National City’s new downtown food hall is bustling every day of the week. People sip coffee while browsing their laptops in the morning, colleagues chat about the day over lunch, and families break bread on long wooden tables for dinner.
Since opening late last year, Market on 8e transformed a once dilapidated corner into a community gathering space. The owners now want to add to that experience with shows and new liquor sales.
Many residents are excited about the additions. Others worry that current challenges, such as finding street parking, will get worse.
To make these business changes, Joel Tubao, who owns and operates the market with his family, sought permission from the city.
He received it last week when the city council unanimously backed his proposals under certain conditions. The board’s vote came after hearing about three dozen public comments with mixed opinions.
“The (Market), as a whole, has been a real catalyst for 8e Street, for our downtown,” Vice Mayor Marcus Bush said. “This space has really become a public gathering space and a community space.”
Board members approved changes to the company’s conditional use license, allowing live shows and extended hours of operation at the venue, which is located at 8e Street and Avenue A.
The changes mean the food hall can now host live entertainment, including bands, karaoke or DJs, from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily and sell craft beer and wine until midnight. Prior to approval, the business could only have one solo artist and sell beer from Novo Brazil – the only beer vendor in the food hall – until 10 p.m. The market may also add a bar on its enclosed rear patio, allow drinking on the front patio, which is surrounded by a low-level metal fence, and sell liquor to take away.
Some residents fear extended hours and take-out liquor sales are “a recipe for trouble,” Bill McColl said.
Others were concerned about potential noise disturbance and allowed drinking on the front patio. Tubao said he wasn’t looking to turn his establishment into a nightclub or a place where “a bunch of goons could come and party and drink a lot.”
“What we’re looking to do is add more value to the community. You can sit down with a nice glass of wine or craft beer and enjoy the community,” he said, adding that he sometimes considers jazz bands, as well as yoga sessions on the terrace and kombucha.
Dominic Hernandez, head of one of the food hall’s 12 vendors, said providing a venue for open-mic nights would enhance the hall as a gathering space for people of different interests and backgrounds. varied.
Board member Ron Morrison made several suggestions, which the rest of the board endorsed. He called for alcohol sales to end at midnight rather than 1 a.m. and to limit take-out beer to four packs of 16-ounce cans.
One of the most pressing concerns for many residents, business owners and some council members was parking. Since the market opened, street parking on Avenue A and surrounding areas has been an issue, as the food hall and several nearby establishments do not have parking.
David Ramos, who lives on Avenue A near the food hall, said he opposed permit changes because later hours would mean more customers and fewer parking spaces.
“I come home and the first thing I have to do is wait outside my house just to get a parking space, just like every one of my neighbors,” he said.
Although the market is not required to offer parking to customers, Tubao said it has spoken with Southwestern College to allow customers to park in their parking complex at National City Boulevard and 8e Street.
Morrison pointed to the need for more parking or better ways to get traffic flowing if longer opening hours entice customers to stay on the premises longer. He suggested adding paid parking in the area. The city is currently developing a parking management plan and a pilot program that would add meters along several downtown streets.
Bush said “parking is definitely going to be a challenge” wherever density increases, such as in the city’s downtown area with several new small businesses and Parco, a 127-unit mixed-use residential and commercial building located in front of the food hall.
Jose Rivas, who works at the market and lives on Avenue A, said the recent growth of his neighborhood and the food hall as an anchor has brought life back to what was once “a ghost town”.