HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


Maoz Vegetarian Berkeley closing this week.

Just ran into the very friendly manager today and he told me that Friday would be their last day of business. Their business had fallen dramatically since UC let out at the beginning of the month.

If you never went there, you missed out on very crispy, mild falafel balls, roasted cauliflower, sweet red beets and spicy cilantro sauce. at bargain prices.

I guess it will be back to Sunrise for me.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. That really surprises me. You'll find me at Holy Land in Elmwood ...

    1 Reply
    1. re: hyperbowler

      Me too, but evidently the rent was astronomical and neither the fire across the street nor the construction on Channing helped their business.

    2. That is sad. One of my favorites. I wonder if there's any chance they might pop up somewhere else in the East Bay. The fact that they were on campus actually deterred me from going more often, since I never wanted to deal with the hassle of parking, etc.

      4 Replies
      1. re: abstractpoet

        Yes, very sorry to hear that but we could sure use you here in West Berkeley!

        1. re: abstractpoet

          I'd be doubtful on pop-up. They were an international restaurant franchise location.

          1. re: drewskiSF

            Oh, I just meant reemerge somewhere else...not literally as a "pop-up". =)

        2. Eh. Maoz never impressed me.

          Sunrise has more consistently good falafel. Fa-La-La had much better pita. Their lemonade & iced tea in the cooler were pre-made with ice making them watery when I tried them.

          I did like the toppings bar.

          1. sad to see it go. despite the potential for good business with such a large work and student population nearby, it seems like there are plenty of businesses that come in and out around that telegraph area. i thought that the fact that maoz is a chain would help. thought they had the best falafels -although i agree that fa la la had a much better pita (another casualty).

            1. the Maoz branch in DC recently closed too. wonder if they're closing the US operations.

              1 Reply
              1. re: hill food

                I think it's just individual franchise owners deciding to close. In the case of the Berkeley Maoz, I heard that there are new owners who decided they want to open something else in that location.

              2. Bad news :( My heart skipped a beat when I saw this in my email. I tried that place when I first opened my restaurant.

                1. It's too bad they never decided to go kosher like some of their other locations. They would have had a steady stream of faithful customers outside of the student set. Word to Berkeley Restaurants, especially vegetarian or dairy restaurants, there is no kosher restaurant in berkeley. If you want a faithful, reliable batch of customers, many with families that need take out, etc. think about going kosher.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: thebestlinda

                    not a bad idea.as vegan/vegetarian K wouldn't be all that difficult. rules yes but then everything has them.

                    1. re: thebestlinda

                      Sounds good in theory. There are not insubstantial costs to go Kosher. At least when I asked, The Holy Land folks said it's a major reason why Elmwood isn't, though Lakeshore is.

                      1. re: drewskiSF

                        My understanding is that costs are signicantly higher for certifiying the kashrut of a meat restaurant (which needs near-constant supervision), like Holy Land, than a dairy restaurant.

                      2. re: thebestlinda

                        There weren't enough Berkeley residents who cared about that enough to keep Raphael in business.

                          1. re: ZakiKabobhouse

                            Not for people who will eat only at kosher restaurants.

                            1. re: ZakiKabobhouse

                              somewhat similar in idea but not at all the same for those to whom it matters. a parallel in a way but different.

                            2. re: Robert Lauriston

                              True, but Raphael also had other challenges (such as being closed on Sundays, if I recall, which is when many kosher consumers eat out, consistently making major mistakes on takeout orders, etc.). I really liked Raphael and still miss it. I think that to have a kosher restaurant with crossover appeal, it is critical to have excellent service and keep costs reasonable.

                          2. Interesting replies.

                            Here is my read (with a little inside knowledge).
                            First - I think Rafael died (sadly, because I really loved them) due to a flawed business model, not because of the costs of kosher or lack of kosher community wanting to support. They assumed they would attract a second turnover at dinner, which kosher families were not providing and which is hard to achieve in early closing Berkeley. Second, they were too high end and high priced. Though they deserved their prices, it was too much for families to eat there regularly.

                            A better alternative would be a more mid-scale existing veggie or dairy place like Udupi Palace, or the veggie Thai place on Shattuck, or Maoz if they were still around, though I think the kosher market is saturated right now with middle eastern food. Or if someone wanted to open a vegetarian Chinese place that was good and didn't serve non-kosher fish. Shangri La in SF has been kosher for some time, and gets lots of community support. It is reasonably good and well-priced.

                            I have also heard from reputable sources that there may be orthodox rabbis around outside the Vaad, who are not always easy to work with, who would be willing to provide free to inexpensive supervision. However, the restaurants would still have to pay whatever costs may be associated with kashering and purchasing new utensils.

                            I wish Halal meant the same as kosher, but it doesn't. Halal is less strict, hence more Halal restaurants.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: thebestlinda

                              I think the fire on Telegraph had a lot to do with the closing of Moaz. It was a young business in the very volatile and risky and some times unprofitable opening stages of the first few years (franchise or otherwise). The fire was the perfect storm as they probably didn't have enough cash to hold them over for the decrease in traffic as Telegraph recovered. I agree with Linda here I dont think it was a lack of community support for Kosher. Holy Land has been open for years.

                              1. re: ZakiKabobhouse

                                Holy Land has been open for many years, but the College Ave location is not Kosher. See note about lack of rabbinical supervision on their website

                              2. re: thebestlinda

                                You could get some investors together and approach an existing restaurant about going kosher.

                                Seems like vegetarian Chinese or Japanese might be the cheapest to kosherize since there's already no meat or dairy.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  I don't know all the rules but one has to wonder if it's easier to go K from the ground up rather than retro-fix it.

                              3. I just heard (unconfirmed) that the owner of the Turkish Kitchen on Shattuck will take over the Moaz space, dont know what the concept will be.. probably Turkish.