Bringing a new kind of fresh and nutritional food to Berkeley, Califa’s Greens, a vegan-friendly health-focused restaurant, opened Jan. 19 on University Ave.
Owners Zeiri Guzman, Annia Guzman and Margarito Gallardo began toying with the idea of opening a restaurant six years ago. Only recently, however, were they able to turn more than twenty years of experience in the restaurant industry into their own independent venture, according to Gallardo.
“We used to work in the previous restaurant when it first opened,” Gallardo said. “The previous owner offered us the place, and we decided to get it.”
Annia Guzman added that Califa’s Greens opened 15 days after La Capilla, the previous restaurant at Califa’s current location, closed. Although customers were surprised by the quick turnover, the reception has been positive, the owners said.
Opening has been difficult yet rewarding, according to the owners, both because Califa’s is their first independent restaurant and because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was too ripe of an opportunity, Gallardo said, so the owners welcomed the risks of opening during a pandemic.
“Customers love that Califa’s Greens bring a different assortment of fresh dishes and produce,” Zeiri Guzman said.
The owners expected a slow beginning but are confident that business will pick up because of the high quality of their novel, unique dishes, Zeiri Guzman noted.
In addition to serving nutritional dishes that combine greens, protein and fruit, Califa’s offers fresh juices, energy shots and blends.
“The best dishes are the sandwiches, kale bowl and the sea toast,” Annia Guzman said. “My personal favorite is the beets bowl because when the dressing is combined with all the ingredients, it’s like a party in my mouth.”
According to Zeiri Guzman, the owners have a distinctive take on and love for food and flavors that is reflected in their menu.
Particularly, because Califa’s food is vegan friendly, customers will find it unique, she added.
“Califa’s is different from other restaurants,” Zeiri Guzman said. “We cook our food as though we are cooking it for ourselves.”