Bites: Closing dates for Fondue Fred, Bacheesos and Lilly’s; Oakland gets a comic book-themed bar

The entrance to Berkeley's Fondue Fred restaurant inside The Village.
Fondue Fred is located in The Village, a retail mall that’s scheduled to be demolished for a new development project. Photo: Sarah Han

A FOND(UE) FAREWELL When Nosh last spoke with Fondue Fred owner Laleh Heravi Aryan, she had hopes to relocate her restaurant, which will be demolished for a new five-story apartment building called the Laureate. However, we spoke with Aryan this week, who confirmed she was unable to find a new location. Fondue Fred’s will serve its last pots of  melted Gruyère cheese, wine sauce and chocolate on Dec. 22.

Aryan, an Iranian immigrant and single mother has owned Fondue Fred’s for the past 20 years, where she’s served generations in the area. “For me, it’s not just a cash cow, it was also my life,” Aryan said in a phone conversation with Nosh. Aryan also said her employees have been a huge part of what made Fondue Fred special. When looking for a new location, Aryan had mostly looked in Berkeley and Oakland, to be accessible for regulars and employees. “I didn’t want to go too far, to start from the beginning,” Aryan said.

For now, Aryan doesn’t have a farewell party planned, but said she’ll likely start selling some of the restaurant’s memorabilia in its last days. She also doesn’t have a plan for what’s next for her, but she’s keeping the door open for opportunities to continue cooking, possibly as a guest chef at a restaurant looking to host fondue nights. So if Fondue Fred has a place in your heart, be sure to make final dipping dates in the next couple of months. Fondue Fred, 2556 Telegraph Ave. (at Blake), Berkeley

BYE-BYE, BACHEESOS The Berkeley location of family-owned Mediterranean restaurant Bacheesos will close Nov. 4 to make way for a five-story mixed-use complex at the site (construction is scheduled to begin in summer 2020). In an emotional interview with Nosh, Bacheesos owner Soraya Kelar said the restaurant is closing permanently and has no plans to relocate. Kelar said she is financially unable to rent out another space due to the cost of rent in Berkeley. “There is really nothing else I can do. The only way that I can continue my restaurant is for the city of Berkeley to help me somehow. I don’t even care about making money, I just want to continue helping the people of Berkeley by providing them with good, healthy, and cheap food,” she said.


Bacheesos, which was originally at San Pablo Avenue and Dwight, moved to Telegraph Avenue in 2011. It also opened a second location in Oakland at 246 Grand Ave. Kelar said she primarily works at the Berkeley branch, while her son takes care of the Oakland restaurant. The Grand Avenue location will remain open. Bacheesos, 2650 Telegraph Ave. (at Derby), Berkeley (Reported by Annika Kim Constantino)

Northside Berkeley Chinese restaurant Lilly's to close on Oct. 31 so its owners can retire.
Northbrae Chinese restaurant Lilly’s to close on Oct. 31 so its owners can retire. Photo: Lea Delson

LILLY, OH LILLY A change of ownership sign at Lilly’s, a longtime family-owned Chinese restaurant on Hopkins Street in Berkeley, has prompted a barrage of emails from distraught Nosh readers. “Oh noooo Lilly’s… my go to place for chow fun,” wrote Ira Serkes about the impending closure of the Northbrae neighborhood favorite. Lea Delson wrote fondly that it is “a place to find a warm welcome and comforting Chinese food favorites, reasonably priced lunch specials, and takeout lunch food that has been a favorite of many King Middle School students.”

Nosh spoke with owner Shan Ling Jiang, who confirmed that Lilly’s will close after a final service on Thursday, Oct. 31. He told Nosh that his family has owned Lilly’s for the past 10 years (the restaurant was open for years before that, and apparently there was, at one time, an owner named Lilly), but they are closing to retire. While the next spot won’t have chow fun, Hunan fish or other of Lilly’s Chinese dishes, area diners can look forward to a Japanese restaurant called Kyoto Sushi, which will open in its place. Lilly’s, 1580 Hopkins St. (between California and McGee), Berkeley

YOKOCHO-INSPIRED DINING Nosh tipster Sean Rouse spotted a sign at 2309 Telegraph Ave. in Southside, Berkeley, where Organic Coup last roosted. According to the Alley Kitchens website, the restaurant is a locally owned and operated fast-food restaurant inspired by yokocho, narrow alleyways in Japan, where you’ll find rows of mom-and-pop restaurants, bars and other eateries. Alley Kitchens will feature Japanese fare from three different brands: chirashi sushi and donburi from Umidon, tonkotsu and vegan ramen from Kuroki and organic matcha and ice cream from Whisk. According to an Instagram post from Oct. 18, construction had recently started at the space. Nosh has contacted the business for more details and will have updates when we hear back. Alley Kitchens, 2309 Telegraph Ave. (at Bancroft), Berkeley

BLUE BOTTLE MOVES TO GOLD COUNTRY Blue Bottle has had deep roots in Oakland. The third-wave coffee roaster was founded in the city by James Freeman in 2002 and its first retail location at 300 Webster St. has served as the company’s roastery and headquarters. Even after Nestlé bought a majority of the company in 2017, Blue Bottle remained true to the Town. So it was a little shocking to hear that they’re moving part of their operation elsewhere. Eater broke the news that since spring, Blue Bottle has been transferring its roasting operations to Sacramento. A representative for Blue Bottle confirmed the news with Nosh, saying the company is “consolidating all West Coast roasting operations under one roof in their new Sacramento facility.” The representative also added that move will not affect the Old Oakland training facility, the Berkeley facility at the old Pyramid Brewery where the company packages its retail cold brew products, any existing West Coast Blue Bottle cafés, or its East Coast and international cafés, which have their own roasteries. Blue Bottle plans to complete the transition to California’s capital city by end of year.

