Townie has its soft opening in Berkeley tonight, July 18. Photo: Townie
Townie has its soft opening in Berkeley tonight, July 18. Photo: Townie

TOWNIE OPENS THIS EVENING IN BERKELEY This just in: Beginning at 5 p.m. today, July 18, University Avenue’s newest neighborhood bar and restaurant, Townie, will have its soft opening. Owner and manager Nima Shokat said there will be a limited menu available, along with alcohol, which will be served until midnight or until the business runs out. Heading up the kitchen at Townie is chef Dana Ryan, who formerly worked at Gather, State Bird Provisions and RN74. Said Shokat, who has run Berkeley’s Missouri Lounge for years: “We’re hoping to be a neighborhood bar where people can just come by for a drink and hang out, but also get some exciting food.” Townie is located at 1799 University Ave. in Berkeley, where Venezia used to be located until it closed last year. Connect with Townie on Facebook.

Executive Chef Barry Horton. Photo: Sanctuary Bistro
Executive Chef Barry Horton. Photo: Sanctuary Bistro

SANCTUARY BISTRO SET TO OPEN The space formerly occupied by longtime Berkeley favorite Sushi Banzai — which closed in May — is about to open again. According to its website, Sanctuary Bistro is “a compassionate environment created for your mind, body and spirit, the animals and the earth. Sustainable, local, organic, food. Five percent of our profits will be donated to local animal sanctuaries.” The vegan restaurant is described by owners as a “fine dining, plant-based bistro,” and is brought to you by the catering team behind Local Love Catering. The grand-opening prix fixe menu will feature five courses, and includes items such as “crab-less cakes” with a jalapeño kumquat gelée, and southern tofu served with a “twice baked cashew potato.” The menu is set to change regularly, but the business plans to serve lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Sanctuary is located at 1019 Camelia St. in Berkeley and can be reached by phone at 510-917-0190. Connect with the business on Facebook. And stay tuned to Nosh for a longer feature coming soon.

TANDOORI NITE GETS GOOD REVIEWS An Indian restaurant that opened in Berkeley earlier this year is getting solid Yelp reviews and has just secured its beer and wine license from the state. We tipped you about Tandoori Nite, at 2160 University west of Oxford Street, in March before it opened, but thought it was time for an update. There’s a $10 lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and diners say it’s one of the freshest around. One recent Berkeley reviewer raves that the eatery is “consistently awesome (I end up ordering from them like 90% of the days I’m too lazy to cook). The food is as good as or better than most Indian restaurants’ fare in Berkeley, the prices are great, the staff is very friendly and professional, the menu offers tons of options and  the delivery minimum is $15. You really can’t ask for much more from a downtown eatery.” The restaurant still seems to be a bit below the radar, so let us know what you think if you check it out.

The Whole Cake storefront. Photo: Emilie Raguso
The Whole Cake storefront. Photo: Emilie Raguso

THE WHOLE CAKE The Whole Cake is coming soon to Berkeley. Since its opening in 2011, the wedding cake design company has been operating out of various commercial kitchens, but will set up shop in its own studio at 1609 San Pablo Ave. near Hopkins Street. The company was founded by Kelsey Robinson, an alumna of the Rhode Island School of Design. She had her start making anatomical medical models in Massachusetts, but discovered cake design when she returned to her hometown of San Francisco in 2005.  After a stint in sculpting and printmaking, she made the full transition into cake art. The shop is scheduled to open Aug. 16 and, by the looks of her Twitter feed, the necessary equipment has already started arriving on location. Connect with The Whole Cake on Facebook.

SlydeNow pilot program

SLYDE PILOT PROGRAM Twelve eateries in Berkeley — including popular ice cream shop CREAM, King Pin Donuts, El Burro Picante, Cheese N Stuff and Almare Gelato — are participating in a pilot program developed by SK Planet, the U.S.-based mobile commerce subsidiary of SK Telecom. According to a statement released by the company, the program will allow customers to pay for meals without a credit card or phone ever leaving their pocket. Anyone interested simply has to download SlydeNow, an app that uses “beacon technology” to detect when a person enters an eatery, then automatically pays the bill after the meal. Upon entering, store owners are sent relevant information about the customer — who is identified by a photo — which they use to complete the transaction. Customers receive a receipt as well as a coupon and loyalty points that can be put toward future purchases. According to the Kihyun Jung, chief operating officer and chief product officer of SK Planet, the goal of the program is to “facilitate connections between small businesses and their customers.” This is the first time such technology will used in a U.S. market. Connect with Slyde on Facebook or website.

Don’t miss our recent East Bay Nosh coverage:
Op-ed: Berkeley restaurant is approved: Let’s let it open
Best burgers in the East Bay: Nosh readers call it
Domino’s wins approval to open in South Berkeley
Bites: Marrow closes, Shakewell, Half Orange open

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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...