Sports bar to open on Telegraph Avenue

Edwin Cho
Pappy’s Grill & Sports Bar will soon fill the site formerly occupied by Blake’s.

About three months ago, Larry Blake’s Restaurant and Bar was boarded up after 71 years of service to the Berkeley community.

Now, a new posting stands out on the wooden facing that conceals what was once a vibrant dining establishment — a notice of proposed development by the site’s new vendor, Pappy’s Grill & Sports Bar.

“They’ve gutted the place,” said John Lineweaver, owner of the property. “Nothing is left of the old Blake’s at this point — it’s huge.”

Located at 2367 Telegraph Ave. near its intersection with Durant Avenue, just a little over one block away from the UC Berkeley campus, the space is currently undergoing major remodeling efforts in preparation for the opening Pappy’s, including removal of the mezzanine that existed in the old restaurant, Lineweaver said. The new grill is set to open by mid-August.

After failing to overcome the results of business decisions that Lineweaver said caused the old establishment to “lose its focus,” as well as the ailing economy, Blake’s permanently shut its doors Feb. 4.

Since that time, Lineweaver said he received two other formal offers from businesses seeking to fill the space and that by March, he and Pappy’s had signed the lease, which Lineweaver said will last for 10 years, with opportunities for extension.

Lineweaver said the new grill will not feature live music and disc jockeys as Blake’s did. He said the grill’s decision to feature such attractions were a detracting factor to both other businesses and local residents, partly by virtue of the late night crowds it drew to the Telegraph area.

“We have 44 apartments upstairs,” he said. “Music is a little disruptive.”

Of the two other offers, he said one was also for food service while the other had proposed using the space for a clothing-oriented business. Lineweaver was convinced by Pappy’s owners, who he described as “young and energetic and well-capitalized.”

“I wanted it to remain a restaurant because it’s a natural location for a restaurant,” Lineweaver said.

According to Lineweaver, the new grill’s name is reminiscent of Lynn “Pappy” Waldorf, a Cal football head coach famed for his winning record. Until being outdone by current head coach Jeff Tedford in 2010, Waldorf held the most career victories of any Cal football head coach in the modern era.

Additionally, Pappy’s announced in March that it has agreed to host the Cal men’s basketball post-game radio show.

City Councilmember Kriss Worthington, whose district includes the site where Pappy’s will open, said he expects the new vendor to be met with a positive reception, in part due to the positive association with its name.

“It has a cross-generational appeal that I think should be successful,” Worthington said. “It will draw a wide range of people.“

Although several storefronts on Telegraph Avenue shut down as the economy floundered over the last few years, Worthington said he has already observed a rise in the success of local business recently, citing the opening of CREAM and the relatively short time span required for Pappy’s to fill the vacancy left by Blake’s as examples.

“There’s been a significant interest in people investing in Telegraph,” Worthingon said. “I’m looking forward to the next year or two being significantly better than the last few years.”

J.D. Morris is an assistant news editor.