Your tips are what keeps this column going. They’re always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Albany restaurant closures
Syma’s Mexican Grill
7.6.23: Sadly, Syma’s has closed, and attempts to reach owner Sima Dehestani have gone unanswered as of press time. Syma’s opened in early 2019 inside the former Christopher’s Nothing Fancy Cafe, and its unique mix of Mexican and Persian comfort cuisines, coupled with Dehestani’s charming, COVID-era hustle, garnered the eatery a steady neighborhood clientele (in particular for its back patio) and enough popularity to land a spot on KQED’s “Check, Please! Bay Area.” Online ordering has been halted and Yelp marks the restaurant “temporarily closed through 2026.” Hopeful Nextdoor discussions are circulating about how to try to help save the restaurant, but a peek through the windows this week shows a mostly cleared-out space, and a recent article from The Chronicle puts an upcoming first brick-and-mortar location of Hella Bagels at that address, potentially opening in December. Syma’s Mexican Grill was at 1019 San Pablo Ave. in Albany.
Berkeley restaurant closures
6.14.23: With the opening of Bartavelle’s lovely new brick-and-mortar cafe at 1621 San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley, we feel compelled to remind folks that the popular take-out window at Bartavelle’s Annex has now closed. Fans, please walk that business a few doors south, where you’ll find the cafe’s shiny, welcoming new location. Meanwhile, pour a little coffee out for the teeny, tenacious breakfast window and everyone behind it who kept the business afloat the last few years. Bartavelle’s Annex take-out window was at 1609 San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley.
6.28.23: Both the Indus halal food market and its adjacent eatery on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley have been dark, quiet and partially boarded up for a couple of weeks, though the furnishings remain. Nosh has tried every channel to reach the owners, but the website, phone, online ordering platforms, and most social media channels have been disconnected or sundowned. Neighbors of the business are unsure if the closure is permanent, though the generic sign in the window says “temporarily closed for renovations,” so we’ll (cautiously) hope that’s the case? If we hear anything definitive about this long-standing favorite for Indian and Pakistani food and groceries, we’ll be sure to post. Indus Village Restaurant and Indus Food Center are at 1920 San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley.
6.20.23: The Bay Area pizza community — and the restaurant industry as a whole — lost a beloved member of its highest ranks with the 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 featured 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 was at 1788 Fourth St. in Berkeley.
The Stuffed Inn
Update, July 19: Unfortunately, new for sale signs in the window of The Stuffed Inn reveal that the beloved sandwich shop has in fact closed for good after 52 years.
July 4: Readers let us know that Berkeley’s classic Northside neighborhood sandwich shop The Stuffed Inn, opened in 1971, has closed up temporarily, and a sign in the window indicates a management change. We reached out to Stuffed Inn owner Devin Lloyd, who notably took over the shop in early March of 2020, and carried it through the pandemic. Lloyd revealed he had to finally walk away from the business and location, due to an nonnegotiable rent increase. Expect the eatery to remain closed at least through July, and we’ll keep you posted on any news. The Stuffed Inn was at 1829 Euclid Ave. in Berkeley.
Emeryville restaurant closures
Jasmine Blossom Thai
6.28.23: Emeryville’s Jasmine Blossom Thai Cuisine opened in 2013, and from the start was a fast, serviceable Thai staple for area professionals, especially at lunch — though that business dwindled during the pandemic. The restaurant went dark “temporarily” in the fall of 2022, and as the E’ville Eye notes, Jasmine’s fluctuating reopening date always seemed to change just before zero hour. After months of false starts, we thank the E’ville Eye and have seen for ourselves that Jasmine is no more. Coming soon to the space is the new, mysteriously named Secrets of Tiger. We look forward to bringing you more details as those secrets unfold. Jasmine Blossom Thai Cuisine was at 6520 Hollis St. in Emeryville.
Oakland restaurant closures
6.20.23: 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 temporarily shuttered the restaurant known for its convivial seafood gatherings and, in keeping with his heritage, reopened on June 30 with a new focus on Dominican cuisine with a fresh energy and vibe reminiscent of Washington Heights in New York. alaMar Dominican Kitchen is at 100 Grand Ave., Suite 111 in Oakland.
6.20.23: 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.
Mo’ Joe Cafe Oakland
6.14.23: Mo’ Joe Oakland near Lake Merritt wrapped up business without warning last week after 10 years of coffee, pastries, sandwiches and panini above the usual budget-friendly breakfast and lunch fare. Staffers at still-open Mo’ Joe in Berkeley were unable to provide an explanation, but Nosh was glad to find the south Berkeley location, a staple in those parts since 2008, still open and busy. Mo’ Joe Cafe Oakland was at 160 14th St. in Oakland.
Orinda restaurant closures
Starbucks & Subway at Orinda Theatre Square
6.14.23: Beyond The Creek was on top of back-to-back adjacent closures in the past few weeks at Orinda Theatre Square, both longtime chains. First, the square’s busy Starbucks closed in May, part of a restructuring plan forecast a few years ago, and on June 13, it was reported that the next door Subway has also closed for good. Both Starbucks and Subway were at 2 Orinda Theatre Square in Orinda.
Richmond restaurant closures
6.20.23: Along with the 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. 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.
Rocky Island Oyster Co.
6.14.23: Man, this spot was great for providing a touch of East Coast-style casual seafood dining — the kind with salt, pepper, butter, a lemon wedge, Wet-Naps and not much else — not to mention ice-cold beer drinking, on Richmond’s industrial Craneway Pavilion waterfront, sometimes even with live music. Unfortunately, as founder Danny Pirello posted on Instagram, circumstances beyond his control have led to Rocky Island’s closure at that location after service on Father’s Day, June 18, after which Pirello notes he’ll be traveling back to Massachusetts, but does not say for how long. There’s also a hint about a new concept moving into the Rocky Island space, and a possible reopening for the oyster shack somewhere new. For now…Rocky Island Oyster Co. was at 1414 Harbour Way South in Richmond, and will close after service June 18.
Walnut Creek restaurant closures
6.20.23: Another giant stone horse has fallen. P.F. Chang’s in Walnut Creek closed on 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 1990s-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.
Stand-Up Burgers by Veggie Grill Berkeley, Veggie Grill Walnut Creek
6.14.23: Thanks to Beyond The Creek for revealing that despite still appearing open online, Veggie Grill’s popular Walnut Creek location has closed for good; then a June 14 report from Patch let us know that Veggie Grill’s offshoot Stand-Up Burgers in Berkeley, launched inside the former Veggie Grill space in 2021, is also now closed permanently. The plant-based chain still has locations in Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington and California, including one in Corte Madera, though the group seems to be focusing more on points south in this state. Veggie Grill Walnut Creek was at 1320 Locust St. in Walnut Creek; Stand-Up Burgers by Veggie Grill was at 2000 Kala Bagai Way in Berkeley.
Sultan’s Kebab Walnut Creek
7.4.23: Sultan’s Kebab in Walnut Creek closed in June after two years on Main St. (hat tip to Beyond The Creek and The Chronicle for reporting). Meanwhile in the “glass is half full” department, downtown Livermore’s spacious new location of the local Mediterranean chain, opened earlier this year at 2491 First St. in Livermore, features a thriving outdoor patio and full bar. The Sultan’s Kebabs in Danville and Pleasanton also remain open. Sultan’s Kebab Walnut Creek was at 1512 N. Main St. in Walnut Creek.