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
Augie’s Montreal Deli
10/11/22 Canadians and East Bay poutine fans — it’s time to gently announce that the brick-and-mortar location of Canadian smoke meat destination Augie’s Deli has officially closed. As expected/dreaded, it was the usual laundry list of pandemic restaurant woes: supply and staff shortages, inflation, non-negotiating landlords. By phone, owner Lex Gopnik-Lewinski explained he had no choice but to shutter.
However, Augie’s long dormancy and closing have opened up some wonderful op-poutine-ities elsewhere for the brand. Fans can not only continue to find Augie’s Montreal meats at Berkeley Bowl’s deli counter, but Augie’s also serves deli sandwiches at San Jose’s SAP Center (an ice hockey arena, after all, is a Canadian’s natural habitat), where Sharks fans can also acquire Canadian beer and, starting this week, Augie’s poutine. And, starting Warriors opening night, Augie’s pastrami sandwiches will now be on offer at the Chase Center in San Francisco. Bien joue, Augie’s. Augie’s Montreal Deli was at 700 Essex St. in Berkeley.
Bagel Street Cafe (Center Street)
10/5/22 This budget-friendly bagel shop, part of a Northern California chain, is the latest restaurant to depart Center Street in downtown Berkeley, where it was a staple for 12 years. In good news, especially for students, the shop will reopen soon in the former Fat Slice at 2375 Telegraph Ave., still near campus and just up the street. Bagel Street Cafe Center St. was at 2148 Center St. in Berkeley.
10/5/22 Nosh was surprised to hear from a reader that this fun, budget-friendly spot for crispy, Korean-style fried chicken had suddenly closed; though the sign on the door says the closure is temporary, the location has been erased from the main website and the number is down.
For five years, Bonchon Berkeley drew consistent numbers of students, locals and nearby office professionals, including through the pandemic and during significant neighborhood construction. Franchise headquarters did not return our request for more information. (Local Bonchons that remain open include outposts in San Leandro and Pleasanton.) Bonchon was at 2050 Berkeley Way in Berkeley.
10/5/22 There was such optimism around the Oct. 2021 move to south Berkeley for The Kebabery, the cozy, savory, casual kebab offshoot from the team behind Oakland’s beloved restaurant Camino.
When Camino closed in 2018, chef-owner Russell Moore and Allison Hopelain poured their hearts and talent into a new little neighborhood restaurant, providing fast-casual kebab plates (including delectable, smokey king trumpet mushrooms), first for grateful Longfellow locals at their original location at 4201 Market St. in Oakland.
The team’s initial hope was to expand into more than one location, but the pandemic led to a focus on a move and reopening on Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley instead. When adjacent sister eatery Sesame, A Tiny Bakery closed last week, folks never suspected The Kebabery would be next, but as Moore told Elena Kadvany of The Chronicle, “We’re tired.”
Staffing shortages, inconsistent traffic, and the fallout from the last few years, especially, have caused the team to say a fond good-bye to the restaurant industry for the moment and move on. The Kebabery’s last day is Oct. 8. The Kebabery was at 2969 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley.
Le Bateau Ivre
10/27/22 Community PSA: Berkeley favorite Le Bateau Ivre is on temporary break from now through at least the end of the year, as chef Raul Parada requires surgery and recovery time for several months. We all wish him healing and rest, and thank the restaurant team for reaching out to let us know about the 50-year-old special event destination’s temporary closure. Please contact the restaurant if you have reservations as they will need to be postponed. Le Bateau Ivre is at 2629 Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley.
Organic Greens (Solano)
10/5/22 Nosh noticed the Solano Avenue location of Organic Greens is temporarily closed until further notice, due to some plumbing issues the team hopes will soon be resolved by the landlord. Please note the Berkeley minichain’s other two locations downtown and in the Elmwood neighborhood remain open. Organic Greens Solano is at 1615 Solano Ave. in Berkeley.
Passione Caffe/Emporio Downtown
10/5/22 With the exciting news of upcoming pizza restaurant Pizzeria da Laura moving into the space, it bears mentioning that Fabrizio Cercatore’s grand passion project on Shattuck Square, opened in 2018, has officially come to a close. The restaurant, wine bar, caffe, gelateria and, yes, pizzeria the size of a piazza at the heart of downtown Berkeley cycled through the pandemic on waves of hope and then doubt, opening briefly (once as a La Perla pop-up) only to then see the doors closed and gates firmly bolted just as quickly.
Ever cheerful, Cercatore would like to remind his fans that Passione Emporio on Fifth remains open, as it has been all pandemic, for pasta, pizza and gelato at 2324 Fifth St. Passione Caffe was at 91 Shattuck Sq. in downtown Berkeley.
10/5/22 Just a quick note, since Berkeley’s Revolution Cafe is not marked closed on Yelp and new reviews have recently posted: An in-person visit revealed that the vegan restaurant was unfortunately evicted back in July, has cleared out, and is quite permanently closed. Revolution Cafe was at 2160 University Ave. in Berkeley.
