Vegan deli The Butcher’s Son opens on University Avenue

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Nicole White/Staff

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The Butcher’s Son, a vegan deli, opened its doors Monday on University Avenue for its soft opening, despite some setbacks in its preparations.

Brother-and-sister pair Peter Fikaris and Christina Stobing co-own the deli, selling pastries, coffee and bagels as well as sandwiches and salads, all made without any animal products. The two siblings have worked together for a long time, beginning at their father’s now-closed Berkeley restaurant, Michael’s Vegetarian American Diner, in the 1990s as teenagers.

Fikaris said the idea for a vegan deli was inspired by living in New York, where there were delis “everywhere you go.” When he became vegan, however, he could no longer find those options.

“I wanted to bring those things to the vegan community,” Fikaris said.

Though Stobing described the deli as her brother’s project, she said she thinks it’s a great idea. She doesn’t believe that vegans should have to be restricted from eating deli-type food.

“Just ’cause you’re vegan, you don’t have to eat tofu and vegetables every day,” Stobing said.

According to Stobing, the shop’s bagels will cost about $6, salads will cost about $8 and sandwiches will cost $10 to $12, although she emphasized that the sandwiches will be large.

“We don’t want to skimp,” Stobing said. “We want to have a generous portion.”

The Butcher’s Son outsources its breads and bagels but makes its vegan meats and cheeses in-house. The cheeses are nut-based, mostly composed of cashews, almonds and coconut.

Although it opened to the public Monday, the deli is still under development. The display cases are still mostly empty, and the menu has not yet been completed. Fikaris said he wished they could have had a few more days to better prepare before the opening.

“I wasn’t completely satisfied with our opening day,” Fikaris said, though Stobing noted that the deli is expected to be fully operational by its third week.

Prior to opening, the store experienced some electrical and plumbing issues. Though Fikaris said those issues are now resolved, the deli was without electricity and water for a few days.

But Sean Johnson, an employee at the shop, said he believes the Butcher’s Son is positioned to be successful. According to Johnson, the deli’s timing and location is optimal. The closure of Cafe Gratitude last year and the number of vegans in the Berkeley area produce an ideal environment for a place such as the Butcher’s Son.

“It’s only going to get more popular,” Johnson said.

Mara Guccione, a customer at the deli Tuesday morning and a longtime vegan, said she’s “always excited about new vegan places.”

“The bagel’s pretty tasty,” said Billy Parlay, a customer who is not vegan. “I would eat the bagel again.”

Contact Patricia Serpa at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @pserpa_dc