Berkeley’s Last Sprout Spot To Return Soon

by Steed Dropout
May 30, 2014


If a Berkeley Salad war breaks out when Cafe Intermezzo, which had won Salad War1, returns to Telegraph Avenue–the war won’t be the same. The battlefield and the combatants have changed.

Nearby Larry Blakes, a popular salad destination closed once and for all three years ago, after a losing struggle for life. The successor to Blakes is doing Intermezzo’s and Raleigh’s business combined. A small new cafe near the Cody’s Building touts a sprout-heavy salad, copied down to the last Garbanzo from Intermezzo’s, owners say.

The history-rich Caffe Mediterraneum, serves popular salads which don’t hide under a sprout mountain. As recently as last year, an occasional sprout-nut, would seek out intermezzo only to find a pale ghost remaining.

Owners of the wildly popular Raleigh’s Bar and Grill as well as the Cafe Intermezzo, told me, Wednesday, that the “New Sequoia,” Apartments, above the businesses, could be back in a year at best or eighteen months at worst.

Rebuilding Begins. Photo by Ted Friedman.

The Sequoia and the downstairs businesses were demolished after a fire in Nov. 2011 The fire brought further downturns to a lagging Telegraph Ave. economy. If an all but finally approved apartment building on a vacant lot across from Sequoia breaks ground soon, this once busy hub could spring to life.

I told the Sequoia owners the competition had gained ground on them during their side-lining. “We’ll be on top again,” Ken Ent, part of a father-son ownership with his son Greg, responded.

Ents celebrate. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Rebuilding began Wednesday with the tearing down of the last standing part the Sequoia’s historic facade (once Berkeley’s Cinema Guild, 1951) which was left as a standing skeletal reminder. Pauline Kale, a renowned New Yorker, film critic got her start in film-writing at the Guild.

Facade down. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Re-building moved forward only days ago, when a 142 person lawsuit was settled, according to the Ents. Greg Ent brought a big box of legal documents from the case to the ground-braking party.

Few were told of the ground-breaking which began by machine at 8:30 a.m. then with a gold-painted shovel, as seven Ents arrived at 10:30 a.m. to stage a family groundbreaking ceremony; after the staging, the family walked next door for a Mimosa party overlooking the construction site.

Ken Ent (with shovel and outstretched arm). Photo by Ted Friedman.

TeleHaste (Telegraph at Haste) could pay a price for the developments; like noise, broken water lines, and traffic snarls, local businessmen fear. I asked a resident of a home nearby if he expected noise problems. “It’s the price of progress,” he said.

Steed Dropout, aka some other guy, does South Side Tales for Berkeley Times.

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