Zoning Board Extends Hours for Art House Cafe

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday October 02, 2007

Two new names were added to Berkeley’s list of late-night dining spots after the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) approved their permits Thursday. 

The board extended the hours of the proposed Muse Art House and Mint Cafe at 2525 Telegraph Ave. to midnight on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends but declined to approve granting a hard liquor license. 

At the last meeting, the board had decided that the cafe could remain open until midnight on weekends and 10 p.m. on weekdays, turning down owner Ali Eslami’s request to stay open until 2 a.m. on weekends and midnight on weekdays in response to neighborhood concerns about noise and rowdiness. 

After Eslami said that the hours imposed by the zoning board would kill the project, the board expanded its hours to ensure that it stayed on Telegraph. 

It also asked Eslami to end the music an hour before the restaurant closed every day. 

Modeled on the Red Poppy Art House in San Francisco, the establishment proposed to house an interdisciplinary artist space which will host collaborative exhibitions, classes and small concerts. 

Eslami had told the Planet in an earlier interview that the business wouldn’t be able to make a profit without a permit to sell hard liquor and extended hours. When the cafe opens in January, it will only be able to serve beer and wine. 


Bobby G’s 

The board approved extended hours and live entertainment for Bobby G’s Pizzeria at 2072 University Ave.  

The 61-seat restaurant, which is known for its pizza, panini and other gourmet foods, will now serve beer and wine and stay open until 11 p.m. on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends. 

The board also approved a permit for live entertainment which includes acoustic blues, jazz and bluegrass music as background music for the restaurant. 

Owner Robert Gaustad told the board that a noise study had confirmed that sound did not travel to the apartments on the second floor unless it was extremely loud. Gaustad himself lives in one of the apartments. 

Gaustad added that there would be no admission charges and that the music would end at 11 p.m. on week nights and midnight on weekends. 

He stressed that he would only sell high-quality beer and wine to keep out troublemakers. 

Currently, restaurants which stay open late downtown include Au Coquelet, Anna’s Jazz Island and Jupiter. 


2518 Durant Ave. 

The board unanimously approved a blanket use permit for a combination of commercial uses at the former Tower Records site at 2516 Durant Ave. 

The site, which is located in a predominantly commercial area south of the UC Berkeley campus, has been sitting empty since Tower Records filed for bankruptcy in 2004. 

Representatives from Berkeley developers Ruegg & Ellsworth said that the 11,000 square feet ground floor space would be converted into four commercial spaces and the 3,097 square feet basement storage area would become a karaoke club. 

The use permit is similar to the one approved for the Wright’s Garage project, which attracted controversy because of noise, traffic and parking impacts. 

Board member Jesse Arreguin said he was concerned about the policy of granting blanket approvals without knowing what kind of businesses would go into the property. 


2837 Fulton St. 

The board voted 6-2 to continue the request for a use permit to construct a new three-story dwelling unit at the rear of an existing building at 2837 Fulton St. due to neighborhood concerns. 

Parents of students at LeConte Elementary School—which is located adjacent to the property—expressed concerns about shadow impacts from a proposed addition on the school’s playground. 

Board members and former Berkeley public school educators Jesse Anthony and Terry Doran voted against continuing the project and said that the proposed construction would not impact the students adversely. 

Applicant Ken Lowney of Lowney Architecture was asked to work with the neighbors and the LeConte community about the shadow impacts and other aesthetic issues which had kept the board from approving the project.