SF Chronicle freelance food writer Ethan Fletcher dedicates his latest column to our little 1.2 square mile wedge of the East Bay. Fletcher spotlights notable favorites that include Rotten City Pizza, Scarlet City Espresso, Commonwealth Micropub & Rudy’s Can’t Fail cafe. He also acknowledges new spots like Branch Line Bar and the in-progress revamp of our Public Market.
The article also touches on the challenges that these new establishments face in light of our highest in the nation minimum wage ordinance and fears this may dismantle the small business momentum we have going.
Emeryville now open for dinner as restaurants come calling
Owner Jeffrey Bischoff of Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe in Emeryville stands on top of the restaurant, mimicking the restaurant’s logo. (Photo: Liz Hafalia)
Let’s face it: Emeryville is a funny place.
“It’s this weird little pocket,” says resident Erik Ginther.
“You’ve got Berkeley and Oakland on each side, and it’s right up against the bay. I mean, when you look at it geographically, why does Emeryville even exist?”
An active industrial hub in the first part of the 20th century, this little East Bay pocket (population: 10,000) has, over the last few decades, morphed into one of the Bay Area’s top big-box shopping destinations, home to the likes of Ikea, Home Depot and Best Buy.
The eating options, meanwhile, have mostly followed suit.
Emeryville’s culinary scene has been showing signs of life, with independent spots like Honor Kitchen and Cocktails, Prizefighter, Summer Summer Thai, Bureau 510 and Broken Rack pool hall all opening within the past couple of years, and the Emeryville Public Market in the midst of a major redo.
Much of the change is being driven by a boom in housing. New apartments and condominiums, combined with San Francisco’s housing crunch, has led to a flood of new, young residents who, like Ginther, are looking for local eateries to support and call their own.
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Thankfully, the City Council put the brakes on this developing restaurant scene. It could have gotten completely out of control.
Now maybe we’ll get an Olive Garden and a Jack in the Box!
We really just need a great coffee shop!
For those not aware (likely everyone), the City Council has put forward a new minimum wage ordinance and is planning a first reading of this ordinance on Tuesday, July 21. The new MWO further increases requirements on sick leave, adds fines and a presumption of guilt for businesses that do not respond to inquiries within 14 days, and changes the implementation date. Businesses can get a copy of the new MWO by going to the city council agenda and looking near the end.