining room — will host West Oakland small-batch brewery Ghost Town Brewing. Comal chef Matt Gandin will do his magic creating dishes that pair well with Ghost Town brews. The menu: king salmon ceviche paired with Geisterfaust Pilsner; a feta frisée salad with peaches, ramps, almonds and sheep feta paired with Locrian Pale Ale; a sweet corn soup matched with Inhume IPA; Berkshire al pastor tacos with Death Rattle Double IPA; and a flan with fresh raspberries made to enjoy with Pillory Kettle Sour. Ghost Town’s head brewer Justin Burdt will be on hand to answer any questions about what you’re drinking. These Abajo dinners usually sell out, so we’re giving you plenty of notice — the event takes place 6:30 p.m., Sept. 23. Tickets are $75 including food, beer and service charge. Comal, 2020 Shattuck Ave. (near University), Berkeley

A rendering of the Berkeley Boathouse, the new restaurant to come at DoubleTree Berkeley.
A rendering of the Berkeley Boathouse, the new waterfront restaurant to come at DoubleTree by Hilton at the Berkeley Marina. Photo: Berkeley Boathouse

INN AND OUT This week, DoubleTree by Hilton at the Berkeley Marina announced its waterfront restaurant The Bay Grille & Bar will become The Berkeley Boathouse. The website shows renderings of the new nautical-themed decor, but no further information or new menu has been provided. The hotel aims to open by early September. The Berkeley Boathouse will be at 200 Marina Blvd., Berkeley

CHOCOLATE AND CHALK ART FEST Two words you don’t normally want to hear together are chocolate and chalk, but for the past 21 years, amateur and professional chalk artists and local sweets lovers have converged in North Berkeley for the annual Chocolate and Chalk Art Festival. This year, the event takes place Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a chalk art contest on Shattuck Avenue and chocolate tasting tours at various locations in the Gourmet Ghetto. The selection of chocolate-flavored goodies include empanadas from Javi’s Cooking, dessert pizza from Bobby G’s, puddings from Saul’s Deli, Poulet and Gregoire, gelatos from Lush, cheesecake from CheeseQuakes! and lots more, including some vegan options. Admission is free, but chocolate tasting tickets are 20 for $20 and boxes of chalk are $10 each. The Chocolate and Chalk Art Festival takes place between
1400-1800 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley

EAST BAY SOUL Tickets are still available for the next Slow Food East Bay Cultural Food Traditions project dinner, taking place Sunday from 6-9 p.m. This edition focuses on black food culture and features two prominent local black chefs, Fernay McPherson (Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement) and Rashad Armstead (Crave BBQ and Grammie’s Down-Home Chicken & Seafood), who will prepare a soul food and BBQ feast at Red Bay Coffee in East Oakland. Featured dishes for the night are Crave’s smoked chicken wings, brisket sliders and riblets and Minnie Bell’s mac and cheese, braised greens, cornbread and black-eyed pea salad; and a sweet finale of caramel cake and grilled peach cobbler. Refreshments include wines from black-run wineries and beers from Temescal Brewing. After the meal, Shakirah Simley will lead the chefs in a discussion about the history of black food culture and the challenges that black-owned businesses face today. While we’re talking about McPherson and Armstead, we should note, Minnie Bell’s has recently moved into a larger permanent outpost at Public Market Emeryville, and Armstead, who won the “Chopped” championship last month, is currently crowdfunding to scale Crave BBQ and Grammie’s into quick-service franchise brands, in order to train and employ underserved black youth. Tickets are $45-$85 sliding scale. The dinner takes place at Red Bay Coffee, 3098 E 10th St., Oakland