As Stephen Sondheim wrote, “Plush velvet sometimes; sometimes just pretzels and beer.” As of this month, these are the local food and drink businesses that are no longer still here. (Tip for business owners looking for space: There are many new vacancies in Emeryville…)
As always, please send closure news to email@example.com.
CHEESESTEAK SHOP BERKELEY This Philly-style sandwich shop, the outpost of a fair-sized regional chain, lost its lease and shuttered, a company spokesperson confirmed to Nosh. It’s a pity, as the spot was always generous with the hot and sweet peppers (truly, the star of any cheesesteak) and its Philly cheese fries were kind of an event. “We hope to open somewhere else in Berkeley but haven’t found the right real estate yet,” the spokesperson said. Until then, Cheesecake Shop’s Oakland or Alameda locations might be your best bet. Cheesesteak Shop Berkeley was at 1054 University Ave. — Eve Batey
LUCKY BIRD Flavorful, fast-casual Southeast Asian street food from chef Kimberly Gamble (Daughter Thai) satisfied students and locals here for two-plus years, and will be missed. Coming soon to the now-closed space is Cousins Asian Street Food, signage already up. It’s unclear as of publication time if the new incarnation is from the same owners, as Lucky Bird’s Instagram account appears to have gained some Cousins-related branding. Lucky Bird was at 1926 Shattuck Ave.
THE ORIENTAL RESTAURANT “This is not just my favorite local restaurant, it’s my favorite restaurant, period,” writes one Google reviewer about Berkeley’s Oriental Restaurant, and indeed, this cheap and cheerful Vietnamese and Chinese staple on Shattuck Avenue fed many of us for decades. The Oriental’s old-fashioned name confuses folks a bit (it was once apparently called Oriental Food To Go), but once inside the modest interior, any bristling was soothed by humble, hardworking owners Ba and Nhung Nguyen, a married couple from Vietnam, who operated with help from their daughter Duc. Conflicting reports have the Oriental opened in 1989, as noted on the sign, or possibly earlier under a first incarnation (one reviewer says 1977?). To students and generations of locals, it has just kind of always been there, turning out plates and bowls of nourishing pho, bun salads, clay pots and rice plates at impressive speed, and always at budget-friendly, cash-only prices. As of November, the elderly owners are retiring, and the future of the restaurant is uncertain. New management may keep the name and concept, but even so, it won’t be quite the same. “We’re tired,” Ba shrugged with a chuckle as he bustled through a lunch rush in early November. “We need a rest.” The Oriental Restaurant under the ownership of the current family was at 1782 Shattuck Ave.
RIVOLI Even as we added 27-year-old Cal-Mediterranean restaurant Rivoli to our August closure report, we held out hope that it might return. After all, its owner told us that the restaurant would only be closed “until further notice,” which seemed inconclusive to the optimists among us. However, What Now SF now says that Rivoli’s Solano Ave. space has a new tenant, an as-yet-unnamed spot filing permits with the working title of “Korean Superette.” Nosh wishes we had better news for those of you with unused Rivoli gift certificates, but at least now we know. Rivoli was at 1539 Solano Ave. — Eve Batey
BLUE BOTTLE WEBSTER Oakland’s original Blue Bottle Coffee outpost in Jack London Square closed its doors this month, leading to a rude awakening for its many fans. Majority stakeholders Nestle have made plenty of changes to the Bay Area coffee darling in past years, but in this case the business simply lost its lease. Staffers encourage regulars to get their fix at the nearby Blue Bottle on Ninth Street between Broadway and Washington. Blue Bottle Coffee was at 300 Webster St.
MIETTE JACK LONDON SQUARE More changes for Jack London Square: As we mentioned in Openings, Tablehopper had the unfortunate story on a landlord dispute that prompted famed Miette Patisserie & Confiserie to pack up its Jack London Square bakery and retail shop. Luckily, the business has relocated to the former Batch Pastries in Oakland’s Montclair Village, where pastry chef-owner Meg Ray will continue to dream up and create her fanciful confections, probably with more joy. Miette Patisserie & Confiserie Jack London Square was at 85 Webster St.
THE SWEET BOOTH Back in October, the SF Chronicle reported that Calvin and Hetty Tong, who have owned Oakland’s Chinatown’s Sweet Booth boba shop since 1993, hoped to sell the business so they could retire. Sadly, no buyers stepped up, so the couple shuttered the longstanding cafe on Nov. 1, posting a lovely note thanking patrons for their years of support. The Sweet Booth was at 388 Ninth St. in Oakland. — Eve Batey
EMERY BAY CAFE The attrition in Emeryville continues with the loss of this old-timer — with its distinctive, no-frills signage — that served coffee, muffins, pastries and sandwiches to Emeryville locals for 23 years. Thanks to The E’ville Eye for the story. Emery Bay Cafe was at 5857 Christie Ave. in Emeryville.
QUINCE CAFE & GRILL In a rare bit of good news, Shiryn Shalileh, owner-operator of Berkeley’s long-loved Quince Cafe & Grill, says she is still on track to reopen. The cafe has been dark since well before the pandemic thanks to a truck crash that took out most of its kitchen. Shalileh says renovations during the pandemic have been especially hard, given the amount of time it takes to get supplies such as simple refrigerator parts, but is aiming for an early 2022 reopening with a new takeout focus, if all goes well. The little cafe that could just keeps chugging along. Quince Cafe & Grill is at 2228 San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley.
ROAM ARTISAN BURGERS A recent check-in finds Uptown’s Roam Burgers still marked temporarily closed on Yelp, as it has been for more than a year, and the location has been removed from some, but not all, areas on the company’s website. Stay tuned. Roam Artisan Burgers is at 1951 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland.
SA WAD DEE THAI RESTAURANT An outgoing message on Sa Wad Dee’s voicemail warns that the restaurant is closed until further notice, not because of the pandemic, but because of a pipe problem and water intrusion into the restaurant. Indeed, a visit to the space reveals a totally gutted interior. Hang in there, Sa Wad Dee. Richmond and El Cerrito locals miss you. Sa Wad Dee Thai Restaurant is at 12200 San Pablo Ave. in Richmond.