Longtime customers will be disappointed to find that Troy Greek Cuisine on 2985 College Ave. has closed as of Wednesday after more than six years of serving Berkeley.
According to the owner, Firas Masarweh, having two locations in Berkeley was becoming too expensive because of the increases in food prices and the city’s minimum wage. Whenever he would raise prices, Masarweh said, business would suffer because customers found the food too expensive.
Masarweh said he is open to closing Troy Greek Cuisine’s other Berkeley location on Solano Avenue if he has to.
“Right now, a lot of restaurant owners are eating the higher food costs,” Masarweh said. “Eventually the restaurants are going to close down, or the prices are going to be astronomical.”
The city needs to re-evaluate increases in minimum wage, because the increases can really hurt small business owners, Masarweh said. He used to work in Ohio, where servers would make $2 an hour plus tips, he said, but his servers now make about $40 to $50 an hour from wages and tips combined.
“If you’re a small mom-and-pop shop, you can’t survive,” Masarweh said.
Peter Yoo, who owns the nearby Japanese restaurant Manpuku, expressed similar concerns about managing a restaurant in Berkeley. In addition to the increasing minimum wage, he pointed to the rising cost of rent and competition from delivery services such as UberEATS and DoorDash as obstacles to business.
Yoo said he has noticed many other restaurants leaving the Elmwood district over the years and that he also hopes to sell Manpuku eventually because of the new challenges associated with owning a restaurant in the area.
Troy Greek Cuisine’s three other restaurants – on Solano Avenue, in Alameda and in San Francisco – will remain open for the time being. The College Avenue location will be replaced by Burger Joint in December, Masarweh said.
While Masarweh will own a small percentage of the new restaurant, he said, it will be primarily owned by one of his family members.
As a popular fixture in Elmwood, Troy Greek Cuisine’s closing has come as a disappointment to customers.
“For people who are living around (Elmwood), these restaurants are a jewel,” said Penny Khavar, a Berkeley resident of 37 years.
Khavar, who is of Greek descent, praised the authenticity of Troy Greek Cuisine’s food and said she is sad to see it go.
Jonathan Felder, a Richmond resident who commutes to Berkeley for work, has been ordering the gyro platter for years.
“It’s a bummer,” Felder said. “I guess I won’t be able to eat gyros on Tuesday nights.”