Change of scenery: Crash course in new Berkeley business openings

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Erin Haar/File

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The Berkeley we left behind post-finals week is not the Berkeley we returned to when we came back from winter break. A few local favorites have disappeared, others have been replaced, and others jumped to a new location. It’s important to get caught up on all the changes as soon as possible — you don’t want to be halfway to Center Street just to realize you’ll have to hike 20 minutes in the other direction to get your Sliver fix.

Many wondered what could replace American Apparel in the hearts and minds of Berkeley residents as a convenient shopping spot at the corner of Telegraph and Bancroft. Brandy Melville has answered the call — though to mixed reaction, as not everyone is a fan of the store’s alleged “one size fits all” sizing or the somewhat heftier price tag. But, if you’re looking for some new threads and not willing to walk up the street to Urban Outfitters, the trendy hipster retailer has you covered.

But let’s say Brandy Melville isn’t your thing and you decide to make the trek down Telegraph Avenue to Buffalo Exchange. On your way there, you might notice something unusual — something out of place. Sliver Pizzeria has relocated from Center Street to Telegraph Avenue, and it’s probably all anybody in your group chat has been talking about. When the eatery first announced it would be exiting its downtown location, many lamented the departure of the beloved pizza parlor, and its reemergence on Telegraph Avenue was certainly a relief. You may want to wait a few weeks before heading inside, though, as the new location has been getting pretty packed by hungry Southsiders.

But if you live much closer to Downtown Berkeley, worry not — there are plenty of new spots that opened up over winter break near you as well. Finally opening at 2121 Center St. is the highly anticipated The Halal Guys. The Middle Eastern eatery may currently only be able to offer delivery options, but with just a bit more patience on the part of its devotees, the grand opening will be upon us soon enough.

In the meantime, hungry students can venture down to Berkeley Way and visit Bonchon, a new Korean fried chicken eatery that opened its doors in late December. The Asian fusion cuisine is certain to please a variety of palates — not just fried chicken connoisseurs. The franchise has been gaining popularity in the United States for quite some time, but before the new location opened up downtown, any Berkeley resident looking to try it out would have had to go all the way to San Leandro or South San Francisco. One less BART ride is always something worth celebrating, and it’s likely that increased access to fried chicken will only be met with enthusiasm by hungry students and residents alike.

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Erin Haar/Staff

After you’ve finished off a delicious meal at Bonchon, you might find yourself craving something for dessert, and the new Ici Ice Cream location on University Avenue will be there waiting for you. Ici Ice Cream fans formerly would have to travel to Elmwood for the organic sweet treat, but no longer. As a bonus, the Downtown location will also be offering milkshakes as an addition to its original menu. With such a close proximity to Ben and Jerry’s, only time will tell which ice cream vendor will ultimately win over the hearts of the Berkeley sweet tooths.

As home to dozens upon dozens of small businesses and franchises alike, it’s no wonder that the Berkeley retail scene is constantly evolving. With so many changes taking place just over winter break alone, one can only wonder what the spring semester will bring — the next place just might be your new favorite spot. While it’s always sad to see familiar places go, we can all take some comfort in knowing something fresh and usually delicious is just on the horizon.

Shannon O’Hara is the special issues editor. Contact her at [email protected].