Farm Burger, Soccer Pro, Road Runner Sports to Berkeley

Farm Burger will open its first West Coast restaurant in West Berkeley. Photo: Sara Hanna Photography

A new shopping destination is emerging at the intersection of 10th and Gilman streets in West Berkeley. Three new businesses have just signed leases to move into the Gilman District, a commercial hub whose transition was kickstarted by Whole Foods’ decision to move into the area last year.

Soccer Pro and Road Runner Sports are both opening up in the complex formerly known as Gilman Village, and Jason Mann will open the first west coast outlet of Farm Burger, a farm-to-table restaurant that hopes to incorporate a boutique-style craft brewery. They will join Philz Coffee and Doughnut Dolly as new tenants who have already signed leases.

Office Depot is already up and running in the mall after moving from across the street at 1025 Gilman to make way for the new Whole Foods (which does not have an opening date yet). T-Rex BBQ, which is still at 1300 10th St. in the same block as the Gilman District, is not part of the re-development which is being spearheaded by Retail West.

See the master plan of Gilman shopping district area.

Speaking about the choice of businesses, Matt Holmes, principal of the San Francisco-based Retail West, said: “We looked at the strengths of being among active lifestyle retailers like REI, Whole Foods and North Face Outlet and wanted to add to the flavor of the area. We specifically recruited the best of two respective niche and specialty sporting categories: running and soccer. Both activities are prevalent in West Berkeley and the project’s proximity to the running trails and soccer fields at the Tom Bates Regional Sports Complex ultimately helped our cause a great deal.”

Holmes added that Soccer Pro is already partnering with sports teams that play at the Tom Bates fields. The chain has two existing stores, in Belmont and Redwood City.

Gilman Village pre-development. It is now called the Gilman District and has a slew of new commercial tenants. Image: Google Maps

The renovation included building a patio for outdoor seating and there is still one small space that is available for lease which, Holmes said, would be suitable for a café or beverage vendor.

Holmes said he expects the two sports stores to draw a community of runners and soccer players to the area, both for shopping and events, such as organized runs. Road Runner Sports has stores across the country, including a dozen in California.

Speaking about Farm Burger, Holmes who, with his wife, runs Asian-inspired restaurant Boo Koo in Mill Valley, said he is “thrilled” to have secured Farm Burger. “I predict it will soon be as popular as Picante and Vik’s Chaat Corner in West Berkeley,” he said.

Farm Burger has three locations in Atlanta, Georgia, and one in Asheville, North Carolina. Mann, who graduated UC Berkeley and lived in the city for eights years, between 1994 and 2002, also founded Full Moon and Moonshine Meats, a farm collective and restaurant in Athens, Georgia. Mann’s ethos is very much in keeping with local mores in that his restaurants are committed to buying from local farmers who raise their cattle humanely and sustainability is made a priority.

He said the restaurants, which are not franchised, are careful to partner with the best local ranchers and have a vertically integrated operation for sourcing and processing their meat. The restaurants are not all about burgers, however, as they offer vegan and vegetarian dishes, as well as gluten free options.

Mann, who volunteered at the Edible Schoolyard at King Middle School at its inception, said he cut his culinary teeth in Berkeley, “exploring organic agriculture and food systems in the gardens and backrooms” of the city, and he’s pleased to be opening here.

“I owe that community so much,” he said. “Berkeley inspired my craft and intellect leading me onto the farmers’ path.”

Mann said he opted to take his work outside the locavore cocoon of the Bay Area into communities that really needed and wanted a new approach, which is why he settled in the south east.

But he recently relocated to San Diego and was happy when the opportunity to open up in Berkeley presented itself.

He is particularly taken with West Berkeley.

“I have always loved the potential of West Berkeley. its such a ripe environment for creativity and community,” he said. “I’m looking forward to engaging with that community.”

In the past, tenants at what was then Gilman Village included garden outlet store Smith & Hawken, which closed in 2009, Turkish towel importer Forza & Home, which moved to Fourth Street, TravelSmith, and home design store Trove. Ethnic Arts moved out in late 2012 to make way for Office Depot, and is now at 2236 San Pablo Avenue.

Soccer Pro and Road Runner Sports are expected to open by May, with Farm Burger slated for around September.

This story was updated when new information became available. Read more about the new Gilman shopping district on Berkeleyside.

