It’s always a shock to discover that your go-to cafe has gone for good, seemingly without notice. In our weekly reports, we at Nosh seek to track every notable East Bay restaurant closure, and this is the monthly recap of that work. 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
Giin Thai Canteen
11/4/22 A favorite in the Lorin District, and indeed an overall Berkeley go-to for fast, affordable Thai cuisine and friendly service since 2014, family-owned Giin Thai Canteen has unfortunately had to shutter. Nosh assumes the reason is landlord-related — a farewell message posted on the restaurant’s website promises to update customers if they find a way to reopen somewhere new. For now, “it’s been our pleasure serving you,” the letter says. “Thank you for your patronage, and we wish you all the best.” Giin Thai Canteen was at 3278 Adeline St. in Berkeley.
Lush Gelato Epicurious Garden
11/30/23 Yes, kids, it’s true — after nearly 13 years at the back of the Epicurious Garden food court hallway, Lush Gelato has closed. The original Lush Gelato remains active in San Francisco’s North Beach, though all other Lush properties were sold back before the pandemic. (Around here, folks might also remember Lush on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland, which is now a Mr. Dewey’s Cashew Creamery.)
David Harrison, who also owns local businesses Zoonie’s Candy Shop in Lafayette and Berkeley’s Rush Bowls, became the new owner of the Lush kiosk location in North Berkeley in February of 2020; his choice to keep the name and maintain the same beloved product is probably what helped the stand survive the ensuing extremely difficult time.
Even so, business was inconsistent. “I love this community,” he said by phone. “But it was a tough three year period to start a new venture.” Note of optimism to parents, grandparents and especially North Berkeley school kids: Something tells us the kiosk might remain a purveyor of frozen treats, though we might not see an opening for a little while. Stay tuned. Lush Gelato was inside the Epicurious Garden at 1511 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley.
11/10/22 Stay with us here: Longbranch, at San Pablo and Dwight, is a warm, spacious American restaurant and bar, with burgers, steaks, pasta, and appealing events such as whisky Wednesdays with flights and special cocktails. It has not closed.
Paisan was an adjacent Cal-Italian osteria from the same owners that used to offer small plates and wood-fired pizzas. The two restaurants and their spaces are now merged, and though the new menu-meld under the Longbranch name offers a few of the old Paisan plates, pizzas are no longer available. The consolidated restaurant remains open nightly, and, it should be noted, has a gorgeous, enclosed back patio at 2514 San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley.
Oakland restaurant closures
Aunt Mary’s Cafe
11/10/22 Nosh editor Eve Batey broke the news and had the deeper story, including widespread mourning, around this new Oakland classic’s closing after 14 years. Temescal brunch cafe Aunt Mary’s was opened by married couple Jack Stewart (who had an aunt named Mary) and Ngan-Ha “Nu” Ho in 2008. After the pandemic began, Stewart first semi- and then fully retired to avoid falling ill, while Ho led the staff successfully through the crisis.
Ho chose to bow out now to join her husband in a well-earned rest, but said a cookbook of their most popular dishes might be in our future. Aunt Mary’s takes many warm local memories with it across the restaurant rainbow — its pain perdu, or “lost bread,” a deeper, richer version of French toast where the bread is truly “lost” in custardy, buttery goodness, will be missed in particular. Aunt Mary’s Cafe spent its first six years at 4307 Telegraph Ave., and its final eight at 4640 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland.
CommonWealth Cafe and Public House
11/18/22 Nosh is heartsore to report on the closure of this wonderful pub, purveyor of English pints and food, and a haven for English football fans for 12 years. CommonWealth was first opened by husband and wife Ross (a native Scot) and Ahna Adair, who spearheaded its welcoming mix of Oakland neighborhood bar and cozy British public house. Under the Adairs, the little pub survived a fire soon after opening, and emerged thriving. In 2015, the couple even attempted a second CommonWealth, an Emeryville “micropub” on Adeline Street, but it closed after less than a year. Per SF Gate’s closing story, the Adairs moved away in 2016, and sold the original Oakland pub to regular patron/guardian Josh Rosenberg and a second partner. Update 12/1: In a note sent to The Oaklandside and forwarded to Nosh, Rosenberg’s then business partner, Lizzie Alford, asked that we add her name, saying “I ran that place by myself without Josh for years before the pandemic.” Nosh regrets not including her name in our initial report.
Rosenberg became sole publican in 2020, and wisely kept the pub unchanged, though the world, as we know all too well, changed instead. CommonWealth will close after lunch service on Nov. 19., but some solace can be found in its continued availability as a viewing room for 2022 World Cup soccer matches through Dec. 2. Watch the website for details, but if there’s a match on and the door is open, come in for a pint. It’s an unconventional way to exit, and the community is grateful for it. Cheers. CommonWealth Cafe and Public House was at 2882 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland.
The Fifth Quarter Charcuterie
11/4/22 For weeks, customers have expressed concern that this 12-year-old butcher and charcuterie shop has mostly been dark after five busy years in its current Montclair Village space. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Google and Yelp are now marking it shut, Google temporarily and Yelp permanently. We have tried to reach the owner via phone, email and social media to no avail. We would welcome the chance to print a correction, but believe the shop has closed. The Fifth Quarter Charcuterie was at 6464 Moraga Ave. in Oakland.
11/30/23 Sometimes it’s difficult not to hope hard and clutch pearls for a business, and The Lede was one such enterprise. Opened first by Cal Peternell in 2019 at 906 Washington St., The Lede seemed created to celebrate creativity, seasonality and all things local and community-minded.
