Commissar, a Soviet-Themed Restaurant and Bar, Coming to Berkeley

The long-vacant Cody's space at Telegraph and Haste.
The long-vacant Cody's space at Telegraph and Haste. Photo: Tracey Taylor/Berkeleyside

The former Cody’s Bookstore space (2454-64 Telegraph Avenue), sadly vacant since 2006, will finally be seeing new life as a grand new entertainment and food complex called the Mad Monk Center for Anachronistic Media. The man behind the project, as the Scoop and Berkeleyside are reporting, is Rasputin Music founder Ken Sarachan, and the anachronistic media he’s referring to are, naturally, records, tapes, and books, which will figure prominently in the center. Sarachan says that even though bookstores aren’t economically viable anymore, he wants to create “Berkeley’s version of City Lights” in the space, with both retail and performance areas, as well as a flower shop and coffee shop. The restaurant and bar, meanwhile, will be called Commissar, and will be primarily vegetarian peasant food of the sort that “would suit a discriminating Soviet Official’s culinary tastes.” Sarachan revealed in his filings with the city that the menu is being designed “a book that I located several years ago,” which apparently features food eaten by Soviet workers. The guys behind the restaurant will be Craig Becker of the nearby Caffe Mediterraneum, and Scott Cameron of Guest Chef. The whole project still may face another city council hurdle, but if all goes well, look for this complex to open possibly by the end of the year. [Scoop, Berkeleyside]