4

Bars and breakfasts in the Berkeley neighborhood

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We get a booth against the wall, where we drink tea and watch the neighborhood turn over on the floor; the clock rolling from breakfast rush into lunch. Almost everyone in the place seems to be a friend, a regular -- making the Sunday morning or afternoon pilgrimage for eggs and coffee and slabs of French toast stuffed with peanut butter and jelly and Belgian waffles with blueberry compote and crème fraiche. They wave to each other, gossip with their waitresses, with the owners -- brothers Jason and Devin Stallings -- who are hunkered down in a back booth, doing their books and business.

The Stallings brothers are veterans, third-generation Coloradans who've spent large portions of their lives moving in and out of the restaurant business. Jason did time at the Paramount and the Skylark before taking a ten-year sabbatical into the tech business. Devin did Pour La France and Sushi Hai, Moda and Blue Ice and the Giggling Grizzly. Neither had ever owned a place of their own, but in 2006 they both decided they wanted to. "I got sick of the tech business," Jason explains over the phone, "and he was sick of working for other people."

So Devin and Jason threw in together, and DJ's was the result. But why a breakfast bar? Why the neighborhood diner model?

"There's just a whole bunch of bad breakfast out there," Jason replies, as if it's the most obvious thing in the world. "We thought we could do something better."

And that's just what the two of them did at DJ's Berkeley Cafe -- built a better breakfast for their neighbors, friends and day-tripping gastronauts looking for a casual little breakfast bar with excellent hash and legendary eggs benedict.

And once breakfast is done? Well, the brothers have just recently bought the Berkeley Inn next door -- all the details of which are laid out in this week's Bite Me, followed by a little bitching about sandwiches (at Taste of Philly in particular), and wrapping up with a combination bar-and-breakfast treatise on the joys of the Cherry Cricket for Second Helping.

Another busy week. And you can read all about it right here tomorrow.

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