70 thoughts on “Comments and Feedback

  1. Great little snapshot of berkeley history. Gives one a good idea of the early town. More pictures would be nice of street scapes to give a sense of what a small town we had once. Thank you.

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    1. BHS has quite a few menus, mostly from the last 30 years but some earlier. Some are on display now in the History Center, viewable by appointment: 510-848-0181.

      I suspect there were Chinese and Irish cooks and various other ethnicities.

      An amazing compilation of food history can be found at foodtimeline.org.

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  2. Two points: The recent Gourmet Ghetto presentation ignored one product–or institution–that preceded the foodie revolution .. Italian cafes, particularly the Med. Anyone raised on the typical American boiled mess who then finds the real thing knows that further tasty wonders await. Who says that the one didn’t lead to the other?
    Second: A saunter down Durant, from Bowditch to Telly, places three of my very favorite memories from ’69-70 .. Top Dog, The Great Shanghai Iron and Steel Works and Jerry’s Grossburgers ..

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    1. Yes, espresso coffee was available in Berkeley before Peet’s came along. I’ve been saying all along that “coffee isn’t food,” but we couldn’t ignore Peet’s entirely. Was there particularly good food at the Med? It’s mentioned on the Counterculture page.

      ’69-70 . . . what a year.

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      1. The Med’s food wasn’t bad when I et there. I went for omelet breakfast fare, preceded by a tall fresh oj (!!!) and taken with a latte, and waddled out. Once, I tried a wonderfully proletarian ‘spaghett privavera; it was the strings, topped with something I’d been raised on but had forgotten in adulthood: stewed tomatoes. So easy, and right out of the can at home. Delish ..
        But, for some reason, besides the chawklit layer cake they only offered Neldam’s danish pastries at the counter, and refused! to sell wedges of Italian panforte they sold in boxes arrayed above the ‘bar’.
        When I make the now very occasional trip to Telegraph, I see the Med space still readying to become another soulless haunt for laptoppers. How can we smash the state in joints like this? ..

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  3. This Exhibit is outstanding in all ways, esp. for its content, scope and the research supporting them!!! I especially applaud the fact that the Exhibit is available in this on-line in digital format. It sets a new standard—BRAVO!!!!!!

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  4. I am surprised that there is no mention of the food conspiracies of the 1970’s. They were named for their locations, such as Fulton Fish and Holy Hill. Neighbors got together and took turns going to the Oakland or San Francisco Farmer’s Market on Saturday and distributed the fruits and vegetables in their front yard. Later there was a cheese conspiracy and when it was your turn, you went to someone’s house and cut cheese orders at The Big Cheese, took your orders home and distributed them to your coconspirator neighbors. There was later poultry and eggs that came from Magnani’s. The idea was to save money while getting to know your neighbors, sort of like the co-ops. The Berkeley Co-op stores also have a place in history. Laury Capitelli and Florence McDonald, two people active in politics, were part of our conspiracy in the neighborhood around Sonoma and Colusa.

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    1. Yes, I remember the food conspiracies! I was a member of the Redwood Food Conspiracy, and always got a box of worthy veggies which I would go to pick up on the front landing of the old city hall. We also belonged to the Co-op, in fact lived on Henry St right behind it. I often saw Malvina Reynolds (“Ticky-tacky boxes”) shopping there.

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  5. In the mid to late 1960’s there was Pizza Haven, a hole-in-the-wall joint off Durant which featured Ladies’ Night discounts on Tuesday. That became family night for us for years.

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  6. I noticed you have the exact same newspaper ad for La Val’s in 2 places; the second time, cited as a year later, you mention that it’s the first to have pizza delivery advertised (but it’s not mentioned, only eat there or take out). Perhaps there was a later ad that got misplaced?

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  7. My first date with John Lafler in the early 1950s (we married in 1955) was at a Chinese restaurant on the north side of University Avenue, just below Shattuck. He ordered dishes that I had never heard of when I was growing up in Chicago. Many of the dishes were stir-fries listed in the menu as “chow yuk,” with different vegetables. I was blown away (but that’s not the only reason I married him). The restaurant may have been called the Canton Cafe. Does that ring any bells? I assume that you will have a section on Chinese restaurants in Berkeley.

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  8. In the 1950s, when I was an undergraduate at Berkeley, the Black Sheep was the restaurant where your family took you when they came for a visit. A very special treat, and I miss it. I also miss Potluck, which was run by friends of my parents. Does anyone remember Cruchon’s, Hank Rubin’s first restaurant in Berkeley? Excellent and affordable food for those of us who were students and poor married couples.

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    1. La Fiesta (1959-2011) should definitely be on the list. Walker’s was just over the line in Albany. Warszawa was on North Shattuck only from 1972 to 1979 (where Agrodolce is now).

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      1. I think that Warszawa was originally at the corner of Shattuck and Cedar. (Most recent restaurant there was Dara.)

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      2. Warszawa was at Cedar and Shattuck originally I think. Then moved to where Cafe Fontina went in later.

