Camino is one of several Oakland restaurants that have eliminated tips following the minimum wage hike on March 2. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Camino is one of several Oakland restaurants that have eliminated tips following the minimum wage hike on March 2. Photo: Emilie Raguso

OAKLAND RAISES MINIMUM WAGE Oakland’s minimum wage went up to $12.25 on Monday. Many local restaurants are in support of the wage hike, and have been actively informing customers that prices will rise as a result. Restaurant owners and their staff have joined in on a hashtag campaign, #oaklandlivingwage, to garner city-wide support for small businesses. Piedmont Avenue’s Homestead and Dopo, as well as Camino on Grand Avenue, have made the most drastic changes to their pay structure: all have eliminated tips and increased prices to accommodate the increased wage for employees. Aunt Mary’s Café and Toast have added 15% service charges to their bills to be divided up among the entire staff. Guests may tip in addition to the service charge. Other restaurants will simply raise prices to make up for the wage increase. Actual Café‘s Sal Bednarz has been an active supporter of the wage hike, despite the challenges he and other business owners are facing. In a press conference on Wednesday with Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf, he said: “It was a difficult thing for me to do as a business owner, and I’m still unsure what the ongoing customer impact will be of having done that. We’re here today to remind all of Oakland that we’re doing this for good reasons. Spend your dollar where your vote was. Support the minimum wage increase by supporting small businesses in Oakland.” 

Openings, closings…


CALAVERA OPENING SOON Chris Pastena’s newest eatery appears close to opening. Calavera, an upscale Mexican restaurant, is putting its finishing touches on its interior, according to Eater. Its ABC liquor license is also pending — another good sign. Pastena is the owner of Chop Bar and Lungomare, and former co-owner of Uptown’s Tribune Tavern, and Calavera is located in The Hive, an emerging “shopping, gathering, working, and living space” in Oakland’s Uptown district. Pastena has partnered with Michael Iglesias and Jessica Sackler of Dos Ojos Hospitality on Calavera, which plans on serving “reimagined traditional cuisine, modern cocktails, and one of the country’s largest selections of tequila and mezcal.” We expect the restaurant to open in May. Calavera will be at 2335 Broadway (between 23rd and 24th), Oakland.

After closing its SF restaurant, Gussie’s Southern Table and Bar is to re-open next to the Paramount in Oakland. Photo: Gussie’s
After closing its SF restaurant, Gussie’s Southern Table and Bar is to re-open next to the Paramount in Oakland. Photo: Gussie’s

CHICKEN AND WAFFLES NEXT DOOR TO THE PARAMOUNT Michele Wilson’s San Francisco soul-food restaurant Gussie’s Chicken and Waffles recently shuttered, but she has made a quick turn-around by grabbing a new lease in Uptown. The new Gussie’s Southern Table and Bar will take part of the space vacated by the clothing store Ragsmatazz, located next door to the Paramount Theater, according to the East Bay Express. Wilson is a chicken and waffles veteran, having opened the Oakland branch of Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles in the 1990s, and run Gussie’s since 2009. Her new restaurant will boast a 2000 square-foot dining area and a large basement lounge area, where Wilson hopes to host live music and dancing. The space will be designed by Arcinse, the firm behind Duende, Rudy’s Can’t Fail, Modern Coffee, and more. Wilson hopes to open this fall. Gussie’s Southern Table and Bar will be at 2021 Broadway (near Thomas L Berkley), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.

Millennium, which is closing its Geary Street restaurant, hopes to reopen across the bay in Rockridge. Photo: Google Images
Photo: Google Images

MILLENNIUM MOVING TO ROCKRIDGE Another case of Oakland being more appealing than San Francisco?! We tipped you earlier this week that San Francisco’s Millennium Restaurant is planning on moving to the former Box & Bells space in Rockridge and has launched a Kickstarter campaign to do so. The restaurant has already met its funding goals, so it is safe to assume that it will be joining us in the East Bay. Connect with Millennium on Facebook and Twitter.

Full House Café has now closed. Photo: Risa Nye
Photo: Risa Nye

FULL HOUSE CAFÉ FOLDS The poker-playing dog posters are gone. The chairs are stacked on the tables, and the sign on the door says it all: “The Full House Café is CLOSED. It’s been a great 18 years in the Laurel. I’ll see many of you on the Blvd. and at Farmer Joe’s. In early April the Sequoia Diner will be opening. It’s going to also be a breakfast/lunch place and I think it’s going to be good. Give ‘em a try. Thanks Laurel!” The café, at 3719 MacArthur Blvd in Oakland, was a neighborhood favorite. Regulars may be interested to know that head cook Kirk Roberts will be back in the kitchen at Mama’s Royal Café (home of the annual napkin art contest) on Broadway in Oakland, as reported here by Rhea Bailey of Halona Photography. [By Risa Nye]

CommonWealth is coming to Emeryville. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Photo: Emilie Raguso

COMMONWEALTH MICROPUB NOW POURING The Emeryville “micropub” we told you about in January is now open at 40th and Adeline. CommonWealth Micropub is keeping things simple, with 25 seats and a rotating selection of 11 seasonal beer and ciders on tap. It has a concise, British-inspired menu, including Scotch eggs and mini Yorkshire puddings. The E’ville Eye reports that the opening was a long time coming. The owners, Ross and Ahna Adair, painted the bar’s sign with a 2014 date, but that proved to be “optimistic.” “The project changed from a little elbow grease and new equipment to major plumbing and electrical work,” said Ahna Adair. CommonWealth Micropub is at 3986 Adeline St. (at 40th), Emeryville. Connect with the bar on Facebook and Twitter.

