Public Market’s Viva Mexican Grill reborn as “Best Coast Burritos”
As a result of the ongoing Public Market renovation, quite a few readers have lamented the loss of a few of their favorite cheap bites. One of those was Viva Mexican Grill that shuttered last year. “My wife practically grew up at the Public Market” noted co-owner Alvin Shen who has lived in Emeryville for the past three years with his wife Michelle and their newborn daughter.
“After our lease expired, we were invited to audition for one of the new stalls but we opted to go out on our own.” Michelle’s family had previously operated Viva Mexican for two decades and they have an even long connection with the marketplace that dates back to 1989.
Best Coast Burritos had its lunch soft opening over the weekend and continue to work out the kinks in anticipation of a Grand Opening with full Dinner Service by February.
Originally from the Central Valley, Alvin was working in Advertising after receiving a degree at the Academy of Art in SF. He wanted to change things up and in his words “control his own destiny” through entrepreneurship. Instead of reopening Viva Mexican, Alvin wanted to start fresh and create a more memorable brand with the ambitious idea of eventual expansion. They opted to stay in Emeryville and found the long vacant spot adjacent to the Chevron Gas Station on Hollis & Powell.
With his Marketing and Advertising background, he wanted to create something recognizable and “scalable” and it’s reflected in the taqueria’s polished collateral and lime-green accented decor. The photos hung on wall are of Emeryville icons including our utility box public art, Pixar & the picturesque Marina area and reflective of their love of their adopted home. “We have roots here. We’re very passionate about the town. It’s changed a lot, but mostly for the better.”
The name “Best Coast” is Alvin & Michelle’s subtle tribute to their family’s love for the West Coast and California in particular. “People in our nations history have seen the West Coast as a place for new opportunities for many obvious reasons” Alvin noted. “There’s so many reasons to argue it’s our nation’s best coast. Mexican food being such a natural extension of that feeling”.
They retooled the menu to compete with today’s more discerning palette and added the San Diego staple “California Burrito” to the menu (That’s a Burrito … with fries in it!). Instead of the sometimes overwhelming menu options of a typical taqueria, BCB has gone with the food truck model of fewer, higher-quality items but still offers customization opportunities for customers that want something unique.
BCB’s salsas are made fresh daily and include a range of traditional pico de gallo, salsa verde as well as a proprietary green sauce and their own unique sriracha cream sauce. They also offer your standard Mexican cervezas, soda beverages & horchata.
Best Coast actually retained all their employees from Viva and even have brought on a few additional workers as well. Alvin noted most of their staff has been working with them for over ten years.
Alvin admits the recent wage increase is a concern to all small businesses especially in the food service business but fundamentally supports the living wage concept. He’s cautiously optimistic that consumers will share the burden of the higher menu prices that reflect higher labor costs. “It’s going to be interesting with wage increases every year. If patrons have to theoretically pay $15 for a burrito that they were previously paying $11 for, they’re going to want an added value like service or experience. It’s a concern, but god-willing, we intend on being here for a long time.”
Best Coast joins a thriving Hollis & Powell intersection that includes Honor Bar, Bureau 510, and the highly anticipated Ike’s Lair. “Given how many working-folk and new developments there are along this corridor, we feel it’s poised for growth!”
Soft Opening Hours:
M-F: 7AM – 8PM