All systems go for West Berkeley beer/food garden

It will likely open a year later than planned, but the Westbrae Biergarten on Gilman St. in West Berkeley is finally on the way.

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Brazil Café will be a permanent fixture at the Westbrae Biergarten in West Berkeley which is beginning construction after many months waiting to secure planning permits. Photo: Brazil Café

The folks behind the Westbrae Biergarten, a beer garden and food truck spot being planned for the corner lot of Gilman and Curtis streets in West Berkeley, have secured their permits — finally — and construction is about to begin on the much-anticipated project.

Two well-known local food trucks — Brazil Café and Roli Roti — have signed up to be regulars at the beer garden which now hopes to open in spring 2014. Brazil Café will have a permanent presence at the site, which hopes to be something like the Hayes Valley Biergarten on Octavia Street in San Francisco, and two other mobile food vendors are also slated to join the line-up.

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An elevation view of the stationary elements of the Westbrae Biergarten: a covered outdoor serving area with a walk-in cooler is on one side — a box with wood siding and wall planters — and the anchor tenant’s food trailer is “docked” to the other side. Rendering: DSA Architects

Linda and Carl Lasagna, whose family founded Westbrae Nursery next door to the lot, but who are no longer owners, are behind the venture, which will see 3,400 sq ft of outdoor dining space with picnic-style seating served by the food trucks.

The beer garden, which is just across from the Ohlone Greenway, will feature two small structures, an accessible bathroom building and a covered outdoor serving area with an attached walk-in cooler for anchor tenant Brazil Café, according to architect Dietmar Lorenz of DSA Architects who is designing the project. There will also be new landscaping, an outdoor fireplace and water feature, gates, signage and lighting.

Seven months ago when we first brought you news of the proposed project, Lorenz said he hoped the beer and food garden would be open in early spring of this year. The anticipated timing was tied to the reopening of the Ohlone Path and the new West Street Pathway, which opened on Earth Day on April 20. The application to Berkeley’s planning department was filed on March 29. Such are the vagaries of the city’s permitting process, however, that this can now be seen as a wildly optimistic projection.

Gourmet rotisserie food truck Roli Roti will be at the new West Berkeley beer garden when it opens in spring 2014. Photo: Roli Roti
Gourmet rotisserie food truck Roli Roti will be at the new West Berkeley beer garden when it opens in spring 2014. Photo: Roli Roti

Many Berkeleyside readers had all but given up on the idea — noting the lack of activity on the site and the continued presence of a ‘For Rent’ sign on the property.

It’s all systems go, now, however, according to Lorenz. The Lasagnas have been working with Thomas Odermatt of Roli Roti since the conception of this project and Brazil Café has also been in the running for the permanent spot from the beginning.

It yet has to be determined how many days each of the three rotating vendors will be on site, Lorenz said. “One might complement the regular presence of some vendors with short-term gigs of alternating vendors to add variety,” he said.

The other vendors on site, added Lorenz, will be more typical food trucks, carts or stands that come and go on a daily basis and have no other fixed infrastructure, similar to farmer’s markets or Off The Grid food truck events.

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside. Email: