On April 5, a new food hall opened in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco with restaurants run by local women in color. She offers freshly prepared meals to the neighborhood and aims to provide chefs with a viable new business opportunity for their startup concepts.
The La Cocina Municipal Marketplace is a result of the La Cocina nonprofit incubator that has been trying for several years to help local food business owners start their own business in the community.
Emiliana Puyana, program manager In La Cocina, the 7,000 square meter food hall is intended to offer residents the necessary service and at the same time help entrepreneurs to gain more realistic experience in the food service sector.
Photo: Tacos at Mi Morena, owned by Chef Guadalupe Moreno, whose cuisine reflects the street foods of Mexico City.
Photo credit: Erin Ng
“We wanted to create something for the neighborhood,” she told Restaurant Hospitality, noting that the densely populated and largely underserved district of Tenderloin has the highest concentration of children in the city, the highest concentration of newly arrived immigrant families, and the highest concentration of Restaurant workers. “We wanted to make sure we were placed for them in the first place.”
The hall opened this week with six vendors. Another is to be added in the coming months when the room opens for indoor dining. The city’s market square is currently only open to take away and only open during the lunch break on weekdays.
The slots in the food hall have been made available to current participants in the La Cocina Incubator Program and previous graduates. The six vendors occupying the grocery hall for their debut are:
• • Boug Cali, owned by Chef Tiffany Carter. Menu items are Bougie Bad-azz Po-Boys, Yaya Gumbo and Jerk Tacos. Carter first launched Boug Creole Deli as a Cajun / Creole restaurant in San Francisco in 2016.
• • Estrellitas snacks, owned by Chef Estrella Gonzalez. The Salvadoran menu includes pupus plates, tamales, plato de stew and fresh water.
• • Underpants, by chefs Wafa and Mounir Bahloul. This Algerian restaurant’s menu includes a halal casse croute sandwich or a bowl with a choice of fillings, dobara (cooked chickpeas), coco tomato (filled puff pastry) and baklawa.
• • The coriander, from Chef Dilsa Lugo, who was a veteran of local restaurants like A16, Chez Panisse, and Copita before launching her Mexican concept. The menu includes dishes such as tostadas, chilli rellenos de queso, enchiladas and flan de coco.
• • My brunette, owned by Chef Guadalupe Moreno, whose cuisine mirrors the street foods of Mexico City, where she began her food service career selling quesadillas in 1990. Mi Morena will specialize in Tacos Guisado, offering Taco Kits, Quesadilla Chilanga, Guisados, Arroz Mexicano and Frijoles Negros.
• • Teranga, by chef Nafy Ba Flatley, serves Senegalese and Pan-African dishes, including a Maafe Bowl (a West African peanut stew), a Marche Kermel sandwich (ground beef, onions, potatoes and hot Dakaroise sauce on a baguette) and Dakar Muffuletta (with lamb salami, Piquillo peppers, provolone and Dakaroise olive tapenade) as well as baobab energy bars and bottled juices.
Chef Binita Pradhan’s Bini’s Kitchen is expected to be added to the dining room when the dine-in service opens. Their operation in the Nepalese food hall will be an offshoot of their main restaurant SOMA, offering momos (Nepalese dumplings), ghurka chicken, daal and pork choila.
Jay Foster, who owned and operated the famous Farmerbrown Restaurant in Tenderloin for 13 years, will lead the Municipal Marketplace with Naomi Maisel, Community Partnerships and Food Justice Advocacy Manager, who will build and manage relationships with Tenderloin organizations and residents. Programming from space.
To cater to the needs of the low-income neighborhood, where only 39% of residents have access to a stove and 70% of the apartments are in single rooms, each of the vendors of the urban marketplace will offer what La Cocina calls an Every Day One “Tasty, Nutritionally Complete” five dollar platter. The Food Hall also plans to accept Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) transactions through the California Restaurant Meals Program.
Photo: The Maafe Bowl from Teranga.
Photo credit: Erin Ng
The operation of the grocery hall has several trendy features, including features that allow customers to combine items from multiple menus on a single ticket.
“You can basically have six different dishes and pay once and tip and the software will share everything,” explained Puyana.
In addition, each supplier also offers bulk groceries such as frozen tamales as well as soups and stews by the quart so that customers can stock up on prepared foods when they order their freshly prepared meals. Customers can also order “grocery boxes” containing combinations of meals and snacks for pickup or delivery at prices ranging from $ 45 to $ 110.
La Cocina will advertise the food hall through various marketing channels and the individual companies will also have the autonomy to advertise their own.
“It will be a great team effort to market La Cocina,” said Puyana.
Each of the operators signed a one-year lease, although they will not be charged any rent until La Cocina determines their companies can bear those costs, Puyana explained.
“We hope everyone does phenomenally well and everyone will sign again on the dotted line at the end of the first year,” she said. “But if it doesn’t work for one or more companies, we’ll open it up to our community again.”
The plan is for the food hall to occupy the space for seven years. After that, the property is to be replaced by affordable living space. The city is currently renting the space to La Cocina at below market prices and is part of the city’s efforts to fill vacant retail space in the Tenderloin.
Puyana said that assuming the business model works as planned, the organization is confident that once completed, the food hall could occupy the ground floor of the new residential structure and serve as a model for future developments in San Francisco and the surrounding area.