Whole Foods confirms it will open new Berkeley store (02.13.13)

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  • Alina

    This is great! :) I worry a bit about parking/traffic issues, but still good news for the area. Maybe some of these developers could pony up some money for a nearby garage or improvements to that awful Gilman/I-80 interchange?…

  • William M Popper

    Don’t Worry Be Happy Alina you could walk,bicycle, public transit…new parking garage for your car whilst you shop, really Alina?

  • Bill N

    The interchange really needs help and I thought it was on at least a short list for some work. It’s probably the most dangerous intersection in Berkeley.

  • emraguso

    I’m working on a story about Gilman that should (hopefully) be an update. But I think the short story is that there will be a new transportation tax on the ballot in November and, if it goes through, would fund changes for Gilman and Ashby.

  • Alina

    I’ll walk there for sure. Hopefully many others will, too. I’m just saying that the area is already busy… The REI/Chipotle/Walgreens parking lot is perennially full. Now we’ll have more people circling the block looking for parking.

  • Charles_Siegel

    They could think about using pricing to deal with the shortage of parking, as they are doing in downtown and south campus.

    Basic economics tells us that, if you give away a scarce resource (such as a parking space in a dense shopping district) for free, you will create a shortage. I am sure that many people could get there in some other way (like you), but they drive because the parking is free, creating a shortage of parking for those who have choice but driving.

    It is hard to convince shopping centers to charge for parking, but charging market price is the most effective way to deal with the shortage. The city could start the ball rolling by using demand-based pricing for on-street parking.

  • This particular mall, Gilman Crossings, has its own parking lot.

  • Chris

    I’m not worried about parking, but traffic will be a mess!

  • Alina

    Is it just the surface spots we can see on the plan? It looked like a small lot to me. But I’ll stop talking now. I am no expert in parking/traffic. And even with my small misgivings, I’m happy that these businesses are moving in. This is great news.

  • Sue t

    I just drove east on Gilman today and there is a brand new left turn only lane onto 9th Street apparently in preparation for Whole Foods (or for all the construction traffic during the construction).

  • Hildah

    Why is it that some people think that everyone has access to public transportation in this City, or if not, they can ride a bike or walk?

  • guest

    So sad that Albany lost the opportunity to have the Whole Foods. Imagine how much good a vibrant shopping area on San Pablo could have done. U.C. is NEVER going to agree to let the idiots that chased away Whole Foods “farm” the empty lot where it was to go. Nor should it.

  • guest

    Free parking attracts customers. I regularly leave Berkeley to do my shopping in other cities precisely because of the parking issue.

  • Guest

    I’m in that lot fairly regularly going to TRex and have never had anything even close to a problem — there’s also a lot of metered street parking around. Farthest away I’ve ever parked was immediately across the street, and that was only once! Hard to imagine that a soccer store, running store, and burger restaurant are going to change anything too dramatically. Seems like really nice, reasonable, well thought out development.

  • Dan

    I like the businesses, but don’t care for the parking. I’m indifferent about whether or not there are parking lots or how big they are, but it is a shame that instead of a nice walkable street the shopping center will be set back behind an ugly sea of parking. Why can’t the follow the lead of some other recent supermarkets (e.g. Whole Foods in Oakland or TJ’s near downtown Berkeley) and hide the parking behind the store or on the roof. Rooftop parking is also planned for Sprouts in Oakland. Surface parking is so awful to look at and ruins the experience of walking down a street. Nearby 4th St has parking, but it’s placed in a way that doesn’t ruin the urban context. Do we really want Gilman, or anywhere else in Berkeley to look just like any other banal suburb?

  • Heather_W_62

    TJ’s “hidden” parking lot has created quite a traffic issue on MLK/Hearst. The line going in is often back up onto MLK. It wasn’t the best design.

  • stuckinthemiddle

    It’s a brilliant business move to have a soccer store at that location. Kids and adults who currently need gear go over to Sports Authority in Emeryville or Big 5 in El Cerrito and neither have great expertise or inventory. In particular they don’t seem to have the right inventory at the right time for soccer seasons. I hope Soccer Pro will be a good partner with the ABSC soccer league.

  • Moritz

    So far I don’t think anyone has either assumed this or stated it.

  • EBGuy

    I think you meant to say, “Residents privatizing the public right of way for their own personal use” has created a number of traffic issues around TJ’s. I’m imagining some the neighborhood activists driving to Berkeley Bowl (to spite TJs) and then coming home to their private on street parking spots.

  • Cammy

    This Whole Foods will be great for those who don’t want to make the trek to the Telegraph Ave Whole Foods. Their fresh, organic juices are so wonderful, along with their organic salad bars – for a relatively inexpensive lunch.