Chez Panisse sues for COVID-19 businesses losses; Donkey & Goat outdoor wine tastings

Plus: Jack London Square farmers market returns; Masabaga opens this week; The Damel has a new downtown spot; more.

A note from Alice Waters at Chez Panisse explains its closure due to the shelter-in-place order. Photo: John Metcalfe

Chez Panisse sues AMCO for denying COVID-19 coverage

Yesterday, Chez Panisse filed a lawsuit against AMCO Insurance Company for denying coverage for business losses due to the mandated shelter-in-place order that closed in-house service in dining rooms, including at Alice Waters’ famed Berkeley farm-to-table restaurant, which has not operated since March 19. According to a press release shared with Nosh by the restaurant’s legal representatives — Gibbs Law Group and Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll PLLC — Chez Panisse claims it has paid “substantial premiums for business interruption insurance,” but AMCO “acted in bad faith by categorically denying the insurance claim.” In a written statement, Waters said the livelihoods of Chez Panisse employees and suppliers, including cooks, servers, ranchers and farmers, are in jeopardy because the insurer is refusing to pay the claim. Chez Panisse is demanding AMCO pay for its COVID-19 related business losses along with damages, attorney’s fees and compensation for breach of contract. Several other California businesses, both restaurants and retail stores, have filed similar suits against insurance companies that have denied them business interruption insurance, including The Gardener on Fourth Street in Berkeley.

Groups of people at socially distanced tables enjoy outdoor wine tastings at Donkey & Goat in Berkeley. Photo: Sari Blum
Donkey & Goat invites quarantine pods to come for 90-minute socially distanced, outdoor wine tastings. Masks are required except when sitting at tables. Photo: Sari Blum

Outdoor tasting at Donkey and Goat

Starting July 18, Berkeley winery Donkey & Goat will open its backyard on weekends for socially distanced outdoor tastings. Co-owner Tracey Brandt said Donkey & Goat has “spent months preparing to welcome customers again for tastings” and has created a system, following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the city of Berkeley, to ensure these events are safe. The tastings are held completely outdoors, with guests entering the backyard through the parking lot for check-in before being seated at one of 11 tables that are spaced more than six feet apart and separated by planters and wine barrels. The 90-minute tastings, priced at $45 per person, include a seasonal wine flight, served with cheese, charcuterie and crackers. Tastings take place 2-6 p.m., Saturday and 1-5 p.m., Sunday. Reservations are required and guests must wear masks except when seated at their table. Donkey & Goat, 1340 Fifth St. (near Camelia Street), Berkeley

Black restaurant workers speak out against discrimination

The San Francisco Chronicle spoke with seven Black chefs and servers about racism they’ve faced while working in the restaurant industry. The workers say they were underpaid, passed over for promotions, treated differently from their non-Black colleagues and faced retaliation for speaking out against discriminatory treatment and “toxic” working conditions. Two of the interviewees formerly worked at notable East Bay restaurants Nyum Bai in Fruitvale and Belcampo in Jack London Square.

Baskets of strawberries sit in the foreground and bunches of carrots are seen in the distance at the Jack London Square farmers market
The Jack London Square farmers market reopens July 12, 2020 under new operator Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association. Photo: PCFMA

Jack London Square farmers market returns

On March 12, all events at Jack London Square were put on hold as an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, said its property owners. The popular Sunday farmers market was included in the decision, and although the Alameda County shelter-in-place order specifically names farmers markets as essential businesses, and while many other Bay Area farmers markets have remained opened during the pandemic, the Jack London Square farmers market has remained closed for the past four months. That’s about to change this Sunday, when the weekly outdoor produce and food crafts market returns to the Oakland waterfront (at Webster Street and Embarcadero West). Formerly operated by the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA), JLS farmers market is now under the direction of Concord-based Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association (PCFMA), the nonprofit that initially established the market in 1989. PCFMA currently operates many other Bay Area farmers markets, including several throughout the East Bay. Jack London Square farmers market hours are 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Sundays.


Masabaga opens Thursday

Michelin-lauded sushi chef Masa Sasaki will open his anticipated tuna belly burger restaurant Masabaga Thursday, according to Eater SF. Masabaga will operate out of the Uptown Oakland space formerly occupied by Hutch Bar & Kitchen as a takeout-only operation. The menu offers three sandwiches (the Masa Burger, $16, made with breaded, fried yellowfin tuna belly; Washogyu Burger, $15, made with ground American wagyu beef; and Saba Sando, $14, or grilled mackerel sandwich); shoestring fries seasoned with gomashio and curry salt; a salad with onion shiso vinaigrette; and black sesame crackers. Masabaga, 2022 Telegraph Ave., (near 21st Street), Oakland

