625 San Pablo Ave. (near Castro Street), Albany
Open Thursday-Sunday, while Ocean View Brew Works is open
Kitchenette 625, a cozy new restaurant from former teacher Carrie Orth, has quietly opened next door to Albany’s Ocean View Brew Works. The narrow space — Orth calls it a micro-kitchen — is serving up sandwiches, pastries and snacks to the beer drinkers next door, or to folks seated at its single cafe table just outside its doors.
Orth, Kitchenette’s owner and chef, is a food industry veteran who once managed the deli at the Andronico’s in Berkeley, and also taught cooking and nutrition classes at some BUSD elementary schools. She’s also tight with the neighbors: Orth’s daughter, Veronica (Vonnie) Davidson, co-owns the adjacent brewery and taproom.
Relying mostly on an induction burner for hot food preparation, Orth is keeping Kitchenette’s menu small. Expect house-made panini, baked goods, mezze, salads, and dips and toasts. There’s also a lineup of ready-made snacks, like bags of Oakland’s Chestnut Street Granola, imported Italian tuna, fig jam, house-made Chex snack mix and pita chips. Everything can be taken to go, eaten at a cafe table set out in front of the shop or delivered to the brewery next door, which boasts indoor seating as well as a spacious patio with heat lamps.
On Thursday mornings, between 10 a.m. and noon, Kitchenette also hosts a coffee and breakfast pop-up collaboration with Kaveri Coffee, the Bay Area’s first woman-owned Indian coffee company. On a recent morning, offerings included warm Nutella sandwiches, fruit-topped French toast, and cups of Kaveri’s robust single origin coffees freshly brewed by owner Tanya Rao.
Rao started her business right before the pandemic, selling her Berkeley-roasted coffees at local farmers markets. When the pandemic hit, she had to adapt to a different method of sales and started selling online. Then she began doing popups, and Kitchenette 625 was a natural fit. “Our kids were in preschool together,” Rao said, and a collaboration eventually followed.
In addition to its food items, Kitchenette also sells gifts from local artists, including a line of linen apparel and earth-toned ceramics made by ceramicist Hannah Hodge, whose pottery studio is in a shed behind the brewery.
According to Davidson, Kitchenette is just the latest community-building partnership her brewery has enjoyed. “We try to be as collaborative as we can,” she said, citing past pop-up participants like Squabisch Pretzels (this was before they opened their Solano Avenue brick and mortar), and with Picnic, the Albany-based rotisserie and charcuterie shop.
In that same spirit of collaboration, Kitchenette tailors menus and food for special events at Ocean View Brew Works. On a recent Saturday, as a local band played Irish music on the outdoor patio next door, Kitchenette offered its version of bangers and mash: bourbon black pepper sausage and red potatoes mashed with chard, served with a side of red onion balsamic gravy. They also served up a cheddar panini with bacon jam made in-house with Ocean View’s signature stout.
It’s a strategy that seems to work. Davidson says that since Kitchenette has opened, business at the brewery has ramped up, and like many businesses in the region, both spots are seeking to hire additional workers to feed the influx of new, hungry and thirsty customers.