by Anneli Rufus
Those searchlights you might have seen sweeping back and forth across the East Bay skies on Saturday night started in front of Berkeley's Hotel Shattuck Plaza, where a grand-reopening gala featured stilt-walkers and glittery cupcakes and enormous prawns.
About a thousand partygoers, many in semiformal gear, swirled from ballroom to bar to open-air courtyard and back again on Saturday night, making the most of Ten Cane Rum mojitos, sustainably sourced oysters, barbecued beans, orzo-and-cheese-with-all-the-toppings (prepared by acclaimed chef Scott Howard), and more as live performers played jazz and assumed startling acrobatic positions.
The fete was an official launch of the landmark 199-room boutique hotel, whose recent multimillion-dollar transformation -- insiders like to call it a "reinvention" -- entailed being deconstructed down to the frames in many parts and then assembled with contemporary style elements such as crimson chandeliers and hallway carpets whose designs border on the psychedelic. Redesigned by Thom Jess of Arris Architects with additional work by Ziv Davis and historical architect Mark Hulbert -- but still bearing the name of gold-seeker-turned-real-estate-mogul Francis Kittredge Shattuck, who built a Victorian estate on this site in 1868 -- the hotel officially reopened in June.
Saturday night's hoedown followed a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony that was held in front of the hotel last Thursday, and which featured speeches by Berkeley City Councilwoman Linda Maio and the hotel's owner (and UC Berkeley alum) Perry Patel, representing Palo Alto-based BPR Properties. BPR's founder was his father, B.B. Patel, who also attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony and who began the business with his first property, a 26-unit Redwood City motel, in 1973.