Still waiting for Mandela Foods

Apparently, some people are tired of grocery store posts. I suggest those people scroll down and read my recaps of last week’s HarriOak All Candidates Forum and of last month’s District 5 League of Women Voters forum. I want to talk about Mandela Foods some more.

East Bay Conservative posted a photo showing the unimpressive state of the of the Mandela Foods store at the end of March. Since it’s been a while, I figured I’d stop by and check out their progress since I happened to be in the neighborhood yesterday. This is what I found:

Yes, that’s the same Mandela Foods that District 3 City Councilwomen Nancy Nadel claims on her re-election campaign website will be open in April, the same Mandela Foods that Nancy Nadel said would be open in April at the League of Women Voters Forum a month ago, and the same Mandela Foods that Nancy Nadel said at the All Candidates Forum a week ago would be opening in May. This is the same Mandela Foods that Nancy Nadel uses repeatedly in candidate forums as an example of how she has brought neighborhood serving retail to West Oakland. And they still haven’t even begun build-out. Folks, this store is not opening this month. At this point, I’m wondering if it’s going to open ever.

Remember, Nancy Nadel handed these people $100,000 of your money in October 2006, and the City Council voted to give them another $200,000 of tax money in September 2007. Meanwhile, we’ve limited the amount of produce a neighboring store is permitted to sell as a means of ensuring the success of Mandela Foods, and rejected another grocer who wanted to open up in the area next to a McDonalds and KFC because they didn’t pay enough. Our priorities are seriously out of whack.

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4 thoughts on “Still waiting for Mandela Foods

  1. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    I’m obviously not “some people”! It’s the number 2 question I get asked every single day, right after I’m asked about parking.

    I find the idea of the City limiting how much and who can sell produce as rediculous at best. You get exclusivity clauses from your landlord, not from the City. Whatever happened to the free market?

    Even if they were to start work today on MFC, it would clearly take 6-12 months to get it going. The health department has to do all their inspections along the way as equipment is installed and I don’t see any floor drains, so that’s another huge time spender. It’s reprehensible that she’s claiming that anything is going to happen in that space any time soon. Stop making promises that you cannot keep!

    I can *almost* see giving MFC the original $100K, but why $200K more when there was zero progress? No lease was signed, and that right there says it all.

  2. V Smoothe Post author

    The West Oakland Project Area Committee, which has been a strong supporter of Mandela Foods, was upset about Bridge, the landlord, leasing the anchor space in the complex to the 99 Cent Store instead of to Mandela Foods, and made all sorts of threats about demanding a federal investigation and such. Eventually they decided to drop their threats as long as Bridge agreed to a lease restriction limiting the floor area devoted to all fresh produce, dairy, and meat to 50 square feet (of an 11,000 sf space).

    When the Council approved the extra $200,000 in September, the group said that with the money, they would be open by November of 2007.

  3. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    50 square feet?! But doesn’t WOPAC get it? If it were a viable business plan, Bridge would have done the lease with MFC. It was quite clearly not viable. But I’m disappointed in Bridge for bowing down to the demands on limiting fresh foods. What did they have to be afraid of?

    But the MFC thing is a serious thorn in my side. What a waste of public funds!!! I just don’t get why they got anything after the initial $100K. Did anyone have to report on where those funds went?

    I know that when I started my business I had to go the first 2-3 years without pay. That was part of the investment. Certainly I’d like to know what kind of salaries the MFC folks are taking home without even having a project up and running. I think fraud would be a very hard thing to prove, so I wouldn’t go that route. But what was the reasoning in giving the $200K when no results had been forthcoming from the $100K?

  4. Coentrao

    I’m obviously not “some people”! It’s the number 2 question I get asked every single day, right after I’m asked about parking.

    I find the idea of the City limiting how much and who can sell produce as rediculous at best. You get exclusivity clauses from your landlord, not from the City. Whatever happened to the free market?

    Even if they were to start work today on MFC, it would clearly take 6-12 months to get it going. The health department has to do all their inspections along the way as equipment is installed and I don’t see any floor drains, so that’s another huge time spender. It’s reprehensible that she’s claiming that anything is going to happen in that space any time soon. Stop making promises that you cannot keep!

    I can *almost* see giving MFC the original $100K, but why $200K more when there was zero progress? No lease was signed, and that right there says it all.