Halal shop, Sacramento. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Newly opened: South Berkeley Produce and Meat, at 3120 Sacramento St. Photo: Emilie Raguso

SOUTH BERKELEY PRODUCE AND MEAT Nagi Homran has just opened this new grocery and meat store at 3120 Sacramento St. (at 67th) — in the space where Recycle Bicycle used to be before it closed last year. The shop specializes in Middle Eastern foods, including Halal meats. Homran said it’s his first store in Berkeley and he chose the location as he lives in the neighborhood. The shop has two storefronts, so there is a lot of space for the well-stocked shelves. Opening hours are 8 a.m to 8 p.m. Tel: 510-705-1733. (Read more on Berkeleyside about recent business activity on Sacramento Street.)


UC BERKELEY XMAS TREE SALE  As they do every year, UC Berkeley students in the Cal Forestry Club are holding their Christmas tree sale. The students go out to the Sierra foothills to sustainably harvest trees that would normally not survive and the event is a fundraiser to help Forestry Club students pay for their trip to the national convention of the Society of American Foresters. Most of the species sold by the Forestry Club are white fir and incense cedar, and they could hardly be more fresh as the students cut the trees on Saturday, Dec. 7, and the sale starts the next day. The sale runs daily Dec. 8-13, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., on the south side of Mulford Hall. Trees sell for $6/foot, and people can also buy decorated wreathes and pine cones.

Dark Carnival

DARK CARNIVAL/ESCAPIST Jack Rems, owner of Dark Carnival bookstore, a treasure trove of science fiction, mystery and fantasy books, and sister shop Escapist, a comics shop that opened in March 2011, has sent out an email to his customers and friends asking for support. “No other way to say this. We need your help,” he writes. “To our staunch supporters: it’s thanks to all of you that we’re still here. Please, if you have any shopping to do, now and for the holidays, do some of it here. Pull a friend in the door, show them our stores. Give someone a gift certificate, or just buy one for yourself as a way to get us some working capital.” Rems concludes: “P.S.: If you’re broke, and believe me I understand, please come in anyway, say hi, hang out, I’ll give you something good to read, no charge.” Dark Carnival and Escapist Comics are at 3086 and 3090 Claremont Ave., Berkeley. Tel: 510-654-7323 and 510-652-6642.


CHEVRON FOOD SHOP A proposal is under consideration by Berkeley’s Design Review Committee to add a convenience store and food shop to the existing auto-service building on the Chevron gas station site on the northwest corner of Telegraph and Ashby. The plans call for an outdoor seating area with new parking and landscaping. The car repair shop at 2996 Telegraph that used to be Inca Service (which closed last year after 30 years) is now Bauhaus Automotive. If the plan is approved, the existing sales kiosk would be removed and a new fueling dispenser would be added, along with a new 5,000-gallon underground diesel fuel storage tank, a new 500-gallon propane tank, as well as an electric car-charging station. (Update, 12.04: The Design Review Committee forwarded a favorable recommendation for this project to the Zoning Adjustments Board with conditions on building colors, details and landscape.)

Fifth String Berkeley

FIFTH STRING BERKELEY After 36 years of serving Berkeley’s music community, Fifth String Berkeley at 3051 Adeline St. closed its doors at the end of September. The owners once had a sister store in San Francisco (it closed in the 1990s), and catered to the acoustic and bluegrass communities. Fifth String stocked scores of guitars, mandolins, ukuleles, and  banjos, some new, some vintage, and some collector items. They also repaired instruments. A parting message on the store’s website reads: “Sad but true! Our absence will leave a gap in the local music community and we’re sorry to go. The people are not gone, however, and many of the former teachers are still teaching in the area.”

Shop Talk is our regular column in which we post updates on Berkeley businesses. If you’re a Berkeley business with news, or a Berkeleysider who has spotted a change in your neighborhood or on your travels, shoot us an email with the details. Read previous Shop Talk columns, and check out Bites for the latest East Bay restaurant news.

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...