Homespun Fare. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Homespun Fare: the new incarnation of I Squared at 5403 College Ave. in Oakland. Photo: Emilie Raguso

HOMESPUN FARE The husband-and-wife team behind I Squared have re-opened under a new moniker, Homespun Fare (pictured above). They opened quietly Sept. 6 at 5403 College Ave. in Oakland. The menu features starters ($6-$10) such as polenta fries and steamed black mussels, and mains ($9-$16) such as oven roasted salmon, a grilled pork chop and lamb shank. There’s also a cabbage wrap that can be made vegan or with ground lamb, and polenta lasagna. The restaurant has no online presence at this point — neither a Facebook page nor a Yelp review — so curious diners will just have to take the plunge on their own.

Proposed site of Lemat Ethiopian. Image: Google Maps
Proposed site of Lemat Ethiopian. Image: Google Maps

LEMAT ETHIOPIAN Exclusively on Nosh, we have a report of a brand new Ethiopian spot coming to the Lorin District in South Berkeley. Lemat Ethiopian Restaurant and Café, 3212 Adeline St., is a casual, family-owned eatery that will offer a variety of vegetable and some meat dishes. Dishes will include thick stews, called wat, and grilled sautéed meats (tibs) along with vegetables served on injera. Co-owner Gezahegn “GZ” Mengistu told Nosh he’s planning to offer all-you-can-eat vegan dishes on Wednesdays, Fridays and during Lent in the spring. Lemat’s decor will feature Ethiopian traditional displays. And the restaurant plans to offer a daily coffee ceremony during lunch hours in a traditional backyard seating area designed for this purpose. Owners Mengistu and Ejigayehu “EJ” Berhanu, his wife, are living in Switzerland with their two sons, but plan to return to the Bay Area next year to launch their new venture. The restaurant is expected to open in July 2014.

Former site of Bec's. Image: Google Maps
Former site of Bec’s. Image: Google Maps

TUPPER & REED A new bar called Tupper & Reed has applied for a liquor license at the old Beckett’s location at 2271 Shattuck Ave. in downtown Berkeley. The prior tenant, Bec’s Bar & Bistro, closed in March (as reported on Nosh). The 1925, ivy-clad building had been occupied by the long-running Beckett’s Irish Pub until 2011. Inside Scoop reported Thursday that new owners Brian Sheehy and Doug Dalton of Future Bars (Bourbon & Branch, Tradition, Local Edition, et al) had been looking for a good spot for their newest venture for a year before settling on Berkeley. They hope to open their new cocktail bar by spring 2014, according to Scoop. The name of the new endeavor is a nod to the building’s history. According to the Berkeley Historical Plaque Project, John Tupper and Lawrence Reed constructed the building for their music store, which they had opened in Berkeley in 1906: “This building features clinker bricks, wood beam ceilings, slate roofs, balconies, fanciful decorations, and a monumental fireplace. The iron cutout on the chimney top announced the Sign of the Piper Restaurant, once located upstairs.” In 1959, a fire caused the owners to relocate next door. The music store closed in 2005, one year short of its 100-year anniversary. Stay tuned to Nosh for more details.

Chef Todd Kniess. Photo: Bistro Liaison
Chef Kniess. Photo: Bistro Liaison

PETIT COCHON Bistro Liaison owners Todd and Natalie Kniess have applied for a beer and wine license for what used to be Oggi Restaurant and Wine Bar at 1801 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto. The owners of Oggi, previously Cioccolata Di Vino, closed June 1, after 4½ years, “to refocus our time and energy towards our growing family,” according to the company website. Todd Kniess told Diablo Dish that the aim for Petit Cochon, which means “little pig” in French, is “to open a fast-casual patisserie version of the bistro that’s a little more affordable (prices less than $10) and accessible to Cal students.” We’ll keep you posted when we know more.

