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100-Year-Old Bay Area Dairy Company Berkeley Farms Closes For Good

Also: Reviews of the groceries no one wants, and more news to start your day

International Milk Day
After April, milk bearing the Berkeley Farms brand won’t be from the longstanding East Bay production facility
Photo by Peter Steffen/picture alliance via Getty Images

No one wanted to buy Berkeley Farms after its owners went bankrupt, so now the East Bay dairy will shut down.

It was November of 2019 when Dean Foods declared bankruptcy, saying then that “Despite our best efforts to make our business more agile and cost-efficient, we continue to be impacted by a challenging operating environment marked by continuing declines in consumer milk consumption.” One of the companies in trouble when Dean made this move was Berkeley Farms, the Hayward-based dairy that, per The East Bay Times, churns out over 135,000 gallons of milk a day.

That’s over this month, the Bay Area News Group Reports. As part of the bankruptcy proceedings, Dean sold most of its operations to the Dairy Farmers of America, but the $433 million deal didn’t include Berkeley Farms. “Our intention was to sell the Berkeley Farms facility as an ongoing business, meaning operations would have continued; unfortunately, the lack of interested buyers has made the decision necessary,” a Dean spokesperson told BANG.

While no one wanted the dairy, the brand will remain in play, BANG reports, as Fresno-based Producers Dairy Food has snapped up the 100-year-old company’s trademark for $3,001,000. So if you see Berkeley Farms milk on shelves after April, it’ll be from “plants in Fresno and Fairfield,” at best.

Berkeley Farms isn’t the only iconic local brand to face a major shift this week, as Westword reports that Nashville-based CraftWorks Holdings Inc. has fired all 18,000 of its employees. CraftWorks owns several restaurant chains including Gordon Biersch, a brand founded in the Bay Area in 1988, and sold to CraftWorks in 1999.

CraftWorks declared bankruptcy in early March, a move that CEO Hazem Ouf said would put “our business on solid financial footing for the future.” The company named a new CEO last week, and in an email to employees Tuesday, he wrote “Effective March 31, 2020, the status of all team members will be revised from furloughed to terminated.” The future of the brands it owns is now unknown.

And in other news...

  • Lower Haight neighborhood spot Cafe du Soleil won’t reopen following the shelter-in-place, and neighbors say the Fillmore and Waller restaurant has already been emptied. [Broke-Ass Stuart]
  • Two staffers at 1870s-era East Bay bar the Clayton Club Saloon face charges for allegedly dealing cocaine while on the job. [San Jose Mercury News]
  • Everyone is reportedly drinking more as the coronavirus crisis continues, and folks like chef David Nichols say that the isolation required to slow the spread of the virus is especially hard on those in recovery. [Eater Seattle]
  • Fans of Check Please!, KQED’s TV series featuring everyman reviews of local restaurants, might be well-served by this list of show-featured venues that remain open for takeout and delivery. [Bay Area Bites]
  • Food writer Jolene Thym provides a terrifying look at the potential future of food criticism, by reviewing the items left behind in Bay Area grocery stores. In other news, one can apparently buy canned potato salad. [San Jose Mercury News]
  • Many restaurants that pivoted to delivery at the beginning of the crisis have decided that it’s not worth it to stay open, and are shuttering for the duration. [Eater National]
  • Food thieves at a Walgreens store in San Francisco allegedly told aghast employees who tried to thwart the heist “We have the virus. We got tested positive. We have the virus.” [NBC Bay Area]
  • Chinatown’s Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory has donated 50,000 cookies to first responders and hospital workers. “People need a good luck fortune right now,” co-owner Kevin Chan says. “I really want people to hang on and stay positive. Tomorrow will be better. My fortune to them is to stay healthy and beat the virus.” [ABC 7]