City could waive permit fees to relocate Raleigh’s, Cafe Intermezzo after fire

Fikre-selam Habebo/Staff
Raleigh's and Cafe Intermezzo, both Berkeley favorites, are closed as a result of the fire.

Berkeley City Council members could vote next month on a proposal to allow the two businesses shut down by the Nov. 18 fire to relocate without having to pay permit fees.

The recommendation, authored by Councilmember Kriss Worthington, would not only waive permit fees for Raleigh’s Bar and Grill and Cafe Intermezzo — located on the ground floor of the building on the corner of Telegraph Avenue and Haste Street that was destroyed by the fire over the weekend — but it would also cut down the time to attain a permit for relocation from an estimated six months to a couple of weeks, according to Worthington.

The city’s permit fees to relocate a business can range from $800 to “tens of thousands of dollars,” Worthington said. Even if the council decides to waive the required permits, it will not be able to waive state required permits, such as the alcohol permit for Raleigh’s.

“Part of what motivates me is that if they don’t get relocated soon, customers will drift off to other cities and not come to Berkeley,” said Worthington, who was a regular customer of Cafe Intermezzo. “If they’re going to try to rebuild, that’s going to take a year or two. So, rather than having customers drift off and starting from scratch, they can keep their customer base.”

Worthington said he has not been able to contact the restaurants’ owner, Greg Ent.

Worthington also requested that the city conduct a full investigation to determine the cause of the fire that also displaced an estimated 60 people who lived in the four-story apartment complex above the two restaurants.

“First we need to do a full-scale investigation to make sure what caused it,” Worthington said. “If the elevator or the electric company messed up, then their insurance company would be responsible.”