By Berkeleyside Editors, Berkeleyside NOSH (3/13/15)
When Charles Phan was an architecture student at UC Berkeley, he spent a lot of time in Wurster Hall.
Phan left Cal before he graduated, but he is about, once again, to spend time at Wurster, as he is planning to take over the café there in the fall serving his trademark organic, international food. It will be the famous chef’s first venture in the East Bay.
“I am 99%, not 100% sure,” Phan said about the opening. Describing his vision for the space, he said: “You walk up, you get some food. It’s affordable, it’s fast. My goal is to take care of the students.”
Robert Lalanne, the vice-chancellor of real estate at UC Berkeley, approached Phan many months ago about serving food at UC Berkeley. Phan is best known for the critically acclaimed The Slanted Door restaurant in San Francisco. Talks are ongoing, but both men told Berkeleyside they feel confident they will strike a deal. UC plans to redo the plaza outside Wurster Hall for the new café, said Lalanne. The building is named after William Wurster, the famed architect and dean of the Berkeley Architectural School, now known as the College of Environmental Design.
The Phan family opened the original Slanted Door on Valencia Street in 1995 and it remains one of the area’s most highly regarded restaurants. It is now located in the Ferry Building, and is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Phan has been involved with several other restaurant projects over the past few years, including the Moss Room at the California Academy of Sciences. Along with Slanted Door, his current interests include two Out The Door take-out restaurants, Mexican eatery South at the SFJazz Center, and the Hard Water whiskey bar, all in San Francisco. Phan said he employs a total of around 400 people.