Giin Thai Canteen. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Giin Thai. Photo: Emilie Raguso

THAI TO THE LORIN A new Thai restaurant from the owners of Berkeley’s Gecko Gecko is headed for 3278 Adeline St. in Berkeley, the former location of Le Bayou Cajun and Creole Cafe, which closed last year. The new spot will be named Giin Thai Canteen, and is “coming soon” according to a sign posted on the storefront’s window. Gecko Gecko has four stars and 184 reviews on Yelp, so the owners clearly have some experience making diners happy. We’ve reached out for more information.

Alchemy. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Alchemy Café. Photo: Emilie Raguso

ALCHEMY COLLECTIVE CAFÉ The Alchemy Collective Café has moved from its former tiny spot at 3140 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Berkeley to a larger location at 1741 Alcatraz Ave. (as tipped by us in July). This is the first move since the collective was opened in 2012 by six baristas who wanted to run an independent café operation. Last year they ran a successful Kickstarter campaign and brought in $10,000 to open their business. They’ve proven to be as adept at crowd-sourced fundraising as brewing coffee: Recently, the group met its goal of raising another $10,000 on Kickstarter to help pay for the move. According to its website, the new café will feature more space and a covered patio in the front. The menu is still in the works, but Alchemy will continue to feature coffee from Verve Roasters. The addition of a kitchen will expand the food offerings, with morning items like a granola bowl or breakfast sandwich, and a variety of lunch sandwiches.

Rasa (right) outside the Firehouse Art Collective. Source: Rasa Caffe
Rasa (right) outside the Firehouse Art Collective. Source: Rasa Caffe

RASA CAFFE Heading into the space vacated by Alchemy, at 3140 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, will be coffee and specialty drink bar Rasa Caffe run by Oakland native Rasa Sun Mott. With just hours remaining in his Kickstarter campaign, Mott has met his fundraising goal of nearly $16,000. His aim is “to create a new cozy yet elegant local coffee & specialty drink bar in South Berkeley,” he writes. He’ll use the money to buy equipment and inventory for a planned opening in October. The cafe will offer a “signature chai” concoction, along with local artisanal food. In collaboration with the Firehouse Art Collective, and part of the same complex, Rasa plans to display local art for sale. Once established, Rasa Caffe aims to sell to-go bites and have a small retail area for specialty items made by local artisanal producers.

Source: Cakes and Purls
Source: Cakes and Purls

CAKES AND PURLS Sweetshop Cakes and Purls, at 2115 Allston Way, is hopping across the passageway from its current location to a suite about double its current size Oct. 1. In addition to its baked goods — we hear it has some of the best gluten-free offerings around — the shop plans to set up an “expanded yarn display.” Right now it offers a few brands of yarn along with knitting supplies, and has started hosting “yarn bombing” events as well. For those unfamiliar with the shop, it’s owned by Marie Sitaro, who “learned how to bake and knit in her 6th grade home economics class” while growing up in Brooklyn. She holds a degree in pastry arts, and has 10 years of experience making desserts in restaurants and hotels. Since moving to the Bay Area, she says she’s “aimed to marry her Italian-American heritage with her love for California’s local and sustainable harvests.” She wants her shop to be “a welcoming environment for patrons to enjoy desserts and work on their fiber arts.”

Source: Eureka!
Source: Eureka!

EUREKA! IS HIRING Another new burger spot, Eureka!, is planning to open in downtown Berkeley at the end of October. We’ve been awaiting the date since we first reported the plans in October 2012. Construction has been going on steadily at 2068 Center St., the former location of Peking Express Chinese Restaurant. (Peking Express moved to 2516 Durant Ave. when its lease expired.) The upscale chain aims to offer an “enlightening burger experience, accompanied by fresh ingredients, artisan recipes, craft beer, classic cocktails and rock n’ roll.” Eureka! is expecting to hire 75 new year-round employees, including hosts, servers, bartenders and a full culinary and kitchen team. Interviews are scheduled at The Faculty Club at UC Berkeley (Sept. 26-27, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4-8 p.m.), and at the Four Points by Sheraton in Emeryville (Oct. 2-4 and Oct. 9-10 at the hours listed above).