El Cerrito restaurant closure
Aroma Home Kitchen aka HK Home Kitchen
10/5/22 Thanks to a Nosh reader for first alerting us that El Cerrito just lost this old-school San Pablo Avenue favorite. A sign on the door confirms the spacious Hong Kong-style restaurant (with a roomy parking lot) is permanently closed.
When contacted by phone, a staff member presumed Nosh was a curious customer (we are!) due to a language barrier, and mentioned recent high inflation, staff shortages and not enough business as reasons for the sudden closure before leaving the call to continue cleaning out the space.
The comfortable, affordable restaurant had a fan base as lengthy as its menu of specialties, and will be sorely missed by locals. Aroma/HK Home Kitchen was at 10140 San Pablo Ave. in El Cerrito.
Emeryville restaurant closure
A Girl Named Pinky
10/21/22 No longer operating at the Public Market Emeryville is bakery A Girl Named Pinky; we missed its departure from the rotating La Cocina food kiosk last month, but fans should note the bakery is still open for catering and delivery of those delicious cakes and cookies. A Girl Named Pinky was inside the Public Market, 5353 Shellmound, in Emeryville.
Oakland restaurant closures
10/11/22 Reader worries that the downtown Oakland location of chef Oumar Diouf’s influential Afro-Brazilian restaurant The Damel had permanently closed were confirmed last week, when What Now SF broke the news that upcoming business BigE Burger will soon move into the space. The Damel’s Point Richmond location also appears to have abruptly shuttered, according to Google. Attempts to reach the team for more information, and to inquire about The Damel’s food truck, were not returned by press time. The Damel was at 1312 Broadway Ave. in Oakland, and 25 W. Richmond Ave. in Richmond.
Holders House at Forage Kitchen
10/5/22 Chef Sarah Kirnon (Miss Ollie’s) announced on Instagram that they will move on from their temporary digs at Forage Kitchen after final service on Oct. 7, after only a couple of months at that location. The news came as a surprise given the chef’s cultlike following for their prized Caribbean food, and instant critical acclaim at the new space, including a rave review from The Chronicle’s Soleil Ho. Kirnon’s movements will be tracked to wherever they land next for sure, and we’ll keep fans posted. Holders House was inside Forage Kitchen at 478 25th St. in Oakland.
Mz Kettle’s BBQ
10/21/22 Down-home Fruitvale barbecue joint Mz. Kettle’s has gone dark, and the phone is no longer in service. The spot was known for its award-winning chicken and ribs, and chef Terry’s community-minded hustle and warm welcome. We reached out for more information but did not receive comment before press time. Mz. Kettle’s BBQ was at 2676 Fruitvale Ave. in Oakland.
Smitten Ice Cream (Rockridge)
10/5/22 As bittersweetly posted on the ice cream company’s Instagram and told by The Chronicle, Smitten and its famed freshly-churned, made-to-order ice cream has left Rockridge for reasons unexplained. The hip, elaborate Rockridge scoop shop closed in September. Smitten Ice Cream shops remain open in San Francisco and San Jose. Smitten Ice Cream was at 5800 College Ave. in Oakland.
A Taste of Denmark/Neldam’s
10/27/22 Oakland’s famed Neldam’s Danish Bakery opened in 1929, right before the Great Depression — which it survived with grace, along with eight subsequent decades of celebrations and crises, food trends and phases, cultivating generations of loyal fans. “I used to order ahead three dozen various Danishes (butterhorns, custard, pineapple), a variety of dinner rolls, and two chocolate cream cakes for our family’s Thanksgiving and Christmas breakfasts,” said Oakland resident Doreen Sing. “Of course, when I got there, I had to wait in line. These lines went out the door, and I would run into almost the same people each year, and we caught up with what happened with our families. Neldam’s held warm memories.”
In 2010, when the Neldam family closed the beloved bakery, seemingly for good, the East Bay mourned deeply…for three whole months. But in a fairytale revival story now familiar to lovers of certain treasured local businesses, a band of Neldam’s former employees took it over, turned the machines back on, and reopened the bakery as a co-op. Keeping the original recipes for buttery pastries, cookies and cakes, A Taste of Denmark Bakery maintained co-op status and its deeply nostalgic Neldam’s clientele for another 12 years, until pandemic hardship finally, truly closed its doors on Sunday. Given last weekend’s coverage across local media of the bakery’s sudden, final closure after 93 years, it’s clear it will always hold warm memories for countless locals and families. A Taste of Denmark/Neldam’s was at 3401 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland.
10/5/22 A sign on Gilman Street’s Thai Corner says it is temporarily closed due to a staffing shortage. Thai Corner is at 1277-1279 Gilman St. in Berkeley.
Tutti Frutti Piedmont
10/21/22 A Piedmont Avenue neighbor was kind enough to let us know that this frozen yogurt dessert shop has apparently shuttered, with the windows papered over and furnishings removed. Numerous reviews speak to the franchise location’s 13 years of cheerful service, including during COVID. Tutti Frutti was at 4214 Piedmont Ave. in Oakland.
Featured image: The Kebabery’s 2969 Shattuck Ave. storefront. Credit: The Kebabery/Instagram