Handlebar is at 984 University Avenue in West Berkeley. Photo: Bill Newton
Handlebar will close at the end of April in order to undergo a renovation and an update in concept. Photo: Bill Newton

Openings, closings

HANDLEBAR TO CLOSE, TWEAK CONCEPT West Berkeley’s Handlebar is changing. Owner Jennifer Seidman has brought on Farm League, the restaurant design and management group behind Tigerlily, East Bay Spice Company, Westbrae Biergarten and Drake’s Dealership, to update the restaurant’s concept to something that “makes more sense for the neighborhood,” Farm League’s Joel DiGiorgio told Nosh in an email. That concept will, thankfully, still include Handlbar’s signature burger and tater tots, plus new sandwiches, bar snacks and milkshakes. Seidman says that all of the menu items will be available to-go and for delivery via Caviar. The larger conceptual changes will have to do with service, wrote DiGiorgio, but the “general feel of the place will stay somewhat intact.” The new iteration of the restaurant will be focused on a fast casual service model where customers will order at the kitchen window. In addition, Farm League and Seidman will be adding a “retro game room” and jukebox, which frequent customers will note has already been underway, as well as a “grab-your-own craft beer wall,” a la Honor Bar & Kitchen. On the bar side, Farm League is bringing in Adam Stemmler (East Bay Spice Company and Tigerlily) to work with Seidman on a new cocktail menu that will be “heavy on crushed ice drinks,” according to Stemmler. It will also likely include drinks like Moscow mules on draft and “adult milkshakes.” Handlebar will be changing its name once final installations are complete; we have not yet heard what the new name will be. DiGiorgio hopes to keep the restaurant open as Farm League and Seidman make changes in order to support the staff. We will keep you posted as we learn more details and a timeline for the relaunch. Handlebar is at 984 University Ave. (between Eighth and Ninth streets), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.

Gluten-free doughnuts from Bacano Bakery, which closed April 9. Photo: Bacano Bakery/Facebook

BACANO BAKERY HAS CLOSED Sad news for gluten-free pastry fans — Emeryville’s Bacano Bakery had its last day April 9. We learned of the closure from the E’Ville Eye Instagram page, and the bakery also announced its closure on its Facebook page April 5. The bakery wrote: “It has been our passion to make creative, delicious and nutritious baked goods for you. We’re filled with gratitude and appreciation to all of you who have supported Bacano Bakery. We got to know you as our friends, and your support always fueled our passion and creativity for making great food. We are equally grateful to our team of employees who worked tirelessly, making exceptional food and providing great customer service.” As of this time, the bakery’s owners do not have plans to reopen the bakery in a new location. Bacano opened in the former Café Aquarius space at 1298 65th St. in 2014. Its products, which ran the gamut from savory corn and sweet potato bread to vegan chocolate cupcakes with dark chocolate vegan ganache, were all prepared in a dedicated gluten-free facility. No word yet on a replacement for the bakery.

The Jon Lum (steak, bacon, onion rings, cheddar). Photo: Ike’s Place/Facebook
The Jon Lum (steak, bacon, onion rings, cheddar). Photo: Ike’s Place/Facebook

NOW OPEN: IKE’S ROCKRIDGE Earlier this year, we brought you the news that a location of Ike’s Place sandwich shop would be headed to Rockridge. We now hear from Inside Scoop that the restaurant opened April 14. There are a few unique sandwiches to Rockridge: “I’m the 4th Toniey” (chicken fried steak, #Feastmode sauce, smoked gouda), “Don’t call me J.R.” (bacon, #Feastmode sauce, American cheese) and “Bebe Shopping Dontrell Willis” (vegan turkey, #Feastmode sauce, Havarti sauce). Ike’s Rockridge is the second location to open in 2016; Emeryville gained an Ike’s in February. Inside Scoop further reports that a Berkeley location (exact address yet to be revealed) is set to open “in as soon as three weeks.” Ike’s Place is at 6300 College Ave. (at Claremont Avenue), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.

The bar at Drexl. Photo: Drexl/Facebook

DREXL OWNERS OPENING TWO NEW BARS Earlier this month, we learned that Drexl bar owner Demetrius Chapin-Rienzo was getting close to opening a new Uptown bar at 1739 Broadway (between 17th and 19th streets). We now hear that this new spot, called The Miranda, is only one of two new projects for Chapin-Rienzo. He, along with his partners Adi Taylor and Nathan Johnson, are also taking over the The Go sports bar at Eighth and Washington streets, according to Inside Scoop. While The Miranda will be a “slightly more elevated concept” than Drexl, the new iteration of The Go will be much more casual. Chapin-Rienzo and his partners will rename the bar Fort Green and keep the sports bar theme; however, they will also be updating the menu with the help of San Francisco chefs Nicolaus Balla and Cortney Burns (Bar Tartine). The two chefs will be consulting on the menu, which will offer classic sports bar fare with a healthy, local twist. “We want the food to be fun and exciting — a sports bar menu with a healthy and interesting twist. We still want it to be approachable, just not heartburn city,” Chapin-Rienzo told Inside Scoop. Fort Green is slated to open in May; The Miranda will likely open in June. Fort Green will be at 736 Washington St. (at Eighth Street), Oakland. The Miranda will be at 1739 Broadway (between 17th and 19th streets), Oakland.

