Oakland gets some NY Pizza
The second Northern California franchise location of popular NY-founded pizza chain Artichoke Basille’s is opening next Saturday, August 24 in Oakland. The new Temescal shop, as previously reported, occupies a former location of Lanesplitter Pizza at 4799 Telegraph Avenue. Franchise operator Jim Trevor is also behind the chain’s popular Berkeley outpost, which opened in 2013, and he helped open some of the first New York offshoots of the original Artichoke Basille’s, opened by Francis Garcia and Sal Basille in the East Village in 2008. The new Oakland Artichoke’s location will have the chain’s expected lineup of pizzas like artichoke and vodka sauce slices, plus beer, wine, and cocktails with a full liquor license. Hours to start will be 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Who’s afraid of ghost restaurants?
24th Street’s quick-service restaurant Top Round Roast Beef was losing tens of thousands of dollars, its owner tells the New York Times, until the business started using its kitchen to run “virtual restaurants,” selling new items like burgers and fried chicken for delivery through Uber Eats under different names like TR Burgers and Red Ribbon Fried Chicken. At the recommendation of Uber Eats itself, owner Ricky Lopez started those online-only offshoots, and now delivery is 75 percent of his business. But these “virtual restaurants” and other “ghost restaurants” — kitchens with no storefront at all, built around delivery demand alone — are a headache for other operators. The longtime owner of SF chain Escape from New York Pizza says the high delivery fees charged by Uber Eats and its competitors have cut deeply into his business, and he’s closed several locations.
Cliff House operators reach the edge of their contract
The current, longtime operators of the restaurant at Cliff House are on the precipice of a new contract after more than 20 years, the Chronicle reports, and new operators can now apply to take over the historic location perched above the Pacific. The National Park Service, which took over the building in 1977, is required by law to put out the call for applications every 20 years — previous operators Dan and Mary Hountalas have been in place since 1973, and were granted a temporary extension two years back. They plan to reapply to keep Cliff House running as is.
A newly-published Steinbeck story sounds like Ratatouille but with a cat
The most recent issue of literary quarterly Strand Magazine features a new short story by California author John Steinbeck never before published in English. “The Amiable Fleas,” only published in French in 1954, concerns a chef obsessed with earning his second Michelin star. “It is true that he might have lived a long and simple life if he had not been awarded a star by the Michelin guidebook,” Steinbeck’s story goes. The chef goes on to try his luck at impressing the Michelin inspector, all the while feeding samples of his food to his beloved cat, whose palate he trusts to the end.