It’s always a shock to discover that your go-to cafe has gone for good, seemingly without notice. In this regular report, we at Nosh seek to track every notable East Bay restaurant closure. Since, unlike restaurant openings, these shutdowns often happen quietly, your tips and emails are what keeps this column going. They’re always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Berkeley restaurant closures
ALCHEMY COLLECTIVE, a worker-owned South Berkeley coffee shop, abruptly closed in recent days after over a decade in business. The Lorin District specialty coffee shop opened in early 2012 with a staff of six owner/baristas, after a start as a coffee cart at local markets. While its website recently announced a temporary closure, and promised “more info coming soon,” a sign posted to its door says that the cafe has closed for good, and that “we’re not sure what’s going to happen,” but that they “hope to reach out to people who have realistic ideas of how to use the space.” Alchemy Collective was at 1741 Alcatraz Ave., in Berkeley. — Eve Batey
THE HALAL GUYS When these Guys opened on Center Street in early 2018, Berkeley was thrilled to finally count itself among the white sauce club. But recently readers started sharing doubts with Nosh about the future of this outpost of the East Coast chain, noting covered windows and apps that didn’t work.
Sadly, they were right to be nervous: A Halal Guys rep confirmed with Nosh by email that though all 101 other national Halal Guys locations remain open, the Berkeley location permanently closed on Aug. 22. Though there was no further explanation, no closures surprise us anymore, not even the ones with rabid cult followings located steps from a college campus. Sorry, guys. Halal Guys was at 2126 Center St., Berkeley.
SESAME, A TINY BAKERY (AT THE KEBABERY) To be clear, tiny jewel box of a bakery Sesame is not closed, but its year-long temporary lodgings within Berkeley’s The Kebabery have come to an end. Last day is this Saturday, Oct. 1. Baker-owner Marykate McGoldrick (Camino) is now looking for a permanent brick-and-mortar for her flavorful, seasonal and very special cakes, cookies, tarts and other creations. Sesame, A Tiny Bakery at The Kebabery was at 2969 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley.
TACO & CO. BERKELEY The Pittsburg location remains open, but Taco & Co.’s original spot in Berkeley shuttered Sept. 21 after two years. The young, family-owned company impressed us by courageously opening near a mostly dormant UC Berkeley campus in September of 2020, and went on to keep us fed through the pandemic. We’re sorry they must move on from this space, but a note on Instagram assures fans that the team is looking for another Berkeley place to land. We’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, please consider Taco & Co. for all your catering needs, and visit the location in Pittsburg. Taco & Co. was at 2521 Durant Ave. Suite B. in Berkeley.
WEST COAST PIZZA Reader Dan J. wrote in hopes that West Coast Pizza wasn’t closed, given a parent’s need for large quantities of inexpensive pizza to feed teenagers. But unfortunately for him, and for the teens, as well as all our local college students, bar hoppers and late-night, cheap-pizza lovers, the 26-year-old pizza shop’s website is down and phone number leads to nothing but perpetual hold music. Don’t be fooled by that limbo; West Coast Pizza is closed. (Readers: Where to turn to next for good, budget-friendly pizza?) West Coast Pizza was at 1706 University Ave., Berkeley.
ZAZZI FOODS Cassandra Chen opened Berkeley “artisan market” and cafe Zazzi Foods a few years after she acquired the rights to Cafe Fanny granola from founder Alice Waters; the original plan, in fact, was to call the business Cafe Fanny, Nosh reported in 2017. Though that didn’t pan out, Chen’s plan to open a coffee shop and storefront for goods like her CC Made line of sweets and popcorns certainly did, serving customers for over five years. Chen told Nosh that she “had been struggling with staffing issues for the café and supply chain issues for Café Fanny Granola and CC Made,” and decided to shut all three businesses down. “It’s been difficult to keep reliable staff after COVID,” Chen said, “and the supply chain issues for sourcing ingredients and the increasing cost of all of it made it really difficult to continue.” Zazzi Foods was at 1398 University Ave. in Berkeley. — Eve Batey
El Cerrito restaurant closure
NONG THON VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT For 12 years, El Cerrito’s Nong Thon anchored the businesses flanking the Art Deco-era Cerrito Theater. It was known for its generous portions of traditional Vietnamese cuisine and intricate, airy dining room with high ceilings and lots of woodwork. Newcomer Tigon has quickly opened in its place, with a similar look and classic Vietnamese menu, but new ownership. Nong Thon was at 10086 San Pablo Ave. in El Cerrito.
