North African Supper Club 'Berber' To Open In Russian Hill This Fall

This fall, Russian Hill residents will be seeing a new business taking over the empty storefront at 1516 Broadway, formerly home to Killer Shrimp. 

Borhen Hammami and partner Tony Garnicky are planning to open Berber, a North African-inspired supper club with a modern twist. As a 20-year veteran of the restaurant business, Hammami said he knows exactly what to expect.

After graduating from college with a degree in business, he started out in New York's restaurant world as a busboy in a Kosher barbecue joint. After working his way up the ladder in different eateries, he moved to San Francisco.

In the Bay Area, Hammami worked at Marrakech Restaurant, a Moroccan eatery and Pasha, which was also located at 1516 Broadway before The Killer Shrimp. He later opened his own business, Cafe Chanta, a wine and hookah lounge with live entertainment, before selling it to a buyer in 2011. 

In 2014, Hammami and Garnicky decided to open their own supper club; initially, they set their sights on 1648 Pacific Avenue, an old firehouse, but after that fell through, the partners found their way back to Broadway.

The partners are still ironing out details for Berber's planned opening, but Hammami shared a few hints as to what diners can expect.

There will be a large bar in the first room, with communal and individual party tables on the other side of the room. A back room will be a formal dining area where patrons can enjoy entertainment inspired by Cirque Du Soleil.

Customers who prefer the dining room will need to make reservations for what will be a prix fixe four- or five-course meal that begins at about $75 (though prices may change). Diners seeking a la carte selections will be seated in the first room.

Hammami said the menu will change seasonally, but diners can expect to find items like lamb, fish and fresh fruit mixed in with North African flavors like coriander, honey, almonds. Berber has also obtained a full liquor license, which means it will open with an extensive bar and an upstairs wine room suitable for private tastings.

The partners hope to have the place ready to open in September. Business hours have yet to be set, but Hammami said the restaurant will be open six days a week with happy hour starting at 3pm. There will also be brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30am to 3:30pm.

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North african supper club berber to open in russian hill this fall