Rogue Café, a weekend-only brunch pop-up in a Berkeley backyard, has gone private. Photo: Rogue Café
Rogue Café, a weekend-only brunch pop-up in a Berkeley backyard, has gone private. Photo: Rogue Café

Rogue Café, a pop-up brunch spot held on weekends in a Berkeley backyard, has chosen to become a private event after a Berkeleyside story prompted a visit by the city’s health department.

“After speaking with the health department we have decided to make Rogue a private event. It is the only legal way for us to continue in our current state,” co-owner Eric Thoresen told Berkeleyside.

The July 23 Berkeleyside story triggered a significant reader response, and several commenters questioned whether the pop-up restaurant was legal. “I’m curious about how these places operate. Do they get inspected by the health department…? … Also, do they get business permits? Is the neighborhood zoned for the business?” wrote Pragmatic Progressive.

Thoresen responded by saying that Rogue had a business license and paid taxes, but did not have a permit. He also addressed questions regarding food sourcing, safety and sanitation.

Rogue Café was started by Thoreson and Ciara Sanker last year. The pair met while working at Pizzaiolo in Oakland. The weekend-only café on Ellis Street served waffles, eggs and house-made pork sausage using produce from the Farmers’ Market. Cooking is done in a sparse, outdoor kitchen.

From now on people who want to have brunch at Rogue need to email the owners (see Rogue’s Facebook page for details).

Pop-up restaurants have proved a popular concept in the Bay Area and beyond in the past few years, spurred on both by the economic downturn and the appeal for consumers of the novelty factor and spontaneous nature of the events. Many of them have an “underground” element, but traditional Berkeley restaurants such as Local 123 and Guerilla Café have also experimented with the pop-up idea.

Rogue is not the first informal eatery that has had run-ins with the city. In 2010, Michael Parayno operated a music and supper club, then called the Multi Culti Grill and Birdland Jazz, out of his Sacramento Street residential address. After being busted for code violations on more than one occasion, Parayno reinvented the soirées as a private party, then moved it to a new venue at Café Yesterday. Earlier this month Parayno relaunched the private club as the Birdland Jazzista Social Club and says it is already proving a hit. It is in Manila, however, not Berkeley.

Rogue Cafe: Weekend pop-up serves up a mellow brunch [07.23.12]
Pop-up restaurants popping up around town [04.29.11]
What next for the Multi-Culti Grill and Birdland Jazz Club? [12.10.10]

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...