Outdoor picnic tables in front of a lit-up restaurant. A glowing sign in the background reads Smokehouse
The Smokehouse in Berkeley was a popular, affordable go-to for burgers, fries and milkshakes until a fire temporarily closed it in February 2019. It returns on Nov. 27 with a soft opening.  Photo: Joanna Della Penna

In a time when restaurant news is rarely good and many long-loved local favorites are closing, here’s a little holiday gift: Berkeley old-timer The Smokehouse has confirmed it will reopen on Nov. 27.

Fans had all but given up on the corner lot at Telegraph and Woolsey, home to this simple, old-fashioned burger shack for 69 years. On Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2019, The Smokehouse was closed by a fire, and what looked at first to be a quick fix became a long dormancy even before the pandemic hit.

For nearly two years, the property sat blighted, under wraps and, to the outside eye, seemingly abandoned. Nosh admits we expected more bad news when we checked in this week, but instead, general manager Shakaib Shaghasi announced that final inspections were scheduled for the following day (which they passed), and The Smokehouse would relaunch with a soft opening on Nov. 27, with a projected grand reopening on Dec. 7.

Before heading there with the family next Friday, note that things will be a little different as The Smokehouse regains its footing. In a modern twist for the 1950s-era establishment, it will require that orders for burgers, dogs, thick-cut fries and milkshakes be made online (www.smokehouseberkeley.com will be live early next week, Shaghasi said) or by phone to start while the grill cooks learn to navigate a revised kitchen layout and serve takeout in a new pandemic era.

“We want to make sure we get in the rhythm with the new kitchen prior to opening the doors to our patrons,” said Shaghasi via email.

Delivery through third-party vendors will also be available. However customers safely obtain their grub, it’s at least one less goodbye to make to a piece of Berkeley history this year.

“We are grateful and excited to have the opportunity to be able to reopen during these turbulent times,” said Shaghasi. “And will hopefully continue to serve our community for many decades to come.”

Starting Nov. 27, The Smokehouse will be open 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., Monday through Saturday; 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Sunday

Freelancer Joanna Della Penna has written about food, people and the arts in the Bay Area since moving here from the East Coast in 2001, and was Gayot's Northern California regional restaurant editor for...