Some local food & retail news since our last update in November including saying goodbye to the area’s first modern craft brewery, an update on the proposal to raze Trader Vic’s to build more housing, Bay Street’s “Dining Terrace,” a proposal for a “Prizefighter Bottle Shop” and more!
Trader Vic’s Housing Plans Back on the Agenda
The City’s October Progress report indicated that a proposed housing development on the Trader Vic’s property is back on the agenda. The item surfaced last year around this time but concrete plans failed to materialize. The proposal is being initiated by the owners of the property and not Trader Vic’s Corp who have expressed the desire to continue to operate.
According to the report, city staff met with the applicant in October to discuss the potential proposal. A Planning Commission study session has tentatively been scheduled for January 26.
Local “YIMBY” politicians like John Bauters who have built their brand around pushing for more housing at any cost will be in a bit of a pickle with the project. The project is likely to be met with resistance from neighboring Watergate residents as well as supporters of the fabled restaurant and cultural landmark that helped spawn Tiki culture.
Updates: Plans for the project could take years and Trader Vic’s General Manager Faith Norris assured us that they weren’t going anywhere anytime soon. “Our stay has been extended at our current location for at least a few more years, so if anything does happen with the development plans it wouldn’t be anytime soon.”
Norris also added that they would be “pausing” operations in January for a couple weeks to make some needed renovations.
Novel Brewing Founders “handing over the reins”
The founders of North Oakland craft-brewing favorite Novel Brewing Co. announced that they will be stepping away and “handing over the reins” to another brewer. Their final day was December 11th.
Novel opened in 2016 and quickly became a community favorite with food pop-ups, trivia nights and a dog & kid-friendly atmosphere.
“We want to thank you all for coming along with us on this adventure, and becoming our friends,” they detailed in a December 2 Instagram post. “Our community is truly special, and we feel privileged to have been able to provide a space for all the intellectual, creative, and emotional experiences to flourish.”
The couple cited work/life balance as the primary reason for opting to move on.
Tenma Beer Project will be taking over the space after a brief period of renovation. Tenma does not currently have an online profile other than an unpopulated instagram account. They are targeting reopening in Spring with a focus on traditional lagers and hoppy beers.
Honor Temporarily Closed for renovations
Emeryville-favorite Honor Kitchen & Cocktails announced their temporary closure for renovations.
Honor adapted during the Pandemic by installing outdoor canopy’s in thier front parking lot. The space became a popular destination and they’ve apparently decided to build a more permanent outdoor structure.
“Join us Friday and Saturday as we say goodbye to the old Honor and hello to a beautiful new property featuring a new covered patio, new outdoor pizza oven, new bar, restrooms, firepits and upgraded kitchens,” they detailed in an instagram posted to two days prior to closing.
They are estimating 4-6 months for the project to be completed.
Prizefighter Bottle Shop
The proprietors of Prizefighter are eying the adjacent space for what they’re calling a “bottle shop.” The space has lived many lives including recent usage for cannabis manufacturing.
According to the City of Emeryville staff report, The project proposes to use the approximately 1,025 square foot space for the sale of “beer, wine and spirits as well as a curated assortment of books, bar tools and glassware.” The also plan to offer collaborative educational opportunities with their bar.
The exterior of the building will not be changing and there are no proposed changes to the floor plan. The 800 square foot ground floor space will be used for retail purposes, while the 225 square foot upper floor will be used as an office.
This business will require a liquor license from the State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC).
The Major Conditional Use Permit was unanimously approved at the December 8th Planning Commission meeting and subsequently approved as a consent item by city council on December 20.
City extends Hong Kong East Ocean Lease
In September, city council authorized the execution of a new five-year lease with Hong Kong East Ocean Restaurant which resides on the city-owned, man-made peninsula.
HKEO had been operating under a 40-year lease that expired in mid-October 2022.
HKEO opened in 1987 taking over the former Tia Maria space. The space was renovated in 1990.
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Bay Street Dining Terrace Progress
Progress on Bay Street’s Dining Terrace is slowly moving along and several tenants have expressed their intent to open early next year.
Arthur Mac’s Co-Founder Joel DiGiorgio teased the opening of their “little snack” location which will include 20 beers on tap as well as a “full cocktail program.”
Other highly anticipated tenants include Shake Shack and Uchiwa Ramen.
Public Market Mr. Dewie’s Franchised
The Mr. Dewie’s Cashew Creamery stall at the Public Market has been franchised. David Powders and his wife Cathleen Woods officially became the businesses’ first franchise owners on November 1 .
“We at Mr. Dewie’s are proud and excited to introduce our first new franchise owners of our Emeryville scoop shop,” founders and brothers Andrew & Ari Cohen announced in an instagram post.
The new owners intend to expand their operating hours and add shakes and bonbons to their menu offerings.
Mr. Dewie’s noted they were actively looking to expand franchise opportunities to other Bay Area cities including Marin and Walnut Creek.
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I’m deeply saddened to see Trader Vic’s wanting to bail out and sell their land for condos. Seems like any and all places just turn into “Luxury Condos” these days. As someone who grew up going to Trader Vic’s and having spent many a family gathering there, both past and present, this one will hurt a lot to see if it goes through.
To clarify, the restaurant owners apparently do not own the land and have expressed a desire to continue to operate indefinitely. They are are opposed to this plan. I’ll add some information about this above as I think this is a source of confusion for many.
Isn’t the landowner planning to leave the ground floor open for Trader Vic’s? Also, if they want to building housing there, it seems like they are within their rights. What say does Bauters or Watergate have over them?
I guess we’ll find out when they present their plans on 1/26! The project will definitely undergo scrutiny as it’s on landfill and an eroding shoreline. If you have additional info that we might have missed, please share. I’ve reached out to the planning director to see if anything has been provided.