The Hof Brau

The building formerly known as the Hof Brau.


So many buildings in Berkeley have sentimental value to me.

This building used to be the Hof Brau restaurant for many years. They had big slabs of beef and ham and turkey and other delicacies behind the counter. And they would dump a big plate of hot meat and mashed potatoes on your plate. And you’d be good to go.

And 25 cent cups of coffee, with 10 cent refills, if I remember right.

I used to go in the Hof Brau with my pal Duncan sometimes. And when the guy behind the counter was carving up a plate of meat for Duncan, trimming off the fat, Duncan would always say: “Give me as much of the fat as you CAN!! I LOVE the fat!!” So the guy would put a big mound of fat on Duncan’s plate (they were just gonna throw it out anyways) along with the meat. . . I think about that every time I walk by that building. Duncan and his fat. Isn’t that stupid?

Another time, around 1986 — when we were still young and beautiful — I was hanging out in the Hof Brau with my punk rock friend Mary Mayhem, drinking pitchers of Budweiser. Looking out at Telegraph Avenue from the window seat. And there was this guy who was sitting across the street from us, sitting on the sidewalk with his friends, leaning against the Berkeley Market building (also gone). And he had these cardboard signs, and he was holding them up, rating all the women who passed by on a scale of 1 to 10. On their attractiveness. Like it was an Olympics event or something. And him and his friends are laughing and joking and having a good time making comments at the expense of all the women who passed by.

And Mary — who could get pretty feisty — kept getting more and more pissed as she watched this spectacle playing out. Finally she announced: ‘I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS SHIT!!” I guess she thought it was “sexist.” So she bolted up out of her chair, ran across the street, confronted the guy, grabbed the guy’s cardboard signs, and tore them up. And gave him a little kick in the ass for good measure. Came back and sat down at our table in triumph. And we continued drinking our beer. Ha ha.

The only other thing I remember about the Hof Brau is that this guy Kevin Freeman used to sit at a table drinking pitchers of beer by himself all the time. Freeman was a local Telegraph wingnut. He had the hippie hair and beard and almost no forehead which made him look like a werewolf. And his face got really red as be drank. Freeman used to get locked up at Santa Rita all the time for various minor fuck-ups. And one time they put him in this cell with a psycho who beat him to death and splattered his blood and his brains all over the walls. It was a big local story at the time. And all the newspapers and TV news did features on it.

And that’s pretty much all I remember about the Hof Brau.



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