Oscar’s sign to OSCARS home at Berkeley Lab

A sign that graced the 65-year-old Berkeley burger joint has been snapped up by Berkeley Lab because they too have an OSCARS.

The iconic Oscar's sign has a new home: ESnet at Berkeley Lab. Photo: ESnet
The iconic Oscar’s sign has a new home: ESnet at Berkeley Lab. Photo: ESnet

Did you wonder what happened to the iconic Oscar’s sign once the restaurant closed for good after flipping burgers in downtown Berkeley for 65 years? Well, we have the answer.

The sign was bought by Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), a research and education network that is managed from Berkeley Lab. Why you might ask? Linda Vu at ESnet explained that the organization provides high-bandwidth connections that link scientists at national laboratories, universities and research institutions around the world, allowing them to solve some of the world’s most important scientific challenges including energy, climate science and the origins of the universe.

The Department of Energy network “is optimized for transferring large scientific datasets,” she said.

One of ESnet’s major achievements in the last couple years has been the development of “OSCARS,” which stands for On-Demand Secure Circuits and Advance Reservation System.

“This software essentially allows researchers who are using ESnet to reserve bandwidth on the network to move massive, time-critical datasets around the world,” she said.

Oscar's. Photo Tracey Taylor
The Oscar’s sign in situ before the restaurant closed. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Because OSCARS is such a major achievement for ESnet, and because it was done in Berkeley, two members of the ESnet team — Greg Bell and Brooklin Gore — felt a special connection to the Oscar’s sign in Berkeley. So when the restaurant shuttered last year, they bought it and decided to create a tribute at ESnet called the “Tale of Two Oscars.”

The former Oscar’s restaurant, at 1890 Shattuck Ave. at Hearst, is becoming the first Northern California outpost of Washington, D.C.-based salad spot Sweetgreen, which serves a primarily vegan and vegetarian selection of salads and grain bowls, using ingredients that change with the seasons. It is expected to open this spring.

Last week Bell, who was ESnet’s director, left his post to become CEO of Broala, a cyber security firm built on technology that was originally developed at Berkeley Lab. “So the sign was a sort of his parting gift to ESnet,” said Vu.

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside. Email: tracey@citysidejournalism.org.