A West African happy hour has launched in downtown Oakland at Bissap Boabab. Photo: Bissap Boabab
A West African happy hour has launched in downtown Oakland at Bissap Boabab. Photo: Bissap Boabab

Openings and closings

LONGBRANCH Longbranch, the New American restaurant and gastropub working to open in the old Sea Salt location at 2512 San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley is making headway. According to the restaurant’s Facebook page, kitchen outfitting is well underway, as are decorations, with custom-made wrought-iron chandeliers already hung. The business, which also calls itself the Longbranch Saloon, is aiming for a summer 2014 opening, and has already secured its liquor license. Owners West Berkeley Center Partners LLC have plans for 25 local brews on tap and 85 international bottled selections. Berkeleyside first wrote about Longbranch, and the historic origin of its name, in April. Connect with the business on Facebook.

THE HATCH: COMING UP Looks like a new restaurant may be gearing up to open in downtown Oakland called The Hatch, where Hawaiian Walk In Restaurant was located previously, at 402 15th St. A Yelper reported that the Hawaiian place, which appears to have been around since at least 2006, was closed as of June 20: “Not sure what it is going on,…. the door is closed all day long,” wrote one disappointed diner. The Hatch, owned by Louwenda Kachingwe, popped up on the state alcohol licensing database Aug. 5. The license, which is pending, is for on-sale beer and wine. The Hatch does have a Facebook page, but nothing has been posted on it yet. The business may have a website, according to the Facebook page, but it hasn’t been set up. Berkeleyside has reached out to the owner to learn more.

Sushi Secrets. Photo: Emilie Raguso

SUSHI SECRETS: SOFT OPENING Berkeley has a new casual sushi restaurant at 2110 Shattuck Ave. It opened Monday in what used to be Tea Leaf, a bubble tea and snack shop downtown. Sushi Secrets offers a range of rolls in the $8-$9 range, and also has refreshing drinks (the cantaloupe smoothie is a winner). The business is doing some creative things you may not find elsewhere: You can create your own “sushi burrito” for $8.99. And there’s also the “potted” tea and smoothie, which come topped with sweet cream and ground Oreos. There’s a cute lounge area in the back, with a sofa and armchairs, for those looking for a comfy place to relax. The business is open from Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 9 p.m. Connect with the business on Facebook.

Billiard balls. Photo: André R. Santos

THALASSA SHAKE-UP Downtown Berkeley’s popular bar and billiard hall Thalassa, at 2367 Shattuck Ave., may be undergoing an ownership change. Readers have reported that the business plans to close in late September, and a staff member said she could not comment on the plans but did not deny them. We’ve had multiple reports that Thalassa lost its lease, but have been unable to confirm them. Stay tuned to Berkeleyside for details.

DOUGHNUT DOLLY IN BERKELEY We’ve told you before but we’re happy to tell you again: Oakland’s Doughnut Dolly has officially opened its second location, this time in West Berkeley’s Gilman District. The new doughnut shop is located at 1313 Ninth St., near Philz Coffee’s new location in the neighborhood. It opened on Wednesday. Connect with the business on Facebook.

Down to Earth. Photo: Ira Serkes

DOWN TO EARTH IN BERKELEY Berkeleyside has learned the name of the business — reportedly a family-run vegetarian affair, that plans to open in the former location of Chester’s Bayview and La Fable, at 1508 Walnut St. It’s called Down to Earth, and appears to be owned by Thrive LLC, which includes Cecilia and Michael Fikaris, along with Christina and Peter Stobing, according to the ABC. The business has a liquor license pending. We told you first about the new operation in July. (Hat tip: Ira Serkes)

MURACCI’S JAPANESE The third location of local food chain Muracci’s Japanese Curry & Grill is headed for Berkeley, according to SF Weekly. The business is owned by a husband and wife, who plan to open their new outpost on Telegraph Avenue near the UC Berkeley campus, according to the Weekly, which describes Muracci’s curry as “some of the thickest, creamiest and tastiest around.” (An exact location has not yet been announced.) The business hopes to open in August, and is planning to add lunch specials that appeal to students. Existing locations are in San Francisco’s Financial District, and in Los Altos on the peninsula. [Update: According to a Nosh reader, there’s a sign up at 2428 Telegraph Ave., between Channing Way and Haste Street, that Muracci’s will open there, at the former location of So Oishi, which was closed as of July.]

Photo: Montclair Bistro

CHOWHAUS IN, MONTCLAIR BISTRO OUT Oakland’s Montclair Bistro, at 6118 Medau Place, is closing after 10 years, but Chowhaus is stepping in to take its place. According to a prepared statement from the bistro, owner/chef Henry Vortriede decided not to sign a new lease and has sold his interest to chefs Joe Schnell and Tracey Belock of Oakland. Vortriede said he has “so enjoyed serving the community for the past 10 years. We’ve developed many friendships, developed our cooking style, produced great wine dinners and events; and a large part of me doesn’t want to go. The 10-year mark snuck up on me and I made the decision not to be tied down for another extended period.” He plans to pursue some R&R and travel “before turning the page to his next endeavor.” Chowhaus already has a liquor license pending with the state. The bistro’s last day of service will be in late September. Inside Scoop SF has more details on the switch-up.

