In my continuing interest about community vitalization, the idea of an innovation community and a focus on making San Leandro a center of what one might term 'New Economy' progress, the idea of where people who are drawn to our fair city will eat. There is often this sense that San Leandro is a desert (desert, not dessert) of good food options, and I will happily join in on these statements. But, with the coming of our first good truck event in just a day or so (San Leandro hosts Food Truck Mafia hits San Leandro tomorrow evening) I got to thinking about food resources in San Leandro. And I realized, there are some solid options in San Leandro, that we over look.
First off, my favorite haunt in the City, the Zocalo Coffeehouse, which my friends Tim and Mitch have run now for over 11 years, which will now be carried forward by Sara and Dan. While we will be temporarily be losing our home of great local coffee, the locally roasted beans will stay in San Leandro. I think a great city has to have it's own roasters, and Sara will continue to fill this niche. In the past, Sara and Mitch have brought us some great beans, the Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea and a few other standouts, which I hope will once again become options once the roaster in located in it's new home.
There is also another old business, the Santos Spice Company, that provides both bulk and smaller consumer sizes of Indian, Pakistani and other exotic spices, that I think often get overlooked due to their being off the beaten path. So many of the people I regularly communicate with bemoan that they must buy their bulk spices from mail order, and here we are, with exotic spices of high quality, right in the center of our city.
Drake's Barrel House, another place that I think often gets over looked as coming from San Leandro, a city that has supported and been at the center of the home brewing movement in the United States. Drake's makes some of the best IPA in the country, and it has rapidly become a staple in finer beer establishments around California. Beyond that, we have Brewmaster and Williams Brewing, two home brewing shops in one city. Once again, I think we have some great resources here, and this is something that can be built upon.
I think these businesses, and many others, form a basis, for which future food industry can begin to see that San Leandro has the potential to be a food center for the innovators of the New Economy. One of the things that has come to the fore, is that there is a significant interest in San Leandro, as a potential demonstration city for urban farming and small farm product marketing. Now, this is where a city could reach out and start to create opportunities in a "new-old" model of food creation. With it's central location, tradition of agriculture, availability of open land and open buildings, a marketplace of locally grown, urban farmed and small farm curated agriculture products could become a hallmark of food economy for the Bay Area. In many cases, the key to creation and innovation is space, and the ability to link space, technology and people in such a way, that creativity is fostered. We may be the best city in the Bay Area to move forward on these ideas.