Fieldwork Brewing
Fieldwork Brewing: opening soon in West Berkeley. Photo: Fieldwork

Openings, closings…

Alameda Island Brewing Company tasting room
Alameda Island Brewing Company tasting room. PHOTO AIBC

TWO NEW EAST BAY BREWERIES Two new breweries are getting very close to up and running. In Berkeley, Fieldwork Brewing Company, which we reported on in both April and August last year, is putting the final touches on its beers. Fieldwork will be sharing some of its brews during SF Beer Week, and will hold a few private tastings in the coming weeks. Further south, Park Street’s Alameda Island Brewing Company reports on Facebook that all of its tests and inspections of its brewing facility are complete. Its tasting room looks pretty spiffy, too. We’ll keep you posted on the opening days for both of these new spots. Fieldwork Brewing Company will be at 1160 Sixth St. (at Harrison), Berkeley. Follow Fieldwork Brewing on Facebook and Twitter, and on its website. Alameda Island Brewing Company will be at 1716 Park St. (at Eagle), Alameda. Connect with Alameda Island Brewing on Facebook.

Tanya Holland. Photo: Jody Horton
Tanya Holland is transforming B-Side BBQ into B-Side Bakery. Photo: Jody Horton

B-SIDE BBQ TO SHUTTER Fans of Tanya Holland’s soulful barbecue were disappointed to learn that she shuttered her West Oakland barbecue restaurant, B-Side BBQ, Tuesday. The East Bay Express had the scoop; it reported that the restaurant never found its footing in the neighborhood. Inside Scoop added that the rising costs of sustainable meat also factored into the closure. However, the restaurant will not remain empty for long. In a letter on B-Side’s website, Holland says that she is “thrilled” to announce that the space will soon transform into a bakery helmed by longtime Brown Sugar Kitchen baker Celeste Scott. B-Side Barn, the event space next door to the restaurant, will remain in operation. In addition, Holland says, her brisket will find its way back onto one of her menus, eventually. Connect with B-Side BBQ, at 3303 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, on Facebook.

Cafe Rustica
Café Rustica: saying goodbye after 25 years

CAFE RUSTICA AND CONGA LOUNGE CLOSING  The pizza restaurant  and adjoining quirky tiki bar  are calling it quits after more than two decades on College AvenueInside Scoop SF reports the owners were simply ready to get out of the business. “It’s definitely pretty taxing running a full-service restaurant, and we’ve been doing it for 25 years,” owner Michael Thanos said. “Yes, it’s a tough decision for sure, but it’s time to say goodbye.” Thanos and his brother will continue to operate the Café Rustica take-out/delivery outpost in Montclair. Saturday, Feb. 21, will be its last day open, so go in and grab a scorpion bowl before they’re gone for good. Café Rustica and Conga Lounge are at 5422 College Ave., Oakland.

Spats in downtown Berkeley. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Berkeley’s Spats. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Berkeley’s Spats. Photo: Emilie Raguso

BERKELEY’S SPATS CLOSE TO OPENING The historic Shattuck Avenue watering hole Spats is getting very close to re-opening, we reported earlier this week. While the launch has taken longer than expected, new Spats owners Nathan George and Mark Rhoades plan to open the doors in April. Fans of the original bar will likely not be disappointed, as many elements are slated to remain the same. Says George, “We’re going to bring back the Fog Cutter. It will feel like Spats, but Spats in the 21st century.” Spats is at 1974 Shattuck Ave. (near Berkeley Way), Berkeley.

NICK’S PIZZA TO EXPAND The North Oakland pizza joint Nick’s Pizza will be bringing its “Oakland-style” sourdough crust to Temescal starting next month, says the East Bay Express. Nick and Aron’s will be moving into the former Barkada space and will be offering a full menu of salads, sandwiches and hearty entrees in addition to pizza. The business plans to be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and to offer full table service for diners. Nick and Aron’s will be at 4316 Telegraph Ave. (at 44th), Oakland. Connect with Nick’s on Facebook and Twitter.

