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An Eatery Incubator, Rebranding the City and More Business Briefs

Bayfair Center's Retail Star competition kicks off next week, and soul food is coming to Dutton and Bancroft. Read more in our business briefs.

Retail Star Competition seeks new food vendor for Bayfair Mall

The food court at is looking for an innovative new tenant to dish out tasty meals. The annual Retail Star business incubator program kicks off in early April, and this year the category is food.

The Retail Star contest pits local entrepreneurs against each other for cash and retail space to make their business idea a reality. The competition is a collaboration between Guggenheim Entertainment and Madison Marquette, the owners of Bayfair Center and Bay Street in Emeryville.

Contestants must pitch their business idea in a three-minute video. The semi-finalists will get help creating business plans. Judges will then determine a winner who will receive $25,000 in start-up cash and a year-long, rent-free lease on a retail space at the mall. 

The competition will have a positive impact on business in San Leandro on several fronts, said David Johnson, CEO of the .

“We are supporting the creation of local and small business. We are also promoting shopping San Leandro first,” Johnson said. 

An orientation will be held on April 6 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the food court in Bayfair Mall. RSVP suggested: retailstar@guggyent.com, 408-404-7711. 

Soul food and pastries coming to Dutton and Bancroft

Marita's Sweet Potato Pie Co. has left its location at the corner of Dutton and Bancroft. (You can still find them at their original location at Hill Top Mall in San Pablo). Instead of red velvet cake, the kitchen at 600 Dutton will now be cooking up New Orleans cuisine.

Mae's Southern Comfort is moving into the space from its former, smaller location down the street at Victoria Court. 

"This is an excellent location and the food's going to be great," said owner Mae James. Along with Mae's current menu of seafood, fried chicken and po' boys, Mae's will be adding Creole and Cajun classics like jambalaya and etouffee.

Mae's will be open for business at her new location sometime between April 1 and 5, James said.

Next door, signs advertise the coming of a new pastry shop, Angelina's Pastries. Patch will fill in the details when we find out more (and if you know something we don't, please share!).

Seeking a San Leandro Renaissance

Starting with its first meeting on April 4, the citywide Branding and Marketing Strategy group will begin taking steps to attract and retain business in San Leandro. The group consists of city employees and 23 San Leandro business leaders.

In addition, a PR firm, the Oakland-based Placemaking Group, has been brought on board to facilitate the group and conduct a survey of the city's businesspeople and consumers. The city is to pay the firm $10,000 for its services.

“This is about gaining input from the community and some of our stakeholders," the city's Business Development Manager Cynthia Battenberg said. "We haven’t done work on this since 1997 and we feel it’s important to be relevant.”   

Committee members include Tim Holmes, owner of and Mayor Stephen Cassidy's campaign manager during the last election; Jenny Linton, executive vice president of operations for OSIsoft; Dan Dillman, owner of the ; and Gordon Galvan, former city council member and current business lobbyist and executive director of the non-profit group that oversees the LINKS shuttle.

The Branding and Marketing Group will hold its first meeting on April 4, at the Marina Community Center from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The meeting is open to the public. 

County Gets New Ambulance Provider 

The ambulance company Paramedics Plus will soon call San Leandro home. Last August, the company won a five-year contract to become Alameda County's new 911 service provider as of Nov. 1. The Texas-based company will take over the county contract from American Medical Response, whose county operations are currently based in San Leandro.

Though the city originally said the move would create 375 jobs, in fact Paramedics Plus is expected to hire employees from American Medical Response who may have otherwise lost their jobs.

City communications director Kathy Ornelas said Paramedics Plus had agreed to give job priority to American Medical Response employees. That company will continue to operate as a private ambulance provider in the city. 

The contract with Paramedics Plus is expected to save the  money, fire chief Sheldon Gilbert said in a press release. By sharing equipment and dispatch services, the department could save $81,000 annually, according to Gilbert.

The arrival of the ambulance company will help solidify the city's future as a medical hub, Mayor Stephen Cassidy said in a press release. 

“Combined with San Leandro Hospital and the new Kaiser Hospital opening by 2014, Paramedics Plus is helping transform San Leandro into a hub for high-quality medical care in the East Bay,” Cassidy said.

Marga Lacabe April 09, 2011 at 03:46 AM
And to end this thread by going back to the beginning: Mae's is now theoretically open at the corner of Dutton & Bancroft - but once again, it's proving it does not want to actually do any lunch business. I've seen it open around 1 PM the last few days so I tried to go there at 1 today and it was closed, locked, with no signs of anyone inside.
Fran April 09, 2011 at 03:59 AM
I drove by a couple days ago, before 1:00, there were people outside looking at menus. You would think even if they opening @ 1:00, they would be there prepping, no?
Marga Lacabe April 09, 2011 at 04:07 AM
Fran (and anyone else), do you want to give it a try with me after spring break? We can try at 1:30 :)
Fran April 09, 2011 at 07:29 PM
Sure, I've never been to the other one.
Tim Holmes April 14, 2011 at 03:52 AM
Sounds like this is now 1pm to 8pm.

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