After several months of closure, Berkeley Public, a restaurant that was formerly a bar known as Thalassa, is in the process of renovating and preparing for a grand reopening this summer.
Thalassa, a popular local billiards bar, closed its doors Nov. 8 after 16 years at its Shattuck Avenue location and reopened as Berkeley Public at 2518 Durant Ave. in late November. William Gomez, executive chef at Berkeley Public, said the property owner of the bar’s original location wanted to open an 18+ nightclub in its place.
The restaurant is currently open but will close for several months to complete the construction of a ramp to a downstairs area, which will be a traditional German-style beer hall with imported wood from Munich, Gomez said. Jay Anderson, a hostess at the restaurant, said there will be 3-liter “das boots” and maybe even costumes to go along with the establishment’s theme.
The ground level currently features a menu of international comfort food, which Anderson said will be expanded when the establishment reopens over the summer. The bar will also be extended as part of the construction project.
“We sell the social environment,” Gomez said. He added that the bar will have arcade games, photo booths and a lounge area once construction is finished. The finished restaurant, bar and billiards hall will be about 10,000 square feet and will still have Thalassa’s old furniture and pool tables, Anderson said.
“(Thalassa) was more of a sit-down type of atmosphere than the other bars right next to campus,” said Ankita Shete, a UC Berkeley senior.
Anderson said they have had some trouble obtaining their liquor license, including a 30-day delay due to a door having to be moved. She said business has been slow so far but they expect to obtain their liquor license in about two weeks, when they will go back to using the bar’s original name.
“I think most people want to get a drink while they’re playing pool,” said Danny Rodriguez, an owner of Smoke’s Poutinerie, a restaurant next door to Berkeley Public. “They’re still getting some of their loyal customers, but it’s not the same experience to play pool sober.”
Gomez said Douglas Miller, the establishment’s owner, kept the place open to continue employing his kitchen staff, even though he is incurring a several thousand dollar loss each day due to renovation costs.
“There’s a buzz,” Gomez said, pointing out that the restaurant remaining open is good marketing for their summer grand reopening.
Rodriguez sees the new location to be good for the establishment’s business in reaching more students to add to their loyal customer base. Anderson said they hope to set up an arrangement with the campus to give students a discount.
“I’ll be graduating so I can’t enjoy it, but it’ll be cool for everyone else,” Shete said.