Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Store Closing

Stormy weather for a fruit and vegetable icon


The storm stirred up by Bill Fujimoto’s recent resignation as manager of Monterey Market in Berkeley might seem surprising to some. But in Berkeley, perhaps more than anywhere else in the United States, passions run high over produce, and under Fujimoto’s direction, Monterey Market became iconic for its support for small-scale local, and sustainable farming, its reputation parallel to that of the nearby Chez Panisse.

Fujimoto’s knowledge of produce varieties, seasons and growing areas, his contacts with farmers and his encouragement of them to plant neglected or little known specialty items, such as Sierra Beauty apples and Pixie tangerines, have amplified his influence far beyond the San Francisco Bay Area. And more than his expertise, his humility and integrity have inspired intense loyalty in the market’s suppliers, customers and employees.

“Bill Fujimoto is the only one of his kind in the United States,” said John Kirkpatrick, a citrus farmer in Lindcove, Calif. “I’m looking for other markets to sell to.”

But now, Fujimoto is out after a dispute among family members.

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Doremi Market closes in Koreatown

Doremiclosed3 Less than five months after its splashy grand opening, spacious Korean supermarket Doremi and its adjacent noodle shop Doremi Udon (located on Olympic Boulevard near Hoover) have shut their doors. There are plenty of other Korean markets big and small in Koreatown -- including Market World half a mile west at Olympic and Berendo -- but it's always sad to see one bite the dust. You'll just have to go elsewhere for your gallon jugs of kimchi and assortment of Korean fruits, vegetables, juices, seasonings, seafood, candy and noodles.

The parking lot is locked, the shelves have been stripped and calls to the market, the noodle shop and Sunny Hill Group Inc. have gone unanswered or unreturned.

-- Elina Shatkin

Photo: Elina Shatkin / Los Angeles Times

This Just In: The Wine Cask in Santa Barbara closes?

Winecask The Santa Barbara Independent reports that the venerable Wine Cask has closed. Calls to the restaurant and wine store Thursday and today were unanswered. Here's what the Independent says:

One of Santa Barbara wine country's most historic and influential businesses closed its downtown doors for good, as the owners of the Wine Cask restaurant and wine store -- as well as the Intermezzo wine bar -- told their employees that there'd no longer be jobs for them. The surprise shutdown comes less than two years after longtime owner Doug Margerum sold the business to senior care mogul and Los Angeles area restaurateur Bernard Rosenson. According to the landlord, SIMA Property Management, the closure resulted from an eviction.

According to the Santa Barbara Independent, Rosenson was unavailable for comment. Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila reviewed the Wine Cask's restaurant last year after Rosenson "spruced up the place a bit" and installed John Pettitt, former chef de cuisine at Melisse, as the new chef. Among the changes noted:

Shortly after his purchase, Rosenson cut down the shaggy eucalyptus tree that had anchored the Wine Cask's courtyard patio for decades -- a move that hasn't endeared him to locals. For the new owner, the tree had a certain nuisance factor, shedding leaves and droppings on the patio, so off it went to that log pile in the sky.

Maybe that tree had been good luck.

-- Betty Hallock

David Myers to open Comme Ca Bakery; Boule closes


Boule Atelier, the stylish WeHo pastry shop on La Cienega Boulevard, has closed its doors.

Owner David Myers (whose empire of restaurants -- Sona, Comme Ça and, most recently, Pizzeria Ortica in Orange County -- continues to expand) and baker Hidefumi Kubota told the Daily Dish that they would be putting their energies into a new Comme Ça Bakery instead.

Fans of the shop's macarons, chocolate sables and sea salt caramels might ask, why close Boule? "It’s pretty simple," Myers says. "We’ve had incredible demand for our breads. I’m so passionate about what Hide’s doing and he’s so talented when it comes to baking bread. Unfortunately, our location [at Boule] doesn’t give us the right space to delve deeply into bread."

Comme Ça Bakery's retail shop will be down the street from the current Boule location on La Cienega, and is set to open this summer, next to the space planned for Myers' forthcoming second outpost of Ortica. Myers is moving the bread baking operation into a 10,000-square-foot facility in Culver City. (Comme Ça Bakery also will be offering the bread wholesale.)

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San Francisco's Scharffen Berger plants to close

Sbchocolates2_2More bad news from the front lines of the recession. Beloved San Francisco chocolate maker Scharffen Berger will shut down its two Bay Area facilities, current owner Hershey Co. announced Tuesday. The San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday that Scharffen Berger's selection of sweets "will no longer be locally made" and that "Hershey already makes the majority of its Scharffen Berger products at its newly upgraded plant in Robinson, Ill." Still, 150 people up north will be affected by the dual plant closings. 

And while most tourists buying last-minute gifts from SFO International Airport (one of the many places bittersweet Scharffen Berger products were available in the greater San Francisco area) for friends certainly won't know the difference now that the chocolate will now be made in Illinois, Bay Area fans of Scharffen Berger have a right to lament the loss of what was becoming a cherished San Francisco brand to rival the Ghirardelli Chocolate Co.

From the Chronicle:

Scharffen Berger was founded in 1996 by Robert Steinberg, a family-practice physician in San Francisco and Ukiah, along with a former patient, winemaker John Scharffenberger.

The pair experimented in Steinberg's kitchen, using everything from a mortar and pestle to a hair dryer to create their chocolate. Production started in a South San Francisco plant but was moved to the larger, 27,000-square-foot Berkeley factory in 2001.

"It was home grown. They really changed the way people regarded chocolate in this country," said Deborah Kwan, a public relations consultant for the company from the time it opened until 2003.

-- Charlie Amter

Photo: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times


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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.