New cheese shop, restaurant Maker’s Common comes to Berkeley

Yukun Zhang /Staff

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Maker’s Common, a new cheese and charcuterie market and restaurant, is set to open Thursday on University Avenue.

Maker’s Common is an extension of San Francisco’s Mission Cheese, which has served the San Francisco community assortments of American cheese, salami plates and grilled cheese sandwiches for three years.

The three owners of Maker’s Common — Sarah Dvorak, Oliver Dameron and Eric Miller — plan to bring popular recipes from Mission Cheese to their new eatery in Berkeley. According to Dvorak, the restaurant side of Maker’s Common will also have its own unique menu that consists of an array of salads, sandwiches, beer, wine and family-style dinners.

“It is definitely not fine dining,” Dvorak said. “We want to be a casual, family-friendly eatery and market, somewhere you can come once a week. We want to be accessible, but a bit special.”

Maker’s Common comprises one storefront that opens into a large space shared by the kitchen, restaurant and market. The market is stocked with predominantly domestic products — save for Italian olive oil — such as meat, preserves, cheese and a special house-made hot sauce.

One challenge Maker’s Common’s owners came upon was raising enough money for their new restaurant. The three owners decided to go through a DPO — direct public offering — to raise the necessary funds.

John Katovich and Kim Arnone, president and vice president, respectively, of Cutting Edge Capital — a consulting firm based in Oakland, California — helped Maker’s Common through the DPO process.

Arnone described a DPO as a “security offering that allows not just the wealthy, but any community to invest in a local enterprise.” Katovich added that Maker’s Common “wanted to keep their mission intact … and bring the community into the equation.”

Maker’s Common has 165 investors, most from the Bay Area and the rest in various cities throughout California, according to Dameron.

Initially the three owners looked for spaces in San Francisco to expand Mission Cheese. Real estate, however, proved too expensive — that was, until Miller found the University Avenue location. The team signed the lease in May 2016, and renovations began in February 2017.

The space now features entirely new fixtures, including a custom mural created by Dameron’s cousin, Portland-based artist Lori Damiano.

Damiano said in an email the mural depicts “a celebration of the local producers/makers that will be featured at Maker’s Common.” Damiano added that there are also a few Berkeley landmarks in the foreground, which show “a connection between Berkeley and the surrounding farm/ranchland.”

Dvorak wants the market to be ready for people to have “the ideal picnic,” or simply come in to “grab and go” for a quick lunch. Dvorak said in an email she wants customers to enter feeling that Maker’s Common is their “home away from home” and leave with “a hunk of their favorite cheese.”

Contact Maya Ng-Yu at [email protected].