“Mass Extinction Event” Warned as Wave of Business Closures Ravages Emeryville
As retail and restaurants begin their phase of reopening, we’re slowly assessing the economic damage caused or escalated by this pandemic. Many of the businesses forced to close when the original shelter order was placed back on March 16, will sadly, not be reopening. Whenever Emeryville completely emerges from this pandemic, is not likely to resemble the one that entered it.
Small businesses restaurants are expected to be hit the hardest with Shiba Ramen Owner Jake Freed warning of a “Mass Extinction Event” if legislation assisting payment of back rent could not be passed.
“It may say ‘Died in a pandemic’ on our tombstone, but the truth is, being a small business in SF, we were already dead,” SF Chronicle columnist Heather Knight penned in a piece detailing the challenges small businesses in particular are facing.
This event will test the resiliency of Emeryville’s business climate and thus far, our city appears to be particularly vulnerable. A troubling sign for a city that relies on sales tax for 15-20% of its revenue used for city services (the city is already predicting a $15.2 M budget shortfall). A city with the trifecta of high rents, high property crime and the highest wages in the country. Our city’s recent plundering at the hands of organized looters might be the last straw for those businesses treading water.
Bay Street has been particularly ravaged with a growing list of at least four closures. In addition to the businesses listed below, there are several boarded up businesses that are not clear will reopen.
Core Society Fitness – CLOSED
Gyms were among the hardest hit by the pandemic and will be among the last to be allowed to fully reopen. When they finally do reopen, capacity and thus revenue, will be dramatically curtailed. Core Society Fitness founder Emily Yang, whom we profiled in 2018, made the sad announcement that she would be closing her studio on San Pablo Avenue that she opened 4 years ago.
“After many restless nights I have come to the conclusion that I need to close the doors to Core Society. Our expenses are high given our studio rent, licensing, equipment and fees associated with the megaformer. I’ve tried my best to carry these month to month myself but I can’t do it anymore. Core Society has been my baby, my identity and my love so it’s heartbreaking to have to go out this way, but it’s an extremely scary and unprecedented time as a small business owner.”
Yang went on to note that she would be putting her energy into supporting her team of instructors.
Café Duetto – CLOSED
Café Duetto, one of the few independently-owned small businesses at Bay Street, is now vacant.
There was no note on the door nor mention on social media or yelp of the circumstances behind the closure. We have reached out to the proprietor for insights behind her decision.
AllRounder Bicycle Shop – CLOSED
AllRounder Bicycle Shop (FKA “Color Wheel“ who we profiled in 2017), closed their doors early on in the pandemic. Despite the sales of bikes and need for mechanics surging during the shelter order, proprietor Omar Sison questioned the sustainability of his business and opted to close their doors.
“Due to the new world conditions, we will be bringing Allrounder to a close, indefinitely” Sison penned in an Instagram post. “This is a pivotal point in human history, and we need to reset and respond to it with precision, clarity, and creativity. We all need time to pull away from business as usual as we transition to an alternative and sustainable way of life.
AllRounder noted that they will provided referrals for existing customers and settle gift cards and pending orders individually.
Banana Republic Women – CLOSED
The clothing anchor that’s been present on the corner of Bay Street & Ohlone Way since the mall opened had its lettering removed recently and has shuttered. Banana recently leased a space for an “outlet” store at the nearby Powell Street Plaza shopping center.
The Men’s store at the opposite end of the shopping center remains open for curbside pickup orders.
Athleta – CLOSED
Women’s activewear retailer Athleta’s outdoor signage has been chiseled off and the interior is vacant. The clothing chain is owned by Gap Inc.
Gap Inc. also owns the Banana Republic Brand as well as Old Navy. The Gap closed at the end 2019.
ITK Culinary – CLOSED
Local Cater ITK (In the Kitchen) Culinary did their best to weather the storm of the pandemic, but ultimately opted to close their business on June 14.
“Unfortunately, with social distancing preventing all other parts of our business to continue, we have made a difficult decision to close and no longer able to serve you,” proprietors Doug & Meme Eng posted in a newsletter to their customers.
Forever 21 – CLOSED
The Bay Street Emeryville Forever 21 survived a recent round of closures by the bankrupt clothing retailer, but apparently not the second.
The Forever 21 space is now vacant.
AMC Bay Street – “Could Close”
The revenue of movie theaters has essentially dropped to zero during the shelter order and movie theater chain AMC warned that it may not survive according to several local reports.
The company operates several theaters in the Bay Area, including the Bay Street 16 cinema location as well as AMC Metreon and AMC Kabuki in SF.
Specialty’s Cafe & Bakery – CLOSED (Pre-Pandemic)
*Correction* We have been alerted by a reader that the Emeryville Specialty’s closed prior to the Shelter Order.
SF-born Specialty’s Cafe & Bakery announced that they would shutter all their locations after 33 years of business. “Current market conditions attributed to COVID-19 and shelter-in-place policies have decimated company revenues,” they posted on their website. Their last day of operations was May 19th.
Specialty’s had over 50 locations spanning three states.