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Albany restaurant closures

Albany Taproom

5/31/2023 After ten years of tempting beer lovers with its long, long row of taps and curated menu of locally crafted choices, the Albany Taproom is no more. “COVID hit us hard and we never quite got our feet back below us,” says the farewell note on Instagram. “Albany, you are a wonderful community, and we appreciate you immensely for keeping it community crafted.” The note also thanks the customers, brewers, staff and event hosts who made up that community. The Albany Taproom’s final day was May 26. Albany Taproom was at 745 San Pablo Ave. in Albany

Berkeley restaurant closures


5/25/2023 For those of you who haven’t yet heard and just did a double-take, yes — Cinnaholic’s flagship at 2132 Oxford St. has permanently closed after 13 years. The vegan cinnamon bun shop and bakery across from UC Berkeley was a campus constant, a popular lure for students who bravely dodged Oxford Street traffic to snack on its plant-based sweet treats — including throughout the pandemic when the local landscape began to change and many of Cinnaholic’s neighbors shut down. Now boasting corporate headquarters in Atlanta, GA, Cinnaholic has grown into a widespread franchise under founder Shannon Radke, with more than 100 locations in the U.S. and Canada, but its first little Berkeley shop — run by local owner Nicole Nuss since 2014 — is no more. Cinnaholic closed May 21. Cinnaholic was at 2132 Oxford St. in Berkeley. 

Italy on Gilman

5/25/2023 Italy on Gilman opened in June of 2020 during that first, uncertain summer of the pandemic, and was a proud foray into old-school Italian dining for local restaurateur Juan Romo (Casa Latina, La Mission). Romo updated the restaurant’s split-level Gilman District space, formerly T-Rex, touching up the airy dining rooms with white tablecloths and making good use of the appealing spot’s various patios for upscale outdoor dining. A message from the business states, “Our lease at Italy on Gilman is expiring, and we will be closing our doors May 31st of this year. We are incredibly grateful for the support and loyalty of our customers.” Note: Also according to the restaurant, Italy on Gilman’s chef Fabio Bucio will move to the kitchen of Point Richmond’s upcoming restaurant Biancoverde inside the Hotel Mac. Italy on Gilman is at 1300 10th St. in Berkeley, and will close May 31.

Cousins Asian Street Food

5/17/2023 A couple of recent, quiet closures to report in downtown Berkeley, beginning with Cousins Asian Street Food, the former, newer incarnation of Lucky Bird from chef Kimberly Gamble. Gamble has been making the entertainment rounds lately, which might explain why Cousins’ closure many weeks ago is still unreported on social media and the Internet. Neighbors tell us the pretty little spot (also, briefly, the site of Kol Juice Bar) has been shut up tight since at least early spring. Cousins Asian Street Food was at 1926 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley.

The Oriental Restaurant

5/17/2023 The decades-old Shattuck Avenue standby that closed in 2021 when married owners the Nguyens retired, reopened under new management in August of 2022. The name and no-frills vibe were kept the same, and folks seemed to appreciate the similar food — fast, budget-friendly Vietnamese and Chinese dishes, including soups and salads. Sadly, the new incarnation did not last long — friendly neighbors tell Nosh on a recent attempted visit that The Oriental went dark several months ago with no note, announcement or explanation. The (new) Oriental Restaurant was at 1782 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley

Rice & Bones

5/17/2023 This Cal campus Berkeley eatery from Charles Phan, opened since 2017, went through an update summer 2022 that may have foretold some of the issues that led to last week’s somewhat abrupt closure, but the media’s spotlight of its departure from Wurster Hall shows how deeply the eatery had become entrenched in the university community. Rice & Bones featured fast-casual dishes — rice plates, pho — inspired in part by Phan’s famed Vietnamese restaurant The Slanted Door; that restaurant’s San Ramon location and Chuck’s Takeaway in San Francisco are now the only remaining Phan-owned restaurants still operating in the Bay (for the moment). Rice & Bones was at 230 Bauer Wurster Hall at UC Berkeley.

Papa John’s Downtown Berkeley

One lonely (and nervous?) Starbucks remains open on the storefront strip between Allston Way and Kittredge Street on Shattuck Avenue, former home to long-gone businesses Yogurtland, John’s Ice Cream, Shattuck Cinemas and others. It’s a list of about seven dead, papered-over spaces that as of about two weeks ago now includes Papa John’s. (Thanks to a Nosh friend for the tip.) However, thanks to another, favorite Nosh tipster for alerting us that this Papa John’s relocated and can now be found nearby at 2556 Telegraph Ave., where it has reopened for all your fast-casual pizza-pie needs. Papa John’s, 2556 Telegraph Ave. (at Blake Street), Berkeley 

Melo Melo Kava Bar Berkeley

5/11/2023 The Melo Melo Kava community is a deeply devoted one, so when the group’s Berkeley location was rumored to be closing soon, fans were undeniably upset. “It’s a community space that really changed lives for the better,” said one concerned reader to Nosh, who also emphasized the role of kava — a relaxing beverage brewed from the South Pacific-based kava plant, meant to be savored in sociable company — in providing an alternative to alcohol, for those in recovery or otherwise curious.

There is some good news, however: Melo Melo assures the community in an Instagram post that though the nine-year-old Berkeley kava bar will indeed close soon, it is apparently on track to reopen in a new location, address TBD. Meanwhile there are comfortable locations in Oakland, Santa Cruz and even a soon-to-come Los Angeles branch of Melo Melo. Melo Melo Kava Bar is at 1701 University Ave. in Berkeley, and will soon close.

Oakland restaurant closures

Hi Felicia

5/25/2023 Sometimes a closure comes with not just a heavy heart, but one torn to shreds. “Last night Hi Felicia was violently broken into,” begins chef Imana’s Instagram post of May 24. “Our upstairs safe was thrown downstairs, glass door completely shattered, our cash register was broken. Everything in the restaurant is in disarray. This will take a long time to clean up, and it is with a heavy heart that I announce Hi Felicia will be closing effective immediately.” Sometimes there is nothing left to say, except — we hope this isn’t really the end of Hi Felicia’s eccentric, all-or-nothing take on fine dining, but if it is, it’s too soon and too sudden…and too bad. Hi Felicia was at 326 23rd St. in Oakland.

Popeyes International Boulevard

5/25/2023 Making the news for all the wrong reasons this week was the East Oakland location of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, the fast food chain known for fried chicken and biscuits. According to The Chronicle, the franchise location at 7007 International Blvd. is shuttered indefinitely, pending investigation, after reports were filed with the state citing illegal labor conditions for teenage employees and a deeply unsafe work environment, including violence from customers, staff and management. Temporarily closed Popeyes is at 7007 International Blvd. in Oakland.

Freelancer Joanna Della Penna has written about food, people and the arts in the Bay Area since moving here from the East Coast in 2001, and was Gayot's Northern California regional restaurant editor for...