Renowned North Berkeley restaurant Grégoire reopens after 5-week closure due to kitchen fire

Davíd Rodríguez/Senior Staff

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Grégoire, an artisanal takeout restaurant in the heart of Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto, reopened Monday. Known for its “cult status” potato puffs, the restaurant had been temporarily closed for more than a month after suffering a kitchen fire April 1.

According to owner and founder Grégoire Jacquet, the cleanup, repair and replacement of the equipment that was lost because of fire damage cost about $80,000. Jacquet added that this estimate did not include money for lost business during the restaurant’s closure, which was covered by insurance.

“I spent my time trying to plan ahead to get (the restaurant) open as quickly as possible,” Jacquet said. “I could not take people looking at the closed door — it was too hard for me so the sooner (Grégoire opened), the better.”

According to Jacquet, the clean up took about two weeks, and after that, he began ordering equipment to replace the pieces that were damaged during the fire. In order to open, Jacquet said the bar, the electrical system and a few tables had to be replaced.

Jacquet stated that the city was also “very nice,” as it quickly delivered the necessary permits to start repairs. Jacquet said the Grégoire staff also helped in the process of reopening the restaurant before taking a paid “vacation.” According to Jacquet, since the opening, the restaurant has been “really busy.”

“I feel really happy, and I’m thrilled that it’s open again. The last two days, the response is amazing, and it’s really nice to be open again,” Jacquet said. “They wave at us, they yell from their cars, some stop to eat, and others say they’ll be back — it’s such a nice feeling to be supported by the community.”

Opened in 2002, the restaurant was featured on San Francisco Magazine’s “125 Best Things to Eat” in the Bay Area and on Francisco Magazine’s “The Bay Area’s 9 Top Takeout Spots” in 2008. Grégoire was also featured on Jonathan Kauffman’s “Top Ten” list for the East Bay Express in 2003.

Campus senior Nicole Kim said that after hearing about the fire, she was “pretty sad” because she thought she would never try the “famous” potato puffs. Kim added that one of her friends told her about the reopening event, so she “made sure” to go for the first time.

“I’ll definitely be back for more,” Kim said in an email. “I really liked that Gregoire feels like a big part of the neighborhood. A lot of the people in line seemed to live in the area … and the chef who worked at the grill knew some passing folks by name and had treats ready for their pets.”

Contact Clara Rodas at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ClaraRodas10.