What else is going on…

Berkeley’s Gather restaurant is one of many local spots offering Valentine’s Day specials next weekend. Photo: Gather
Berkeley’s Gather restaurant is one of many local spots offering Valentine’s Day specials next weekend. Photo: Gather

VALENTINE’S DAY EVENTS Feb. 14 is right around the corner, and there are plenty of local events and restaurant specials, for all price points and commitment levels. Special prix-fixe menus are popping up at many restaurants, such as Berkeley’s FIVE, Gather and Joshu-ya Brasserie, and Oakland’s Desco, Homestead, Oliveto and Lake Chalet Seafood Bar and Grill. Other spots, such as Berkeley’s BUILD Pizzeria and Alameda’s Capone’s Speakeasy, will offer special Valentine’s-themed items on their menus. The Pasta Shop on Fourth Street will be holding its Sixth Annual “For the Love of Chocolate” event Saturday from 1-4 p.m. This event showcases Bay Area chocolatiers with abundant samples and boxes to purchase for gift-giving. Both the Berkeley and Oakland Pasta Shops will also offer a special Valentine’s menu in their prepared foods section Thursday through Sunday. For those looking for a more group-oriented event, the Gourmet Ghetto will host a Valentine’s themed wine walk through the neighborhood Feb. 11: Tickets are $30 and available on Brown Paper Tickets. Finally, Downtown Berkeley will host its first ever “CupidCon”: a “fun-filled bar crawl” and costume contest, complete with many cheesy drink specials at participating watering holes. CupidCon will run from 1-5 p.m. on Valentine’s Day. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Elmwood Cafe at xxxx College Ave. in Berkeley. Photo: Tracey Taylor
Elmwood Café. Photo: Tracey Taylor

ELMWOOD CAFÉ UPDATE As we told you last week, local comedian W. Kamau Bell reported being the victim of racist remarks at Elmwood Café on College Avenue. Both Bell and Elmwood Café owners have been in conversation about the incident, and the employee involved in the incident has been let go. In addition, Elmwood Café has told us they have met with representatives of Race Forward on the recommendation of Bell. In that meeting, they “asked for their expertise in implementing an education and training program of all of our people.” Elmwood Café and Bell will also be participating in an open forum in conjunction with the Berkeley Unified School District. The date has yet to be announced.

MORE PARKLETS COMING TO OAKLAND The recipients of the Oakland Parklet Pilot Program Extension have been announced, and it looks like Oakland has many more parklets in its future. Temescal’s Pizzaiolo, Juhu Beach Club and (forthcoming) Antidote Juicery; Uptown’s Analog, Spice Monkey and Stag’s Lunchette; Glenview’s Hive and Café 3016; Chinatown’s Tay Ho; and East Oakland’s Portal have all been granted the opportunity to explore construction of their own parklets. Other non-food related businesses have also been selected for the program. More information can be found on Oakland’s Planning and Zoning website.

Homestead's Elizabeth Sassen (right). Photo: Emilie Raguso
Homestead’s Elizabeth Sassen (right). Photo: Emilie Raguso
Homestead’s Elizabeth Sassen (right). Photo: Emilie Raguso

HOMESTEAD DITCHES TIPS We hear from the East Bay Express that the Piedmont Avenue restaurant is joining Camino and Duende in eliminating (or at least moving toward eliminating) the tipping system. As of March 1, the day Oakland’s new $12.25 minimum wage takes effect, Homestead will be raising its prices by about 20% and deleting the tip line on checks. The price increase will allow owners Fred and Elizabeth Sassen to increase line-cooks’ wages to around $18-$20 an hour. Servers will likewise make around $20. The Sassens note that this price change will not increase the total amount of money diners spend at the restaurant; it simply makes better use of the average 20% tip diners were already leaving on their bill. Homestead is at 4029 Piedmont Ave. (near 40th), Oakland. Connect with Homestead on Facebook and Twitter.

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Kate Williams has been writing about food since 2009. After spending two years developing recipes for cookbooks at America’s Test Kitchen, she moved to Berkeley and began work as a freelance writer and...