Raleigh’s, Cafe Intermezzo destroyed by fire

Raleigh's and Cafe Intermezzo, both Berkeley favorites, are closed as a result of the fire.
Fikre-selam Habebo/Staff
Raleigh's and Cafe Intermezzo, both Berkeley favorites, are closed as a result of the fire.

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On Telegraph Avenue between Haste Street and Channing Way, a row of traffic barricades and a sidewalk dusted with ash mark the site of two popular restaurants destroyed by a building fire that broke out this weekend.

Cafe Intermezzo and Raleigh’s Bar and Grill, the two eateries occupying the sidewalk storefronts of the fire-torn building, have been closed for the time being with no definite plans for reopening. Berkeley Fire Department officials have said that the building could collapse.

“As far as Raleigh’s and Cafe Intermezzo, I don’t know what they’re planning,” said Roland Peterson, executive director of the Telegraph Business Improvement District. “I know that public safety is the number one issue for the city — that trumps everything.”

The fire — Berkeley’s largest in 20 years — raged through the five-story, 39-unit apartment building from around 9 p.m. on Friday to 3:19 a.m. on Saturday and caused the roof to collapse, rendering it structurally unstable and forcing all tenants to evacuate.

Due to the possibility that the establishments will remain closed for a long period of time and could possibly never reopen, students, residents and alumni alike have been mourning the loss of the two long-standing businesses.

Several people have been responding to the news on their Twitter accounts with hashtags like #RIPRaleighs and #sadalum.

“Raleigh’s wiped out on Big Game day? So many memories, including some I can remember,” said Demian Bulwa, UC Berkeley alum and San Francisco Chronicle reporter, on his Twitter account.

CalSERVE Senator Andy Albright, who worked at Cafe Intermezzo, said many employees at the cafe were students, adding that the business supported more than 20 employees on its food line alone.

“I know there were folks who worked there literally six to seven days a week, some with 12 to 14 hour shifts,” he said. “They needed to provide for their family. There were people who had worked there for 30 years. It’s going to be very difficult for them.”

Neighboring businesses have also been affected by the fire due to a decrease in foot traffic on the avenue.

Al Geyer, chair of the Telegraph Merchants Association and owner of Annapurna, another nearby store, said the fire has caused a “business problem for everybody,” as several streets surrounding the building are blocked off to vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

Doris Moskowitz, owner of Moe’s Books — located on Telegraph in between Haste Street and Dwight Way, just south of the apartment building — said several customers have come to her with concerns about the fate of the building and the welfare of residents and surrounding stores.

“No one was hurt, which seems like a miracle,” Moskowitz said. “It feels like a terrible blow to the neighborhood, though, to lose those businesses.”

According to Moskowitz, ongoing meetings between property owners, business owners and the city’s fire department will decide the fate of the businesses that were affected by the fire.

Geyer said the building will most likely have to be demolished before reopening the avenue entirely.

“It’s a real loss,” Geyer said. “Raleigh’s was probably the most popular pub, and of course Intermezzo was a mecca for its sandwiches. That’s going to be quite a loss.”

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  • Jack

    What a coincidence?

    Same day, same time, both Cafe Intermezzo’s caught on fire. One in California, the other one in North Carolina. Here is a link to Cafe Intermezzo Berkeley story.


    • Jack

      Sorry same story. My mistake. I hope they bring back intermezzo soon.

  • NamaAshi

    Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy God whyyyy???  Sacrifice 3 dominoes and 2 subways for cafe Intermezzo to be reborn!!  I came to Berkeley Saturday to get two sandwiches cause I missed them and my heart dropped when I saw the building destroyed.  : (

  • A Realist

    No offense to anyone who loved the place, I personally thought some of the workers there were awesome, and amazing people and I hope they found new jobs and are okay. To my honest opinion I thought it was about time that place burnt down. Having minor electrical fires since who knows when, possibly when the place first opened, yeah the place was bound to burst into flames. Especially since NO ONE did nothing about it. I honestly loved the food at intermezzo, Raleigh’s was a great place too even though I didn’t drink. So don’t start bashing me for voicing my opinion. I also heard that place had the bad case of black mold. I just hope they don’t turn it into an empty lot like across the street.  I am also glad that no one got hurt. Oh and a message to the owner. If you do keep the restaurants by god man please keep up to date on the electric wiring so this stuff doesn’t happen again.

  • Carla

    Intermezzo please please re-open; keep us posted!

  • Raleigh’s, my heart is broken at losing you.    Here’s hoping you will rise from the ashes, dearest of pubs!

  • Marycfull

    Intermezzo owners, please re-open soon! You’re the best!!! Please keep us updated with your plans!

  • Leo

    Cafe intermezzo, we love you. Please come back.

  • your_eastbay_fans

    We heard the news and was really saddened by it.  We loved the hummus sandwich, salads and that delicious bread.  We hope that you can open your restaurant again, somewhere close by soon!!!!!

  • Chelsea453

    There are other issues that should be of concern; for example, the long-time employees who made those “delicious” salads who have lost their jobs, what is going to happen to them?

  • Rezamavoir

    Mahalo for all the yummy salads, I hope Intermezzo can find another location!

  • Anonymous

    Dear Intermezzo owners please reopen, I fly back to berkeley just for your wonderful salads. 

  • Anonymous

    Dear Intermezzo owners, we hope you come back, we love your bread and salads.  I’ve been eating at your place for decades and would like to keep doing so.

  • Ap94111

    I heard the new restaurant going in where  Blake’s was is hiring a lot of people.  I hope the displaced intermezzo and Raleighs employees can find work there.

  • Monkey