[Updated 12:50 p.m. and 2:32 p.m. Feb 22] AU REVOIR, LES ARCEAUX We received a tip from Nosh reader Sarah Oldenburg that Les Arceaux in Berkeley has closed. The French café and wine bar, located on the edge of the Gourmet Ghetto at 1849 Shattuck Ave. (at Hearst) had just opened in October 2017. A recording on Les Arceaux’s voicemail confirmed that the restaurant has “ceased operations at this time,” but urged customers to get in touch to find out what’s next for owners, Alana O’Neal and Mikha Diaz.
O’Neal and Diaz opened Les Arceaux as a sequel of sorts to their San Francisco wine bar and bookstore, Two Sisters in Hayes Valley. The theme at Les Arceaux was inspired by O’Neal’s time in Southern France, especially at farmers markets, such as the one which inspired the named of their new Berkeley venture.
The intention at Les Arceaux was to be a counter-service café by day, table-service wine bar by night, but neither concept seemed to stick with the neighborhood. Nosh had a couple nice visits and meals at Les Arceaux, but when we attempted to stop in one morning a couple of months ago, we found the door open but the restaurant was closed. O’Neal, who was on site at the time, told us that they were taking the day off to figure things out, which gave us a feeling that things weren’t going quite as planned with the nascent eatery.
The news comes on the heels of the decision, announced yesterday, by Maker’s Common, also in downtown Berkeley, to shutter on March 4, just eight months after it opened. Les Arceaux closed its doors on Saturday, Feb. 18, after about five months in business.
A publicist for Les Arceaux told Nosh that O’Neal and Diaz have decided to reconceive the restaurant in a different direction. “They want to serve the community with something it will really appreciate and be excited about,” she said. The new concept, she said, will be called Idyllwhile.
Nosh spoke with Diaz and got more details about the transition from Les Arceaux to Idyllwhile. “We’ll be pulling the parts and aspect that people have been enjoying while changing the service model to make business more sustainable,” she said. That means, Les Arceaux will not be open for morning service and no longer offer table service in the evenings. Instead, it will open mid-day, and guests will order at the bar, then find a seat to enjoy their drinks and food, much like they did at Two Sisters. Diaz said they’ve added more easy chairs and benches to encourage people to “come in for a drink and get comfy.”
As for the menu, the focus will be on craft cocktails and small bites. They’ll maintain their French and Italian wine program, but curate the list to those that are more approachable and most popular with their customers. Their small bites menu will also follow suit. They’ll keep bestsellers like the Castelvetrano olives, Provençal nut mix, assorted pickled vegetables, charcuterie and cheeseboard, and will reformat some of their plated entrees into a sandwich format. Expect a grilled beef cheeks sandwich with Comte cheese.
The desserts will be a familiar line-up of Les Arceaux favorites, like a vegan coconut milk pannacotta with blueberry compote, a gluten-free dark chocolate torte and a croissant bread pudding with housemade butterscotch sauce.
As for the name, Diaz explained it’s a play on the words “idle” (because it’s a place to lounge a while) and “idyll,” as in a bucolic and beautiful place to be in. “Our intent is to be a place where everyone feels comfortable,” she said.
Idyllwhile will open on March 6, “just in time for the Bergamot Bee’s Knees,” a seasonal cocktail Diaz created at Two Sisters that she’ll bring revive. Hours will be 3-11 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, with a happy hour from 3-6 p.m., with the following specials: $7 house wines, $4 draft beers and a $5 weekly rotating special cocktail.
PAPPY’S SUSPENDED A notice of suspension of the alcohol license at Pappy’s Grill (2367 Telegraph Ave.) in Berkeley was posted on Feb. 15. The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control cited Pappy’s for serving alcohol to minors. The suspension came just seven days after a notice for a change of ownership to Osbert LLC was announced on Feb. 8. The contact listed for Osbert LLC is Christopher Hoff, who with Pappy’s owner Alex Popov had opened craft beer bar and music venue, Cornerstone in Downtown Berkeley.
On Wednesday, Feb. 21, The Daily Cal reported about the suspension. It got a comment from ABC spokesman, John Carr via email who said, “The license for Pappy’s Grill Inc. was suspended because the business sold alcohol to minors on three separate occasions within a three-year period.” The Daily Cal also reported that until Popov is able to transfer the license to a new qualified license-holder within the next six-months, the ABC will revoke Pappy’s license.
We have reached out to both Popov and Hoff for further comment and to clarify whether the transfer of ownership to Hoff is related to the license suspension. We had not heard back from either party at time of publication.