Do You Know Berkeley Cafe Owner Who Mugged Teley Mural in ’92?

by Steed Dropout
Jan. 12, 2015


Do you know this man? Sketch by Martin Schwartz. Photo by Ted Friedman.

If you recognize this man, who opened a short-lived cafe at what is now Amoeba, in 1992–please let us know.

Berkeley Reporter’s previous piece reported an attack on Berkeley’s Peoples Park iconic mural on Amoeba’s North wall, at Haste and Telegraph. Now we seek more info on an attack on the mural in 1992.

Tentative info from knowledgeable sources has provided this much background:

In 1992, a quarrelsome South side character (Saladin?) opened a restaurant (Marrakech?) in what is now Amoeba, an independent music and video emporium. The would-be restaurateur was known as a South side trouble-maker even before he donned his chef’s outfit.

Some say that the experimental restaurant followed Viva Hermosa, which sported a popular hispanic-themed mural. The would-be restaurateur started his reign of destruction by painting over a hispanic-themed mural inside his restaurant, according to Berkeley muralist Ed Monroe.

According to Monroe, Prof. Martin Schwartz, and this reporter, the short-lived restaurant at what is now Amoeba had cement floors and perhaps its kitchen from previous tenants, which included the Forum, Viva Hermosa, and the transplanted Haight-Ashberry commune/early vegan restaurant–One World Family Commune.

Our sources remember the following details of the restaurant: high ticket entrees; a daily special made to order by the cafe owner, who wore a white chef’s outfit; at least three pretentious sculptures for atmosphere; espresso drinks.

There was no restroom, a code violation that may have doomed the haute-cuisine cook-house.


After three months of skirmishing with panhandlers outside his restaurant, the new cafe owner marched out of his cafe to paint over a section of the Peoples Park mural, which depicts a panhandler. “I don’t want a panhandler on my wall,” the restaurateur proclaimed.

Peoples Park 'the panhandler' abides. Photo by Ted Friedman.

According to Ed Monroe, who organized a protest in ’92 to protect the Peoples Park mural, the restaurateur was stopped mid paint brush by street people, one of whom blocked further damage to the mural with his body.

Monroe and Peoples Park activists, who were observing a People’s Park Anniversary in the park, soon convened a demonstration across the street from the restaurateur’s mural-mauling, according to Monroe.

A few days later, a committee of park activists met with the mural-mugger to let him know that he did not own the wall that hosted the Peoples Park mural. “We, the people, own that mural,” Monroe said the committee told the mural-mugger.

Osha Neumann, who designed the mural, repainted “the Panhandler” portion of the mural after it was painted over.

None of such history matters to the latest mural-muggers. Recent tagging on Telegraph seems to reflect a deep dis of Telegraph Ave. history.

According to Roland Peterson, CEO of the Telegraph Avenue Business Improvement District, a large portion of the district’s budget goes to graffiti removal.

Post your info on this incident, this man, to:

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