Friday, March 11, 2011

Birdland Barbecue is Back — Sort Of

By Lois Beckett
Fri, Mar 11, 2011 at 3:33 PM

The popular Friday live-jazz-and-barbecue nights across from the North Berkeley BART station, which were shut down late last year because of permitting issues, are back — but now as a “private social club open only to members.”

Host Michael Parayno has renamed his popular gathering “The Birdland Jazzista Social Club,” and notes he will no longer be serving barbecue to the public.

His multi culti grill has been moved from his driveway to the backyard, and guests will no longer gather on the sidewalk to roast s’mores, as they did last fall.

On the club’s new web site, Parayno writes:

“Moving the bbq away from the sidewalk appears less neighborly and inviting but at least we don’t have to deal with the City of Berkeley over public right of way issues requiring special event permits….

Bottom line: We want to comply with city codes, and Berkeley Zoning has been helpful clarifying the permits and zoning issues. We will try to keep the spirit of those summer 2010 bbqs albeit more private and less ‘community oriented’ at least from the physical layout. But we will still be totally committed to the community and will expand our range of community and cultural activities.”

The club’s now-private relaunch is tonight, and Parayno invites membership requests via phone or e-mail. Annual club memberships, in categories named after cartoon birds, are available for anywhere from $0 to $1000. The site notes that a mere $200 membership makes you a “Big Bird,” which entitles you to VIP front center seats in Parayno’s garage-turned-club, as well as two Birdland t-shirts and a Birdland umbrella.

The Birdland festivities at Parayno’s 1733 Sacramento Street residence were put on hold in December, since the community event had no permits, and Parayno was facing a potential fine of at least $8,000 if he continued to hold the parties without them.

Gregory Daniel, the city’s code enforcement supervisor, hasn't yet responded to a request this afternoon for comment on the Birdland’s current zoning status.

A soft launch of the members-only Birdland in early February featured the same great jazz and copious amounts of grilled meat, not to mention an avocado pie. But attendance was much sparser than late last year, when the party was public and attracted as many as 200 people over the course of an evening.

In an interview this afternoon, Parayno said he expects the private jazz nights will attract a mid-size crowd of 50 to 100.

For those who have never been to Birdland, the new website captures much of the event’s flavor, from the long list of dishes on the menus page, to the gallery of candid shots of Birdland organizers and supporters .

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