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Business Buzz: Moraga Gets One New Restaurant; May Lose Another

Patch takes a stroll around town and picks up a few tidbits. And some merchants say Moraga's restaurant scene may be getting ready to change yet again.

Patch took some time to run a few errands Monday and, as always, promptly ran into locals with plans for new business in town -- as well as some trying to hold onto what they have.

We found ourselves in for a quick latte and ran into owner Roos Pal, a business dynamo with plans for Moraga's first Indian food restaurant -- a 26-seat establishment in the old deli location in Rheem Valley Center.

Roos said the name of her latest endeavor will be New Dehli Bistro and that it will focus on "cheap and cheerful" with take-out and maybe a little local delivery. She expects to open in March and so far the Permit Gods are lining up.

Pal said she was torn between opening a Mexican restaurant and one offering Indian cuisine, saying she often hears locals express their desire for more ethnic food choices in town.

"In the end we settled on Indian," she said with a characteristic smile. "We will see how it goes."

zipped in as we were speaking with Roos, and Bill is excited about the new "Buy Local" advertising effort, currently emblazoned on every prescription bag at nearly every table in the place.

"Whaddaya think of that?" Bill, always thinking about new ways to promote local merchants, asked.

And we had to admit it sounded pretty good so we piled into the Patchmobile and head over to the and a little catchup with Kenny Murakami, who was busy cleaning up and re-stocking after the last frost had its way with his leafy wares.

We bought a few things to keep our spirits up and made the run into Rheem, where we heard that a fairly young restaurant there (no names, yet, but we'll update everyone when we can) was struggling and may, in fact, be for sale.

owner Mickey Erez said Wednesday he had not heard that news and expressed interest in helping the business in question, if it is indeed in trouble.

"Maybe we can help them out," Mickey said. Erez added that his business has been doing very well and that they are considering an expansion. "We'll be offering breakfasts, too, soon."

Potential loss of a business is not the news you want to hear but, hey, you get the good with the bad here. If you have any other business-related news, drop me a line.

