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Diablo Dish — May '08


May 4 marks Wente Vineyards’s 125th anniversary. Changes are ahead for the winery’s restaurant, which recently lost its chef, Jerry Regester.

Sous chef Eric Berg is keeping the stoves hot while management searches for a new executive chef. Regester, who has taken a job at Monterey’s new InterContinental Hotel, says his long commute from Carmel was a factor in his decision. In addition, the Culinary Institute of America inducted the winery’s founder, Carl Heinrich Wente, into the Vintners Hall of Fame in March.

As Diablo reported in March’s Food Scene (“The ‘There There’ ”), beloved Temescal chef Bakesale Betty is opening a second location in Oakland at Broadway and West Grand this year. As if that weren’t enough excitement, Betty—whose real name is Alison Barakat—recently received a visit from the first lady of California, Maria Shriver. Shriver came to the bakery to announce a $100,000 investment in the Women’s Initiative for Self Employment, a program that supports women entrepreneurs and from which Barakat graduated.

Restaurateur Rick Ring has sold Mahalo Grille on Main Street in Pleasanton. Gayle and Richard Israel, of San Ramon, bought the Hawaiian-themed eatery in March and say they plan to keep the menu the same. “Business at the restaurant has been good,” says Gayle. “And we’re bringing in our own executive chef, Josh Payton.” Ring did not return calls seeking comment on the sale.

Around the corner from Mahalo Grille, another restaurant that recently changed hands, Claude & Dominique's Bistro, has lost its chef. Philippe Chevalier of Danville's now-closed La Salamandre had been cooking at Claude & Dominique's since the new owners took over. But he recently left the French bistro and announced plans to open his own restaurant, Chevalier, in a space on Moraga Road in Lafayette that's currently home to The Patio. "I'm very excited to have my own place for the first time," says Chevalier, 42, adding that he hopes to open in mid-June with a southern French menu and a $28 prix fixe early bird supper.

Teacake Bake Shop
, Emeryville’s purveyor of cupcakes, cookies, and brownies, is scheduled to open a new location in downtown Lafayette’s La Fiesta Square this month. Teacake replaces Patisserie Lafayette, which took over Lisa’s Tea Treasures down the street in November 2006 to open its Maison de Thé.

This spring, the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control closed Corks Wine Store in Danville for 10 days, after citing them for letting customers taste wine in the retail section of the store—a legal no-no. “There’s so many doggone rules with booze,” says Ted Madzey, Corks’s owner. For now, Madzey says he’s trying to keep the good times on the tame side, without compromising the “living room” feel of the place. “We’ll just keep doing our thing till they come shut us down again,” he says.

In other wine news, the owners of Dopo plan to open an Italian-themed wine bar, Scopa, just down the street from their pizzeria on Oakland’s Piedmont Avenue in November. They’ve also applied for a full liquor license at Dopo. Hello, grappa!

Got Dish? E-mail us at dish@maildiablo.com.


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