Although Public Market officials have cautioned that the lease has not officially been executed, East Bay Express restaurant critic Janelle Bitker has broken the news of the replacement tenant for the former Nyum Bai stall. According to the story, Minnie Bell’s Soul Food Movement will soon bring fried chicken and a variety of other soul food classics to the Public Market’s Food Hall.
Proprietor Fernay McPherson has been operating Minnie Bell’s as a food truck and catering business for the past few years. She’s hoping to refine her business model here in Emeryville with an eye on one day opening a brick & mortar in her native San Francisco.
The stall has been designated as a launching pad for participants in the La Cocina incubator kitchen whose mission is to help cultivate low-income female entrepreneurs. Nyum Bai owner Nite Yun capitalized on her opportunity at the location by recently opening her own full service restaurant in Oakland’s Fruitvale district.
While details of the terms of Minnie Bell’s lease have not yet been made public, Nyum Bai was given a reduced rent, temporary lease to help build a following. At the conclusion of this “pop up” period, tenants are typically given the opportunity to transition to another stall with a longterm lease.
McPherson’s journey and love for cooking is documented in the above Southern Foodways Alliance interview. McPherson grew up in SF’s Western Addition neighborhood that she reminisced was once “a taste of the south” centered around Fillmore Street. The neighborhood has a long history as a population base and a cultural center for San Francisco’s African-American community.
“Minnie Bell’s” is a nod to McPherson’s great aunt “Minnie” and her Grandmother Lilly-Bell who she describes as her inspirations. “When I was a little girl, we had big family dinners and everyone was dancing and having a good time … that’s what ‘soul food’ is to me.”
In addition to this hopefully soon to be offered soul food cuisine, The Public Market currently offers Indian (Wazwan), Mexican (C CASA), Peruvian (Paradita Eatery), Asian Fusion (Koja Kitchen), Japanese (Shiba Ramen & We Sushi), Sandwiches (Mayo & Mustard), Hawaiian (Fish Face Poke), a Sake Bar/Taproom (Periodic Table), a variety of dessert options (Mr. Dewie’s & Oui Oui Macaron) and will soon offer a cocktail bar (Public Bar).