We were looking forward to announcing a new Berkeley neighborhood brewery opening in the next week or two, but fate stepped in and put a hold on Dan Appell's plans to launch his Grateful Gnome Sandwich Shoppe & Brewery at the corner of West 44th Avenue and Stuart Street. Construction scaffolding on the apartment building next door collapsed last week, damaging the roof of the brewery. And now Appell is mired in meetings, inspections and paperwork to plan roof repairs so that it will be safe for the Grateful Gnome to open. The owner says that opening could now be several months away, and in the meantime, he's losing money.
Initially, the city had slapped a "Danger, Keep Out" sign on the door of the Grateful Gnome, but the ceiling has been temporarily shored up so that Appell — who has done nearly all of the buildout himself — and his team can continue to work on the interior. He points out that head brewer Bess Dougherty was standing at the bar when a plank from the scaffolding crashed through the ceiling, missing her by only feet.
The scaffolding was from the construction of a four-story apartment complex being built by Denver developer Michael Mathieson. Appell says insurance is likely to cover the cost of the roof repairs (though that's still being worked out), but he says the problem is not just a matter of patching holes: The roof will need to be rebuilt to current code on the 100-year-old building that was once a mechanic's garage.
Appell is understandably angry about the incident and bewildered by the red tape involved in getting the roof repaired. But he's also determined to go forward and get his brewpub open after a year and a half of hard work to make the Grateful Gnome the third Berkeley brewery, after De Steeg and Call to Arms.
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