As the international food crisis continues, G8 national leaders still eat way better than the rest of us, and Berkeley’s food culture is all over the news. The following is what’s going on in the downtown dining scene. Some of it isn’t so delicious.

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Keeping our fingers crossed.

Take heed, oh readers, for the latest exciting episode in the Cody’s Books drama has unfolded. The bookstore’s location on Fourth Street closes in a few weeks, moves, and reopens again at a new site. At the end of March, the retailer flings open its doors to a bigger, better clientèle–and what human masses are bigger or better than the ones that cycle day-in and day-out through the downtown Berkeley BART station, situated but across the street from Cody’s new, prospective location?

That’s right–the ghost of Eddie Bauer will linger no longer. To the delight of book lovers and pavement loiterers alike, the new Cody’s opens on the corner of Allston Way and Shattuck Avenue on Mar. 24. Citing “skyrocketing rents” on Fourth Street–the world manages not to slide off its axis in collective shock–Cody’s store managers hope that revenues and foot traffic will benefit from Berkeley’s swingin’ downtown nightlife. Oxymoronic? Nah.

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We’ve all been annoyed when they shout outside Dwinelle or Wheeler halls during that deafeningly silent in-class midterm, but now Downtown Berkeley merchants are complaining about the Crazies, too.The Clog is glad to hear somebody else is doing something about it. The won’t-really-do-anything “grassroots” campaign (read: petition) gets the residents off our backs for being students obnoxious and proves that we’re not the most hated in the average Berkeley resident’s eyes … the religious zealots with their PA systems hold that position, and they’re already on a soapbox to receive the award. How convenient.We don’t know how effective Operation Shut Up Soapboxing League will be, but if it’s anything like Oakgate, we might as well put up our feet and blast the music.Worried the petition won’t get passed quickly enough? Ready to concede a united front with the people of Berkeley? Why bother? You have a defense to the inevitably bureaucratic process involved that no liberal-minded, technology-fearing Berkeley hippie would own: an iPod that, with the right headphones, deafens outside noise and generates an auto-reply “Don’t talk to me” message across your forehead.So gossip loudly all you want about the terrible sushi you had last week that like, totally could have been because you knocked back ten sake bombs or possibly several subsequent shots of tequila because Berkeley cares more about the Bible-thumpers. And getting rid of the homeless.Image Source: Salgu Wissmath, Daily CalLOUD ENOUGH TO RAISE THE DEAD [SF Gate]Council Sends Commons Initiative to Commissions [Daily Cal]

The bastion of cheap organic food, cheap wines, great specialty chocolate and yes, the Two-Buck Chuck, finally crossed its final hurdle yesterday when the Berkeley City Council voted to reject an appeal from neighbors to try to stop the specialty grocery store from coming into town.

Yes, Trader Joe’s finally got the green light after five years of debates, 14 different public hearings and being suspended in purgatory.

Trader Joe’s can finally be built on the corner of University Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way, on the present site of a Kragen Auto Parts store.

Of course, Trader Joe’s adds to a growing list of corporate America seemingly being able to invade the city, which may or may not be such a bad thing.

About a month ago Walgreens opened its Telegraph Avenue location. Last fall we saw the grand opening of really bad Mexican food, a.k.a. Chipotle.

We also guess that this underlines the city’s focus to revitalize both the Telegraph Ave. and Downtown Berkeley areas.

But of course, some residents won’t be happy. Not with all the traffic and congestion that they say will come with the new Trader Joe’s. This is what one resident said back in October, when neighbors filed the appeal.

Trader Joe’s is a nonunion store owned by a secretive German family that sells specialty food and low-cost alcohol,” said Steve Wollmer, who lives 250 feet from the site. “Do we really need this in our neighborhood?”

Maybe you haven’t had some of that Two-Buck Chuck. Try some. We’re sure it’ll relax you and maybe convince you that Trader Joe’s won’t be too much of a problem.

Downtown Trader Joe’s wins approval with 5-3 council vote [SF Gate]
Neighbors say no to popular market [SF Gate]

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