Robles poses in his new kitchen. Photo: Charles Siler
Roland Robles in the kitchen of Handlebar, his new restaurant on University Avenue in West Berkeley. Photo: Charles Siler

Fans of food truck favorite Fivetenburger rejoice: mustachioed restauranteur Roland Robles’ new project Handlebar opened last night at 984 University Ave., between Eighth and Ninth streets, in West Berkeley.

Robles, who is the owner and head chef of Fivetenburger, opened the restaurant, which is licensed as a full bar, with his partner Jennifer Seidman. Seidman owns Acme Bar & Company at 2115 San Pablo Ave, a half mile away.

“We want it to feel like a bar,” said Robles. “We want you to have a good time here.”

Handlebar is at 984 University Avenue in West Berkeley. Photo: Bill Newton

Currently the restaurant is serving a limited menu that includes burgers, macaroni and cheese, a salad and a small dessert. Robles said that, though he plans to expand the choices, Handlebar’s offerings will always be simple.

“I came up in restaurants where everybody was trying to do as much confusing shit as possible, and I just never got into it. I think we should make it easy for the customer to come in and have a beer and something to eat.”

After the success of Fivetenburger, which has a 4-star rating on Yelp and has won a variety of awards, Robles is stepping into the arena of brick-and-mortar restaurants. He thinks Handlebar will be a welcome addition to a neighborhood where, he says, good bar food is rare.

“We felt like this area was lacking a place that we like to go to. Because we love going to her bar to hang out, but there’s no food… We wanted a place where we could spend a few hours having a good time and then have some food.”

Robles will continue to run the Fivetenburger truck as well as the new restaurant. Tonight at Handlebar he says he plans on serving chicken and sauteéd greens. Follow him on Twitter and check out the Fivetenburger website.

Handlebar is at 984 University Ave. between Eighth and Ninth streets (not, as Google Maps indicates, between Fifth and Sixth streets.)

Charles Siler is a summer intern at Berkeleyside. He grew up in the North Bay and now attends Tulane University in New Orleans. He can be reached at

Food trucks expand to bricks and mortar (03.04.13)

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