Berkeley community members have banded together to raise over $32,000 as of press time in support of Dorothée Mitrani, owner of La Note, who lost her dogs and home in a fire late November.
The GoFundMe campaign was created by Naomi Starkman, a longtime friend of Mitrani, and has seen contributions from more than 250 donors as of press time. Starkman said she was at Mitrani’s home when the fire took place and was the one who called it in.
“After the initial horror of it all at like one o’clock in the morning, I just knew that people would want to help her immediately … and I think the response to the GoFundMe is evidence of that,” Starkman said. “People want to do something for people in times of crisis.”
La Note, a French restaurant located on 2377 Shattuck Ave., has been in operation for more than 20 years, according to the GoFundMe campaign. In addition to being the owner of a popular restaurant, Mitrani is heavily involved in her community.
“She is such a fixture of Berkeley. I have never met anyone more generous in my life,” Starkman said. “She’s employed people who are down and out, people who needed a second chance. She’s trained a whole generation of young kids who have gone to Berkeley High and other high schools.”
Mitrani is a large part of La Note’s “lively” atmosphere, has offered jobs to hundreds of Berkeley high school students and volunteered on the Downtown Berkeley Association board, according to City Councilmember Sophie Hahn’s statement on the GoFundMe page.
The fire left Mitrani with almost nothing and she has had to completely start over, according to the GoFundMe campaign. Starkman described Mitrani as a “remarkable, loving spirit” on the page.
In addition to La Note, Mitrani also founded Café Clem — now closed but originally open on Kittredge Street — which Starkman described as a popular spot for students and community members.
“People who don’t even know her, just strangers who’ve written to me off the site to say Dorothée is amazing and I want to do something for her,” Starkman added.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to Berkeley Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Abraham Roman.
In addition to the loss of her three dogs, the first story of Mitrani’s three-story home was severely damaged, and much of the upper floors were as well, according to Roman.
“She’s helped people so much, she’s been on multiple boards of education, and I just think the community really has benefited from her time and generosity,” Starkman said.