Berkeley, CA

A new bakery heads to Berkeley, a lack of bottles causes some wines to turn, Hayward schools slated for closure and more

Refugio Garcia

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German pretzel bakery Squabisch gets storefront zoning approval in Berkeley

The zoning certificate for the German pretzel bakery Squabisch was approved for its storefront slated to open at 1585 Solano Ave. in Berkeley, DailyCal.org reports.

Bakery owner Uli Elser received the good news Thursday, moving him a step closer to transitioning from selling his baked goods at local farmers markets to a brick-and-mortar location and is expected to open on Jan. 1 2022, Elser said.

“I’ve always liked Solano Avenue,” said Elser. “It’s a great, diverse street with a lot of foot traffic and interesting businesses all along it, so it just seems perfect.”

Elser began his culinary journey in 2016 selling German dishes to customers on Josephine, a virtual platform used to connect diners with local chefs. Once his business started to take off, he began selling food at farmers markets but was deterred by the requirement of sellers needing to provide proof of preparation outside the home, causing him to seek another venue.

Elser now plans on selling a variety of 60 different kinds of pretzels including, ricotta apricot, chocolate coconut, Asiago prosciutto and Chevra sesame seed honey among others. Read more of this story.

Low enrollment, budget woes may cause numerous Hayward schools to close

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The Hayward Unified School District reported that eight schools will either be closed or merged with other schools as the district struggles with declining student enrollment and a $14 million budget shortfall, East Bay Times reports.

In addition, the Hayward Adult School, located at 22100 Princeton St., and the Faith Ringgold School of Arts & Science at 570 Ward St. are also facing possible closures.

“What’s become clear is that we have more facilities than we need,” said Dionicia Ramos, a spokesperson for the district, noting that the lower number of students when compared to the previous year and the estimated $900 million it would take to upgrade the campuses.

Anthony Ochoa Middle School, Bret Harte Middle School, in addition to Bowman, Eldridge, Glassbrook and Strobridge elementary schools are also on the list of campuses that face closure.

Any campus that is closed will be sold by the district to generate revenue. Read more of this story.

Berkeley theater production criticizes Western views of refugees

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“The Claim,” a theater production presented by the Shotgun Players, takes aim at mocking Western attitudes towards immigrants such as vilifying those seeking asylum and the trend of using the plight of refugees as political fodder, East Bay Times reports.

Written by Tim Cowbury, “The Claim” is an imported production from the U.K. with a narrative that transcends borders as many of the attitudes towards immigrants in the U.S. and the U.K. share similarities including how refugees are usually stereotyped.

“The idea of an asylum interview is to tell a story that’s so compelling that you earn asylum,” director Rebecca Novick said. “And what happens in the play’s sort of through-the-looking-glass version of an asylum interview is that by attempting to make sense of the story, they end up making nonsense of the story, and they get it completely wrong. And it’s because they’re trying to make the story make a kind of sense that’s predictable to them, that fits into a box, that makes the character seeking asylum into the sort of hero or villain they want him to be.”

“The Claim” was a hit at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and is the companies first live production since the closure of the production “Vinegar Tom” in 2020.

“The Claim” will be performed at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave., Berkeley, on Oct. 30 and virtually Oct. 21 and 28. Read more of this story.

Supply chain issues leaves local winemakers in a lurch

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The supply chain issues that’s been hindering a wide array of businesses over recent months has taken another turn for the worse as local winemakers in California scramble to find bottling options for their product, Business Insider reports.

The supply chain issues causing delays and traffic jams at California ports prevents winemakers from acquiring the necessary products, such as glass bottles, forcing winemakers to keep their wine in wooden barrels – leading the wine to taste like a “sawmill,” according to Phil Long, the owner of Longevity Wines in Livermore.

This may lead to passing the additional costs on to consumers, as the cost of glass has increased 45% since 2019.

"But I'm not sure how long we can hold prices where they are," Long said. "Glass is a main ingredient to bottling wine. Imagine you're a cookie company and there was no flour."

If the wine is kept in brewing tanks too long, the maturation process can be flawed, leading to a bland flavor and wine kept in oak barrels for too long can take on an unpleasant aroma.

"Too much oak throws the wine out of balance," Long said. "When oak becomes the dominant element in wine, it overshadows characteristic fruit flavors and tastes overwhelmingly woodsy."

In addition to a shortage of glass bottles, other items crucial to bottling wine such as corks have been delayed on container ships and then face a lengthy haul on a truck after being offloaded. Read more of this story.

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