After 35 years of operation, Lalime shuts down due to pandemic

Lalime restaurant closure
Google/Courtesy

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Opened in late spring 1985, Berkeley’s Lalime restaurant on Gilman Street bid a sentimental goodbye through a statement to its customers on its website, declaring it would have to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We would have liked to bid you Adieu in person, but the masks and the gloves are in the way,” wrote Lalime co-owner Haig Krikorian in the statement.

Lalime was focused on creating an all-organic and ecologically-sound dining experience for customers and used ingredients from local farmers’ markets or had them delivered from local farms, according to its website. It was first opened on Solano Avenue in Albany and was reopened in 1988 on Gilman Street, focused on serving Mediterranean California cuisine, according to Yelp.

In his statement, Krikorian mentioned that the restaurant was open when Ronald Reagan was president and said the whole family was intertwined with the restaurant.

“We’ve been around since Ronald Reagan was the president, vinyl records were still on everyone shelves, rotary phones with 20 foot tangled cords. When times were before email and we mailed out a newsletter by bulk snail-mail,” Krikorian wrote in the statement. “We started all this as our kids were little: Laney was 1, Aram was 4 and Cindy and I barely 30.”

Customer Pam Mendelsohn from Emeryville said in a direct message that Lalime was a wonderful place for gatherings among friends, and had a delicious menu and lovely waitstaff.

Customer Donna Wayne expressed similar sentiments, also commenting in a direct message that she felt sick to read of the permanent closing of the restaurant. Wayne said she and her friend would frequent Lalime on Friday nights and were delighted by the service.

“It was one of two restaurants in Berkeley we just loved frequenting after a busy day of movie going, shopping at one of the lovely nurseries or buying shoes at The Walk Store,” Wayne wrote in the statement. “When life returns to some semblance of normal, we are going to sorely miss our visits to LaLime.”

Krikorian’s statement reflected fondly on the regular customers that would come into the restaurant, referencing many memories throughout the years.

David Nakayama, who has lived in Berkeley his whole life, called Lalime “the local date night place” and said it was part of a Berkeley tradition of “farm to fork” dining without pretension.

“Whatever their special was, it was always special,” Nakayama said. “It was always like an adventure; you might be celebrating somebody’s birthday, but the real surprise was what they were offering.”

Contact Sabrina Dong at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sabrina_dong_.