Berkeley’s Homemade Cafe reopens with a no-tipping model and first-ever dinner service

Also: A Napa brewery comes to Oakland; a new East Bay wine club; and a time-sensitive vegan chili dog.

Homemade Café owner-chef Collin Doran started as a busser and worked almost every position at the restaurant before taking over the cafe in 2011. Credit: Cirrus Wood

After a months-long closure, a beloved Berkeley diner is back

For over 40 years, beloved Berkeley restaurant Homemade Café has served up diner classics for breakfast and lunch — dishes like BLTs, pancakes, and burgers. That all ended in March, when a plumbing project prompted a months-long shutdown for an upgrade and remodeling work. But next month, Homemade will reopen — and for the first time since it was founded in 1979, it’ll also be serving dinner.

According to owner-chef Collin Doran, the restaurant will reopen for business on July 6, with a new yet familiar menu of “American comfort food strongly influenced by the dishes and sensibilities of California, New York City and southern cuisines.” And, as its name suggests, “our food is made homemade whenever possible, and when not homemade it is sourced from fellow local businesses,” Doran told Nosh.

Doran, a Berkeley native who began at Homemade as a busser before purchasing the business in 2011, said that dinner will be offered every day of the week, in addition to its daily breakfast and lunch service. Also new is its tipless business model, which Doran said is one way to “ensure that our employees are adequately and fairly paid.” So now, all sales will have an additional 7% “living wage fee,” and on top of that, all dine-in checks will have an additional 15% “hospitality fee.” Takeout food will be assessed an additional 10%, Doran said. 

According to Doran, the surcharges are Homemade’s way to keep “prices as low if not lower than most comparable establishments,” while making sure staffers “earn a living wage, one that allows them to be a part of the community they work in.” So now, when you order your Homemade meatloaf, chocolate chip pancakes or breakfast burger, your “gratuity is now included,” Doran said, “and we will never expect or ask for any additional tips.” You can check out Homemade’s new dinner menu here and its (unchanged from pre-pandemic) breakfast and lunch menu here; the restaurant will reopen at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, July 6. Breakfast and lunch hours will be 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays, and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. Dinner service will start up on Friday, July 9, and will run from 5-9 p.m. Homemade Café, 2454 Sacramento St. (at Dwight Way), Berkeley


Tannery Bend Beerworks is set to open its Oakland location in July. Credit: Temescal Telegraph Business District/Facebook

A Napa brewery is opening a new tap room in Oakland

Since 2017, Tannery Bend Beerworks has been serving customers from its nano-brewery on Napa’s historic Tannery Row, but a second location is coming to Oakland, with an opening planned for next month.

The beer company was founded by brewmaster Matt Cromwell and restaurateurs Tyler Rodde and Lauren Duncan, who also own the Wine Country Italian spot Oenotri. It’s known for its saison and its India pale ales, both of which are sold on tap or by the can. 

Back in October 2019, the Temescal Telegraph Business District (TTBD) announced that Tannery Bend would be opening “soon” at 6363 Telegraph Ave., but as the pandemic raged on, that soon became “later,” with Duncan telling Nosh last fall that they were “chipping away at” an eventual opening. That chipping strategy appears to have worked, as last week, a Nosh tipster noted that the company had posted a help-wanted ad seeking servers and other front-of-house staffers on its window.

Tannery Bend hasn’t responded to Nosh’s request for any opening details, but TTBD has the scoop: “The Tannery on Telegraph is set to open in July 2021,” they write on Facebook, with eight of their beers on tap, “as well as guest beers, ciders, and canned wine.” There’s also a limited food menu, TTBD says, of “appetizers, salads, and sandwiches to go.” We’ll keep an eye out for more details on this one.  Tannery Bend Beerworks, 6363 Telegraph Ave. (near Alcatraz Avenue), Oakland

What To Drink’s Joe and Celia Catalino. Credit: Celia Catalino

A laid off Slanted Door sommelier has launched an East Bay wine club

Wine guy Joe Catalino has had a storied career, working as a sommelier in West Hollywood for Gordon Ramsay, at Michael Mina’s since-shuttered wine destination RN74, and for the last six years at SF’s iconic Vietnamese spot The Slanted Door. That last spot temporarily shut its Ferry Building doors at the beginning of the pandemic, and owner Charles Phan has given no indication that he plans to reopen anytime soon

As opposed to waiting to see if Phan would change his mind, Catalino and his wife, Celia, launched an Oakland-based wine club and online bottle shop called What To Drink. The plan, the couple said, is to help their “friends (and friends of friends) access amazing wines” as well as to “help amplify the delicious products of smaller sustainable producers who might not be well represented,” a worthy goal in the overwhelmingly white and male wine biz.

Locally, the duo hand deliver their two favorite wines each month to club members across the Bay Area (the bottle shop also ships across the state and to Oregon). There’s also a mission-based component to the business, as every month the company donates $1 from every bottle sold to a different charitable organization — most recently, the recipients were Bay Area immigrant advocates CALMA and Asian and Pacific Islander leadership group AAPI Women Lead. To join the wine club, click here. To browse their bottle shop (which offers next day delivery in much of the Bay Area), click here. In either case, get ready to uncork your What To Drink bottles sooner rather than later — according to Joe, the couple “always choose[s] wines that are meant to drink now, not [get] hidden away in a cellar.”

The vegan chili dog from Stand-Up Burgers. Credit: Stand-Up Burgers

For a limited time, you can score a vegan chili dog at Stand-Up Burgers

Berkeley’s Stand-Up Burgers had to head out for some longer buns this month: For just a few weeks this summer, the plant-based restaurant is busting past patties to offer a pea protein hot dog, topped with their own meatless chili. Just like the one you used to get as a kid down at the vegan ballpark!

As you might recall, Stand-Up Burgers is a spinoff of the national plant-based chain Veggie Grill. Right now, the spin is very small: There are just two locations in Chicago, and one that opened this past March in the former Veggie Grill space on Shattuck Square. According to a spokesperson for the company, Stand-Up is offering an all-vegan chili dog from now through July 27, for a “meaty hot dog fix” (heh).

The dog is from Field Roast, which means that it’s a processed concoction of pea protein, gluten, rice and beans (here’s the full ingredient list) as opposed to the usual processed concoction of pork, beef, or “mechanically separated turkey.” The chili is made in house and is heavy on the beans — check directly with the restaurant if you’re sensitive to any potential ingredients. The chili dog is also drizzled with mustard, and laid on a vegan poppyseed bun. I’ll note here that Stand-Up uses Miyoko’s Creamery cheddar, which shreds and melts like a charm. Why they didn’t make this dish a chili cheese dog is anyone’s guess, but even cheeseless, it feels like a fun way to celebrate the Fourth in plant-based style. Stand-Up Burgers, 2000 Kala Bagai Way (at University Avenue), Berkeley

Eve Batey is Berkeleyside's interim Nosh editor. Email: eve@berkeleyside.org.