Itani Ramen

ITANI RAMEN SET TO OPEN MAY 2 We last heard from Itani Ramen back in March, when chef Kyle Itani announced weekend ramen pop-ups in advance of the opening of the restaurant. Now we hear from Inside Scoop that Itani plans to open his eponymous ramen shop May 2. Itani Ramen’s menu will be short and sweet — four regular ramen options (ranging in heaviness from light vegetarian  soup to rich pork stock soup), one rotating monthly ramen special, gyoza, donburi rice bowls, eggs three ways, tuna yamakake (big eye tuna, mountain yam, wasabi pickles) and fried pig’s ears. Drinks will also be simple — beer, wine, sake and shochu. Dessert will be served via vending machine. Itani will remain executive chef at Hopscotch, and Brian Ikenoyama will run Itani Ramen’s kitchen on a day-to-day basis. Importantly, Ikenoyama will be heading up in-house ramen noodle production using (surprise!) an Italian pasta machine. Itani told Inside Scoop, “The restaurants I know about in the Bay Area that make their own noodles, they use these Japanese noodle machines, which are awesome. But I was just super nervous that it would break one day and I would have no way to repair it.” So he decided to use a manufacturer that services Bay Area restaurants in case of an emergency. Itani added, “the noodles are definitely getting better each week and we’re stoked about that.” We’re stoked to try them. Itani Ramen will be at 1738 Telegraph Ave. (at 18th Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Dinners and events

Barley grits from Elementa, a pair of pop-up chefs from Vancouver who will be preparing a tasting dinner with Oakland’s Journeymen April 25. Photo: courtesy Chris Wolff
Barley grits from Elementa, a pair of pop-up chefs from Vancouver who will be preparing a tasting dinner with Oakland’s Journeymen April 25. Photo: courtesy Chris Wolff

JOURNEYMEN AND ELEMENTA DINNER Oakland pop-up maestros Chris Wolff and Jonathan Tu of Journeymen are stepping up their game with their next event April 25. They will host Ashley Kurtz and Josh Blumenthal, creators of the Vancouver based pop-up Elementa, for a long-form collaborative tasting menu at Blackwater Station. Elementa focuses on wild and foraged plants, fungi, game meats and cold water shellfish. Wolff told Nosh in an email: “It’s going to be really fantastic. … They’re bringing some neat ingredients and ferments with them, and we’ll be doing a foraging trip leading up to the dinner so they can build up some more of their arsenal.” The $125 menu will alternate dishes between the two pairs of chefs, and it will include items like squid and lardo terrine, fermented cucumber, seaweed; roast squab with a mille feuille of peas and liver mousse, favas, preserved lemon; and goats’ milk custard, charred beets, kumquats, fine herbs. A $55 wine pairing will be available. Learn more hereConnect with Journeymen on FacebookTwitter and InstagramBlackwater Station is at 4901 Telegraph Ave. (at 49th Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.

The Josephine team, including founders Tal Safran (far left) and Charley Wang (second from left), at a recent cook appreciation dinner. Photo: Sika Gasinu

JOSEPHINE TO HOLD TOWN HALL ON HOME FOOD BUSINESSES Oakland-based start-up Josephine is holding a town hall-style discussion on April 20 about the current state of opportunities for home-based food business at its headquarters at Oakstop. Christina Oatfield of the Sustainable Economies Law Center will begin the discussion, which will then open up to “anyone who cares about our food system” — cooks, consumers, regulators, and more. The company writes that it hopes “for a thoughtful dialogue about both the opportunities and risks of expanding legally permissible food micro-enterprises and welcome all perspectives.” The event comes after Josephine announced that it is supporting new legislation for expanding California’s Homemade Food Act, which allows for certain types of food businesses to operate out of home kitchens instead of needing to rent official commercial kitchen space. The legislation is being sponsored by Assemblymember Cheryl Brown; its new rules would enable more cooks to operate “small-scale micro-enterprises” from their home kitchens. Learn more about the event hereConnect with Josephine on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Mai Tai from Trader Vic’s. Photo: Andrea Nguyen/Flickr

LEARN HOW TRADER VIC’S DOES TIKI DRINKS Mai Tai aficionados take note: Emeryville’s Trader Vic’s is hosting a cocktail making class April 22. The class will explore a selection of cocktails from the 1947 Bartender’s Guide; guests will learn techniques while sipping on their own creations/experiments and snacking on “tasty tidbits.” Tickets are $60, and slots are limited. Find more information hereTrader Vic’s is at 9 Anchor Dr., Emeryville. Connect with the bar on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

THE PUNCHDOWN WILL BECOME ‘LOIRE BAR’ FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY Next Tuesday, Uptown Oakland’s The Punchdown will be celebrating the France’s Loire Valley. Owners D.C. Looney and Lisa Costa are big fans of the region; they remarked in an email that they almost named their space the “Loire Bar.” From 5:30-8:30 p.m., The Punchdown will host two vignerons from the region: Philippe Tessier, who makes Romorantins, Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay and Pinot Noir; and Dominque Joseph of Le Petit Saint Vincent, who makes classic Cabernet Francs, including one petillant naturel (“pet-nat”), a sparkling natural wine. In addition, Looney and Costa will be serving a few Loire Valley-inspired menu items to pair with the wines. The Punchdown is at 1737 Broadway. (at 19th Street), Oakland. Connect with the bar on Facebook and Twitter.

What else is going on…

Oakland will vote on a Berkeley-like soda tax in November. Photo: Vox Efx

OAKLAND MAY SOON SEE A SODA TAX Taking a cue from Berkeley, Oakland’s City Council will be considering a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, according to the Daily Cal. Oakland vice mayor Annie Washington made the announcement April 7. The proposed tax will add 1 cent per fluid ounce to all sugar-sweetened beverages. Revenue collected from the tax will go to the city’s general fund, where an advisory board made up of residents, medical and dental professionals, and representatives of the Oakland Unified School District will determine how it will be spent. The tax measure has been discussed by Oakland City Council’s Rules and Legislation Committee, which voted to move the measure to the Council. The Council will discuss the measure at its meeting May 3; on that date it will also vote on placing the tax on the November 2016 ballot.

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Kate Williams

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...