Alleged DUI crash delays Doc’s Refresher’s reopening

Also in today’s Bites: the Freedom Farmers’ Market is back and a landlord dispute shutters Zachary’s Pizza.

After an allegedly intoxicated driver spun into Doc’s Refresher, its facade was plywooded over. Credit: Sarah Han

Doc’s Refresher will remain closed for the foreseeable future

Since 2014, restaurateur Jennifer Seidman has operated a business from the storefront at 984 University Ave. First it was Handlebar, a Western-themed comfort food spot, and in 2016 she revamped the restaurant into a burger-and-shake joint called Doc’s Refresher. But on Seidman’s 50th birthday, an allegedly intoxicated driver slammed into the Doc’s building, causing hundreds of thousands in damage.

Seidman kept Doc’s open throughout the pandemic, offering — as one Nosh reader put it — “a great pickup operation of groceries and burgers and tater tots going for most of the quarantine period.” As businesses prepared to reopen this spring, Seidman shuttered Doc’s for a remodel, announcing a temporary closure to begin on April 1. The plan was to reopen for patrons in June, some time after capacity limits and other operating restrictions were lifted.

That plan was snarled at around 9:40 p.m. on April 17, as Berkeley Police spokesperson Officer Byron White tells Nosh, when police were called to the scene after a driver struck another vehicle and the Doc’s storefront. The driver, a 38-year-old woman from Oakland, “appeared to be impaired,” White says, and after “a series of sobriety tests,” she was “arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license.”

According to a spokesperson for Seidman (who is getting married this week and was therefore unable to speak with Nosh directly), the wreck went down on Seidman’s 50th birthday, a pretty tough gift to receive. “Due to [the] extent of the structural damage,” which Seidman’s spokesperson says is “six figures worth,” the complicated issues of insurance payments and construction mean that “the reopening of the space has been delayed with no specific timeline.” The facade has since been plywooded over, and will remain covered until work begins. For updates on Doc’s fate, keep an eye on its Instagram. Doc’s Refresher 984 University Ave. (between Eighth and Ninth streets), Berkeley


The Freedom Farmers’ Market is back

With roots in Oakland nonprofit Farms to Grow, Inc., an organization intended to (as Nosh has previously reported) “support black farmers who are growing culturally relevant, sustainably raised legacy crops originating from Africa, such as black-eyed peas, yams and okra,” the seasonal Freedom Farmers’ Market program has worked to bolster historically underrepresented food producers at various East Bay locations since 2013.

This year, that location will be 4521 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland, part of a collaboration with the Temescal Business District. And it all kicks off on Saturday, July 17, with vendors from across Northern and Central California and events like a watermelon “weigh-in” and a sweet potato pie tasting. Expect the market every Saturday through Nov. 13, open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. It’s a great chance to score fresh produce from underserved farmers you might not see anywhere else in the region, plus, you can’t go wrong with sweet potato pie. Freedom Farmers’ Market 4521 Telegraph Ave. (between Shattuck Avenue and 46th Street), Oakland

A landlord dispute has shuttered a 15-year-old location of Zachary’s Pizza 

Since it was founded in 1983, Zachary’s Chicago Pizza, the deep dish mini-chain originating in Rockridge, has expanded to five locations across Oakland, Berkeley, Pleasant Hill and San Ramon. But that latter spot will close for good, the restaurant said in an email to patrons, after negotiations with its landlord came to a standstill.

The San Ramon location was the first one opened after the company moved to a worker-owned model, and had been in business for 15 years. But while “San Ramon does, and always will, hold a special place in our hearts,” the restaurant wasn’t able to find another location in the city. Instead, it will move to downtown Pleasanton, with a planned opening “near the end of July or beginning of August.” The new spot will boast a full bar (yes, that means cocktails), 10 craft beers on draft and “a large, street facing patio ideal for enjoying a pizza while people watching,” which is surely a gratifying diversion in a bustling city like Pleasanton. Zachary’s Chicago Pizza, 337 Main St., Pleasanton

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