Lee daniels January 10, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Lot of rumors floating and being floated about the old Shell location --- Mickey D's, automotive repair shop etc etc. It will be interesting to see what actually ends up landing there.
CJ January 10, 2012 at 07:04 PM
If McD's had submitted you would have seen Patch blow up with all the Nimby's crying foul. Besides Jack couldn't get a drive through when they remodeled and are still pursuing it. McD's will not open a location without one. Period.
CJ January 10, 2012 at 07:20 PM
MT- Still no snow for you. But decent Mexican can be had if you drive to Pittsburg and go new the New Mecca. Take Railroad and go to the end. Been going for 35 years.No Margharita's though , just ice cold Modelo. I know it is a drive, but one I will take to kill my Mexi-Jones for awhile.
kevin January 10, 2012 at 07:39 PM
I was hoping for Mexican place too as I am not a fan of Indian food. I think CJ is right about Mediterranean place in Rheem being next to go. I also ate their one time and didn't return. Perhaps a good Mexican place could go there? The drive to Theater Square is still far and shouldn't impact a good place in Moraga.
Sandy January 10, 2012 at 07:41 PM
I thought Mecca closed. They were good and I hope CJ is right
Nicholas January 10, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Yo quiero E-N-C-H-I-L-A-D-A. Small place, come in and offer five dishes only. How about a food truck? Something!!
Michael Taylor January 10, 2012 at 08:03 PM
@CJ --- yeh, Alaska getting all the pow pow and we're dry as a bone. Looking at a week in Utah just to keep from cramping up. Stay cool
Tony Rodriguez January 10, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Maya in Orinda Los Panchos in Pacheco/Danville The burritos at the place near Citibank/soccer store in Lafayette The take out counters in the back of/next to little stores on Monument Glad New Mecca works for many, must have caught it on an off day. Looking forward to Indian food in M-Town. I like going to Terzetto for dinner on Friday and having the curry.
David January 10, 2012 at 08:33 PM
I think I know which restaurant you are referring as likely to close soon. When this place first opened I was glad to see all the locals coming by to give it a try in spite of what had been said about locals not supporting local businesses. In this case, lots of locals came by to try the food, service and ambiance. Unfortunately, most were disappointed. The food was bland, the portions small, the prices were a bit high and the service was almost nonexistent. I heard that several people tried to tell the owner that there were "issues" but he was not willing to listen to any comments or more importantly correct the issues raised by his customers. If this place ultimately does close I hope that the lesson learned is not that locals are unwilling to patronize a new establishment and give it a chance to succeed, but rather if the restaurant does not provide quality food, good service and fair prices it won't succeed. Further more, if the restaurant is unwilling to learn from its errors and endeavor to continue to improve and meet the needs and desires of its patrons, then it doesn't deserve to survive. I am still optimistic that if a new establishment opens in Moraga and does provide good food, good service, good ambiance and good value, it will succeed. Also they should be sensitive to the fact that they need to make a good impression in the beginning when locals come by to try things out of curiosity and then come back because they were satisfied by what they found.
Tony Rodriguez January 10, 2012 at 08:42 PM
I remain confident that Moraga/southern Orinda/central and southern Lafayette can support a few more restaurants in Moraga that provide good food and service. They won't be blockbuster venues, but they can succeed. I am sure it is harder than it looks to do well in a restaurant -- I think there is a curse on your enemy that he/she own a restaurant -- but I think there is enough discretionary income sloshing around to support some well-run places.
Tony Rodriguez January 10, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Good.
Tony Rodriguez January 10, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Ah, but see Los Panchos in Danville, which has seating for what looks like 60-80, in a nice room, and still does a brisk take-out business. I really am looking forward to the new place. I'm not sure if "touched a button" and "play nice" stem from something I said -- anything iffy in my post was completely unintentional.
CJ January 10, 2012 at 09:10 PM
I was their last week and it was fantastic! New Mecca remodeled and expanded so now you can actually get a seat. Food is still the same.
CJ January 10, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Mexican is as much a sstate of mind as anything. I can crave Roberto's in Mammoth Lakes after a week in the back country as much as anything on earth. If it was here in Lamorinda? Probably not as much. New Mecca is good as it gets around here, which honestly still leaves a bit to be desired if I am being completely honest. Notice nobody mentions El Charro and Celia's.
Tony Rodriguez January 10, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Celia's does more than a few things well, like the chicken mole, their beans, most days their enchilada sauce. It's on our approved list. But give me Monument or Los Panchos any day. El Charro is what it is. We go there several times a year and usually have a good time. Curiously, I swear the take-out is 2x better than the sit-down food.
Lafayette Curmudgeon January 10, 2012 at 10:35 PM
I like(d) the Shish Kebob show. Only been there a couple of times, though. I'd love a good Indian restaurant in Rheem -- although Breads of India in WC is hard to beat.
Lafayette Curmudgeon January 10, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Los Panchos in Pacheco is terrific. Didn't know there was one in Danville.
