Curry Up Now, once a humble food truck on the Peninsula, has expanded to locations as far and wide as New Jersey and Georgia since its origins. However, the popular Bay Area chain hadn't made it to the Tri-Valley area -- until now.
Officials at City Center Bishop Ranch in San Ramon announced last week that Curry Up Now would be among the new tenants at the retail and entertainment complex off Bollinger Canyon Road.
Although the menu will feature dishes the chain is known for, such as its "Naughty Naan" and "Deconstructed Samosas", the menu at the City Center location is curated specifically for the new location.
The San Ramon location will also be accompanied by the chain's bar, Mortar and Pestle. This will be the fourth of Curry Up Now's locations to be accompanied by the bar, which debuted alongside its first brick-and-mortar location in San Mateo.
"We were looking for the right mix of tenants, from high-profile and well-known brands such as Sprinkles Cupcakes to fresh, new restaurant and service concepts that do not yet have a presence in San Ramon like Dumpling Time, Curry Up Now and PREP," Jeff Dodd, senior vice president of retail for Sunset Development Company, wrote in an email.
For PREP salon owner Marius Morf, the opportunity to open a new location in City Center proved highly convenient. Since taking over the business in 2018, Morf has expanded it from one location to five, including a recent opening in Danville.
With a background in logistics and transportation, Morf said he was looking for a change of pace as his family grew. This included buying and expanding PREP, as well as moving to San Ramon, just a few blocks from where City Center would later open.
Morf was first intrigued by PREP while taking his older daughter there for her first haircut in San Francisco. The salon proved to be a unique experience, he found.
"The original concept of it was that they couldn't find a place for their older kids to get a haircut," Morf said.
Since its origins, PREP has sought to strike a balance between luxury salons, and what Morf describes as "kiddie" salons. The idea was to cater to kids, particularly teens, who felt out of place at these two ends of the spectrum. However, Morf learned, upon expanding the business, that this model was just as attractive to many adults.
"The parents of little kids don't like kiddie salons either," Morf said.
As the business expanded, Morf said that more and more parents started booking their own appointments there, as well as other adults who didn't feel comfortable at salons promoting themselves as more "high end". Additionally, PREP's offering of salon parties and events, previously geared towards kids and teens, proved popular with adults preparing for weddings and other formal events.
Morf predicts that having clients of all ages will be characteristic of the new location in City Center, similar to the Danville location. Unlike San Francisco, he noted, the San Ramon Valley has a wide range of child-friendly businesses, including salons. This gives the local PREP salons more room for creativity, and enables them to focus on filling the gap between high end and overly casual salons for all demographics.
The family-friendly environment of San Ramon was one of the things that drew Morf and his family to the area, he said.
However, it proved to be very different from their previous home in San Francisco. Not the least of these differences, Morf notes, was that San Ramon was a "city without a downtown." For this reason, he and his family were pleased to see City Center open near their home, and have enjoyed having a central gathering place for shopping and dining locally.
"We like the other brands out there, and we liked that it was a family friendly place," Morf said. "It's so good to have those options here. We love it."
In addition to Curry Up Now and PREP, City Center is preparing to host Dumpling Time's initial expansion outside of San Francisco.
"We can't wait to open at City Center Bishop Ranch and bring our Asian-inspired food and fun to San Ramon," Dumpling Time founder Kash Feng said in a statement.
Dumpling Time serves as a more casual arm of Omakase Restaurant group, which also owns Michelin-star-rated Omakase and Niku Steakhouse. It's known for providing diners with the opportunity to watch dumplings being rolled before their eyes, and their emphasis on fresh ingredients.
Patelco Credit Union, which opened its City Center location earlier this year, is preparing to debut a community area in partnership with Sprinkles Cupcakes. Patelco's full-service location at City Center is currently enhanced by a communal workspace that is free to the public. Sprinkles will further enhance the space by offering sweets and drinks on-site.
Sprinkles emphasizes unique concepts, such as their "Cupcake ATMs" as well as using cupcakes to spur community engagement. This partnership with Patelco will be the first of its kind for both companies, making the shared space unique to City Center.