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    1. I think it was there well before your given date of 1967, as I had a part time job there making sandwiches in 1963. We had just moved to Berkeley and I was waiting to become a Calif. resident before attending UCB and so was filling in with casual jobs. I still remember the mottoes painted high up on the walls, one of which was “…for lillies that fester smell far worse than weeds.” (Not sure where that is from…) I drank some of my first ever coffee specialties there at the Espresso. I never knew it was called Caffe Depresso. The owner, Enzo, was nice and it was a decent place to work for the time.

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    1. La Mediterranee, in Elmwood, still uses the black/white tiled tables inherited from ES&AP, which had existed in the same location. There is an Egg Shop in Montclair that may still have some of the same tables.

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  9. What about the Coop? It had home economists who distributed recipes and lots of other information about food. They called conventional bread “balloon bread” and I think it said that on the wrappers! Betsy Wood was one. I’ll probably think of some of the others!

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  10. A few years ago, permits to basically rebuild–down to replacing the original 1910 framing timbers–Jack’s Market at the NW corner of Cedar and Sixth St. led me to undertake a survey and history of Berkeley’s corner and neighborhood markets since oh 1878 (as well as liquor and book stores). I made it through to WWI in the old city directories before Covid. Does anyone have (anecdotal) information on any of them? Should the Cedar Market, as a standing example (since that time) be landmarked? And, where can I find mince pie? ..

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    1. Don’t overlook the vegetable trucks selling a variety of produce, that before WWII came to each Berkeley neighborhood weekly, (One also came to Clearlake Park, available to vacationers there.)

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    2. There was a corner store at the corner of Prince & Colby. I’m not sure if it was open when I moved to the neighborhood in 1974. It was remodeled into a residence by architect David Baker.

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      1. If you drive around the flatlands of Berkeley, you will can see a lot of former corner stores that have been converted into residences.

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      2. Growing up in the 1950’s, my mother shopped at a corner store for everything. We kids went there to buy penny candy.

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  11. Bateau Ivre has been there for 47 years. In the last 70s my girlfriend and I ate there pretty much every week. 1/2 carafe of wine for $1.75 and fabulous chicken breasts. The chicken now is even better. Really nice space when one can eat indoors and nice outdoor space. Really great service.

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  12. As mentioned in a couple of the replies, the Berkeley counterculture explorations of food went far past the usual references to the Gourmet Ghetto in Northside. Somewhat parallel to the other differences between Northside Berkeley and Southside were what was happening in food. To oversimplify, Northside, as I observed it, was generally more established and more upscale and Southside was more political and experimental. The all-Berkeley food conspiracy, which several people have mentioned, operated across the city but was driven by the communal households, of which there were far more, so far as I could tell, in Southside. Especially if one counts as Southside the area south of University and west of Grove/MLK.

    By the way, I still have a photo of the sign for the conspiracy called Squash the State, which was based on Parker between Shattuck and Telegraph and also included the surrounding area, particularly Blake and Carleton. Squash the State (yes, the name was intentional) was part of all-Berkeley. If the Historical Society wants a copy, let me know.

    A house on Fulton, near Ashby, was bravely serving as the distribution point for cheese for all-Berkeley on Friday, which meant on, whenever it was, I guess Friday morning, their living room got taken over by an enormous load of cheese, I suppose it must have been well over a thousand pounds of cheese. What I remember is that there were boxes and wheels of cheese covering their entire living room, pretty much stacked to the ceiling. I don’t remember if was already cut according to each conspiracy or whether they had to cut the blocks for each conspiracy, which would be quite a job. I don’t remember where the cheese came from? Did someone say it was from the Cheeseboard?

    One lucky household in Squash the State did the cheese cutting for that conspiracy on Friday evening, which was certainly a good excuse for a party (the household rotated)(other households each week would do the produce run or operate the districution table on the sidewalk, etc.) How much cheese did Squash the State cut for its conspiracy on Friday evening? I don’t specifically recall but it was surely more than a hundred pounds just for that conspiracy during its (relatively brief) heyday circa 1972-1973.

    It’s only been mentioned in passing about the natural food stores in Berkeley, which included Ma Revolution on Telegraph and Westbrae on Gilman, and no mention at all that I’ve seen of the distribution companies connected to them, Alternative Distributing and Westbrae, respectively. I can speak from experience that, although the produce at Ma Rev wasn’t always consistent in quality, it was sometime direct from the farmer and spectacularly good. and astonishingly inexpensive. One farmer that sold to Ma Rev, Joe Kosner (inevitably, “Joe Cosmic”) sold insanely good organic tomatoes and persimmons, when in season, to Ma Rev. That store, which was operated by a workers collective paid wages on a sliding scale according to need (top pay was $125/month for a single mother plus all the food you could eat), did a low markup and would also sell by the case or large bag for only a 10% markup–very useful for communes. Or even not for communes if you survived solely on grow your own sprouted wheat, as two of our customers did, who only purchased organic wheat berries, and did so by the 50 lb. bag. (They were only one step up from breath-arians yet looked amazing healthy.) Well, one could go on about food and the Berkeley counterculture, and perhaps others will.

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  13. The Pot Luck with Chef Ed Brown, ca 1955, French inspired. At University and 4th. Street. The original Pot Luck was torn down to make way for the original Brennan’s.