CJ January 10, 2012 at 10:42 PM
TRod- My sentiments exactly. But when the family and I are all trying to decide on a place. We never just land on an Orinda/Moraga place. Asia Palace maybe for Chinese food is as close to a GoTo place we have here. That is a tribute to Alan who is an excellent host. Mexican-Nada drive to New Mecca or Pancho's Burger's Nada- BTW-Smashburger(very good) is coming to WC and InNOut is coming to PH, Habit is OK in WC Pizza-Nada drive to Melo's in PH. Moraga and Orinda could use a real good Diner,Drive in and DIves style joint. Not fancy. Kid friendly. Awesome quality and value. Nobody around here does it though...kinda weird actually. I see intent but bad execution every time. I think the fixed costs and process/permit requirements make it too expensive to try riskier ideas around here, which is why you see them in smaller less expensive areas first. Which is a bummer.
Eileen January 11, 2012 at 03:02 AM
My and my kids' choice is still Cactus Taqueria on College Ave in Oakland next to BART station.
Eileen January 11, 2012 at 03:15 AM
CJ, you're a self-proclaimed "foodie" and yet none of your "go to" establishments are located westwards, through the tunnel. Are you afraid of catching "liberal cooties" in Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville? If I'm wrong, some suggestions: There's a tasty Mexican place, next to "Pasta Shop," that my husband, kids and I frequent when in the area, along 4th Street in Berkeley (near Bette's). Can't remember the name. And the freshest sushi I've eaten can be found at Kirala on Shattuck @ Ward, in Berkeley. (They have a second, smaller location on Shattuck in the Gourmet Ghetto.) Zachary's deep dish, again on College close to Rockridge BART, is excellent.
Tony Rodriguez January 11, 2012 at 03:33 AM
La Casita (La Cocina?) in Orinda near the library does things well. The place that used to be in Rheem was fine, though you had to set aside a good 90 minutes for the meal/wait time. But that was a long time ago.
Eileen January 11, 2012 at 03:57 AM
@ MT, if you're new to Utah and finding housing in Park City area, suggest you check out The Canyons. Expansive terrain, including much at expert level. This said as a Wasatch skiing regular, pre- and post- kids, who loves Alta/Snowbird and even Deer Valley (yes, they have expert terrain and great tree runs, for skiers only). I'm just not a fan of PCMR. It's where the Tahoe-weekend-crowds and their dangers convene in the PC area, IMO. Sad about low snow levels as I have a "girls weekend" planned for early Feb, and am praying for snow all across west too. Enjoy.
Kathleen January 11, 2012 at 04:06 AM
The place by Fourth Street is Tacubaya; owned by the same folks as Dona Tomas on Telegraph and Flora in downtown Oakland. Tacubaya is great for a quick lunch; Dona Tomas has a terrific menu very different from the standard enchilada fare. But when the tunnel traffic is bad, try El Jarro in Lafayette (next to Postino).
CJ January 11, 2012 at 07:40 AM
Eileen-Been to all of them. I find the battle for parking and hassle of westward dining to be too much trouble with the kiddies. Tacubaya is pretty good indeed. As you are aware of my affinity for Betties Ocean View but the hassle makes my trips infrequent. Kirala is good but since the last time I was there I ended up rolling a vagrant in the street who accosted my wife(as we waited outside for a table) and haven't been back. Cactus was our goto when we lived in Montclair.But can be a zoo. Zachary's is good for what it is. But I do not consider it Pizza and the hassle of getting one on College is insane. You are also dead on- I do not spend money in Berkeley/Oakland or SF if I can avoid it on philosophical grounds.
Susan R. January 11, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Sadly, Numero Uno Taqueria, "the place near Citibank/soccer store in Lafayette," lost their lease at the end of December and closed...it was the best burrito place in town, by far and will be greatly missed. There is another location in Martinez, but its a long way to go for a quick burrito.
Marti Roach January 11, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Some of my friends and I see the old world savings and loan building as the place for a new Moraga restaurant--perhaps hybrid sports bar and family spot to attract St. Mary's crowd, families and empty nesters who want a place for quality, fresh, moderate American fare. We need more venues locally to keep us local. My son says the building has always been call The Wedge. what a great name for a restaurant. Who will lead us to this solution???
john silberman January 12, 2012 at 01:21 AM
good to hear Shish Kabab Show is here to stay.....looking forward to many more years of schwarma, falafel, and belly dancing!
Scott Bowhay January 12, 2012 at 05:42 AM
La Calaca Loca, 51st & Telegraph-ish (little center across from Walgreens)...a great pick me up if you're coming home from Children's Hospital or otherwise...a stones throw from Dona Tomas. Was on the Chronicle Top 100 for a few years..."gourmet tacqueria", (Niman Ranch meat), but very reasonable....really hard to bring that stuff all the way home...put it in the trunk if you don't want a mad spouse!
Elaine January 23, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Soccer store has moved and burrito place is GONE! Anyone know why those three buildings are now empty?
Mike January 24, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Marti, I think you're right about the need and the location. I always thought the building now occupied by Curves and the Gymnsastics gym would have made a great location for a family spot / bar / venue, with enough space for separate rooms that could allow for music, private parties, etc. The Wedge. I vote for you to lead!

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