Nefeli Caffe closes doors after 26 years, merges with V&A Café

Nefeli's Cafe inside Etcheverry Hall
Lorenzo Dela Cruz/Staff

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Nefeli Caffe has closed its doors after providing coffee, Greek food and soft jazz to North Berkeley for more than 20 years.

As of Jan. 22, there was a sign on the café’s door stating that Nefeli had closed and merged with V&A Café.

Nefeli Caffe owner Naso Eleftheriadis lived in Greece and moved to the United States many years ago. In 1993, he opened Nefeli, which specialized in Greek and Mediterranean cuisine.

Eleftheriadis also runs V&A Café, located between Etcheverry and Soda halls. He added that though he previously ran both locations, once Nefeli Caffe completely closes down, he will move everything to V&A Café.

“I closed Nefeli Caffe for various reasons,” Eleftheriadis said. “No. 1 reason: We lost revenue the last few years progressively — some of the high costs, rent and couldn’t recover the new people. A lot of the clientele was leaving.”

V&A Café opened a year and a half ago, according to Eleftheriadis. He added that since V&A is a part of the UC Berkeley campus, he wasn’t able to name the café after Nefeli like he wanted to.

Eleftheriadis was chosen out of six operator applicants to open and run V&A, with the contract opening up every three years for renegotiation.

V&A employee Melisa Rodriguez noted that generally, transitioning from Nefeli to V&A has been difficult.

“I’ve been working here for seven months — I used to work at Nefeli,” Rodriguez said. “The owner — he lost a lot of customers and business the last year. He was losing income and decided to close it.”

She added that Eleftheriadis eventually decided to only manage V&A, but the transition has been difficult since Nefeli Caffe has been open for more than 20 years.

“A lot of (Eleftheriadis’) customers were used to that place,” Rodriguez said. “It’s been hard for him and the customers, but many have decided to follow him here.”

V&A serves a fusion of Californian and Mediterranean cuisine, and almost all food on the menu is homemade. The café serves a variety of sandwiches, salads, breakfast items and pastries as well as offering a large selection of specialty coffee, featuring Portioli coffee from Italy in all of its espresso bar drinks.

Eleftheriadis said food quality is still his top priority, adding that his café only uses fresh, homegrown, locally sourced and organic ingredients.

The closing of Nefeli Caffe follows a recent trend of local businesses closing their doors, including Philz Coffee on Shattuck Avenue, Noah’s Bagels on Telegraph Avenue and Italian bakery PiQ at Shattuck Square. Other notable restaurant closures include Gio’s Pizza and Bocce and Ici Ice Cream.

Contact Thao Nguyen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @tnguyen_dc.