After nearly three years, Alborz Persian Restaurant has returned to Berkeley, opening a location on Oxford Street and Allston Way.
Alborz Persian Restaurant was forced to close the doors of its previous Berkeley location on Center Street in March 2017 after being evicted. Now, after several years of indecision over whether or not to return to Berkeley, owner David Dornan held a grand opening for the chain’s new location Feb. 1, just in time for the 30th anniversary of the original location’s opening in Fremont.
After first witnessing rent increase nearly 50% and then being evicted from the restaurant’s original location, Dornan said he decided to come back to Berkeley because of the high level of support the restaurant had from the local community.
“Berkeley people really support me very well; they really missed me,” Dornan said. “They were coming to Walnut Creek these three years and asking me to please come back. They really support me very well and they are good people, too.”
The restaurant’s new location is at the former site of The Saturn Cafe, a vegetarian restaurant that closed its doors last July after nine years in the building.
Dornan described the new space as much “bigger and cozier” than Alborz’s first Berkeley location and said it is equipped with a larger, more professional kitchen as well as a bigger bar, which they plan to keep stocked with craft beers and a wider selection of wines.
All five of the Northern Californian chain’s locations use ingredients from the same sources, according to Dornan. He added that, while he tries not to stray too far from traditional Persian dishes, he does have plans to experiment with adding a Persian pizza to the menu in the future.
“I cannot say it’s the fanciest, but the food and everything is number one,” Dornan said. “I think we are one of the best in Northern California.”
The Allston Way location is furnished with the stylistic elements indicative of fine dining with napkins folded on wooden tables next to crystal glasses. Paintings of traditional Persian cuisines and cultural scenes hang on the walls next to photographs of Bay Area landmarks. Fresh bread is baked on-site every day, Dornan added.
Although Dornan had not initially planned to hold a flashy grand opening event outside of the restaurant’s “soft opening” Feb. 1, he said his gratitude for the support of Alborz customers in Berkeley has made him reconsider having a bigger celebration.
“I want them to know ‘thank you for the support,’ ” Dornan said. “I want to do something for them but don’t want to say what yet.”