Off the Grid, a federation of chef-operated, moderately priced food trucks rolled onto Haste and Telegraph to help save Berkeley's besieged center, Thursday 5-9 p.m., and packed in the crowds (as many as 5,000, mostly students, over four hours).
Serious money was made by chefs and promotors, who charge 10% of gross profits for their marketing, and a flat $50 a truck fee, according to one chef, who likes the arrangement.
According to Off the Grid's founder, Matt Cohen, the chefs may have grossed more than $2,000 each. There were nine trucks, who will be replaced with nine different trucks next Thursday, rotating each Thursday.
The trucks "hard launch" Wednesdays 5-9pm, Shattuck Ave. at Rose St., near Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto, where, according to Cohen, the "curated" truck-fare tries to compete with the likes of Chez Panisse with even fancier fare than on Telegraph.
Thursday's south-side Grid was a "soft launch."
Not a warm-up, opening, or prelim, according to Grid's marketing director, but a "soft-launch."
A delegation of city officials from the city economic planning department, the Berkeley police chief and his wife, and Telegraph businessmen, who hope to benefit from the crowds, all turned out for the transformational event.
Although all but one of the chef-trucks were SF based and deployed, the one, Sunrise Bakery, has a Bancroft store.
The profits may go to SF, but Teley merchants are on-board for the ride. Craig, Becker owner of the Cafe Meiterraneum said that 'in the long run" Teley businesses would benefit from the hordes hounding the Ave. for chef-concoctions served out of elaborate truck-kitchens.
"We just have to find a way to promote ourselves, during Off the Grid…" feed, Becker said.
Moe's Books and the Cafe Mediterraneum donated their toilets for the event.
Could the feeds, with their big drawing power, save the burned out hole that has become Teley/Haste? It saved it Thursday night, but what about in the future?
Grid founder, Matt Cohen said that Grid, which has expanded to 19 locations (two in Berkeley ,one in Larkspur, and the rest in the city) is not interested in setting up daily at Haste/Teley.
A city planning department official said that Remy's Mexican restaurant, on Haste next to People's Park, might add a beer garden to Grid, but couldn't afford to match the costly chef-trucks, and that Sequioia owners' plans to revive Intermezzo have fizzled--seemingly dashing hopes for a permanent fix to the bleak scene at Teley/Haste.
Ken Sarachan, owner of four teley businesses, including Rasputin's, and the Cody building is still awaiting various approvals for his proposed housing at the quarter-century vacant Berkeley inn site.
But he is stepping in to personally revive Cody's site as a "performance space," hoping to stage a Jewish comedy night Christmas Eve this year at the Cody Bldg.
Perhaps if we say it often enough, Berkeley's Center at Teley/Haste will once more shine, as it shone, Thursday, bringing crowds not seen since Bill Clinton signed books at Cody's.
Our South-side "voice" assures us, he will follow the Teley/Haste Revival until Hell freezes over.