Berkeley restaurants

Alchemy Collective, Chica, Zazzi Foods and El Charro are closing

It’s always a shock to find out that your favorite cafe is gone for good, seemingly without notice. In this weekly report, we at Nosh seek to track every notable restaurant closure in East Bay.. Since, unlike restaurant openings, these closings often happen quietly, your tips and emails are what make this column work. They are always welcome at [email protected]

Joanna Della Penna is on vacation, so I’m stepping in to cover this week’s closures. She’ll be back next week with Nosh opening and closing roundups, never fear. —Eve Batey

Alchemy Collective

Alchemy Collective, a worker-owned cafe in South Berkeley, has abruptly closed in recent days after more than a decade in business. The specialty café in the Lorin district opened in early 2012 with a team of six owners/baristas, having started out as a coffee cart at local markets. While its website recently announced a temporary closure and promised ‘more information to come’, a sign posted on its door says the cafe has closed permanently and ‘we don’t know what will happen’, but that they “I hope to reach people who have realistic ideas about how to use space.” Alchemy Collective was at 1741 Alcatraz Ave., Berkeley.


Mexi-Bowl with Carnitas at Chica in Oakland. 1 credit

Mexican/Latin American restaurant Chica opened in Oakland about six years ago, the permanent location of a pop-up-turned-San Francisco take-out storefront of Oakland resident Maria Esquivel. It has quickly become a neighborhood favorite for its seasonal and local menu of bowls and breakfasts. The restaurant announced via Instagram that its last day of business was September 18 and that it would be moving to a space at Levi’s laza in San Francisco, which would allow it “to grow and be even more mas cabrona.” Part of this rebirth is a rebranding and a name change – it will now be known as Xica when it reopens across the bay. Chica was at 303A Oakland Ave. in Oakland.

The original El Charro 1947

“Hasn’t El Charro already closed? you might be asking, and you wouldn’t be wrong! Lafayette family restaurant, which opened in 1947, closed in early 2021, but NorCal restaurateur Ben Seabury (Little Star, Ben ‘N Nick’s and several others) bought the business, moved it at Walnut Creek and gave him more time. nickname and a menu of “more contemporary” Mexican classics. Unfortunately, that didn’t take: after nine months, the revived restaurant closed permanently, it announced on its website. Although Seabury hasn’t reported on the closure, the San Jose Mercury News writes that “although we don’t know what caused El Charro to close,” the inevitable comparisons customers made to the original restaurant n probably didn’t help. The original 1947 El Charro was at 1470 North Broadway in Walnut Creek.

Zazzi Foods

Cassandra Chen. Credit: Cirrus Wood

Cassandra Chen opened Berkeley’s “Craft Market” and Zazzi Foods cafe a few years after acquiring the rights to Cafe Fanny granola from founder Alice Waters; the original plan, in fact, was to call the business Cafe Fanny, Nosh reported in 2017. Although that didn’t work out, Chen’s plan to open a cafe and storefront for products like his line of candy and popcorn CC Made certainly did. , serving customers for more than five years. Chen told Nosh that she “had staffing issues for the cafe and supply chain issues for Café Fanny Granola and CC Made,” and decided to shut down all three businesses. “It’s been difficult to keep reliable staff after COVID,” Chen said, “and the supply chain issues for sourcing ingredients and the rising cost of it all made it really difficult to continue.” Zazzi Foods was at 1398 University Ave. in Berkeley

September 15

Jebena Cafe

Ethiopian Jebena Cafe in Oakland’s Pill Hill neighborhood just opened, but the storefront has already been swept away in a car accident, according to a concerned reader. Attempts to reach the owner have so far been unsuccessful, but internet brand Jebena is temporarily closed for now. We hope Ethiopian cafe can reopen soon. Jebena Cafe is at 2930 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland.

Nong Thon Vietnamese Restaurant

A Nong Thon dish. Credit: Nong Thon/Facebook

For 12 years, Nong Thon of El Cerrito anchored the businesses flanking the Art Deco-era Cerrito Theater. It was known for its generous portions of traditional Vietnamese cuisine and its intricate, airy dining room with high ceilings and lots of wood paneling. Newcomer Tigon soon opened, with a similar look and classic Vietnamese menu, but under new ownership. Nong Thon was at 10086 San Pablo Ave. in El Cerrito.

Underground (Watergate, Hollis)

Thanks to the E’ville Eye for letting us know that Emeryville has lost two Subway sandwich shops in recent months with no explanation from HQ. Both sites appear to be completely shut down on the internet and the phones are down. Note to local fans (and there are plenty, given Emeryville’s many workers looking for a quick lunch): Subway remains active in Emeryville at 5858 Horton St. and 3999 San Pablo Ave. in the East Bay Bridge shopping center. The closed subway locations were at the Watergate Mall at 2350 Powell St. (which had been open for 11 years) and at 6472 Hollis St. in Emeryville.

September 7, 2022

Halal guys

A Halal Guys combo platter dipped in its famous “white sauce”. Credit: The Halal Guys SF Bay Area/Instagram

When these guys opened on Center Street in early 2018, Berkeley was thrilled to finally count itself among the white sauce club. But recently, readers have begun to share doubts with Nosh about the future of this East Coast chain outpost, noting covered windows and non-working apps.

Unfortunately, they were right to be nervous: A Halal Guys representative confirmed to Nosh via email that while the other 101 national Halal Guys locations remain open, the Berkeley location closed permanently on August 22. While there was no other explanation, no closure surprises us anymore, not even those with rabid cult followers located within walking distance of a college campus. Sorry guys. Halal Guys was at 2126 Center St., Berkeley.

Maejoo Wings

A selection of wings from Maejoo. 1 credit

A reader wrote to let us know that Maejoo Wings, a Korean fried chicken restaurant in San Leandro’s Pelton Plaza, has closed while its owner searches for a new location to serve his menu of wings, homemade dips and bowls of rice. According to its website, its last day of operation was August 27 and it will “announce on social media when we move to our new location.” Maejoo was at 185 Pelton Center Way, San Leandro.

West Coast Pizza

A deluxe combo from West Coast Pizza. Credit: West Coast Pizza/Yelp

Reader Dan J. wrote in the hope that West Coast Pizza was not shut down, given a parent’s need for large quantities of cheap pizza to feed teenagers. But unfortunately for him, and the teenagers, and all of our local students, bar-goers, and late-night cheap pizza lovers, the 26-year-old pizzeria’s website is down and the phone number phone only leads to a perpetual hold the music. Don’t be fooled by this limbo; West Coast Pizza is closed. (Readers: where to turn next for good budget pizza?) West Coast Pizza was at 1706 University Ave., Berkeley.

Featured image: Alchemy Collective members (left to right) Maya Simone, Shante Robinson, Mariela Lua, Miel Amial-Dominguez, Jaime Olivia, Chris Tarus-Myers, Jasmine Reynolds and Charles Glover. in 2020. Credit: Pete Rosos