Local eatery Meal Ticket closed its doors March 30 after about 25 years of serving American-style breakfast and lunch to the Berkeley community. Another beloved family-run restaurant, KC’s Bar-B-Que, will take over the space in late April after its 2613 San Pablo Ave. location closed because of a kitchen fire in February 2017.
Monty Johnson, a longtime patron, lives a three-hour drive away but said he would always go out of his way to eat at Meal Ticket whenever he was in the Bay Area. In particular, he recalled the kindness of the restaurants’ owners, Jimmy and Carolyn Carter, in taking checks as payment.
“Those sweet people would take a check that was out of a bank in Grass Valley, California, a good three hours from San Francisco,” Johnson said. “They’d take a check from me without batting an eye. Such good people, such good food.”
Johnson also described the restaurant as a “real feel-good place” and noted that other customers seemed to share his sentiment.
“Based on the other customers who were always so appreciative and happy there, I know (Carter) had a great customer base,” Johnson said. “It’s just good, honest, wonderful food and a great atmosphere. And I miss it.”
Kristen Davis, third-generation owner of KC’s Bar-B-Que, and her father, Patrick Davis, have also been longtime patrons and neighbors of Meal Ticket.
“Our timelines kind of synced up,” Davis said. “We were actually ready to move into a space and the owners of the Meal Ticket were ready to retire and it kind of worked out that these two small family-oriented businesses could agree to some terms. It was a bittersweet thing.”
After the fire devastated the restaurant, Davis said her entire family was heartbroken.
“It kind of felt like there was a death in the family,” Davis said. “We stuck together the best we could this last year to find the positive in all of this.”
Davis said she and her father spent the time after the fire searching for a new location while picking up catering jobs and hosting pop-up restaurants locally on the side. They also researched successful business operations, as Davis hopes to open up a second franchise in the next few years.
Davis anticipates that KC’s Bar-B-Que will open toward the end of April and said she plans to keep the “heart and soul” of both businesses alive.
“I think that the community is as excited as we are to be back,” Davis said. “We’re just ready to get back to showing love for our community and having them show love for us.”