Meatless Mecca Malibu’s Waves Goodbye to Oakland's Piedmont Avenue Amid Financial Squeeze

Meatless Mecca Malibu’s Waves Goodbye to Oakland's Piedmont Avenue Amid Financial SqueezeSource: Google Street View
Tony Ng
Published on November 27, 2023

Oakland's vegan burger hotspot, Malibu’s Burgers, is gearing up to say farewell to its flagship Piedmont Avenue location by year's end, bowing out on Wednesday, December 27. The brainchild of Darren Preston, Malibu’s has been dishing out meatless delights in a space that he explains was "always a little too big for us," according to an interview with SF Eater.

Financial pressure is cited as the culprit for the closure, as the bills stacked up to an often hefty $10,000 or $11,000 each month. Preston noted that the business wasn't fully taking advantage of the large space it occupied, which could otherwise benefit a more formal dining establishment. Despite the setback, Preston is already scouting new venues to continue serving his famed plant-based cuisine. "The market is changing," Preston told SF Eater. "We need to be somewhere that can sustain more foot traffic." Yet, cultural and community challenges colored his experience, "I had neighbors for years who never said hi to me," Preston revealed.

Malibu’s has ridden the rollercoaster of business trials since its opening, including a bankruptcy filing in March of last year due to a predatory loan, a detail obtained by SF Eater. Preston’s resilience is mirrored in his family's entrepreneurial spirit, as his mother, Lourdes “Lulu” Marquez-Nau, also faced the harsh reality of business ups and downs with her vegan initiative, Casa Borinqueña. Yet, amid closures and upheavals, Marquez-Nau is slated for a fresh start in IKEA’s new San Francisco food hall.

Preston, who welcomed his second child recently, is optimistic despite the Piedmont Avenue store’s closing, noting parallels between his circumstances and the reception to LeBron James' activism. "I fell a bit out of love at this location," Preston declared per SF Eater, emphasizing that his journey is not at an end, "but this is my life."