Source: City of Berkeley
Source: City of Berkeley

DOMINO’S PIZZA…THEATER? A former bookstore at 3264 Adeline St. in the Lorin District is slated to become a 2,000-square-foot Domino’s Pizza shop. (The Other Change of Hobbit was evicted in March, as reported on Berkeleyside.) According to the Domino’s permit application, received Sept. 4 by the city of Berkeley, the owner plans to create a “new concept” that will be “the first of its kind in the greater Bay Area.” What’s the concept, you ask? Well, the “Pizza Theater” format will have “pizza-making artists” who hand-toss dough “behind a glassy display” to entertain customers. There will be seating for up to 26, and proposed hours of operation from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Owners promise a “reformulated pizza recipe” as well as “Artisan Pizzas” and more. The applicant notes that there used to be a Domino’s in the neighborhood that was “well-liked.” Moreover, they say, their business will “enhance the neighborhood” and contribute to the “vitality and diversity of the district.”

Photo: Jimmy Bean's
Photo: Jimmy Bean’s

JIMMY BEAN’S BECOMES LAMA BEAN The breakfast and brunch spot at 1290 Sixth St. formerly known as Jimmy Bean’s has a new owner and a new name: Lama Bean. Jimmy Bean’s used to be part of the K2 Restaurant Group, which has sold off virtually all of its properties in Berkeley. The new owner of the property, Lodo Raden, purchased  the restaurant two weeks ago and renamed it Lama Bean. Raden said he plans to leave the menu the same but will focus on fresher ingredients. He is also applying for a liquor license, which he hopes to receive by mid-October.

joshu-ya brasserie,
Jason Kwon, via Facebook

BLEECKER STREET BISTRO Ann’s Kitchen at 2498 Telegraph Ave. will relaunch as The Bleecker Street Bistro in about two weeks (as tipped by us in March). The owner, Jason Kwon, took over the breakfast and lunch restaurant in March and has been changing the restaurant’s focus slowly. “We’ll still serve breakfast and lunch,” Kwon said. “But we’re adding the dinner component, and what I’ve been doing since I purchased Ann’s is introducing items.” Kwon said the focus will be classic comfort food, including brined buttermilk chicken, grits and gravy, different takes on wings and more. There will also be themed nights with comfort cuisine from different cultures. Kwon’s cookbook memoir, Kitchen Barbarians, is slated to be published later this fall by Charles Pinot.

What else is going on…

Source: Real Food Real Talk
Source: Real Food Real Talk

REAL FOOD REAL TALK A new Bay Area-based food-centric podcast launched Thursday from hosts Jacqueline and Ray with the goal of “bringing together passionate people from the food community to put you in touch with your food.” Guests on the first show included Tiff & Sylvee Esquivel, co-owners of Hella Vegan Eats from West Oakland; Rana Lehmer Chang, founder of House Kombucha from East Oakland; and Marcy Coburn, executive director of the Eat Real Festival, which is coming up Sept. 27-29. (And Berkeleyside Nosh will be there!) Hear the 40-minute first episode here. Learn more at

Inside the California Food Revolution With Joyce Goldstein

MEET AND EAT WITH JOYCE GOLDSTEIN This weekend, Sept. 21, at The Pasta Shop in West Berkeley, cookbook author and former chef Joyce Goldstein will hold a book signing along with reading, conversation and tastings. Her book Inside the California Food Revolution looks at the development of California cuisine from the early years in the 1970s up to the present day “when farm-to-table, foraging, and fusion cuisine are now part of the national vocabulary.” The reading starts at 3:15 p.m. and will be followed by a tasting of “recipes and ingredients now familiar but not available to most consumers before 1980.” The Pasta Shop is located at 1786 Fourth St. There’s no charge to attend the event.