During the pandemic, it morphed into a nomadic pop-up under chef Carlo Espinas and resettled under his care in Temescal. It was first and foremost a Northern California hangout, meant for relaxed neighborhood mingling, sometimes with live DJs, hosted guest chefs and local events, along with a seasonal menu of casual bites and cocktails. The mural, the balanced dishes, the fresh flowers, the collaborations — the 41st Street location was a sunny, artsy, welcoming haven, but alas it did not survive and will close on Dec. 2. The Lede was at 308 41st St. in Oakland.
11/18/22 When Nosh editor Eve Batey noticed this Rockridge noodle haunt for sale, her writer (me) dismissed the idea that it might close. It was too popular! That was in September. This week, we all must face the little noodle shop’s closure after 15 years of slurping crowds, happy families, clusters of friends. Noodle Theory Rockridge was the first of a series of noodle restaurants from chef Louis Kao that seemed poised to take over the East Bay — the larger Noodle Theory Provisions in Emeryville, that closed in 2019, but not before resurrecting that beautiful brick dining room that is now Cafe Colucci. And Noodle Theory in Moraga, still owned by Kao but now operating as Lou’s Chicken Shop.
Noodle Theory Rockridge seemed built to last anything, even the pandemic, but as Kao wrote in his candid good-bye letter, “Over the past three years, we’ve struggled to maintain enough staff to return to our pre-pandemic operating hours, squeezing our already tight margins. Concurrently, the rapid increase in expenses left us to choose making a profit or keeping our prices where we felt comfortable. We couldn’t bring ourselves to sell a simple bowl of noodles for $30.” Thanks for the real-life perspective. We wish chef Kao luck with his continued efforts in the industry at his other businesses. Noodle Theory was at 6099 Claremont Ave. in Oakland.
Ras Dashen Ethiopian Restaurant, Cafe & Market
11/4/22 Ras Dashen started life as an Ethiopian grocery with a small interior cafe, then morphed earlier this year into a full-service, sit-down Ethiopian restaurant. Unfortunately, after only a handful of months, the business is now fully closed and emptied out, a Nosh tipster kindly emailed us to note. Details are scarce as to what might come next to the roomy, Bushrod neighborhood space. Ras Dashen was at 5831 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland.
11/4/22 The Oakland outpost of this stylish, New American, fast-casual mini-chain is marked temporarily closed on Yelp, with a possible reopening date of Feb. 2023. The move from the company — which is also behind salad chain Mixt — seems particularly abrupt given the popular spot’s opening only this year, and it seems even stranger that the location is no longer listed on the company website.
We’ll continue to gather intel and let folks know if or when “temporary” turns to “permanent.” If the latter, this wouldn’t be the first surprising closure at the location: once ubiquitous Bay Area South Indian brand Dosa spared no expense when it renovated the space in 2017, but shuttered all its restaurants a few years later. Split is at 2301 Broadway in Oakland.
Tannery on Telegraph
11/18/22 Though it might not look it online, the Oakland branch of the Napa-based brewpub Tannery Bend Beerworks, has closed. We can hear folks from here, crying out “Noooooo!” from the corner of Telegraph and Alcatraz, where a sign posted on the year-old bar Tannery on Telegraph’s front door announces the news.
“Sorry, we are closed indefinitely,” says the handwritten note. “We appreciate your support over the past year.” Attempts to reach the owners about the abrupt shuttering and the status of its Napa locations have so far gone unanswered, but we know one thing — Tannery on Telegraph, its beer, food, colorful interior and patio, were all welcome in that neighborhood and will be missed. Tannery on Telegraph was at 6369 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland.
11/4/22 This North Oakland organic kitchen and cafe, known for its commitment to sustainable, health-focused and affordable cooking, was first opened by Marielle Amrhein in 2017, then taken over the following year by Anwen Baumeister. Baumeister kept the doors open and the Well community nourished throughout the pandemic, even joining the to-go and delivery options at the Oakland Food Hall in 2020.
However, last week, Baumeister sent patrons the following message: “Unfortunately, the costs of doing business have become unsustainable. I have made the difficult decision to close The Well for the time being.” According to Baumeister, they will use the “time to reassess the business and either develop a more sustainable business model or pass the business off to someone who wants to bring their own vision to the space … I hope that our doors will reopen in the near future, whether a different iteration of The Well or another community-centered business.” The Well was at 5443 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland.
Richmond restaurant closure
Black Star Pirate BBQ
11/30/23 As promised, Black Star Pirate BBQ held a memorable New Orleans-style jazz funeral on Nov. 27 to send off the now dearly departed restaurant. Opened to hopeful fanfare in late 2020, it didn’t take long for the sprawling waterfront barbecue compound to become almost too popular a destination at Point San Pablo Harbor.
Revelers loved Black Star Pirate’s remote and sun-drenched marina location, tasty food, Burning Man meets family-friendly vibe and live music, and every weekend carload after carload (after boatload) of folks would pull up for fun and finger-lickin’ brisket.
There is rumor that the Black Star Pirate barbecue-focused business might rise again, but for now it’s time to cut the joint loose, and let the good times roll somewhere new — like at Baltic Kiss in Point Richmond, where Black Star owners and partners chef Tony Caracci and Miss Suzie are now redirecting their culinary, showmanship, live music and hospitality skills with predictably fun and colorful results. Black Star Pirate BBQ was at 1900 Stenmark Dr. in Richmond.
Featured image: The entrance to Black Star Pirate BBQ. Credit: Black Star