Berkeley restaurants

Babette replaces Lanesplitter Pizza & Pub

After 23 years of serving hand-made pizzas and brewed beer to the community of Berkeley, Lanesplitter Pizza & Pub will be handing over to another longtime Berkeley restaurant, Babette.

Babette, which had operated as a cafe at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, or BAMPFA, for about 10 years, will take over Lanesplitter’s location on San Pablo Avenue early next year. According to Babette co-owner Joan Ellis, guests can expect to continue to enjoy pizza and drinks at Babette’s new location, as well as unique baked goods, brunches and dinners.

“We’re really excited that Babette is coming – they seem to be a perfect fit for the neighborhood,” said Daniel Rogers, co-owner of Lanesplitter. “I am sad that the restaurant is closing, but restaurants need someone who is active, full time, who gives the restaurant the love and energy it needs to be successful.”

According to Rogers, Lanesplitter opened in 1998 as one of Berkeley’s first restaurants serving hand-made pizzas with microbrewed beer. Rogers and co-owner Vic Gumper used their brewery experience to serve specialty craft beers alongside authentic New York-style pizzas in a fun and relaxed environment.

Although Rogers said they decided to close the Berkeley location to focus on real estate efforts, they still have a branch in Emeryville – the last of the original five locations – and will continue to serve as owners for Babette. For Ellis and Patrick Hooker, the husband-wife duo who run Babette, moving to the new location gives them the opportunity to expand beyond a small cafe.

“We are really excited to see so many of our old clients and to be part of a new community starting a new chapter in our lives,” said Ellis. “We’re going to be more of a community restaurant than a hidden gem. “

At BAMPFA, Ellis and Hooker had changing menus each week offering everything from handmade sandwiches to Sicilian lemon and pistachio cakes. With everything done by hand, the couple focused on creating local, sustainable and seasonal dishes – an aspect that will continue in their new location.

In her nearly decade-long residency with BAMPFA, Babette followed the museum throughout its move and continued to serve its clients. Babette has also partnered closely with BAMPFA on programs such as the “Film to Table” sit-down dinner series, according to BAMPFA media relations manager AJ Fox.

Veronica Jacome, who has been dating Babette since 2013, is excited about Babette’s new development.

“I was really struck by the quality of the food. … I’ve pretty much become a regular since I first set foot there, ”said Jacome. “I am sure they will be able to offer a truly wonderful addition to the great Bay community.”

Ellis and Hooker overcame many obstacles to push Babette to where she is now, including recovering from starting a failed wholesale bakery business, learning how to be successful as a museum cafe and navigating the pandemic. of COVID-19. While they had times when they were “really struggling”, they were able to connect with the community and survive.

Babette’s new home presents a “cozy” place steeped in history and opportunities to create a modern rustic dining atmosphere, according to Ellis. The location also has a large rear area where diners can eat outside next to a redwood tree that the original owners planted.

“It’s so nice to pass the baton between business owners,” Ellis said. “We took our son, who is 20 and grew up with Lanesplitter pizza, and someone said to us, ‘You know what? The kids in this neighborhood will grow up with your pizza. “

Contact Cindy Liu at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @_CindyLiu_.