After nearly 10 years of showcasing local chefs and vendors in the heart of Bernal Heights, 331 Cortland Marketplace's last business day will be Sunday, December 22nd.
As originally reported by the Chronicle, the decision was made by landlord Debra Resnik after two long-time tenants, Paulie’s Pickling and Mae Krua, announced they were ready to close up shop.
Although Resnik was used to ushering in new businesses as others moved out of the space, the challenge of finding two new tenants after several years of stability was daunting, especially as she looks toward retirement. "I'm trying to lessen my load and balance my life," Resnik told Hoodline in a phone interview. "It's sad there will be fewer food options on Cortland, but it's a needed transition."
331 Cortland Marketplace opened in April 2009, a year after Resnik bought the building. Since then, it has served as an incubator for 16 different small businesses, providing an affordable space for entrepreneurs in the food industry to get off the ground.
In its nearly 10 years in existence, 331 Cortland Marketplace has seen many of its tenants move up in the San Francisco food industry. Argentinian empanada maker El Porteño now runs a popular stand at the Ferry Building, while others—Bernal Cutlery, Ichi Sushi, and Wholesome Bakery, to name a few—have opened brick and mortar storefronts in the city.
Eventually, Resnik said, as up-and-coming businesses graduated from the space and three mature vendors settled in, the space became more of a co-op than an incubator. For the past three years, neighbors have frequented Jamaican kitchen Peaches Patties, Middle Eastern street food shop Paulie's Pickling, and Thai eatery Mae Krua.
Then, for personal reasons, Anucha Kongthavorn of Mae Krua decided to close his business. This prompted Liz Ashby of Paulie's Picking to re-evaluate her plans. "It's hard work," Ashby admits, citing the long hours of being a full-time chef and business owner. Paulie's Pickling is the only business to have inhabited the space for the entirety of its nine and a half years.
Ashby decided she too would take a break, and isn't sure yet what's next. As for her time at 331 Cortland, she'll look back on it fondly. "It’s been wonderful, business is good, and I feel like we accomplished what we wanted."
For Shani Jones, owner of Peaches Patties, the news of the marketplace closure came as a surprise. "Honestly, we wanted to stay," said Jones. "Debra [Resnik] had been talking about renovating the space for its 10 year anniversary. So it was a bit of a sting for us."
Peaches Patties also operates a catering business, based out of the production kitchen at La Cocina. However, according to Jones, the kiosk at 331 Cortland accounts for 20% of her revenue. Along with husband and co-owner Yeheyis Bedada, she is actively looking for a new storefront, considering spaces in both San Francisco and the East Bay.
"We would love to stay in San Francisco," said Jones, who started her business out of her mother's kitchen in the city. "But it's about finding the right fit."
As for what will occupy the space next, Resnik has confirmed that Bernal Heights-based pilates studio Pilates Heights will move in next spring.
Founded in 2005 by owner Elizabeth Walker, the studio first opened across the street from 331 Cortland Marketplace. Then, shortly after Resnik bought and renovated the space, Walker moved her studio upstairs to 333 Cortland.
"I've loved our upstairs space, and at the same time I look forward to the beautiful open floor plan in the new space," Walker told Hoodline. "It's a time for us to reinvent and reimagine, and I'm excited for the creativity involved in that process."
Walker plans to expand her offerings, from private Pilates training and small group classes to wellness workshops and special events. She also looks forward to giving her clients the easier access afforded by a ground level studio.
For landlord Resnik, it's a way to continue supporting small businesses in the corridor in a more laid back capacity. "My focus has always been on small businesses; that's who I want to work with. I’m happy to be a part of their growth, and happy to be part of the Cortland corridor."