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On June 19, charismatic chef Nelson German announced over Instagram that his 9-year-old restaurant alaMar would close after that day’s service for a refresh. German has temporarily shuttered the restaurant known for its convivial seafood gatherings and, in keeping with his heritage, plans to reopen June 30 with a new focus on Dominican cuisine with a fresh energy and vibe reminiscent of Washington Heights in New York.
alaMar Kitchen & Bar, the seafood restaurant, was at 100 Grand Ave., Suite 111 in Oakland, and will reopen June 30 in the same location as alaMar Dominican Kitchen.
Along with this weekend’s closure of Rocky Island Oyster Co. at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, the remaining eateries there, collectively known as Assemble Marketplace, have also been disbanded in favor of a new concept. As of Monday, both Rocky Island and Brezo are gone, and both might reopen in new locations. It looks like Tommy’s Barbecue was tapped to remain, and will stay open, serving from its popular food truck while the restaurant space is renovated. Meanwhile, it appears the waterfront event space will morph over the summer into a new destination for both dining and, in somewhat of a surprise, pickleball. The plan is for the restaurant piece to reopen on Aug. 1 as “Assemble Kitchen,” details to come. Assemble Marketplace was at 1414 Harbour Way S. in Richmond.
The only word many locals could muster was “wow,” as chef-owner Kyle Itani’s announcement spread across local media (starting with Eater) that he would close Oakland standout Hopscotch at the end of dinner service on June 22. For 11 years, Itani’s Japanese-inspired American comfort fare at this upscale Oakland diner was a bold, award-winning mix of cultures and flavors, a fan favorite that, as one colleague said, heralded the revival of that part of Uptown, an area that remained vibrant until 2020 brought everything to a halt. After trying many ways to reshape Hopscotch in a post-pandemic dining climate, Itani eventually conceded that the best choice would be to close and pave the way for something new; luckily, his popular businesses Yonsei Handrolls and Itani Ramen remain open, and Hopscotch itself will endure as a catering business. Hopscotch is at 1915 San Pablo Ave. in Oakland.
Another giant stone horse has fallen. P.F. Chang’s in Walnut Creek will officially close June 23 after 24 years in business. One Yelp reviewer called the national corporate franchise “as Chinese as a fish taco,” though, as we detailed when Bay Street’s P.F. Chang’s closed earlier this year in Emeryville, the 1990’s-era chain was co-founded by Cecilia Chiang’s family. The Walnut Creek location was the group’s 33rd when it opened in 1999. Whatever the opinion of the restaurant’s food itself, its closing marks the end of an era for sure. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro is at 1205 Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek.
The Bay Area pizza community — and the restaurant industry as a whole — is losing a beloved member of its highest ranks with the imminent closure of Pollara, owned by East Coast natives Kayta and Jon Smulewitz. The married owners had achieved local fame for Piedmont Avenue destination restaurants Dopo (2003-2020), and Adesso (2009-2017), when they moved into the fast-casual pizza space with this Roman-style pizza shop on Fourth Street in late 2019. Pollara features thick, fluffy slabs of Roman pizza topped with mouth-watering ingredients, with portions sold by weight and enjoyed to-go or at their casual, comfortable eatery. When the pandemic took down Dopo in late 2020, Pollara with its easy take-out model, roomy space and small patio, persevered and even flourished, but now the Smulewitzes are headed back East with their family to New Jersey. “We are humbled by all of you who have supported, loved and broken bread with us over the years,” said the closing announcement on Instagram. “We’ve been saying that we’re just moving back to our other family, that’s how much you have all come to mean to us.” Back ‘atcha, and all the best from all of us grateful diners. Pollara is at 1788 Fourth St. in Berkeley. Their last day open will be June 25.
Correction: Apologies for saying in our original story that Pollara had already closed. Be sure to note it is serving through June 25.