Local cafe reopens under new name, location in Shattuck Square

Phillip Downey/Senior Staff

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After a brief two-month hiatus that left many campus and community members confused, a local business reopened its doors as Berkeley Coffee Company on Saturday in Shattuck Square for a soft opening, across the street from its prior location.

Formerly known as People’s Coffee and Tea, the cafe was a popular spot among students when it unexpectedly closed its doors in February after 10 years of service. According to store owner Mohammed Almahbashi, the old location was closed because the building manager did not renew the lease.

“We’ve been heartbroken for about two months now,” said Chris Nosworthy, an employee of Copy Central, which neighbors the cafe. “They have good food and we’ve just come to rely on them.”

The name of the cafe was changed because Berkeley Coffee Company was originally intended to operate simultaneously with People’s Coffee and Tea, and therefore the lease had to be filed with a different name when it was signed in December, according to Almahbashi.

“Our loyal customers know us,” Almahbashi said. “They will just show up, regardless of the name.”

Almahbashi added that the new cafe is located in a larger and more ventilated space and will retain its old prices, employees and style, with a few new menu items. The cafe will offer coffee and teas, as well as food options ranging from Mediterranean cuisine to breakfast items served all day.

Mindy Khoo, owner of BOBO Drinks located across the street from Berkeley Coffee Company, said the opening will be good for the neighborhood by providing more options for workers and students to hang out and study.

The new location, within the historical landmark Roos Bros. Building, has received positive reviews from residents and students alike, such as campus graduate and Berkeley resident Betial Asmerom.

“I like that they have the same employees,” Asmerom said. “Makes it feel like the same cafe, just upgraded.”

All of the employees stayed the same between the two locations, according to Almahbashi, which contributed to the quick opening of Berkeley Coffee Company because they required little training.

Some community members, however, have expressed concerns regarding the growing number of cafes in the city. David Drake, who works out of the WeWork building spaces near Berkeley Coffee Company, said he was uncertain how Berkeley Coffee Company would fare with the upcoming arrival of Blue Bottle Coffee Company into the space previously occupied by People’s Coffee and Tea.

“I think we have enough coffee shops, but you know, the more the merrier,” said Nicki Rivieccio, co-owner and manager at PIQ Bakery and Cafe. “There’s enough business for everybody, and everybody does something uniquely.”

But Almahbashi said he welcomes the competition in the area.

“With mutual respect,” he added.

Contact Anna Dell’Amico at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @adellamico_dc.