E’ville Biz: Bacano, Teacake bakeries among rash of recent Emeryville Restaurant and Retail closures

Published On May 4, 2016 | By Rob Arias | Local Business, Minimum Wage, News & Commentary

Bacano Bakery sadly announced their closure on April 5th. They held a final sale to bid farewell to the community they adopted over a year and a half ago. In addition, Bay Street’s Teacake Bakery closed in March after 10 years in Emeryville. Teacake was one of the few independent, small businesses at Bay Street. These were two of what seems like a rash of recent restaurant and retail closures and persistent vacancies. The reasons are varied, but the trend might be a concerning one for the economic health and vibrancy of our city.

Dear Friends:
We are very sad to announce that Bacano Bakery is now closed as of April 4, 2016 and at this time we do not have plans to re-open at another location. Bacano Bakery will also not be at any of the farmers’ markets any longer.
It has been our passion to make creative, delicious and nutritious baked goods for you. We’re filled with gratitude and appreciation to all of you who have supported Bacano Bakery. We got to know you as our friends, and your support always fueled our passion and creativity for making great food. We are equally grateful to our team of employees who worked tirelessly, making exceptional food and providing great customer service.
This has been a wonderful experience for us and we will take many fond memories and your friendships with us as we move on.
Thank you, friends!
– The Mad Bakers at Bacano Bakery

When I reached out to Bacano’s owner Laverne Matias to inquire about the reasons for their sudden closure, he opted for privacy and referred me to the property’s owners. Matias noted that there were circumstances beyond their control that caused the closing. “The community has been so supportive of Bacano from the start. We have made many new friends during the year and half we’ve been here in Emeryville and we would have loved to continue. We’re going to miss the local neighbors and the individuals and families who came from all over the Bay Area, as well as all the cool dogs.”

Will we ever taste those delicious gluten-free baked goods again? “We’re open to possibilities, but we don’t have any immediate plans to reopen anywhere else at this point. Starting from scratch in a new location is a huge financial and emotional commitment and all that capital went into this venture”. The space on 65th has a long history and was previously home to Cafe Aquarius who shuttered after being unable to negotiate a rent increase by the property’s landlords.


Teacake Bakeshop

The bakery of petite cupcakes and delicious cookies shuttered back in March. Moving into the space will reportedly be SF based Kara’s Cupcakes. Teacake had been in Emeryville for 10 years.

To our dearest Customers and Community,

It is with the most thankful of hearts that we close our doors today. We’re so grateful for the foundation of support you’ve given us over the past 10 years, and will continue to cherish the sweet smiles and stories we’ve shared over cookies and cupcakes. Thank you so much for allowing us the great pleasure of serving and being part of such a wonderful community; we wish you all the best.

Sweetest regards,
– Teacake Bake Shop

teacake-bakeshop-emeryville-bay-street


Sports Authority

The SJ Mercury news is reporting that Sports Authority has scraped its plans to reorganize under Bankruptcy protection and will close all its stores. Reasons cited by one analyst cite the rapidly rising labor costs and “showrooming” which refers to shoppers browsing merchandise at Brick & Mortar stores but then purchasing it on Amazon or other online retailers. “With the minimum wage going up to $15 an hour and more people turning to online shopping, more stores are going to close,” noted consumer behavior and marketing trends analyst Phil Lempert in the Mercury article. “It’s fine to say that everyone should have a living wage. But the money has to come from somewhere.” No timeline for the closures was provided.


Elephant Bar

Elephant Bar temporarily closed after a small kitchen fire the day after Christmas and even posted a sign on their door announcing they would reopen. Since then, they’ve apparently decided it was a good time to exit Emeryville and the location has been removed from their website. Bay Street is already rumored to have found a replacement “Italian themed” tenant (please not an Olive Garden!)

elephant-bar-emeryville


Pier 1 Imports

The struggling furniture and housewares chain closed their Powell Street Plaza after a post-holiday liquidation. Amid declining profits and pressure from online sales, Pier 1 announced that it plans to close 100 stores as part of a three-year real estate optimization plan.

pier-one-emeryville


Pottery Barn

The popular furniture retailer that had been there since Bay Street opened, closed shortly after the holiday amid reports of lagging performance. Cookware and kitchen accessory retailer Williams-Sonoma, owned by the same corporation as Pottery Barn, shuttered last year around the same time. The space is already under construction and we’ve been told that the replacement tenant is “an exciting one”.

potterybarn-bay-street-emeryville-closing


Francesca’s

The Bay Street chain featuring Women’s clothing, bags & shoes shuttered shortly after the Holidays.