NOODLE THEORY EXPANDING Rockridge’s popular Noodle Theory is opening a second location on San Pablo Avenue sometime this summer. Called Noodle Theory Provisions, the second location will offer an expanded menu, says Inside Scoop. Owner Louis Kao told the paper that he “hopes to bring back more labor intensive menu items—dishes like hot and sour soup ramen with Dungeness crab, braised ox tail and beef tendon—that the Rockridge store no longer has the bandwidth to pull off.” In addition, he plans on experimenting with homemade noodles and sodas, and will hold a full liquor license. Noodle Theory Provisions will be at 5849 San Pablo Ave. (at Stanford), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.

Artis Coffee on Fourth Street in Berkeley. Photo: Siciliana Trevino
Photo: Siciliana Trevino

BERKELEY’S ARTÍS COFFEE EXPANDING TO SF Hoodline reports that the West Berkeley roastery and coffee shop has secured a new location in Hayes Valley. This 700-square-foot space will be Artís’s second location and first in San Francisco. Like the Berkeley shop, it will offer espresso drinks and pour-overs in addition to its signature roasting bar, where customers can have their coffee roasted to order. Artís aims to open this spring.

DUNKIN’ DONUTS COMING TO THE BAY The East Coast donut and coffee chain is moving into the Bay Area in 2016, according to the Contra Costa Times. Dunkin’ Donuts plans on opening 39 shops between San Jose and San Francisco. While the company has not released exact locations, it has said that it will be opening shops in cities “surrounding” San Francisco, some of which will likely be in the East Bay.

OTHER OPENINGS Alameda Island Brewing Company has opened its doors. We told you last month that it was adding the final touches to its brewing and tasting facility on Park Street, and officially started serving on Feb. 22. This week on Shop Talk, we reported the delay of Lemat Ethiopian Restaurant and Café in South Berkeley’s Lorin district, and the upcoming arrival of Sumo Sushi Roll in downtown Berkeley. Alameda Island Brewing Company is at 1716 Park St. (at Eagle), Alameda. Connect with the brewery on FacebookLemat Ethiopian Restaurant will be at 3212 Adeline St. (between Fairview and Harmon). Sumo Sushi Roll will be at 2173 Allston Way (at Oxford).

What else is going on…

The Mr. Espresso family at the Mr. Espresso facility in Oakland, Ca. Sept. 4, 2013. Photo by Nader Khouri
Carlo Di Ruocco, right, the founder of Oakland’s Mr. Espresso, won the SCAA’s Alfred Peet Passionate Cup Award this year. Photo: Nader Khouri
Carlo Di Ruocco, right, the founder of Oakland’s Mr. Espresso, won the SCAA’s Alfred Peet Passionate Cup Award this year. Photo: Nader Khouri

MR. ESPRESSO FOUNDER AN SCAA AWARD WINNER Carlo Di Ruocco, the founder of Oakland’s venerable Mr. Espresso, has won the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Alfred Peet Passionate Cup, which is given “in recognition of a person whose commitment to coffee is representative of a general passion for life and has demonstrated a consistent record of driving progress through passion.” Di Ruocco founded Mr. Espresso in 1978, and has been running the family business ever since. Mr. Espresso is unique in the Bay Area for its use of oak wood to roast its coffee. Learn more about the roasting process in our tour of the factory. Connect with Mr. Espresso on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

UMAMI MART NOW SELLING BOOZE The Old Oakland home for everything Japanese cooking opened its bottle shop last month. Umami Mart now stocks over 25 Japanese beers, making it the first Japan-centric beer shop in the U.S. Owners Kayoko Akabori and Yoko Kumano say on their blog that they will gradually build a collection of sakes and wines, and hope to add distilled spirits to the line-up in the future. Umami Mart Bottle Shop will hold its grand opening celebration in April. Umami Mart is at 815 Broadway (at Eighth), Oakland. Connect with the store on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Many of the meals prepared by Mission: Heirloom are served in bowls, as they are seen to be "comfort food." Photo: Alex Wall
Entrées at Mission: Heirloom. Photo: Alix Wall

MISSION: HEIRLOOM ADDS DINNER Berkeley’s first paleo diet restaurant opened at the end of last year with limited lunch-time hours and an extensive take-out program. Mission: Heirloom has now extended its hours through dinnertime and has added brunch service on the weekends. (The café is open Tuesday–Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) The evening menu includes dishes such as shepherds pie made with cauliflower purée and turkey meatballs with spaghetti squash, vegetables, and dandelion truffle pesto. In addition, Mission: Heirloom offers nightly specials featuring fun, limited-run items from its suppliers. Right now, a popular special is a bone-in lamb neck for two. Everything is gluten-, grain-, dairy- and legume-free. Mission: Heirloom is at 2085 Vine St. (at Shattuck), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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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...