Ribbon cut on Richmond Business Hub food hall

Ribbon cut on Richmond Business Hub food hall
Ernst Valery of SAA | EVI Development, speaks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the food hall portion of the Richmond Business Hub on the groundfloor space of the BART parking garage.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the first phase of a long-awaited project set to be transformative for downtown Richmond took place Tuesday — and it smelled delicious.

On Tuesday, community leaders gathered to celebrate the Richmond Business Hub, which has opened initially with a food hall in the long-vacant 10,000 square-foot groundfloor space of the Richmond BART parking garage at 1503 Macdonald Ave.

In August, another ceremony will be held in the same space for CoBiz Richmond, the two-story co-working, business incubator and community center launching with support from a $1 million grant from Chevron’s eQuip Richmond economic revitalization initiative.

“Finally, we’re seeing the rebirth of main street,” Richmond Mayor Tom Butt said during Tuesday’s ceremony. “It’s coming back.”

A significant crowd attends the ribbon-cutting for the food hall at the Richmond Business Hub on Tuesday, April 30, 2019.

The new food hall, featuring Red Bay Coffee and Roux, will offer an “unprecedented mix of modern cuisine, including fourth wave coffee, healthy soul food, and regular pop-ups from local food entrepreneurs,” according to Ernst Valery of SAA | EVI Development, who is behind the project.

The coffee and food will provide needed sustenance for dozens of businesses, nonprofits and agencies that will soon operate at CoBiz.

Valery, based in Baltimore, said he chose projects in Richmond’s downtown in part because of its proximity to the transit station shared by BART and Amtrak. About 8,000 people each weekday walk past The Hub to and from the station, said Mayor Butt.

“If we can get just 1 percent of them a day to walk by here and patronize these businesses, this place will be a roaring success,” said the mayor.

Wesley Alexander, CEO of CoBiz Richmond, set to open in August, provided tours during the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Richmond Business Hub on Tuesday, April 30, 2019.

The Richmond Business Hub’s mission aligns with Chevron’s $10 million eQuip Richmond program, which makes strategic investments to boost resources and opportunities for existing small businesses and entrepreneurs in Richmond and North Richmond.

eQuip Richmond has also provided grants to the Construction Resource Center, aimed at ensuring local residents and businesses are prepared for the jobs and construction contracts tied to the city’s economic growth, and Pogo Park Products, which enabled an Iron Triangle nonprofit staffed entirely by neighborhood residents to win large grants to administer local park improvement projects.

“We want to help bring in new businesses and reinvigorate existing businesses in a way that brings opportunities, a sense of entrepreneurship, and ultimately a sense of self-sufficiency in the community,” said Lily Rahnema, Chevron Richmond community engagement manager.

Keba Konte, founder of Red Bay Coffee, speaks at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the food hall at the Richmond Business Hub on Tuesday, April 30, 2019.
A menu from Roux, offering food in the new modern food hall at the Richmond Business Hub.
Richmond Councilmember Demnlus Johnson (left) and Richmond Mayor Tom Butt.
Retired Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay (on left), Richmond Fire Chief Adrian Sheppard, Richmond Councilmember Ben Choi (on right).
Uche Uwahemu, senior district field representative for Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (on left). Janet Johnson (middle), Economic Development Administrator City Manager’s Office who was integral to the Richmond Business Hub development, and Richmond Councilmember Eduardo Martinez (on right).
Amanda Elliott, executive director of the Richmond Main Street Initiative, also integral in this project.