francescas-bay-street


Vacancies

The former Bucci’s space sits vacant and is up for sale after announcing their closure last August ($195K if you’re shopping for a restaurant space). They apparently had six years on their lease when they opted to retire.

wareham-buccis-space-for-lease-emeryville

Besides Bay Bridge Optometry and Ike’s Sandwiches, Parc on Powell is a relative ghost town.

parc-on-powell-emeryville

The San Pablo Corridor has so much potential but remains one of the most blighted areas of town.

emeryville-san-pablo-ave

The E-22 Cafe space on the prominent corner of Powell and Hollis sits vacant.

e22-cafe-emeryville


In addition, there are at least three businesses that are working to sell their Emeryville establishments on commercial real estate sites including the Chevron on Powell & Hollis. One of these businesses, who spoke on a condition of anonymity, expressed her desire to leave Emeryville. “We’re doing what all small businesses are doing. Raising prices, cutting shifts, trying to survive. I really don’t think they [council] understand how business works. We’re really disappointed. We tried to voice our opinion to city council and they wouldn’t listen to us. The city isn’t doing anything for small business. I haven’t seen anything.” The City’s website currently lists twenty available commercial spaces.

A robust Technology, Healthcare and Biotech workforce in our town should help support a healthy local dining and recreation scene and makes these recent failures and ample vacancies harder to discern. “Restaurants have always been a tough business” noted Sr. Director of the Bay Area Council’s Economic Institute Sean Randolph in this recent East Bay Times Article (formerly The Oakland Tribune). “But with additional costs mandated by the government may make restaurant owners feel as if it is less of a boom than it would be otherwise.” Randolph otherwise paints a rather rosy picture of the region’s economic health throughout the year.

Whether our city is progressing or regressing and the overall economic health of our city is unknown. The only current economic data the city maintains is in the form of their monthly progress reports that track new business licenses and closures. This data seems to suggest that business closures have accelerated and surpassed new business registrations as of late. The data does not account for if the business fits the cities large or small business threshold or is in fact a sole proprietorship. The data also doesn’t account for seasonal trends in business closures.

To offset all this bad news, their have been some encouraging signs that some businesses are willing to still give it a go in our city. Best Coast Burritos, Propaganda, a handful of food-pods in the Public Market and the recently announced Banh Mi Joint have all announced their intent to open in the last year. We also have word of a new spot on San Pablo at the long vacant Adeline Place and a possible brewery at “The Intersection” development on San Pablo Avenue.


“bse-mmm-mag-ad”

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About The Author

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who moved to Emeryville in 2003. He can often be seen walking his French Bulldog rescue "Fiona" around his Park Avenue District neighborhood, riding the greenway to and from the Berkeley Bowl or enjoying his favorite Emeryville small businesses. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

21 Responses to E’ville Biz: Bacano, Teacake bakeries among rash of recent Emeryville Restaurant and Retail closures

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow it’s like nobody can afford to live here.

    • Anonymous says:

      Jamba Juice corporate HQ announced today it was packing its bags and abandoning Emeryville for business friendly Texas. Smart move.

    • Anonymous says:

      Elephant Bar submitted its business closure form to the City so that one’s official.

      You missed a couple more:
      – Renby’s Sugar Shoppe (another bakery)
      – Rio California Expression Cafe

      Small businesses that hire entry level workers are fleeing. I don’t blame them. There’s no reason to do business here.

  2. julie mevi says:

    I too enjoy observing Emeryville’s transformation and changes as I walk my pup in the Emeryville Triangle..This AM, like always, was filled with chaos,movement,sights and sounds. Starting at 41st and Adeline, I made my way to San Pablo, I cross and enter the new skate park (a great place in the early AM to play fetch with the pup), then over to Arizmendi with its pigeons, and its heart wrenching homeless. Crossing San Pablo at 40th and 38th, I hear the soulful sounds of a trumpet. I follow the music. The beautiful notes reverberate off the walls of the freeway overpass. And there he is, the artist, sitting at the curb, alone, an old man, his bike and his trumpet, playing the blues.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Independent retail and restaurants should avoid Emeryville like the plague. It’s a death trap here and getting worse.

  4. Michelle Mendieta Mitchell says:

    Rob,

    I don’t know if the owner and staff of Bacano Bakery will see this, but if they do, I want them to know I appreciate what they did for the community. I loved going to this little jewel of a bakery, talking to the staff, eating their delicious food (and no, I am not gluten free).