The shelves at As Kneaded Bakery in San Leandro. Photo: As Kneaded Bakery
As Kneaded Bakery in San Leandro celebrates its first birthday on Nov. 3 featuring samples of its sweet and savory baked goods. Photo: As Kneaded Bakery

FIRST RISE Last November, baker Iliana Imberman Berkowitz opened the brick-and-mortar location of As Kneaded, her bread-focused bakery in San Leandro, where she offers naturally leavened sourdough loaves, French-style sweet baguettes, epis, sticky buns and other sweet and savory baked goods. A year later, As Kneaded is a well-loved staple in San Leandro, but also stocks bread at Bay Area grocery stores (in the East Bay, at Berkeley Bowl, Farmer Joe’s in Fruitvale, Monterey Market, Estudillo Produce and Whole Foods Oakland and Gilman). Recently, to meet demand, the bakery expanded hours, now welcoming customers five days a week (8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday). On Nov. 3, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., As Kneaded invites the public to celebrate its first birthday. Party favors include free samples, family-friendly activities and giveaways. Then, on Nov. 6, it’ll roll out some new items, including grab-and-go sandwiches on As Kneaded bread and caffeine-fueled beverages from San Leandro-based Proyecto Diaz Coffee. As Kneaded Bakery, 585 Victoria Ct. (at Bancroft), San Leandro

NEW CHEF, FULL BAR AT LUCIA’S Since 2018, owners Steve Dumain and Alessandro Uccelli of Lucia’s in downtown Berkeley have been working to get a visa for their talented pizzaiolo, Ernesto Palmieri. Palmieri, a chef from Naples, owned and operated his own pizzeria in Nusco, Avellino, Italy; has won and placed in pizza championships in Italy and the U.S.; and has been a visiting instructor at culinary schools, teaching the craft of pizza making. With those chops, it’s no surprise that Dumain and Uccelli were eager to have him on board at their Neapolitan pizzeria. This week, the owners shared the happy news Palmieri now has a visa and has officially joined Lucia’s team. As the new chef/pizzaiolo, Palmieri has revamped the menu with four new pizzas and starting next month, a new Italian-style burger and two homemade pasta dishes. Lucia’s also shared more good news: The restaurant just got its full liquor license, so it now boasts a cocktail list curated by Uccelli, featuring Bay Area and Italian spirits. Starting this Friday, Lucia’s will launch its happy hour, which will happen from 5-6 p.m., daily; also after 9 p.m., weekends featuring drink specials and snacks. Lucia’s, 2016 Shattuck Ave. (near University), Berkeley 

A comic book-style rendering of the new First Edition bar in Uptown Oakland. Image: First Edition
A comic book-style rendering of the new First Edition bar in Uptown Oakland. Image: First Edition

[Updated Nov. 4] GREAT KRYPTON! First Edition, a new comic-book themed craft cocktail bar located above the 19th Street BART station soft opened over the weekend. Taking over a 1930 storefront, First Edition has a dark, but well-appointed aesthetic in the high-ceilinged space with a mezzanine. Large, colorful murals and creepy sculptures that give a nod to comic book villains hang inside, and a spacious back patio welcomes guests who want to drink al fresco. According to Hoodline, its owner Cory Hunt also owns San Francisco watering hole, Jackalope. First Edition is open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., Tuesday through Saturday. First Edition, 1915 Broadway (near 19th), Oakland

A FALL SPANISH FEAST Uptown Oakland’s modern Spanish restaurant Duende will host a six-course family-style feast to celebrate the bounty of autumn. The dinner takes place at 7 p.m., Nov. 7. A sampling of featured dishes include jamón de cordero (lamb ham with a preserved late summer vegetables), canalones verdes (wild nettle pasta with duck, roasted pumpkin, and eggplant) and paella de carne (with rabbit, merguez sausage, mushrooms, preserved tomatoes and chestnuts). Tickets are $95 ($120 with wine pairing; tax and gratuity included in ticket prices). Duende, 468 19th St. (between Telegraph and Broadway), Oakland

COOKBOOK SIGNINGS If you’re tickled that Berkeley has its own Tartine Bakery outpost and would like to try your hand at making your own versions of their classic bakes, take note that Tartine co-founder and pastry chef Elisabeth Prueitt will appear at Market Hall Rockridge to promote Tartine: A Classic Revisited on Saturday from 2-4 p.m. Prueitt will sign copies of the book, co-authored with her husband-partner Chad Robertson, which features more than 120 recipes for baked delights, including the Tartine Morning Bun.

And if you’re the type who loves cooking for company, but not the stress that comes along with hosting, you might want to get your hands on Alison Roman’s new cookbook. From 2-4 p.m., Sunday, the chef, author and New York Times and Bon Appétit columnist appears at Market Hall to sign copies of Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food for Having People Over. Market Hall Rockridge, 5655 College Ave. (at Shafter), Oakland