The retail space at xxxx Solano Ave. that, until July, housed La Farine, is likely to have a new food tenant soon. Photo: Trachtenberg Architects
Vegan diner The Butcher’s Son is moving into the retail space at 1820 Solano Ave. in Berkeley that, until July, housed La Farine. Photo: Trachtenberg Architects
Vegan diner The Butcher’s Son is moving into the retail space at 1820 Solano Ave. in Berkeley that, until July, housed La Farine. Photo: Trachtenberg Architects

By Gill South

The space at 1820 Solano Ave., left vacant by La Farine bakery in July, is to be filled by a new-concept vegan deli-style food retailer, The Butcher’s Son, opening around mid-February 2015.

Peter Fikaris and his sister, Christina Stobing, will be running the new business which is partially funded by their father, Michael, well-known for his eatery, Michael’s American Vegetarian Diner, a popular ’50s-style eating spot on Telegraph Avenue in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“We will offer specialty vegan cheeses and meats, sausages, salami, fresh mozzarella, salads, sides, and sandwiches,” said Fikaris. The deli will have a pizza oven, making baked thin-crust pizza and a raw deep-dish pizza will also be on the menu.

“It will be all vegan, raw and cooked, and made in house,” he added.

The news that a new, innovative food spot will be going into a prominent building, one long occupied by a beloved bakery, will be good news to Solano Avenue merchants and nearby residents. The street has been suffering from too many vacant businesses for years, particularly in its easternmost stretch near The Alameda. A recent attempt by Walgreens to build a pharmacy at the site of an old gas station was met with fierce resistance.

Fikaris, a Berkeley local in his early 30s, said that while Oakland, specifically Temescal on Telegraph, has been the obvious location for many new food places to spring up, he felt Solano Avenue was a good place to introduce The Butcher’s Son, which he describes as an “old New York- style butcher shop/ deli.”

“I feel like what we are doing is a new, trendy younger concept. I feel like the people interested in what we are doing, are either living in North Oakland or Albany, El Cerrito – and nobody (else) is bringing this type of concept over to Solano.”

“Everybody is turning health-conscious, people are going vegan or “paleo”, everybody is looking for healthy alternatives, not just for their own personal health but for the health of the planet.”

Fikaris said he was sure the food would appeal to people of all ages.

The deli, which will have tables inside and outside, will do donuts and pastries, bagels and upmarket espresso coffee in the mornings.

“The plan is to work with mainly spelt flour and some gluten -free bread. There will be dessert items, tarts and cheesecakes, for instance. We are shooting for all organic and everything 100% non-GMO, of course,” he said.

“We will do our own pickling – we specifically want to make a lot of our products in-house.”

The sausages will be made from vital wheat gluten, everything plant-based, with the cheeses made mainly made from coconut and cashew.

Fikaris, who comes from a family of 14, many of whom will be helping in the business, says his stepmother, Cecilia, is developing a lot of the recipes.

Why call a vegan deli The Butcher’s Son?

“The idea is this is an evolution from the old way of thinking by a younger generation. Let’s not eat animal products, let’s be more health-conscious. The Butcher’s Son still has the skills but is evolving,” said Fikaris.

Fikaris said he would be re-naming his existing food company, Pretty Dog Hot Sauce, to The Butcher’s Son. He will be looking to sell The Butcher’s Son products to other stores.

Fikaris said the landlords at 1820 Solano, brother and sister, James and Gina Gould, had been very good to deal with. They had offered attractive terms and he is paying a rent of around $2.50 per sq. ft for the 1,600 sq. ft premises on the corner of Colusa Avenue.

“Our dealings with the landlord have been great. This is the best landlord tenant relationship we have ever had. We have had long conversations with them and we all seem to be on the same page. Gina’s biggest concern is getting something in there that the neighborhood wants,” he said.

The pressure is on for Solano Avenue to up its game (12.01.14)
La Farine on Solano Ave. in Berkeley closes abruptly (07.01.14)
Berkeley to consider redistricting of large drugstores (03.17.14)
Opponents of proposed Walgreens hope for zoning change (01.15.14)
Walgreens’ Berkeley store plan inches divisively along (12.09.13)
Testy response to proposed Walgreens on Solano Avenue (10.28.13)
Bates: City needs another grocery store, not pharmacy (12.14.11)
Will pharmacy war lead to new restrictions in Berkeley? (04.18.11)

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