Rocky’s Market, restaurant comes to Brooklyn Basin

This spring, Rocky’s Market, a neighborhood grocery store in Oakland’s Oakmore area, opened a second location in the city’s Brooklyn Basin neighborhood. During its three-month soft opening, Rocky’s Market Brooklyn Basin got its feet wet in the area, finding how best to serve nearby residents, especially during these crucial lockdown months. The market initially opened with fresh produce, a well-stocked cheese section, artisanal goods, and a wide selection of craft beers and wines. While the Oakmore market sold prepared goods from Two Local Girls, the catering company run by co-owner and chef Corinne Kinczel, the new market boasts its very own restaurant. On Friday, Rocky’s Market Brooklyn Basin will celebrate its official grand opening with the launch of breakfast, lunch and dinner menus at The Kitchen at Rocky’s Market. The waterfront restaurant’s offerings change seasonally, but will always feature organic, locally sourced and housemade ingredients. Expect morning fare like poached egg and housemade bacon sandwiches, breakfast burritos, toasts, Starter Bakery pastries and Boichik bagels; lunch and dinner options include housemade soups and salads, sandwiches, heartier plates and desserts. Food can be ordered for takeout or service on its 75-seat outdoor patio. Rocky’s Market Brooklyn Basin and The Kitchen at Rocky’s Market, 288 Ninth Ave. (between Brooklyn Basin Way and Clinton Lane), Oakland

Wise Sons at Beauty’s Bagel Shop

East Bay fans of Wise Sons take note: Beauty’s Bagel Shop on Telegraph Avenue is acting as a community pop-up location for the San Francisco-based Jewish delicatessen. The offerings include favorites like babka, challah, latkes and sliced pastrami and corned beef. The next Wise Sons pickup is this Saturday, from noon to 2 p.m. Place orders on Wise Son’s website. And if it’s wood-fired Montreal-style bagels you’re after, don’t worry, Beauty’s still makes those too. Its bagels, limited spreads and some grocery items must be pre-ordered by 3 p.m. Wednesday for pickup Saturday morning. Beauty’s Bagel Shop, 3838 Telegraph Ave. (at 38th Street), Oakland

For sale signs and a handwritten "permanently closed" notice hangs on the door at Stay Gold Deli in Oakland's Temescal neighborhood.
Stay Gold Deli in Temescal has been closed since February 2020. Photo: Sarah Han

Stay Gold in Temescal is permanently closed

The two-year-old Temescal location of Stay Gold Deli (at 4935 Shattuck Ave.) quietly closed earlier this year. Nosh only noticed this week, when we ventured out to find a sandwich and instead saw “for sale” signs in the windows and, for good measure, a handwritten notice on the door proclaiming the deli “permanently closed.” We contacted the Stay Gold owners by email, who confirmed the Shattuck Avenue spot has been on the market since February. Sad news for area deli sandwich lovers, especially those who found solace in Stay Gold after the loss of nearby Genova Deli. It’s not all bad news, though. We did get a little glimmer of hope from the owners, who said Stay Gold’s original West Oakland deli (at 2635 San Pablo Ave.), closed since March 17, will be reopening soon.


The Damel has a new home

After a year of operating as a permanent pop-up at the 25th St. Taproom Bar & Restaurant in Oakland, chef Oumar Diouf’s The Damel has its very own new digs in downtown Oakland near the 12th Street BART station. The Damel Oakland had its soft opening Monday, offering quick-service Afro-Brazilian eats, including Argentinian savory and sweet empanadas, Brazilian coxinha and açaí bowls and Senegalese dibi. At the new spot, Diouf will also continue to participate in Restaurants for the People, a project from chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen and Ayesha and Steph Curry, which partners with local restaurants to feed underserved communities. And according to Eater SF, the Senegalese chef has even more in store for The Damel: on July 15, he’ll launch a food truck to serve further out in the East Bay, in August, he’ll start delivering eats in San Francisco from a ghost kitchen and by 2022, plans to have a total of 10 locations. The Damel Oakland is open 1-9 p.m. daily, ready to serve via curbside pickup and third-party delivery. The Damel Oakland, 1312 Broadway (between 13th and 14th streets), Oakland

Mama Papa Lithuania chef Danute Sukiene prepares koldūnai dumplings with mushroom filling. Photo still from Melati Citrewireja’s video for Nosh

Last days for Mama Papa Lithuania

We’re really sad to hear that one of our favorite family-run Alameda spots is closing for good at the end of the month. According to the Chronicle, Mama Papa Lithuania, the Bay Area’s sole Lithuanian restaurant, will permanently shutter July 31 after nearly seven years. But don’t blame COVID-19 for this loss. Owner Vaidas Sukys told the Chron that he’s closing up shop to run for a parliament seat in Lithuania! Fortunately, you still have a few weeks to get your fix of their delicious homemade dumplings, borscht, “Lazy Pie” and other comforting Baltic eats. Mama Papa Lithuania, 1241 Park St. (near San Antonion Avenue), Alameda

Independent Brewing Company calls it quits

And finally, Independent Brewing Company announced its closure on the Fourth of July, the day of its seventh anniversary at 444 Harrison St. SFGate reported that it was Jack London Square’s first brewery. Owner Steve McDaniel explained in a post on Facebook that he couldn’t continue the lease at the facility due to lack of funds from being closed for three straight months. Independent Brewing did not receive Paycheck Protection Program loans or other government assistance, and unlike other breweries, wasn’t able to package its beers for takeout or open for outdoor dining.

Sarah Han is Nosh editor at Berkeleyside. Email: sarah@berkeleyside.com.