Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Mid-Week Menu: Francesco’s Is Closing, AlaMar Starts Brunch Service, and The Barrel Room Revamps Its Menu

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Mar 30, 2016 at 5:29 PM

Francesco's (via Facebook).
  • Francesco's (via Facebook).
Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our roundup of East Bay food news.

1) Another day passes, and it’s time to say goodbye to another Oakland original: The Italian-American restaurant Francesco’s (8520 Pardee Dr.) will have its last day of business on Thursday, March 31. Inside Scoop reports that the family-run restaurant’s third-generation owners have decided to retire, and there wasn’t anyone in the fourth generation who wanted to take up the mantle. For its last day of business, the lunch special will be roast pork loin.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

An Alameda Couple Wants to Turn Their 122-Year-Old Victorian into a Restaurant

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Mar 29, 2016 at 2:38 PM

The future site of La Maison. - BERT JOHNSON
  • Bert Johnson
  • The future site of La Maison.
For their newest project, husband-and-wife restaurateurs Bobeck Parandian and Joann Guitarte want to take an old Victorian house on a quiet, tree-lined residential street in Alameda and convert it into a full-service French-Creole restaurant. And not just any old house: The restaurant that Guitarte and Parandian are calling La Maison — literally, “the house” — will be located in the 122-year-old Queen Anne Victorian at 721 Santa Clara Avenue that has been their place of residence for the past ten years.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Mid-Week Menu: Itani Ramen Hosts Preview Pop-Ups, Chowhaus Closes, and C + M Bistro Opens

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Mar 23, 2016 at 3:28 PM

The latest ramen contender (via Instagram).
  • The latest ramen contender (via Instagram).
Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our roundup of East Bay food news.

1) Fans of Hopscotch chef Kyle Itani’s ramen — which you may have sampled in its gloriously off-the-cuff pop-up iteration a couple of years ago — will be happy to know that the chef’s new ramen shop, Itani Ramen (1736 Telegraph Ave., Oakland), is almost ready, with a mid-April ETA. In the meantime, the restaurant is hosting a series of weekend pop-up preview dinners with a limited menu — two ramen options, gyoza, a salad, and some pickles the first time around.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Dismantling Food Deserts in an Age of Speculation: People's Community Market Purchases Site for West Oakland Grocery Store

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Mar 22, 2016 at 10:44 AM

The future site of People's Community Market - LIZ PROBST
  • Liz Probst
  • The future site of People's Community Market
Back in the fall of 2012, food activist Brahm Ahmadi stood in front of a packed room in East Oakland’s warehouse district and made a simple pitch: Would the assorted local business owners and community organizer types who had gathered consider investing in People’s Community Market, the ambitious full-service grocery store that Ahmadi wanted to open in West Oakland? Would they do their part to bring healthy food to one of the city’s most notorious food deserts, where the primary shopping option is the corner liquor store?

See also:
A Grocery Store for West Oakland

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Mid-week Menu: CommonWealth Pub Has Been Sold, Grand Fare Will Reopen, and 'Journeymen' Host Staff-Meal Pop-up

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Mar 9, 2016 at 2:08 PM

Via Facebook.
  • Via Facebook.
Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our roundup of East Bay food news.

1) CommonWealth Cafe & Pub (2882 Telegraph Ave.), the popular Uptown Oakland watering hole, has new owners. In a Facebook post earlier this week, Ahna and Ross Adair announced that they’ve sold the pub to two longtime customers: Lizzie Alford (a CommonWealth employee for the past two years) and Josh Rosenberg.

It’s unclear whether any major changes are forthcoming, but the Adairs say the bar will continue to offer customers “all the things you’ve come to know and love.” Beloved by Anglophiles, soccer fanatics, and Scotch egg eaters, CommonWealth is known, among other things, for its large selection of British beer. The pub’s sister location in Emeryville closed in December.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Court Ruling Shuts Kitchen Staff Out of Tip Pools, Prompts Some East Bay Restaurants to Consider Going Tipless

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Mar 8, 2016 at 12:56 PM

Homestead co-owner Liz Sassen (center) says going tipless frees her from having to worry about legal rulings related to tipping. - BERT JOHNSON/FILE PHOTO
  • Bert Johnson/File photo
  • Homestead co-owner Liz Sassen (center) says going tipless frees her from having to worry about legal rulings related to tipping.
At restaurants around the country, it has long been common practice for servers to “tip out” at the end of a shift, giving a cut of their tips to the bussers and bartenders — and, often, to the back-of-house kitchen employees, such as the line cooks and dishwashers. After all, one good turn deserves another, and for a waiter whose tip is often tied to the timeliness and skill of the kitchen team, it only seems decent to spread the wealth.

See also:
The Tipping Point

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Belcampo to Bring Burgers, Cocktails to Oakland’s Jack London District

by Luke Tsai
Thu, Mar 3, 2016 at 12:53 PM

Burgers by Belcampo (via Facebook).
  • Burgers by Belcampo (via Facebook).
What the Fork recently speculated that Belcampo Meat Co., the sustainability-focused meat company, was gearing up to open a new restaurant in a 5,000 square-foot warehouse in Oakland’s Jack London district, at 369 3rd Street. In an email, Anya Fernald, founder and CEO of the Oakland-based company, confirmed those plans and offered a general outline of what customers can expect.

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Mid-Week Menu: Blind Tiger, Boyd’s Barbecue, and James and the Giant Cupcake

by Luke Tsai
Thu, Mar 3, 2016 at 10:12 AM

Oakland's new underground cocktail bar. - BLIND TIGER
  • Blind Tiger
  • Oakland's new underground cocktail bar.

Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our roundup of East Bay food news.

1) Edward Yoo, a managing partner at the popular Korean barbecue restaurant Gogi Time (2600 Telegraph Ave., Oakland), has opened a massive (8,000-square-foot) and swanky-looking new restaurant and cocktail bar called Blind Tiger in the basement beneath Gogi Time. According to Yoo, Blind Tiger has a twenty-seat bar and offers craft cocktails and twenty beers on tap. As far as the food is concerned, chef Deena Chafetz’s menu consists mostly of pan-Asian small plates: “two-way calamari” (grilled steak and fried tentacles) with kimchi aioli, deviled pickled eggs (with beet ginger, turmeric garlic, and black tea shoyu), and grilled frog legs with Sichuan pepper salt.

Perhaps the most enticing part? The place will be open until 1 a.m. every night — although the kitchen will close at 10 p.m., at least during this soft opening period.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

At Berkeley's Willard Middle School, Teenage Cooks Harness the Power of the 'Sharing Economy'

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Mar 1, 2016 at 12:36 PM

Students in the Growing Leaders class pack a salad. - MATT TSANG
  • Matt Tsang
  • Students in the Growing Leaders class pack a salad.
Matt Tsang didn’t set out to turn Willard Middle School’s garden and cooking program into a bustling takeout restaurant.

Like many innovative ideas, Tsang’s Growing Leaders class was born out of necessity — the result of Berkeley Unified School District losing $1.9 million in federal grant money that had previously helped fund the district’s fourteen school garden and kitchen programs. When those cuts hit in 2013, individual schools and parent teacher associations scrambled to make up the difference. The upshot was that most schools wound up eliminating the cooking component altogether.

See also:
A Garden Thrives in Berkeley

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