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  14. Thank you for this-very interesting. I never knew Bruce Aidells started here. Saul’s Reuben Sandwich rivals any to be found in NYC.

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  15. Looking at the two shopping bags–1990’s and the earlier one–reminded me of my last purchases from the University Ave. Co-op. (Mid-’80’s?) I bought a selection of goods I bought when I moved to town in late ’70 (a bread, large peanut butter, etc.) and more recent fare popular (with me) when it closed. I made a list, now buried ..

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  16. I’m trying to remember the name of a Mexican restaurant on the northwest corner of Telegraph Avenue and Haste Street, in the late 1900s and maybe even into the early 2000 before the building burned down. I especially loved their menudo and flautos.

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  17. Albatross Pub on San Pablo. Opened n ’64, closed in November. Also, Bacheeso’s reopened in Oakland on Grand and Park View.

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  18. Yangtzee River on Shattuck was a favorite of my grandparents, so definitely before 1980. There was also a vegetarian Chinese restaurant on Walnut below Shattuck when that was quite novel (I’ll never forget their signature sweet and sour walnut dish) but might not be before 1980.

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    1. I believe Yangtze River opened in about 1970.
      I don’t think I’ve seen any mention of the Coop…. I was at the opening of the Shattuck Coop in 1959. Got a balloon!

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  19. Cheese enchiladas at Mario’s La Fiesta was a treat every Sunday dinner in the ’70s. Today, D’Yar does very tasty MIddle Eastern food. Saul’s makes an excellent Reuben sandwich.

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  20. Thank you (commenters) for mentioning Mario’s La Fiesta (went to St. Augustine’s with their kids – awesome restaurant).

    Thank you for the info on Granata’s – remember the booths, the window to watch them throw the dough. 70’s.

    What about the pizza place on Shattuck in the 70s/80’s? Not Giovanni’s, but the other big place, nearby, same side of the street, 1-2 blocks away? They would serve a table of teenagers pitchers of beer! ; )

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    1. Do you mean Shakey’s Pizza? Located where you describe, it was Giovanni’s’s competitor for many years starting late 1960s(?) and unlike Giovanni’s (I believe formally “Cafe Giovanni,” by the way, and I may even still have menus or at least receipts), Shakey’s was part of some sort of chain. Popular with teenagers when I was a teenager. Sign near the register: “Shakey made a deal with the bank. The bank doesn’t make pizzas; Shakey doesn’t cash checks.”

      Shakey’s recipe for mushroom pizzas used thickly piled, thinly pre-sliced raw mushrooms, a distinctive signature of the place.

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  21. Piero Infante remembers this sequence of restaurants at 1974 Shattuck, between University and Berkeley Way:
    The Ground Cow (50’s)
    The Quest (60’s)
    Oleg’s (70’s – 80’s)
    Shattuck Avenue Spats (80’s -90’s)
    Spats Reloaded (2000’s)
    And now the food menu says Smoke Berkeley at Spats

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  22. Enjoying the reminders here, from my childhood and later years in Berkeley. Including Joanne Lafler’s tiny old-school Chinese restaurant “just below Shattuck;” we lived nearby circa 1960-61, frequenting it for take-out. Later, nearby or even same location, the Taiwan Restaurant had its $1.76 lunch specials as of 1975. And on Vine St. in the 1960s, the unique and charming Huo Kuo House, run until 1969 by immigrants Wan and Fraser Wu.

    1965’s US immigration-law reform increased the volume of Chinese immigration, including of people from agriculturally rich mainland provinces (Sichuan, Hunan, Canton). Soon a new wave of Chinese restaurants was appearing, offering what are now familiar dishes in the US: mu shu pork, pot stickers, steamed whole fish, numerous stir-fries. Sichuan cuisine even went trendy US-wide in the 1970s. But efforts to introduce Chinese cooking’s range and glory to the US had a longer history, including in Berkeley. Two influential advocates were the great linguist Y. R. Chao (1892-1982), who spent a long period teaching at UCB, and even more so his wife Buwei Yang Chao. From Berkeley, Y. R. helped to popularize new translated food terms (stir-fry, pot-sticker) as used in Buwei’s pioneering and quirky cookbook. Written during World War II at Cambridge, MA (some of its principles even were “tested at MIT”), Buwei Chao’s “How to Cook and Eat in Chinese” was revised in Berkeley in 1949 and 1963 (I have the 1963, which stayed in print for years). This is the breakthrough text introducing Chinese food’s scope and concepts to US home cooks accustomed to limited, adapted “Chinese and American Food” restaurants (chop suey and eggrolls). Some Americans even thought chow mein meant a crisp deep-fried noodle garnish, earning a quip in Buwei’s book. Which even now remains an exceptional intro to Chinese cooking. Pearl Buck, reading it in manuscript, found herself obsessed to prepare a complete Chinese meal, and did (that’s in the front matter); you may be, too.

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  23. As to the 2019 chart, I’d like to see one from ’09 or earlier. Was Ann’s Kitchen (Telly/Dwight) still open? It should have gotten some votes. The beiging of Telegraph ..

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