The Samburger
The new Samburger, created by TV star and Berkeley native Andy Samberg. Photo: Umami Burger
The new Samburger, created by TV star and Berkeley native Andy Samberg. Photo: Umami Burger

Thanks to comedian Andy Samberg, a Berkeley native, every time Umami Burger sells its new creation, The Samberger, Berkeley’s Center for Early Intervention on Deafness (CEID) will get a dollar.

The new Samberger comes with Chicago-style hotdog toppings: peppers, roasted tomatoes, dill pickles, a kombu relish, roasted garlic aioli, poppy seeds and yellow mustard. It sells for $13 and can be enjoyed in the East Bay at Oakland’s Umani restaurant at 2100 Franklin St.

The Saturday Night Live and Brooklyn Nine-Nine star, who apparently has no connection to Chicago other than liking its hotdogs, pointed out in a press release that the burger “has literally nothing to do with me. But it tasted really good so we went with it.”

 Andy Samberg. Photo: David Shankbone/Wikipedia
Andy Samberg. Photo: David Shankbone/Wikipedia

The Umani-CEID deal came about as much thanks to Samberg’s mom, Margie Samberg, as it did because of the Berkeley Unified alum who is now a major TV star. Margie Samberg worked with deaf children at John Muir Elementary School for 20 years, and is hard of hearing herself. Some of her students had come from CEID, a program in West Berkeley designed for deaf and hard of hearing children.

When Andy Samberg started working on the Umami Burger promotion — the latest famous person to sign up for their Artist Series — he checked in with mom.

“Andy asked me, was there a charity that was close to my heart — and deaf kids and families holds that place,” Margie Samberg said. “I think Andy has a clear understanding of how important services are for families with hearing difficulties.”

Umami’s other Artist Series burgers have already raised about $13,000 each. Guitarist Slash’s burger benefitted the Los Angeles Youth Network, and the Black Keys’ burger helped out a charity in Akron, Ohio.

The fundraiser started on Tuesday this week and is expected to last about two months. Umami Burger, founded in southern California, has 24 locations. Locally, along with the Oakland restaurant, there are two branches in San Francisco (in SoMa and at the Marina), as well as one in Palo Alto.

Every year CEID works with about 100 children from birth to age 5, teaching sign language, as well as working on spoken language. It also serves more than 1,000 people of all ages in its audiology clinic, testing hearing and providing hearing aids. (Read Berkeleyside’s feature on CEID.)

Located on Grayson Street near San Pablo Avenue, the center provides several on-site programs for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.  Most of the families come from Alameda County, and some from San Francisco and Contra Costa County. The center also has a daycare program for children with normal hearing, and the two groups play together. Center staff members also make home visits.

The budget for CEID, including the audiology clinic, is just over $2 million, according to executive director Cindy Dickeson. Although some funds come from school districts and medical insurance, CEID needs to raise about $750,000 annually, she said.

It’s not the first time Andy Samberg has given back to his hometown. In 2012 he and his Lonely Island partners, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, who also grew up in Berkeley and have been friends since Willard Middle School, gave $250,000 to Berkeley Unified School District.

BUSD to spend Lonely Island $250K on theater programs (06.02.12)
$250,000 for Berkeley schools thanks to Lonely Island (01.30.12)

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Mary Flaherty is a freelance reporter who has lived in the Berkeley area for since 1994. She earned a masters in journalism from UC Berkeley, and has reported for several local papers and copyedited for...