Crunch restaurant closes temporarily for maintenance amid Downtown Berkeley construction

An abandoned establishment with a logo that reads "Crunch".
Leonie Leonida/Staff

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Crunch, a Korean-American fusion restaurant located at 2144 Center St., has been temporarily closed for maintenance. While Crunch is not permanently shutting down, many restaurants in that area have shuttered permanently — an occurrence employees of many neighboring restaurants speculate is due to nearby construction.

Some of Crunch’s neighbors on Center Street that have permanently closed down include Chick’n Rice, La Cascada Taqueria and Guacamole 61.

Jessica Tung, the general manager of Jupiter, a pizza restaurant on Shattuck Avenue, said the closure of these restaurants may be due to high operating costs in the Bay Area.

“In the Bay Area, the cost of doing business is very high, and with minimum wage going up, operating costs can get very expensive,” Tung said.

Normi Remazy, an employee of Purple Kow, a boba shop on Center Street, speculated that the noise and dirt from nearby construction may be negatively affecting restaurants in the area. She added that if the construction were completed, she believes “the customers would come back.”

The manager of the Ben & Jerry’s location on Center Street, Khayo Hernandez, also believes the restaurant closures are due to construction on Center Street and Shattuck Avenue.

“(Restaurants that) don’t have enough money for a year shut down and go out of business,” Hernandez said. “Most people try to avoid these areas (because of the construction) and go one block down.”

According to the Berkeley Transportation Division, construction Downtown will likely continue into 2020, as the city is planning to launch multiple projects in that area in 2019 and 2020, costing more than $250 million. One such endeavor is the Shattuck Reconfiguration and Pedestrian Safety Project, a 24-month-long project that began in late January 2019. This project, with the goal of reducing current traffic, will transform one section of Shattuck Avenue into a four-lane, two-way street. Another project working toward replacing the underground water main on Shattuck Avenue requires construction that will last until March 2019. The city also plans to relocate a bus stop on Shattuck Avenue, a process estimated to last until December 2020.

In light of these plans, Remazy hopes the city will “space … projects out” in the future so that small businesses will not be affected as much.

In regard to the reopening of Crunch, campus senior Jessica Tin said she has always liked that Crunch stays open relatively late and is located near campus, providing an alternative to going to Oakland for late-night food.

“I thought the space looked fine before,” Tin said. “So I’m curious what the remodel will look like and whether they will raise prices afterwards.”

Campus sophomore Alma Paz also said she would go to Crunch again to see the differences in food and ambiance.

Contact Aishwarya Kaimal at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Aishwarya_R_K ‏.