New cafe to replace Ramona’s in Wurster Hall

Nicole White/Staff

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An award-winning San Francisco chef is opening up a cafe that will replace Ramona’s Cafe in Wurster Hall in the coming fall semester.

Charles Phan, the owner and executive chef of renowned San Francisco restaurants the Slanted Door and Out the Door, will be spearheading the cafe that will replace Ramona’s in Wurster Hall.

Phan was one of several people who responded to the campus’s request for operators to create a new eatery in the space.

“There was a call that went out for proposals — for operators — in that space,” said Christine Shaff, campus real estate spokesperson. “And his company was one that responded.”

Phan, a former campus architecture student, is known for creating organic international cuisines, combining fresh ingredients and Vietnamese recipes at his restaurant the Slanted Door.

“Phan is a highly regarded chef and will add an exciting new option for the Berkeley campus and the broader community,” said Adam Ratliff, campus communications manager for student affairs, in an email. “His status as a former student merely shows the amazing abilities of Berkeley students in all fields.”

According to Ratliff, Phan’s new cafe will also continue his effort to provide sustainable food to customers. The cafe will participate in the campus Zero Waste by 2020 goals — a commitment to prevent waste from ending up in landfills — and follow the university’s sustainable food policies, including sourcing fresh produce locally.

Renee Chow, associate dean for undergraduate studies at the campus College of Environmental Design, which is mostly housed in Wurster Hall, expressed in an email the college’s excitement at the prospect of the new cafe and the introduction of “excellent food.”

Some students echoed this sentiment, while others expressed disappointment that Ramona’s will be closing. It had not been renovated since 1984, according to Shaff.

“I like Ramona’s,” said Jalisha Paz, a campus sophomore who frequents the eatery. “I’m kind of sad, but it depends on what the new cafe is going to be like, too.”

Alie Herreios, a campus freshman, added that if the campus is replacing Ramona’s, it must be for the better.

According to Shaff, Ramona’s will be closed before spring break in the middle of March. The renovations will also take place on the west side of Wurster Hall during the spring and summer, and

Phan’s cafe is expected to open to the public for the fall semester. The renovations will only occur in the cafe space and the patio outside Wurster Hall and will not affect the rest of the building, according to Shaff.

Although Ramona’s will be closed, Ratliff emphasized that the current Cal Dining employees at Ramona’s will not be terminated. The existing staff will instead be reassigned to other Cal Dining facilities.

Ramona’s will officially close for renovations at the end of the day March 18.

Contact Chantelle Lee at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ChantelleHLee