Birdland Jazz Finds a New Home at Cafe Yesterday

by Sarah Henry on August 30, 2011 · 7 comments

in bay citizen,berkeley bites,food events

Jazz club logo. Photos: Eric Arnold

Late last year Michael Parayno, the founder of arguably the hippest garage jazz club and barbecue joint in town, was having some serious run-ins with the city — as first reported on Berkeleyside.

Parayno was operating a very popular supper club, then called the Multi Culti Grill and Birdland Jazz, out of his Sacramento Street residential address across from North Berkeley BART. Almost 150 people commented on the three posts we wrote about his situation, the vast majority in support of his underground music venue.

The first time Parayno was busted by the city for code violations he simply reinvented his Friday night soirées as a private party, the Birdland Jazzista Social Club, much in the manner of the SF Underground Market in San Francisco. But in the end both much-loved events were shut down this summer by their respective cities for various zoning infractions. In Parayno’s case, he was cited for code violations, twice.

The Bird Man, club founder Michael Parayno.

Nothing if not persistent, Parayno, who has developed a loyal and vocal following among both music lovers and jazz musicians, has relocated his jams to the nearby Café Yesterday on University Avenue, a quirky new addition to the neighborhood that is run by two SoCal refugees with music and movie backgrounds.

The café is best known for its wide-ranging breakfast cereal bar, though it also sells standard coffee house fare like salads, sandwiches, and cookies — in addition to Frosted Flakes, Lucky Charms, and Cocoa Puffs.

The move came about because Parayno is a regular at the nonprofit, community-oriented café’s open mic nights on Thursdays. When the owners heard about Parayno’s plight, they promptly offered up their space; Birdland was back in business six days after shutting down.

An unofficial “soft launch” kicked things off on on August 6th with the GG Amos Blues Band, and the Billy Buss Quartet. (Buss is a graduate of the Berkeley High Jazz Ensemble.)

The food plays second fiddle these days; it’s more of a potluck scene with people, including Parayno, bringing food to share and the café selling tea, coffee, and pastries.

The Bird Man (Parayno is know for his birdhouse designs) is grateful to have a new home and extra help to keep the club going. Still, he says, it’s hard to top the garage band nights, a sentiment echoed repeatedly in the comment section of this East Bay Express story, where performers and attendees alike lament the passing of the old birdhouse venue.

“There is nothing quite like Birdland in the entire Bay Area that I know of. It is not, per se, a club, bar, or an establishment,” wrote Robin 616. “It is a gathering place where the art of music is shared with the community in an atmosphere of mutual respect and admiration. It is where kindred souls gather to be soothed, uplifted, inspired, rejuvenated, recharged and restored. Music from all over the world is played here.”

Still, the show must go on. Birdland Jazz on Sacramento Street is a thing of the past. The future for the music meet-up may well be found at Café Yesterday. Parayno certainly hopes people swing by to find out.

Birdland Jazzista Social Club is at Café Yesterday, 1122 University Street (@ San Pablo) on Fridays and Saturdays. Find out about upcoming acts on the Birdland Jazz and BBQ Facebook page.

This post originally appeared on Berkeleyside and was republished on The Bay Citizen.

You might also like:

What Next for Berkeley’s Multi Culti Grill and Birdland Jazz?
Must-haves: A couch in the garage, a grill in the driveway
Birdland Jazz and Multi Culti Grill: Update

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
Care to share

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Susi August 31, 2011 at 7:34 pm

What a shame! Never did get there but great that where one door closes…
Looking forward to grooving along next time in SF.


Sarah Henry September 1, 2011 at 10:05 am

Yes, Suse, just means you’ll have to come back to check out the stuff you missed on your recent visit. There’s plenty more. Do come back. You’re missed.


Susan September 1, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Such a shame that it’s so hard for entrepreneurial foodies to host grassroots events without running into zoning or licensing issues. I understand that those regulations are there to help provide standard for safe food, but they also discourage smaller food communities from sprouting up. Glad to hear he’s not giving up!
Susan´s last [type] ..Food Swaps Get a Shout Out in USA Today!


Sarah Henry September 1, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Well said, Susan. Suspect many folks agree with your sentiment.


living Large in our Little House September 2, 2011 at 4:03 am

Glad he found a new home. Now, let’s hope the bureaucrats will leave him alone.


Sarah Henry September 2, 2011 at 9:36 am

He’s gone legit, LLLH, so he’s off the city’s radar for now, methinks.


MyKidsEatSquid September 8, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I hope people do visit–sounds like a cool guy and a cool story.


Cancel reply

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: