Pat Brown’s Grille to revamp its image with renovations

Tony Zhou/Staff
Pat Brown's, a grill run by Cal Dining in the Genetics and Plant Biology Building, is currently closed for renovations.

UC Berkeley eatery Pat Brown’s Grille closed its doors Monday for the next few months to completely remodel its interior, in hopes of revamping the reputation of Cal Dining.

The eatery will finish its makeover and reopen its doors in late January 2012, if construction goes as scheduled.

The renovations for the campus eatery, which is located on the northwest side of campus, will cost nearly $1 million, according to Shawn LaPean, executive director of Cal Dining.

The renovations will be funded through Cal Dining, a self-supporting business auxiliary, according to Christine Shaff, communications director for campus facilities services.

These renovations aim to “bring real cooking to campus” by offering coffee and tea from Peet’s and roasted meats besides the typical grilled and fried options that many on-campus cafes already serve, LaPean said.

Once the Grille opens, it will offer customers choices of rotisserie chicken, roast turkey and pulled pork, as well as macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes.

Along with widening its culinary variety, the building’s interior design will be remodeled from a “cold and generic” environment to a more “livened up and warm” atmosphere, which LaPean said he hopes will make the Grille a larger on-campus destination.

Lucky Vasquez, assistant director of Cal Dining, said that these renovations required the Grille to be “gutted” so that the new look could include a completely different model, floor plan and appropriate machinery to accommodate the new menu.

“We are starting fresh, and it will be a full-service cafe,” Vasquez said. “Aesthetically, it will be completely different. What I think will be nice for the campus is that it is something completely different that we have not done before, and I think we can wow the campus community.”

However, despite the floor-to-ceiling renovations, Richard Lee, a UC Berkeley graduate student in the Department of English, said before the renovations he visited the Grille “once every blue moon” and will likely not change his routine after the Grille’s metamorphosis.

Lee said the Grille faces culinary competition from the diverse restaurants on nearby Shattuck Avenue but said Cal Dining is taking steps in the right direction to attract more business on campus.

The cafe’s renovations are hopefully the first of many, Vasquez said.

LaPean said Cal Dining chose to start the process of renovations with Pat Brown’s Grille because the cafe is located in an underserved area on campus. Within the next few months, the area will see an influx of students, faculty and staff when the UC Berkeley Li Ka Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences opens in January.

In the next two years, LaPean said that Cal Dining is scheduled to renovate Ramona’s Cafe in Wurster Hall and the Golden Bear Cafe, the most frequented Cal Dining facility on campus.