Changes in Berkeley restaurant scene affect SF Soup Co., Doner n Kebab, Chipotle

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Priyanka Karthikeyan/Staff

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Berkeley’s restaurant community has recently undergone several changes, including the revamping of the San Francisco Soup Company, the upcoming grand opening of Doner n Kebab and the temporary closing of Chipotle on Telegraph Avenue.

On March 27, San Francisco Soup Company co-founder Steven Sarver posted on the company’s Yelp page and said the location on Bancroft Way recently closed for renovations and reopened its doors March 29, featuring a new menu and a new name — Ladle & Leaf. The restaurant is still run by the same ownership as the San Francisco Soup Company but has, along with many of the other restaurant locations, “evolved” its concept.

“We wanted to indicate that we have a new and expanded menu that’s really focused on local sourcing and global flavors,” said Clayton Chan, principal of the company.

According to Chan, notable changes to the restaurant include the addition of a grain bowl menu, an expanded salad and sandwich selection and new ingredients such as Mary’s Free Range and Antibiotic-Free Chicken and Laura Chenel’s goat cheese, both of which are supplied by local purveyors. The new restaurant also features a variety of seasonal items, the proceeds from which will benefit two local charities — the Bread Project in Berkeley and the Old Skool Cafe in San Francisco.

While some of the company’s locations are still referred to as the San Francisco Soup Company, the remaining locations are in the process of being rebranded as Ladle & Leaf. Chan said eventually, the company hopes to revamp all its locations as Ladle & Leaf.

“I’m all about natural and organic food, and I like that the company’s new image represents that,” said Kalelia Wilson, a Ladle & Leaf customer.

A new Mediterranean restaurant, Doner n Kebab, is set to open next month at 2528-A Durant Ave. According to manager and owner Bahri Bogan, the menu will include Turkish, Greek and Arabic fare such as Mediterranean street food and breakfast items as well as falafels and gyros.

The opening of Doner n Kebab, which was set for April 1, was delayed because of city and permit issues, according to Bogan. The restaurant is now set to open in May. Bogan said he hopes it will be open by the time the school semester ends.

“I saw that there was a lot of business around the area,” Bogan said. “I observed some of the restaurants in Asian Ghetto at nighttime and saw a lot of people there, so when I saw an open space for rent, I immediately bought it.”

Customers at other local Mediterranean restaurants expressed excitement about the new addition to the restaurant scene.

“I’m pretty open to trying new things, so I think I’ll try Doner n Kebab once it opens,” said campus junior Warren Tian.

The recent closure of the Chipotle located on Telegraph Avenue has been a popular topic of discussion. Some community members have speculated that the restaurant may be permanently closed, causing a sizable reaction from the UC Berkeley student body. But Sean Carson, service manager at the Chipotle on Gilman Street, said the Telegraph Avenue location is only temporarily closed because of floor reconstruction, adding that it is scheduled to reopen later this week.

Many campus students who feared the Chipotle location was shutting down permanently said they would have been upset by this decision.

According to campus senior Jordan Locy, if Chipotle permanently closed, it would be a “questionable decision” given the high volume of traffic the restaurant receives because of its price and location. She also said in an email she felt there was a lack of information distribution regarding the restaurant’s temporary closure.

“(Chipotle’s closing) was very abrupt,” Locy said in an email. “I wasn’t aware that they were closing, even if it is only temporary/for renovations.”

Contact Amber Tang at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ambertang_dc.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to Jordan Locy as “he.”

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  • Nunya Beeswax

    The renaming/refocusing of SF Soup Co. is confusing. When they first opened on Bancroft, most of their ingredients were organic and of reasonably high quality. Then they went to conventional romaine, ditched the grape tomatoes for chopped greenhouse tomatoes, stopped using blue corn chips and went to cheaper yellow ones, etc.–all while continuing to raise their prices.

    Now Ladle & Leaf appears to be going back to SF Soup Co.’s original ethos. What makes them think things will turn out differently this time?

    And I agree that there seems to be something fishy about Chipotle’s closing. What exactly was wrong with the floor, and why aren’t they more forthcoming about it?