New Mid-Market food emporium to be 1st in high-end SF chain

  • 00172 920x680 New Mid Market food emporium to be 1st in high end SF chain


The Art Deco Market Street building that houses some of San Francisco’s hottest new-economy companies, including Twitter, will soon be home to an ambitious startup in a decidedly old-world business: groceries.

Behind the Art Deco facade at 1355 Market St., the old San Francisco Furniture Mart, construction workers are building out a sprawling $5million food emporium that will be a hybrid grocery market and foodie food court. It will have the staples to take home — milk and eggs, cereal and veggies, meats and breads — but also a taco bar, pizzeria, oyster bar, sushi shop and wine bar.

The market in the Twitter building could be just the start for the Market on Market team. As well as 1355 Market, they are taking over the vacant Big Apple grocery store at Polk and Clay streets. That store, 11,000 square feet that will include a basement sushi bar, is set to open in the spring. A third deal for a 10,000-square-foot store is in the works at Lumina, a 656-unit condo complex Tishman Speyer is building at Main and Folsom streets.

Farm to table

Chris Foley, a San Francisco real estate investor, said the concept is a Northern California farm-to-table play on the Mario Batali’s Eataly Italian emporiums in New York and Chicago. His partners include Bruce Slesinger and Tom Collom of BAT Architects, which designed Small Foods South of Market, as well as Richard Hoff, who ran Napa Farms Market at San Francisco International Airport.

Market on Market will also include six subtenants: Malaysian street food-inspired Azalina’s, Nuubia Chocolat, Blue Bottle Coffee, Farmgirl Flowers, EO Products (skin care) and Project Juice. “We wanted to create community … a bunch of different spaces within the market where you can get to know your neighbors and the people you work with,” Foley said.

When the group first drew up plans to open the grocery store, they envisioned an 8,000-square-foot food hall similar to Canyon Market in Glen Park, where Foley is an investor. Shorenstein Properties, which owns the Twitter building, liked the concept so much it suggested it be bigger.

“Shorenstein said, ‘No, we have 13,000 square feet for you,’” Foley said. “We said OK. Then they came back and said, ‘We have 18,000 square feet.’ We said OK. They came back and said, ‘Why don’t you take it all?’ Now we are at 22,000 square feet and, honestly, if we had another 2,000 square feet, we would be really happy.”

The biggest challenge is that there is no parking. Foley said he doesn’t think that will be an issue, pointing to Canyon Market, where many customers shop daily for that night’s dinner, mostly on their way to and from the BART station a block away. Market on Market will be similar: It’s on top of a BART station and on the city’s busiest bike route, which frequently gets 6,000 one-way bike trips a day.

Moving in

The Mid-Market neighborhood is dense and getting denser. In the past three years, it has attracted Twitter, Uber, Square and Dolby. Already, 2,500 residents have moved into the neighborhood, and another 2,500 are coming as towers sprout up along Mission and Market streets, so there should be plenty of business.

Typical supermarkets do 20 percent of their business in prepared meals, but in the Bay Area that number is more like 40 percent, the highest in the United States, said Helen Bulwik, a consultant who works with grocers.

Retail West commercial real estate partner Matt Holmes, who has represented Whole Foods in the Bay Area, said he thinks Market on Market will do closer to 80 percent “consumable foods” — those meant to be eaten on site or within 12 hours of purchase.

“It will function like a food court with a limited offering of wine, savory snacks and meat,” Holmes said. “It’s not built for the soccer mom walking out with three or four bags of groceries. It’s the impulse buyer, the young urban professional.”

He predicted that the market will be part of a growing group of upscale urban markets that “seem to have no price sensitivity.”

“Anything that makes Whole Foods look like a value, I am all for,” Holmes said. “It’s a huge win for the Mid-Market, but in terms of offering affordable food for everyone who lives there, that is a bit of a push.”

Bulwik said Mid-Market is a “virtual food desert.” She said San Francisco could support additional stores of a similar nature. “You could have a food store on virtually every block — like Starbucks,” she said. “To have 15 locations, to hit the San Francisco limit (allowed under the city’s antichain-store laws), would not be a problem.”

Employing hundreds

Once the three stores are done, the Market group will look at other sites, including Dogpatch, Pacific Heights and West Portal, Foley said.

“When we get our feet grounded we would love to do more. We believe this is what people want in a high-density urban environment,” he said.

Market on Market will eventually employ 200 people, Foley said. Once Market on Polk and Market on Main are open, the company could reach 400 workers. The partners plan to hire more than half of the workers for Market on Market from the surrounding supervisorial District Six, where they’re working with nonprofits on job training.

J.K. Dineen is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: jdineen@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @sfjkdineen

Article source: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/New-Mid-Market-food-emporium-to-be-1st-in-5846239.php

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