Historic hamburger restaurant Oscar’s to close

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G. Haley Massara/Staff

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Oscar’s, a hamburger restaurant at the intersection of Shattuck and Hearst avenues that has been in Berkeley for 65 years, is closing and will be replaced by Sweetgreen, a fast-food restaurant chain from the East Coast, as first reported by Eater SF.

Customers and community members have since lamented the loss of Oscar’s on its Yelp page. Its replacement, Sweetgreen, features a seasonal menu rooted in locally grown produce and has 29 locations on the East Coast and one location in Los Angeles.

Candice Hull, a recent campus graduate, said she has visited Oscar’s “a couple times” and estimates that she ate at Sweetgreen once a week when she worked on the East Coast last summer.

“(Oscar’s is) just straightforward diner food, but it’s really good, and a lot of people love it,” Hull said. “Oscar’s is a Berkeley establishment — it’s been here forever — but at the same time, I’m really excited for Sweetgreen to come here. … It’s a good-tasting and healthy option.”

Charles Reichmann, a Berkeley community member and a lecturer at the UC Berkeley School of Law, said that he has been an Oscar’s customer for 30 years and that the restaurant is “utterly unchanged in all the years I’ve been going there … no concessions to modernity whatsoever.” He said he appreciates Oscar’s “unpretentious” atmosphere.

For Reichmann, who said he has gone to Oscar’s since he was in college, the closure is saddening because of the restaurant’s presence in Berkeley. Reichmann said that he ate at Oscar’s with students and professors and that it was a place he took for granted.

“They’re all about the food, and they don’t put any airs on,” Reichmann said. “Every place we go wants to tell you what their agenda and program is, that they’re farm to table. … Oscar’s doesn’t say anything. They just do hamburgers, and they don’t really want to talk about anything else.”

Juelia Fong, a UC Berkeley senior, said she is excited for the Sweetgreen to open in Berkeley because she has “always been looking for a place with really yummy salads in the area.” Fong also said that when she attended high school on the East Coast, Sweetgreen “was a really trendy place where people could meet up not just to eat, but to socialize.”

According to the Sweetgreen website, the restaurant chain has a rewards application, a community education initiative focusing on healthy eating and Sweetlife, an annual music festival.

Fong and Hull said they both anticipate that the new location will be popular with campus students, a change from the clientele at Oscar’s, which included mostly Berkeley residents, according to Hull.

According to Eater SF, Sweetgreen plans to open in Berkeley by the fall.

Contact Sally Littlefield at [email protected].