Jan 27, 2015

A new restaurant down the street from Craneway Pavilion is about to have its grand opening on Monday.

Bubbaloo Cafe at 1402 Marina Way South recently had a soft launch with a limited menu but plans to unveil its full menu on grand opening day.

The gorgeous, sleekly-designed restaurant mimics the industrial, ever-changing feel of the area. It is the latest venture from the family that brought the popular Pho Saigon Noodle & Grill to the Bay Area, with locations in El Sobrante, Newark, Oakland and Vallejo.

Photo courtesy of Bubbaloo Cafe

Photo courtesy of Bubbaloo Cafe

Bubbaloo Cafe co-owners Candice Ngyuen and Giovanni Gelera aim to offer a diverse and affordable menu that still highlights the Vietnamese cuisine that has made Ngyuen’s culinary family a success in the Bay Area. One of the more popular menu items includes the family’s signature Grilled Pork Banh Mi sandwich. The restaurant offers a number of unique hot sandwich options for about $8 or $9.

Here’s the limited soft-launch menu:

bubbaloomenu.1-27The restaurant prides itself on staying local, using longtime Richmond bakery Maggiora Baking Company and Oakland- based roaster Mr. Espresso.

Along with offering affordable meals for a growing number of businesses in the area, Bubbaloo Cafe has access to a waterfront conference space where it hopes to hold acoustic music and spoken word events.

That conference space belongs to TopLine, a new, large business accelerator program that can tap Bubbaloo Cafe for catering services. Since the beginning, TopLine founder Allan Young has expressed a desire to hold both business conferences and community events in the space. In July, teens from Richmond and San Pablo were tapped to create murals at TopLine as part of a free summer art class.

Bubbaloo Cafe is separated from the TopLine conference space by these doors:

bubalooconference.1-27Nguyen shares Young’s desire to make the Marina Bay South location a truly local community hangout. Her business has applied for a beer and wine license and expanded hours in the hope of holding community gatherings. The restaurant has plenty of parking options and space to do so.

The promise of a new Richmond ferry terminal near Craneway, along with continued improvements along the waterfront such as the Bay Trail, fuels even more optimism at Bubbaloo Café and other area businesses.

The Bubbaloo Cafe kitchen.

The Bubbaloo Cafe kitchen.

Andrea Bailey, community engagement manager for Chevron Richmond, said the food was a “huge hit” among her colleagues who visited during the soft launch.

“I know that you have made some instant loyal patrons in our Chevron employees,” Bailey told Nguyen.


  1. Virtual Development corporation can offer this public testimonial about the Bubbaloo Cafe and the Topline event space. We held a huge event on January the 8th in the event space , catered by the Bubbaloo café . . The event was to promote a low density residential project our company has been processing for more then 2 years in Marina Bay . We reached out to registers voters along our shoreline . We had confirmed reservation of just over 200 , two days before the event , the Day of the event we started to receive hundreds of e-mails and phone calls and had over 600 people show up for the event , We had to turn away a couple of hundred people as not to exceed the capacity of the event space , . Bubbaloo Cafe co-owners Candice Ngyuen and Giovanni Gelera , were able to feed reported over 500 people rotating through , the food was excellent from the start to the finish of the event. The event was so successful that the Ryness Company , the brokers that will be selling the homes received qualified buyers signing up to get on the waiting list , which exceeded the entire first phase of homes to be offered.. The bottom line is the food was excellent , the live music from the band get lucky was awesome . We hope all of the events held at Topline will be as successful as ours. For more information on the event go to http://www.marinabaydinner.com/

    Richard Poe | Jan 27th, 2015
  2. Please have more vegetarian items. Thanks

    Herman G. | Jan 28th, 2015
  3. Why, oh why, nothing but meat? The menu at Assemble is horrible and offers no vegetarian dishes either…was hoping this might have healthier options. People are able to enjoy more than bacon, ya know? So disappointed that we STILL have to leave town for a decent meal. Richmond desperately needs a creative vegetarian option. Shrimp salad? YUK!

    Laura Wagner | Jan 29th, 2015
  4. So excited for you brother! I know they both come from good culinary families! I grew up on Gelera food and just tasted some of the good quality fair in May of last year. Can’t wait to have the food!

    Cheri | Jan 30th, 2015

About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.