Venus, a popular brunch restaurant in Downtown Berkeley, will open a new location on Solano Avenue in North Berkeley.
The new restaurant will open at the site of what is currently known as Main Street Pizza Bar, which has the same owner as Venus. Until the soft opening for the new Venus — which will take place June 22 — Main Street Pizza Bar will remain open for customers. A grand opening will follow in mid-July.
“People came to me and said I should open something like the Venus restaurant (in North Berkeley),” said Deepak Aggarwal, the owner of the restaurant. “At our new Venus café, we’ll welcome more middle-age and settled-down people, (and) families with children.”
The Solano Avenue location will be open from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., seven days a week, and is twice the size of the Shattuck Avenue location, Aggarwal said. Main Street Pizza Bar is currently a quicker-service restaurant, and once the new location is open, it will become a sit-down restaurant, according to Aggarwal.
Venus has been on Shattuck Avenue for 24 years. Aggarwal said he also owns Tigerlily at 1513 Shattuck Ave., East Bay Spice Company at 2134 Oxford St. and Barbarian at 2012 Shattuck Ave.
The new location will be similar to the restaurant in Downtown; it is important for Aggarwal that people will have the same experience. Customers of the new Venus will have almost the same choice of dishes and food as at the other location. Only a few items, such as chicken wings, soup, waffles and breakfast pizza, will be added.
“I renovated the new restaurant a little bit — I put new tables in it and set up the bar. It already looked good, though. The menu will be the same; we are going to order the coffee from the same company, and all is organic and local,” Aggarwal said.
Matt Johnson, an employee at the neighboring Noah’s Bagels, said Main Street Pizza Bar changed a bit over the years and that he would get pizza there with his co-workers on occasion. Even though he has not been to the original one in Downtown, he said he will definitely visit the new Venus location because he believes he will enjoy the food regardless.
According to Aggarwal, Solano Avenue does not have many restaurants. There is one of each kind: one pizza place, one Mexican restaurant and one Indian place.
Kelly Baird, a UC Berkeley student who has been working as a server at the Downtown Venus location for a couple of months, said their favorite dish is the lemon ricotta hotcake and that they like the customers.
“I like the atmosphere and that everything is locally produced. It is good food, and it is my favorite brunch place,” said Jasmina Husanovic, a regular customer at the Downtown location. “I’d be really interested in the new restaurant, especially (because) my son likes waffles a lot.”