Sista Sandwich
Sista Sandwich: a new Berkeley startup that offers gluten-free, gourmet sandwiches

Openings, closings

SISTA SANDWICH New in town: start-up Sista Sandwich, which provides grab-and-go gourmet gluten free sandwiches in Berkeley. Laura Tucker, who founded the company with her sister Sharon Pearlstein, says Sista is one of the few companies to be filling this niche and, so far, business is good.  “Our 100% gluten free sandwiches are made in Oakland and sold in Berkeley,” she says. The idea for Sista Sandwich came in the fall of 2011 while the pair were sitting in a cafe discussing how they would love to start a food related business of their own. While at the cafe Laura, who had been on a gluten free diet for two years already, realized that there was nothing for her to eat, other than yogurt, chips and packs of nuts. The Sista Sandwiches can be found at Berkeley Bowl, in two cafés on the UC Berkeley campus, at the new Café La Renaissance (see below) as well as a couple of small Berkeley markets.

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THE MIX PLUS  The Mix Plus has opened in the former Sumo Grub location opposite Berkeley High School at 2235 Miliva St. Owner Pat Pham, who once waited tables at The Homemade Café, says she is still changing up the menu to meet the needs of the students. The offerings are an eclectic mix of kids’ favorites: burgers, quesadillas, and Mexican food. There is a glass case at the front counter with quick grab-and-go items like bagels and candy. Pham’s daughter, Katherine, a freshman at BHS, came up with the restaurant name after a brainstorming session with friends. The Mix Plus is currently open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sumo Grub was known for its deep fried pizza, Oreos and Twinkies. Owner Jason Sum has spent a lot of time in the last three years showcasing his fried food on the Food Network, the Discovery Channel, and other travel channels and said he shut the store because he wants a better location. He also wants to take some time to focus on his other restaurant, The Berkeley Thai House on Channing near Telegraph.


CAFE LA RENAISSANCE  Café La Renaissance has opened at 3045 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley, two blocks south of Ashby. The café sells coffee, sandwiches, salads, pastries from The Bread Workshop, as well as gluten-free sandwiches from Sista Sandwich (see above). The interior is inviting, with couches, posters, a Renaissance-style oil painting, and a fireplace mantle. “Renaissance means rebirth,” says manager Dani Stewart. “We wanted to set up an environment where people could come and leave all their worries behind. It’s a play on words.” The building, once known as “the flying cottage,” was declared a public nuisance by the City Council in 2003. It was heavily damaged in a 2006 arson fire and then rebuilt. The hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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BOURBON AND BEEF A new restaurant is slated to take over the long vacant Rockridge space last occupied by the Water Lounge, and before that Pearl, at 5634 College Ave. According to Diablo Dish, the place will offer a Latin-inspired menu with an emphasis on family-style, meat-driven plates like roast chicken and pork. The owners, part of an established restaurant group, apparently are planning for an open street exposure and woodsy-rustic interior. The hope is for a late-summer, early fall opening.

What else is going on…


CROP SWAPS Transition Berkeley’s Weekly Crop Swaps have started up again this month. The swaps are held every Monday until the end of October (heavy rain cancels), starting at 6:30 p.m (they are usually over by 7:00 p.m.), across from the North Berkeley BART station, on the Ohlone Greenway. Come with your excess kale, and end up with lemons or peppers or honey. [Read our story on the Crop Swaps.]


BUSD COOKING/GARDENING PROGRAM Forces are rallying locally to raise funds for the Berkeley schools’ cooking and gardening program which is facing harsh cuts in federal fundsWhole Foods Market is holding a Giving Day on May 22. At least four times a year, each Whole Foods Market store sets aside a day on which five percent of the day’s net sales is contributed to a local 501(c)3 non-profit organization. This quarter’s recipient is BUSD. Wednesday, May 22, 8a.m.–10 p.m., 3000 Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley 94705. And don’t forget DINE OUT FOR EDUCATION on Thursday, May 30 in which local restaurants show their support for the program. See the list here. Get connected with Berkeley Schools Gardening and Cooking Alliance on Facebook.


TRUMER PILS BIKE-IN MOVIE NIGHT Trumer Pils in Berkeley is hosting a bike-in movie night on Friday May 24  screening Premium Rush, the bicycle messenger action movie set in New York City starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Proceeds from the event will benefit the East Bay Bike Coalition. In addition to the feature film, there will be food trucks as well as popcorn, sodas and, of course, Trumer Pils available for purchase. General admission is $5, or free with purchase or renewal of an East Bay Bicycle Coalition membership. Guests can partake in a tour of the Trumer brewery and enter to win a beach cruiser bicycle, as well as other prizes, with proceeds benefitting the East Bay Bicycle Coalition. Friday, May 24, doors open at 7:30 p.m. Brewery tour at 8 p.m., feature film at 9 p.m., 1404 Fourth St. in Berkeley. (The event will take place outdoors in the courtyard. Bike-in; bring chairs, FM radio, blankets and warm layers.)


CHEF SARAH NELSON Chef Sarah Nelson will be demonstrating Rainbow Kale Salad and there will be free recipes and tastings at Albany’s farmers market on May 22, 3-6 p.m. Nelson is the executive director and founder of Three Squares, a local nonprofit that, among other things, pairs local chefs and nutritionists with vulnerable kids and parents to help them make healthy, affordable meals. This demo is part of a series at the Ecology Center Farmers’ Markets designed to give people knowledge that they can easily take home and put to use in their own kitchens. The Ecology Center-run market is at Solano Avenue, west of San Pablo Avenue.

Recent Nosh stories (in case you missed them):
Michael Pollan: We teach kids about sex, why not cooking?
Occupy the Farm: We’ll keep coming back
Mad Monk to rise in old Cody’s space on Telegraph Avenue
Good Eggs: The lazy (wo)man’s Farmers Market

Bites is Nosh’s round-up of restaurant openings, happenings and closings in the East Bay. Got a tip or scoop? Send it our way to Follow Berkeleyside NOSH on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Some of these items may first have appeared in Shop Talk, Berkeleyside’s regular column in which we post updates on Berkeley businesses. Got a tip for Nosh Bites? Send it to

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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...