On the string light–bedecked back patio of Fruitvale’s newest food hub, customers can sit down to a meal of chimichangas, garlic noodles or Vietnamese fried chicken. They might throw back a Kingfisher—Bangalore’s finest—and, if they have a sweet tooth, they’ll almost certainly order a pint of the Bay Area’s buzziest lactose-free ice cream for the road.
Welcome to Korner Kitchen & Bar, a kitchen incubator and outdoor cocktail bar where multiculturalism is baked into the business’s identity. Located adjacent to the Fruitvale BART station, the space quietly opened in May as a production facility for 10 up-and-coming Bay Area food and beverage brands: There’s garlic noodle specialist Noodle Belly, a restaurant centered on one of the Bay Area’s most iconic dishes. There’s Fish N Bonez, which sells charcuterie and serves a hip, stylish Latinx-American brunch. There’s Bad Walter’s, the aforementioned ice cream company that’s already built up a legion of fans, both lactose tolerant and intolerant. There’s a pasta pop-up and a company that specializes in fresh-pressed sugarcane juice.
Now nine months in, Korner Bar is holding its grand opening this week, Jan. 20–23, with DJs, live music and giveaways each day.
At its core, the business operates as a commissary kitchen, explains co-owner Alex Tejeda. In many ways, it’s the spiritual cousin of West Oakland’s Magnolia Mini Mart, Tejeda’s brainchild and a breakaway hit during the early stages of the pandemic. Currently closed for construction, the mini mart was created to provide an outlet for chefs who’d been laid off during the pandemic, and it wound up becoming a kind of food-enthusiast hotspot—the place you would go to discover the latest cool local pastry or snack brand before it blew up. Korner Bar plays a similar role of curator and tastemaker and hopes to serve as a “one-stop shop,” Tejeda says, for folks who want to grab a meal and a drink and also support small businesses that are just starting to get off the ground.
According to events manager Jessica Seggman, Korner Bar can support as many as 18 different food and beverage entrepreneurs at once. What the vendors like, she says, are the flexible contracts and the relatively low hourly rates that the kitchen offers.