After slightly more than a year in business in Berkeley, The Advocate will close its doors later this month. As owners John Paluska and Andrew Hoffman (Comal) explained in a statement, “We opened with high hopes and a belief that we could thrive in our wonderful neighborhood, but unfortunately we’ve never been able to achieve the level of business to make our restaurant sustainable.”
Despite some positive critical reviews, the Advocate saw a lot of turnover in the kitchen during its brief, 14-month run. Meadowood alum Joseph Humphrey replaced opening chef John Griffiths in February of this year, only to depart again for Limewood (née Antoinette) in August. Even with sous chef Dan Hanken taking over, the Advocate apparently never quite found its footing.
“We felt a lot of confidence that we could make something that would click in this neighborhood,” Paluska explained to Berkeleyside, “and we weren’t able to pull that off.” While Paluska stressed that he and Hoffman are taking responsibility for the restaurant’s closure, he also cited rising labor costs, housing prices and heavy local competition as contributing factors.
The restaurant and the business are both for sale, and neighbors in Elmwood or further afield are invited to drop by for one last meal before they close their doors on October 27th. And, of course, Comal appears to be as sturdy as ever.