Epps says the name of his new foray into dinner is a tribute to a theater in the neighborhood where he grew up in Detroit. The Royal will offer burgers, salads, shakes (including the adult kind) and a full bar. "It's a pretty exciting time for the Berkeley neighborhood," says Epps, who lives nearby with his wife and kids. "We were always scratching our heads, wondering where to go for dinner." Rather than heading for fast food or taking a chance at the more bar-oriented options on the street, he decided to open the kind of place that he and his family have been craving. At only 35 to 40 seats, the Royal will be small and focused. Epps is aiming for an early-December opening.Across the street at 4275 Tennyson, Drew Shader is rebuilding an old dance studio for the third incarnation of his three-in-one concept -- another Atomic Cowboy with the Denver Biscuit Company and Fat Sully's Pizza as the breakfast and dinner options of the trio. "Yes, there will be high chairs," Shader says, since Berkeley is more family-friendly than either Colfax or South Broadway where his other two operations run, but adds that "we haven't abandoned our roots and would like to think we're still just a great neighborhood bar, too."
Shader is aiming for a spring 2015 opening for the 3,000 square-foot space, which will offer more menu items than the current incarnations, including expanded brunch and kids' menus.Vital Root, from Root Down and Linger owner Justin Cucci and Vital Yoga owner Desiree Springer, is also on track to open in early 2015 in the former Mountain Man Nut & Fruit Company space on Tennyson. Expect a vegetarian menu with juices, raw foods, sandwiches on sprouted-grain breads, and kitchari -- an Indian rice and lentil dish that Vital Root will offer in a fast-casual, point-and-order format.