Beehive. Photo: Lalithamba
Photo: Lalithamba

BACKYARD BEEKEEPING Alameda County Beekeepers’ Association “swarm list manager” Jonathan Zamick will give a $30 introduction to the basics of backyard beekeeping at Pollinate Farm & Garden in East Oakland. Topics include common hive types, tools and safety equipment, hive maintenance and a hands-on hive inspection. Participants will receive 10% off Pollinate’s basic safety accessories starter kit. The class takes place Sept. 22 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Register here.

Eat Real Festival in Oakland by verlisia
Eat Real Festival in Oakland by verlisia

EAT REAL FESTIVAL It’s nearly time to celebrate Oakland’s fifth annual Eat Real Festival down at Jack London Square. (As noted above, please stop by and say “hello” at the Berkeleyside Nosh booth, where we’ll have our friends from Heat Hot Sauce on hand giving out free samples.) The free event, organized by the Food Craft Institute, features tons of street food vendors as well as stalls run by brick-and-mortar businesses, a craft food marketplace with nearly 40 vendors, demonstrations of all kinds and the Flying Knives butchery contest. Attend workshops on how to make everything from sausage to fresh cheese at home, and visit the “Drink Real Coffee Pavilion” to get the low-down from from a wide range of Bay Area artisan roasters and “coffee gurus.” There’s also an “Urban County Fair” to offer inspiration about urban farming practices, and the chance to see who won in a wide range of contests featuring DIY edible and drinkable goods. The event runs Sept. 27-29: Friday from 1-9 p.m., Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The location is Jack London Square, off Broadway and First Street in Oakland. Get all the details here.

Source: Rockridge Out & About
Source: Rockridge Out & About

ROCKRIDGE STREET FESTIVAL Coming Oct. 6 from noon to 6 p.m., the Rockridge Out & About Street Festival will take over College Avenue between Alcatraz and Kales avenues. The event will feature gourmet food and drink from local restaurants and food trucks, live music, wellness activities, kids’ activities and a chef stage. Market Hall food purveyors and Rockridge restaurants will set up gourmet food and beverage booths. Expect to find reps from Ben & Nicks, Bourbon & Beef, and Tara’s Organic Ice Cream, along with an array of Oakland food trucks and pop-ups (Tina Tamale, Ohgane Korean BBQ, Sassafras Seagrass, Blue Saigon, Doc’s of the Bay and Fist of Flour). The event boasts three “mostly jazz” stages, circus arts group Zydeco Flames performing from 2:30-5:30 p.m. at the Rockridge BART Plaza, and the Soja Martial Arts and Drumming Crew. Get the whole rundown here.

Source: Tanya Holland
Source: Tanya Holland

TASTE OF THE NATION EAST BAY The inaugural Taste of the Nation East Bay is hitting The Claremont Hotel on Oct. 20 to raise money for No Kid Hungry. Oakland chef Tanya Holland (Brown Sugar Kitchen, B-Side BBQ), who will host the evening, let us know about the event, which will feature “delicious bites and drinks from the East Bay’s best chefs, vintners, distillers and brewers,” as well as a silent auction. Participating restaurants include A16Bay WolfB-Side BBQBrotzeit LokalBrown Sugar KitchenBourbon & BeefChop BarFIVE restaurantFloraLungomareMeritage and Paragon (The Claremont), PicánPizza AnticaShakewell Bar & Kitchen and Tribune Tavern. Tickets cost $85 for general admission (4-7 p.m.), and $150 for VIPs (3-7 p.m.).

Recent Nosh stories (in case you missed them):
Read all about it: Tipsy Turvy at the Tribune Tavern
Bites: What’s new in East Bay food, XXXVII
Contest: Name that nosh 09.11.13
High lead levels an issue for backyard chickens, soil

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 Catch up with previous Bites columns.

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...