Public Market Updates: Alternatives to Grocer Being Sought, Barber Shop Coming, Baby Cafe Opens

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An update on progress at The Public Market Emeryville which has undertaken an ambitious, multi-year renovation project. The Market Hall is currently at about 70% capacity.

We previously reported on the soft-opening of Mama Lamees “Feast from the Middle East” last month. In addition, Minnie Bell’s has settled into a permanent stall in the center of the food hall (space vacated by Mayo & Mustard). “We are looking forward to our new journey here at Public Market Emeryville,” noted proprietor Fernay McPherson.

Grocery Space Approved for Alternate Uses

Neighbors recently noted the overdue removal of the New Seasons Market signage. New Seasons paused their California expansion and withdrew from the project in early 2018 and the space has sat vacant since. Neighbors were optimistic that this activity signaled the possibility of a new tenant at the space. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

According to the City of Emeryville Staff report, City Center Realty Partners (CCRP), and their brokerage firm Lockehouse Retail Group have had discussions with over 37 grocers on the possibility of taking over the vacant space. Large and small grocers including Whole Foods, Raley’s, Lucky’s, Nugget, Molly Stones, Good Earth, Olivers, Gus’s and Bi-Rite have all passed on the space for reasons that included saturation, access and visibility.

A big part of the problem, as described by CCRP, is the current uncertainty in the grocery sector due to Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods as well as Internet-based meal and grocery delivery options. These trends have made grocery companies hesitant to invest in new brick and mortar facilities.

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Instead of letting the space languish which is having an impact on the food hall tenants, CCRP is seeking modifications to the PDP conditions of approval to allow for alternative uses including office, commercial and R&D space on the ground floor.

A short-handed Planning Commission reviewed the application at the August 22nd meeting and voted 3-1 to approve the FDP modification to allow these alternate uses (Thompson deserting, Kellar recused).

It should be noted that these changes do not preclude a grocer from leasing the space should one come around. The commission collectively expressed optimism that increased housing density from ongoing projects in the area might entice a grocer to reconsider leasing the space in the future.


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First day of opening!

A post shared by Baby Cafe (@babycaferestaurants) on

Open: Baby Café Hong Kong Bistro

Baby Café Hong Kong Bistro recently opened at the stall vacated by Fish Face Poke. Baby Café signed a lease at the Public Market back in February.

Baby Cafe has ben expanding aggressively in the area and the Public Market location is their sixth location after opening the original Oakland Chinatown location in 2016.

View their Emeryville location menu online.


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Electrical and plumbing inspection tomorrow then the walls go up! Opening is in sight!

A post shared by Bruce’s Barbers (@brucesbarbershop) on

Bruce’s Barbershop

The Public Market also recently announced they have leased a space that will open as a Barbershop. It will be located in the breezeway between the food hall and grocery store space.

Bruce’s Barbershop will be the first location by proprietor Lauren Carrillo. “Bruce” was Carrillo’s late uncle who was a big inspiration to her. “He rode Harley’s, smoked Marlboro’s and anything else that sounded intriguing.”

Bruce’s will have six chairs for hair and one for specialized skin services. “We will be specializing in short barber style haircuts/beard trims and also skin care and straight razor shaves,” noted proprietor Lauren Carrillo.

Barbershops have made a recent resurgence including Temescal Alley in North Oakland and People’s in Uptown.

Carrillo had been targeting opening their doors in early October but experienced a construction defect that has set them back a bit. They are now looking at an early November opening date.

Follow them on Instagram for further updates.

Food Hall Games

The Market recently added a host of free games. Game pieces can be checked out by leaving an ID at Public Bar.

Games include:

  • Shuffleboard
  • Air hockey
  • Billiards
  • Foosball

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Rob Arias

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.


  1. That’s unfortunate. I really would have liked a grocery store here. Now I’m hoping for a better use of the space that’s for the public to use… not more office space. Sad that our brick and mortar businesses are shrinking… I still miss the Borders Book Store. Thanks for the article.

  2. Shame on the planning commission for authorizing Public market to change the use of the space from Grocery to include gym or office space. Maybe public market could have dropped the price per square foot to entice more grocery stores. Many of them probably passed because it was pricey. More gym and office space does not serve the needs of this area.

    • FWIW, It’s not in the purview of the Planning Commission to “negotiate” in this manner (The City Council can challenge this decision if they see fit). If you watch the meeting, CCRP does note that a reduced rent was being offered to entice a grocer but without success. My understanding is that New Seasons is still on the hook for the lease.

  3. Although online grocery is getting popular, people still do use physical grocery stores that’s why Trader Joe’s has been very successful? And the place is surrounded by multiple mega-apartments (and more are coming) and has a parking lot also. Isn’t it the sweetest spot to open grocery? There must be a reason no one wants to take it. And I think it’s still the price though they offered “reduced” rent. It’s shameful and very sad no one wants to come to our neighborhood…

  4. […] “Cell-based meat” company Memphis Meats has signed a lease at the former New Seasons grocery space at the Public Market. Public Market owners CCRP applied for and were granted a modification to its conditions of approval after an extensive search for a new grocery tenant failed to materialize. […]

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