Originally opened in a former bowling alley (hence the name), Berkeley Bowl is a grocery shopping mecca and has received rapturous reviews for its remarkable produce selection, the best array in the Bay area, much of it organic and locally sourced.
Glenn and Diane Yasuda opened the first Berkeley Bowl in 1977, expanded and moved to a former Safeway in 1999, and eventually opened a second location in west Berkeley. Their son Gen took over in early 2020 after Glenn passed away and continues the family legacy of brokering sustenance to Alameda county and beyond. Glenn's passion was the produce department, and the supermarket grew up around it.
A spotlight avoider, Glenn was known for his hands-on work ethic which included arising at 2:30am to select the day's produce, well into his 80's. Laura McLively, author of the Berkeley Bowl cookbook (below), puts it well: “It’s hard to imagine that this famed institution — which has literally shaped the landscape of California cuisine, helped to save heirloom varieties of produce, employed hundreds of people and exposed millions of shoppers to new and exciting produce — was created by someone as humble as Glenn,” says McLively.
“Berkeley Bowl allows us to cook with a sense of adventure and an appreciation for what other cultures have to offer,” she says. “More than that, (Yasuda) left a mark on Berkeley. He created an independent, large-scale grocery store that puts quality above the bottom line, and that’s really hard to find.”