Subrosa in Longfellow. Credit: Christopher Sturm/@Ghostfoto

Subrosa makes way for States Coffee

After more than a decade in North Oakland, Subrosa Coffee will close at the end of this month. Starting Oct. 1, its two cafes will fall under the ownership of Keith Gehrke and Brett Benzer, who will transition them into new outposts for their Benicia-based business, States Coffee.

Catherine Macken opened Subrosa, a tiny walkup cafe at 419 40th St., in 2009. It quickly became a neighborhood go-to for good coffee, but it also won over customers with its community-centered ethos. Subrosa hosted annual craft fairs for local makers, partook in neighborhood block parties and regularly fundraised for social justice issues. In 2017, Macken opened a second Subrosa at 4008 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in the Longfellow neighborhood. Over time, her identity became inextricably linked with her business, but Macken said she started thinking about selling the business a few years ago. “This year,” she told Nosh in an email, “that goal became more than clear.”

Macken approached Gehrke and Benzer — who also own bread bakery Farm & Flour, which will soon have a second location in Berkeley — about carrying the torch. “Handing over the reins to good people who have a lot of energy to breathe new life into the shops and operate with a focus on community is the best-case scenario,” she said. “States will definitely bring them to the next level and I can’t wait to see it all unfold and support them along the way.”

As for Macken, she plans to finally take maternity leave. “I had a second child on March 5th and everything has been chaotic since then,” she told Nosh. But eventually, she plans to get licensed for work in commercial real estate. “I love the amazing network I’ve gained over eleven years in business and I can’t wait to help to make good things happen and find the right homes for local businesses to thrive.”

Subrosa will close on Sept. 30. States Coffee will reopen the cafes after a brief hiatus to rebrand the spaces. Expect coffee, pastries and daily baked breads at both locations, along with a toast menu at the MLK cafe.

Piedmont Avenue mainstay Dopo to close Oct. 3

 A pizza and lasagna from Dopo on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. The restaurant will close for good on Oct. 3. Photo: Sarah Han

After one final service on Saturday, Oct. 3, 17-year-old Piedmont Avenue restaurant Dopo will take a bow. Married owners Kayta and Jon Smulewitz shared the news over the weekend on Instagram with a heartfelt and heartbreaking message that echoes the sentiments of many restaurant owners struggling to make it through the pandemic. “We are sad, frustrated, angry,” the wrote. “The government has failed restaurants and small businesses; each one lost is a small ecosystem down, a network of people negatively impacted. Each one lost is heartbreaking & infuriating. We’re struggling with this loss & we’ll be processing it for a long time.”

The couple also took the opportunity in their message to give thanks to longtime customers and the community that supported them over this difficult stretch: “Though these past months have challenged us, they also gave us the opportunity to witness depths of kindness, loyalty & generosity so vast that they will get us through this moment and beyond. Thank you to those of you who have faithfully & enthusiastically ordered from us every single week since late March. Thank you to those of you who ordered from us when you could and to those of you who supported us with a kind word.”

The Smulewitzes founded Dopo in 2003, drawing in food lovers with a Cal-Italian menu featuring impeccable pizzas, housemade pasta, crudo and charcuterie. In 2009, they opened Adesso, a charcuterie and wine-focused spin-off down the street (it closed in 2017). In 2015, Dopo tweaked its focus to Sicilian fare with a regionally focused wine list. Last September, the couple opened Pollara on Fourth Street in Berkeley, which serves Roman-style pizza al taglio. When Dopo closes, only Pollara will remain.

Kayta Smulewitz told Nosh the decision to close was very hard, and explained she and Jon felt the need to share with customers what they’ve been going through. Speaking of the message posted on Instagram, she explained, “It’s honest and I don’t think many people understand what’s happening and what they’re losing.” Dopo, 4293 Piedmont Ave. (at John Street), Oakland

Berkeley’s Thai gelato shop is moving on

Secret Scoop in Berkeley. Photo: Secret Scoop
 Secret Scoop in Berkeley. Photo: Secret Scoop

A large sign on the window at Secret Scoop announces the Thai gelato and sorbet shop will close on Oct. 18. Secret Scoop has been at 1922 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way in Berkeley since 2017, when it was opened by Funn Fisher, a Bangkok native and a Cal alum, who has a master’s degree in urban design from the College of Environmental Design. She started the business in 2012 as a pop-up until she was able to open the brick-and-mortar location, a space which designed herself. Secret Scoop has been Fisher’s outlet to share creative desserts inspired by ingredients from her upbringing, including gelato and sorbets in flavors like chocolate lemongrass, mango sticky rice, salted tamarind and blackberry Singha beer. The shop also serves Thai street desserts, such as crepes, toast and waffles flavored with fragrant green pandan.

Fisher told Nosh that she has sold the business, as she is planning to leave the immediate area, but is thankful to have had the opportunity to meet so many Secret Scoop customers of the years, “both loyal Berkeley residents and supportive visitors, some of whom drove from far away” to try her unique flavors. “It has been a wonderful journey. I love Berkeley where I once studied and lived, which is why I chose this town for the location of my first shop,” Fisher said, hinting that you may soon find her treats in Lafayette and Orinda. Secret Scoop will make way for Ono Bakehouse, a Hawaiian-Asian pastry and ice cream shop.

While you still have a chance, stop by Secret Scoop to say goodbye and get a sweet deal — 20% off pints and half pints. Secret Scoop, 1922 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way (between Hearst Avenue and Berkeley Way), Berkeley

Soft opening for Daughter’s Diner

The Double D Homewrecker at Daughter's Diner features two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions. Photo: Daughter's Diner
 The Double D Homewrecker. Photo: Daughter’s Diner Credit: Amir Aziz

Keven and Justyna Wilson are just about ready to start serving their elevated American comfort food — classic diner fare with a modern twist — in Uptown Oakland. Their new restaurant, Daughter’s Diner, will open Thursday, Oct. 1.

The Wilsons shared the upcoming menu that features more than a few dishes that got our taste buds tingling, like the Beast Mode sandwich, with sausage, egg and brie on a Boichik bagel; the Double D Homewrecker, a double-patty cheeseburger with all the classic fixings on a puffy Starter Bakery bun; an entree of chicken livers with caramelized onions, mashed potatoes and green beans; and ice cream (including one made with candy cap mushrooms) that you can enjoy on a waffle cone, as a frozen taco, by the pint, in a float or as a milkshake.

The restaurant, named for the couple’s daughter Mila, will be ready to seat 30 diners inside when the time comes, but for now, it will offer takeout and outdoor dining, along with a selection of pantry goods. While opening in the middle of the pandemic is less than ideal in many ways, the Wilsons told Nosh in June that in some regards, the timing worked out. An advantage of opening now, Keven said, “is all of our standards and procedures and dailies are still being developed. We have flexibility in changing and adapting them to how things are looking.” Daughter’s Diner, 326 23rd St. (at Webster Street), Oakland

‘Food is Fundamental’ talk with Alice Waters, Saru Jayaraman

The Bay Area Book Festival’s virtual #UNBOUND speaker series delves into the challenges of social justice in the food industry. “Food is Fundamental” features Alice Waters, who will speak about her work at Chez Panisse and the Edible Schoolyard Project, and Saru Jayaraman, an activist working to improve conditions and wages for restaurant workers; Davia Nelson of NPR’s The Kitchen Sisters moderates. The discussion airs online at 3:30-4:45 p.m., Oct. 4; sign up at the Bay Area Book Fest website to view it for free.

Local food justice news

The upcoming Black and POC-led, worker-owned grocery store, formerly known as East Oakland Grocery Cooperative, has a new name: The Deep Grocery Coop. The moniker has multiple meanings, the group explains, but most obviously, it’s a reference to East Oakland — “a geographical location of da hood.” When it opens, The Deep will offer locally made, healthy and culturally relevant groceries, as well as provide job opportunities with living wages and growth potential for East Oakland community members; and will have a focus on wellness and holistic healing. While the grocery store is still in progress, the team has been keeping busy collaborating with local food justice groups, including Berkeley Student Food Collective and Raw Sol Collective.

Berkeley Student Food Collective closed its grocery store to focus on mobilizing students online. Photo: Berkeley Student Food Collective
Berkeley Student Food Collective closed its 10-year-old grocery store to focus on mobilizing students online. Photo: Berkeley Student Food Collective

Speaking of Berkeley Student Food Collective, the UC Berkeley student-run nonprofit announced last week that it’s laid off its paid employees and is closing its 10-year-old volunteer-run grocery store and pay-what-you-can cafe. Due to campus restrictions, health and safety concerns, as well as the uncertain and changing landscape brought on by COVID-19, the collective is taking operations online, focusing on helping students engage and activate around campus food justice issues. In a prepared statement shared with Nosh, collective board co-chairs Sukhmony Brar and Jesse Clements said, “Although closing the storefront was heartbreaking, we’ve always been more than a grocery store. We’re seeing this as a new opportunity to reflect, educate and mobilize our membership to best support ongoing food justice efforts on campus.”

A 65" television screens football games at Arthur Mac's Tap & Snack in Oakland. Photo: Arthur Mac's Tap & Snack
 A 65″ television screen will air football games and the presidential and vice presidential debates at Arthur Mac’s Tap & Snack in Oakland. Photo: Arthur Mac’s Tap & Snack

Presidential debates, football screenings at Arthur Mac’s

Arthur Mac’s Tap & Snack in Longfellow has set up a 65″ television screen that faces the socially distanced picnic tables in its outdoor beer garden. Owner Joel DiGiorgio told Nosh the restaurant will be screening Sunday and Monday night football games, as well all of the presidential and vice presidential debates, starting with tonight’s face-off between Biden and Trump. “We have an auxillary speaker as well, so volume will be audible during these important and intense political events,” he said. The popular pizza and beer hangout also removed the kids’ play area, replacing it with a third fire pit that can be reserved by quarantine pods. Arthur Mac’s Tap & Snack, 4006 Martin Luther King Jr. Way (at 40th Street), Oakland

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Sarah Han is Senior Editor, Food for Oaklandside and Berkeleyside. She has worked as an editor at The Bold Italic, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Read more stories by Sarah Han on Berkeleyside.