The new year may be a slog of bad pandemic news so far, but there is some brightness on the restaurant horizon today on several fronts.
In addition to news about a likely Cliff House replacement by year's end and a surprise revival of North Beach staple The Stinking Rose, we have word via Berkeleyside that pioneering Rockridge restaurant Oliveto — slated to close on New Year's Eve — is quietly back open.
"We’re in this world of pivots now," as co-owner Bob Klein tells Berkeleyside. "Everything is true until tomorrow. And then you pivot."
Klein says they decided to keep the place running past their previously announced expiration date because they've been approached by a buyer — a "significant restaurateur," he says — and because so many fans found it impossible to get a reservation during Oliveto's final two months of special dinners. That was following the announcement in early November, covered by a swath of local media, that the restaurant would close after 35 years in business and countless accolades.
Also, it sounds like Klein himself didn't get to give the place a proper goodbye — four days before the planned goodbye bash on NYE, he came down with COVID symptoms, like so many people in the Bay Area.
The Chronicle broke the news Tuesday about this coda of sorts for the restaurant, with Klein saying that the restaurant and its downstairs cafe will remain open "for months," hopefully until a deal gets fully inked with the buyer.
As he says to Berkeleyside, the ideal situation for this year will be "We would keep going, the deal would be made, plans would be drawn and permits would be filed. Remodeling would be done incrementally... Then we’d close and the new guy would open."
The good news for all of Oliveto's many fans is that they can head back over for dinner any time for the next few months, or more — and they can keep saying goodbye, again and again, until it's time to say hello to a new incarnation.