    Shortly before they announced their closing, I had walked by their store and saw the two partners sitting by the front window, looking over some papers, looking dejected. I waved at them, they waved back; I had a feeling something was not right. I’m sad I didn’t get to say goodbye and thank you.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Rob, you said, “A robust Technology, Healthcare and Biotech workforce in our town should help support a healthy local dining and recreation scene and makes these recent failures and ample vacancies harder to discern.”

    One problem as far as I can see is that a lot of the daytime work force doesn’t seem to live in Emeryville, and are daily commuters. I don’t know where they do live, but after 5 or 6 PM, it seems they’re mostly out of here. Are more of them coming to actually live in Emeryville these days?

    I also don’t see much business going on on Bay Street. I don’t see a lot of customers at Ike’s which just opened up, either. They have a “Line forms here” sign but I haven’t seen it full when I frequently drive by. The only place I see with a lot of regular customers is Rudy’s.

    Emeryville seems to be positioning itself more as a corporate town. I think one reason is that they did a poor job allotting parking in front of buildings. A lot of commercial areas don’t have any street parking or very little of it, and in a lot of places people can’t just park, throw a few quarters into a meter, and get an errand or two done. Always having to drive into a parking garage feels like more of a hassle to me; I’m not sure whether other people feel the same way. But for me, if there’s a parking lot or street meters I’ll stop and shop. If I have to bother with garage parking, I just find somewhere else to shop.

    The other thing that’s going on is that Oakland is just a few streets away. If wages are higher in Emeryville, a lot of mom and pop type businesses will probably opt to open up on an up and coming part of San Pablo or another street in Oakland.

    Like the woman you quoted in the article said, small businesses have to get their money from somewhere in order to stay in business. They can’t simply pay higher costs of all kinds, plus higher wages, all just out of thin air.

    It’s definitely a time of adjustment and change in these parts. How it’ll shake out is hard to see, but Emeryville sure seems like it prefers huge corporate businesses to small private ones.

    • Rob says:

      Thanks Anonymous, I think these are valid points. Perhaps the makeup of our city will necessitate businesses to be more of the “grab & go” lunch variety to appeal to our daytime population. I think places like Ike’s and the Public Market will probably be OK. Sit down restaurants will have a harder time adapting as they tend to have more employees and overhead and need a dinner crowd which apparently our 10,000 resident base cannot provide. We definitely need to consider a more thorough parking management plan.

  6. Anonymous says:

    We heard that Bacano Bakery had problems with the building flooding repeatedly and they had to hire attorneys to get it fixed, I think after more than a year of putting up with it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Cafe Aquarius left before Bacano, and that had nothing to do with wages, but had everything to do with greedy landlords. Nearly everyone I’ve spoken to (business or resident) cites rent/landlords as reasons for departing rather than wages. Of course, failed business never blame themselves, their model, or the fact that the vast majority of restaurants close within a few years of opening. Seems many think it’s easy, but this is made harder by customers with little to no disposable income (which is hardly solved by reducing the lowest paid among us)

    • Anonymous says:

      By which I assume you mean that it’s made harder when we raise prices city wide and kick the lowest paid among us out of their jobs.

      Businesses are indicted for ‘greed’ when they operate at high profit margins, and blamed for not having a good enough model when they operate at low margins that can’t support instantaneous 60% increases to labor costs.

      Almost every small, local business I’ve spoken to is either in the process of getting out (selling or leaving), going under, or giving up. These businesses had great models until the city council decided to change the landscape overnight by doing something so stupid that no one could have ever predicted it.

      No city, county, or state has ever thought it would be a good idea to raise the minimum wage 60% with 30 days notice. No one does things that idiotic. No one but Emeryville.

      • Anonymous says:

        http://www.ktvu.com/news/143612257-story

        Another very long-time business going under, not due to crushing wages, but crushing landlords.

        “But then, the unexpected did happen. The property was sold to a developer and the property taxes went up. Ballard’s share was an extra $10,500 dollars per month, added to her rent.

        “Once I was running in the red, my retirement is floating out the back door because I have to pay this extra rent. I can’t stay any longer. I would love to but I can’t stay any longer,” Ballard says.”

        Why not just lower their employees’ wages to make up the shortfall?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Increasing the costs spreads the burden over many customers, many of whom aren’t price sensitive. The group who is most price sensitive get more cash in their pocket as wage increases force their way up the chain, which allows the current underclass to afford goods and services here (which also stimulates nearby business)

    The situation is most dire if one expects their staff to drive in from Tracy for 10K per year to serve the wealthy hipsters in Oaktown/E-ville. If a restaurateur can’t make it with dot-com style funny money flying all over the Bay, especially the inner Bay, they are not adept at business, even if they may be good chefs. It’s not an uncommon occurrence.