Emeryville restaurant closure
SUBWAY (WATERGATE, HOLLIS) Thanks to the E’ville Eye for letting us know that Emeryville has lost two Subway sandwich shops in recent months with no explanation from HQ. Both sites seem fully closed across the Internet, and phones are down. Note to local fans (and there are many, given Emeryville’s plentiful workers looking for fast lunch): Subway remains active in Emeryville at 5858 Horton St. and 3999 San Pablo Ave. in the East Bay Bridge Shopping Center. The closed Subway locations were at the Watergate Shopping Center at 2350 Powell St. (which had been open for 11 years), and 6472 Hollis St. in Emeryville.
Lafayette restaurant closure
PAXTI’S This 18-year-old pizza chain once boasted locations across the Bay Area, but though many pie shops flourished in the pandemic, Paxti’s appeared to struggle, shuttering several of its outposts. Its Lafayette Clocktower location hung in there for 11 years but recently succumbed as well, Beyond the Creek reports. The company’s Dublin and Livermore locations remain open for business. Paxti’s in the Lafayette Clocktower was at 3577 Mt Diablo Blvd. in Lafayette. — Eve Batey
Oakland restaurant closures
BUTTERCUP DINER (COTTON STREET) Diner fans, some sad news — the Cotton Street location of Buttercup Diner has closed after 25 years. A kind letter posted to the location’s many regulars explains that the property owners plan to redevelop, and therefore terminated the lease. The diner’s last day was Sept. 25. Please note that the diner’s other locations remain open and welcoming. This location of the Buttercup Diner was at 1000 Cotton St. in Oakland.
CHICA Mexican/Latin American restaurant Chica opened in Oakland about six years ago, the permanent location of a pop-up turned San Francisco takeout window from Oakland resident Maria Esquivel. It quickly became a neighborhood favorite for its seasonal and locally-focused menu of bowls and breakfasts. The restaurant announced via Instagram that its last day in business was Sept. 18, and that it would relocate to a space in San Francisco’s Levi’s Plaza that would allow it “to grow & be even more mas cabrona.” Part of that rebirth is a rebrand and renaming — it will now be known as Xica when it reopens across the bay. Chica was at 303A Oakland Ave. in Oakland. — Eve Batey
CLASSIC CARS WEST Just a reminder that this was the final month for Classic Cars West at their 26th Street location (featured photo, above). Please note that the car dealership itself has not closed, it’s moving, but that’s a wrap for food and drink associated with the Oakland business.
As much as CCW is a showroom of vintage, muscle and gorgeous upscale cars, it also established itself as a hotbed for burgeoning chefs and artists since moving to Oakland in 2010. (CCW first opened in San Francisco in 2005.) Locals saw food and drink businesses Popoca, Portobela, The Hourglass Room, Hella Vegan Eats, chef Adina Butler, and briefly Magnolia Mini Mart, among others, pass through the popular beer garden and indoor bar spaces during that time. Classic Cars West the dealership will relaunch shortly in Oakland’s Little Saigon; look for a second CCW opening soon in Nevada City, that will include a beer garden, vintage car dealership and car club. This location of Classic Cars West was at 411 26th St. in Oakland.
JEBENA CAFE Ethiopian cafe Jebena Cafe in Oakland’s Pill Hill neighborhood only just opened — but the storefront has already been taken out by a car crash, according to a concerned reader. Attempts to reach the owner have so far been unsuccessful, but the internet marks Jebena temporarily closed for now. We’re hopeful that the Ethiopian coffee shop can reopen soon. Jebena Cafe is at 2930 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland.
San Leandro restaurant closure
MAEJOO WINGS A reader wrote in to inform us that Maejoo Wings, a Korean fried chicken restaurant in San Leandro’s Pelton Plaza, has closed its doors while its owner looks for a new place to serve up its menu of wings, house-made dips and rice bowls. According to its website, its last day in business was Aug. 27, and it will “announce on social media when we move to our new location.” Maejoo was at 185 Pelton Center Way, San Leandro.
Walnut Creek restaurant closure
THE ORIGINAL EL CHARRO 1947 “Didn’t El Charro already close?” you might be asking, and you wouldn’t be wrong! The family-friendly Lafayette restaurant, which opened in 1947, shut its doors in early 2021, but NorCal restaurateur Ben Seabury (Little Star, Ben ‘N Nick’s and several others) bought the business, moved it to Walnut Creek and gave it its longer moniker and a menu of “more contemporary” Mexican classics. Sadly, it didn’t take: after nine months, the revived restaurant closed for good, it announced on its website. While Seabury hasn’t spoken about the closure, the San Jose Mercury News writes that “while we don’t know what caused El Charro to shutter,” the inevitable customer comparisons to the original restaurant likely didn’t help. The Original El Charro 1947 was at 1470 North Broadway in Walnut Creek. — Eve Batey
Featured image: Classic Cars West. Credit: Classic Cars West