Local restaurateur seeks to open cafe replacing Ramona’s Cafe in Wurster Hall

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Kayla Baskevitch/File

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Restaurateur and former UC Berkeley student Charles Phan and campus Vice Chancellor of Real Estate Bob Lalanne are in the midst of reaching an agreement on future plans to replace Ramona’s Cafe in Wurster Hall with a Vietnamese restaurant.

Phan said the idea was to provide students with sustainable, quality food. If an agreement were to be reached, Phan said he would work closely with the architect and would design both the kitchen and restaurant, which would open by fall 2015.

“Wurster Hall had change(d) my life,” said Phan in a text message. “My way of giving back to the school is to cook a bit of good food (for) the student(s).”

Phan said he studied architecture at UC Berkeley in the late 1980s and is now a restaurateur and chef. He is known for his San Francisco Vietnamese restaurant the Slanted Door, which — according to its website — uses sustainably sourced, local ingredients. He also owns the restaurants Out the Door, South and Hard Water. The new Wurster Hall location would be his first venture in the East Bay.

According to Christine Shaff, director of communications for the campus real estate division, it is unknown until an agreement is reached whether the new restaurant would take meal points and operate as a Cal Dining establishment.

Liam Campbell, a UC Berkeley freshman, said he goes to Ramona’s Cafe on average four times a week because it’s on the way to his classes, and is fast and convenient. He hopes that if the cafe is replaced, it will remain convenient and still serve breakfast.

Campus junior Nelly Gutierrez said that the cafe’s food is “really good” but that she goes to Ramona’s Cafe because she likes the people working there.

“That would be kind of sad … to replace it and not merge it or move it someplace else,” she said.

The general manager at Ramona’s Cafe, Jeffery Topacio, said he was not aware of the proposed changes. Cal Dining declined to comment. Phan said an agreement with the campus should be reached within three to four weeks.

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  • The real question is whether it will take meal points.