    In any case, if a business depends on slave-wages for it to be profitable enough for the owner to stay afloat, better for it to die so someone with smarts can set up shop in its stead.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, by increasing prices, you move the burden from the wealthy (those who largely fund the social safety net via the income tax) to the poor and middle class (who spend most of their money on goods and services). In other words, you’re spreading the cost of supporting unskilled workers from the wealthy to the poor and middle class.

      Those that are most price sensitive lose their jobs, lose their hours, and lose their opportunity to enter the workforce. We are saying that people trying to get their first job or re-entering the work force or looking for experience are not allowed to work because their abilities can’t command $15-16 an hour.

      And since when is a minimum wage equal to that received by every generation of Americans for the last century “slave wages”? A young person making 40% of the median national wage AT THEIR FIRST SUMMER JOB is ridiculous. The minimum wage is intended to be enough to get people started while encouraging people to do more and do better, not a place to camp out for a lifetime.

      The goal of every business is not necessarily to serve wealthy hipsters. But, you are right that this will need to be the goal if businesses want to survive.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sorry, meant to say 40th percentile not 40% of the median. I’m trying to make the point that teens at their first job should not be making nearly what the average American works half their life to achieve (the 50th percentile).

  9. Anonymous says:

    ” I’m trying to make the point that teens at their first job should not be making nearly what the average American works half their life to achieve”. Got it.

    But according to EPI, 88% are over the age of 20, and over 1/3 are over 40! Mostly women, half with college experience, and most working full-time. Many work several jobs just to live in dives, and earn half their family’s income.

    On a related note, social mobility used to be important here, and we are doing quite poorly on the GINI coefficient. It’s hard to go to school (the leading way to escape poverty) when you work 3 crappy jobs per day, right?

    Businesses: raise your wages and your prices
    Consumers: support your local merchant

    • Anonymous says:

      Can’t argue with “support your local merchants”. But the reality is that despite people’s best intentions, everyone has financial problems and as a group, they’re going to shop where the price is lowest. Economic reality always wins.

      “The 88% are over the age of 20” stat is often cited to try to say that minimum wage workers are not young and just starting out. But, they are.

      The reason groups like EPI (left-leaning political advocacy group) choose 20 as the cut off is that there are very few people under the age of 20 working at all and they represent a tiny portion of the workforce (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/06/23/the-fading-of-the-teen-summer-job/) Teen employment has gone from 43% in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s to about 28%. So, since few teens work, they represent a small percentage of everything. It’s a way to lie with stats.

      It’s just like saying most X are women. Most people are women (women outnumber men), so for any issue in society, you can normally say most of the people suffering that issue are women. Again, it’s a way to lie with stats.

      Change the age to 25, and you get a less deceptive picture. While workers under 25 represent only one-fifth of hourly workers, they make up half of those paid the minimum wage. In other words, yes, most minimum wage workers are, in fact, young and just starting out. They need the jobs and the experience and they don’t yet have the skills to command higher wages. http://www.bls.gov/opub/reports/minimum-wage/archive/characteristics-of-minimum-wage-workers-2014.pdf

      Over 65% of the money from raising the minimum wage goes to families making 1.5 times the poverty level. In other words, most minimum wage workers aren’t poor. They are choosing minimum wage work for other reasons (inexperience, flexibility, part-time opportunity while going to school). In fact, nearly one-third of the money goes to families making 3 times the poverty level or more.

      Overall, large increases to the minimum wage are a lousy solution for poverty and a great way to drive the lower class out of your workforce and your city. They are doing that quite successfully in Emeryville.

      • Anonymous says:

        Where do you see these hoards of youth working in the inner bay? Every restaurant I visit, every store I frequent, every driver I pay, everyone seems to be adults, not teens. Further, people think nothing of having their groceries delivered, shopping at Whole Paycheck, even having their clothes picked up and laundered, all from the convenience of their shiny Apple devices that outnumber people in their homes.

        And where do the consumers go as they avoid E’ville’s small business wage (under 55 employee MW is $12.25). Oakland? San Francisco ($12.25) or Berkeley ($12.53)? Do you think that means we will soon have no fast food? No restaurants? Or do you think we’ll all drive to Tracy to save $1.50 per server?

  10. Don Rodrigo says:

    Oh man, this made my day. It’s really heart-warming to see these worthless places going under.

    After living in E’ville for nearly 20 years, I finally had to move – seeing all that gentrification was too much, and I left before the Bay street development. It was much nicer when it was an industrial slum.

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