Oysters. Photo: Magalie L’Abbé
Oysters. Photo: Magalie L’Abbé

JACK’S CHOWDER HOUSE A new oyster bar is coming to Jack London Square in Oakland, with plans to offer local, sustainable and fresh fish and oysters. According to the company website, the business is called Jack’s Oyster Bar and Fish House, and is located at 336 Water St. According to ABC, the state licensing organization, the business is called Jack’s Chowder House Mill & Oyster Restaurant, so we’ll have to wait to see which wins out in the end. Jack’s has secured a license to sell beer, wine and spirits, a sign that plans are on the right track. And it’s is running a “pre-opening promotion” that sounds like quite a deal: spend $60 and get $100 worth of value for food and drink (offer via PayPal). That’s currently the only information on the restaurant website however. Inside Scoop SF reported in June that the business will be run by Rick Hackett and Meredith Melville of Bocanova, which has been open also in Jack London Square for about five years. The team told Inside scoop to expect a casual, 70-seat space with a counter for 20, serving seafood “with an emphasis on a raw bar and chowder.”

Photo: KronnerBurger

KRONNERBURGER ON PIEDMONT AVE. KronnerBurger, Chris Kronner’s gourmet burger phenomenon, is getting closer to opening at 4063 Piedmont Ave. in Oakland, in the former J’s Mexican American Food location, which has been dying for an exciting new life in the busy shopping district since it closed in 2011. Kronner posted several days ago on Instagram that he’ll “see everyone soon” on Piedmont Avenue. As of Aug. 4, his beer and wine license from the state was listed as pending. Inside Scoop SF had some background on Kronner’s plans earlier this year. If you just can’t wait to try his food, Kronner has been doing pop-up dinners on Fridays at Ordinaire, 3354 Grand Ave. in Oakland, which have proven to be quite popular. Connect with KronnerBurger on Facebook.

Image: The Pho Bar

THE PHO BAR: CLOSED We can say for sure that Berkeley’s The Pho Bar, north of the UC Berkeley campus at 1828 Euclid Ave., has closed. The business reports it on its website, and thanks customers for their patronage. No further information was provided. The Vietnamese restaurant had been open since 2011, and had been trying out a breakfast menu as of April. The restaurant hasn’t posted any social media updates since then, however, on Twitter or Facebook. We heard from a reader July 25 that the business was closed and the space appeared to be for lease. (Hat tip: Doug Ng)

RAMEN OUT, THAI IN Longtime Berkeley ramen shop Ryowa, at 2068 University Ave., appears to have closed as of at least July 25. Yelpers loved the gyoza and the atmosphere, but it seems it wasn’t enough to keep the business — which had been around since at least 2005 — going. It met with some rave reviews in its early days, but according to some reports, dropped off after an ownership change in 2006. In recent years, it didn’t quite measure up to what at least one local food blogger (over at Focus:Snap:Eat) was hoping to find. Now for the good news: Via the state ABC licensing database, a Thai restaurant looks to be on track to fill the void. Imm Thai has applied for a beer and wine license to the state, which posted earlier this week and is pending. Stay tuned for details.

Other notable happenings

Photo: New Belgian Brewing

CLIPS BEER & FILM TOUR Coming up Saturday in Berkeley, New Belgium Brewing’s 2014 Clips Beer and Film Tour is coming to Civic Center Park in Berkeley for the first time. The event runs from 7:30-10:30 p.m., with films starting once it’s dark. According to organizers, “This beer-toting, film-traveling, nonprofit-benefiting show is going coast-to-coast hitting 21 cities in its fifth year. The best part is that 100 percent of the proceeds from beer sales benefit local nonprofits working to improve communities nationwide.” It’s free to attend the event but tastings cost $1.25 for 3 ounces, and $5 for 10 ounces. Families are welcome. Learn more at www.newbelgium.com/clips.

Apple soju. Photo: Emilie Raguso

FUN AT FUSEBOX West Oakland’s FuseBOX, in collaboration with Robert Karimi (“The People’s Cook”) is holding a summer “food-based performance series” through Aug. 30 at 2311A Magnolia St. “Holding Court: A gathering of culture and taste” will feature a wide range of artists, activists and writers sharing their cultures over a tasting of food and with lively conversation. The events will take place during happy hour, and will feature the “low rider bicycle kitchen cart,” which was created as part of a project commissioned by the San Jose Museum of Art. The events take place Saturdays from 4-5:30 p.m. Learn more here, and connect with FuseBOX on Facebook.

Infused coconut rum. Photo: Bissap Baobab

AFRICAN HAPPY HOUR Bissap Baobab has launched happy hour at its (relatively) new downtown Oakland location at 381 15th St. We first told you about the business — which has run its popular and delicious San Francisco location for more than a decade — in May. The happy hour, from 3-6 p.m., features signature drinks, such as several types of infused rums, including some drinks that can be found exclusively at its Oakland outpost. A special $6 menu includes pastelles (deep-fried pastries) as well as a stuffed avocado and a tropical salad; get three snacks for $10. There’s also the “afro wrap” in a tortilla filled with meat or a bean cake, and your choice of sauce: yassa (marinated onions in lemon-mustard sauce), mafe (peanut sauce) or coconut curry. Fried plantains and yucca fries cost just $2.50 during happy hour. The restaurant has a 49-seat dining room and 22-seat lounge, and offers Senegalese and West African food as well as live music. Dinner is served from 5-10 p.m. Connect with the business on Facebook or via its website. NB: It’s closed Sundays.

YELP FOOD TOUR Yelp is hosting a food tour in downtown Berkeley on Wednesday, Aug. 13. For $15, participants will get three drinks, bites “and a good time.” Stops will include Botella Republic, Build Pizzeria and East Bay Spice Company. Tickets are available online. (Hat tip: Downtown Berkeley Association)

This week’s Nosh news (in case you missed it)
Noah’s Bagels: 25-cent deal for 25th anniversary
Animal rights activists smash Star Grocery windows
5-story complex proposed on Grocery Outlet site

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 nosh@berkeleyside.com. Follow Berkeleyside NOSH on Twitter, and on Facebook.

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...