Berkeley’s Gather Expanding to Marbella Space on Polk

The front bar area at Marbella.

The team behind popular Berkeley eating and drinking spot Gather, Eric Fenster, Ari Derfel and chef Sean Baker, are close to signing a lease on the former Café Rex/Marbella space (2323 Polk Street), vacant since early November. As the Chron reports this a.m., the new restaurant won't be called Gather, but it will have a similar ethos in terms of its local, organic ingredients and balance between vegetarian/vegan dishes and omnivore fare, and Baker — who was named Chef of the Year by Esquire in 2010 — will serve as chef at both places. Also, says Fenster, "Since there are fewer seats, we can refine the cuisine a little bit." And because of the space's prominent, recently remodeled bar, cocktails will be a focus as well (the Berkeley restaurant already has a great, if small cocktail program focusing on local spirits and seasonal fruits and herbs). Will the vegan charcuterie make a repeat appearance? We shall see. Opening date is TBA, but look for updates in a couple of months. [Chron]