National City Market on 8th expands with live entertainment, extended hours

National City’s new downtown dining hall is bustling every day of the week. People drink coffee while surfing their laptops in the morning, colleagues chat about the day at lunch, and families break bread at long wooden tables for dinner.

Since opening late last year, Market on 8th has turned a once desolate corner into a community gathering place. The owners now want to add to that experience with live entertainment and new alcohol sales.

Many residents are excited about the additions. Others worry that current challenges, such as finding on-street parking, will worsen.

To make these business changes, Joel Tubao, who owns and operates the market with his family, requested a permit from the city.

He got it last week when the City Council unanimously backed his proposals with certain conditions. The council’s vote came after hearing about three dozen mixed public comments.

“(The market), in general, was a real catalyst for 8th A street for our downtown,” said Deputy Mayor Marcus Bush. “This space has really become a public gathering space and community space.”

Council members approved changes to the business’s conditional use permit allowing for live performances and extended hours at the site, which is located at 8th Street and Avenue.

The changes mean the food hall can now host live entertainment, including bands, karaoke or DJs, from 8am to 1am daily and sell craft beer and wine until midnight. Before the approval, the business could only have a solo artist and sell beer from Novo Brazil — the only beer vendor in the dining hall — until 10 p.m. The market could also add a bar in its enclosed backyard, allow alcohol consumption in the front yard, which is surrounded by a low metal fence, and sell alcohol to take home.

Patrons sit on the patio while others enjoy food indoors at Market on 8th in National City on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022.

(Tammy Murga/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Some residents fear the extended hours and takeout sales of alcohol are a “recipe for trouble,” Bill McCall said.

Others were concerned about potential noise disturbance and allowing front yard drinking. Tubao said he doesn’t want to turn his establishment into a nightclub or a place where “a bunch of morons can come in and just party and drink hard.”

“What we’re looking to do is add more value to the community. You can sit there with a nice glass of wine or craft beer and enjoy the community,” he said, adding that he envisions jazz bands on occasion, as well as hosting yoga on the patio and offering kombucha.

Dominic Hernandez, executive chef at one of the dining hall’s 12 vendors, said offering a venue for open-mic dinners will enhance the hall as a gathering place for people of diverse interests and backgrounds.

Council member Ron Morrison made several suggestions that the rest of the council approved. He called for the sale of alcohol to end at midnight, rather than 1 a.m., and to limit beer to four-pack, 16-ounce cans.

One of the most pressing issues for several residents, business owners and some council members was parking. Since the market opened, street parking on Boulevard A and the surrounding area has been a challenge, as the dining hall and several neighboring establishments do not have parking lots.

David Ramos, who lives on the Avenue near the dining hall, said he opposes the permit changes because the later hours will mean more patrons and less parking.

“I come home and the first thing I have to do is wait in front of my house just to find a parking space, like every one of my neighbors,” he said.

Although the market is not required to offer parking for customers, Tubao said he has spoken with Southwestern College about allowing patrons to park in their parking lot at National City Boulevard and 8th Street.

Morrison stressed the need for more parking or better ways to circulate traffic if longer hours cause patrons to stay longer on the premises. He suggested adding metered parking to the area. The city is currently drafting a parking management plan and pilot program that will add meters on several downtown streets.

Busch said “parking is definitely going to be a challenge” anywhere density increases, such as downtown with several new small businesses and Parco, a 127-unit mixed-use residential and commercial building across the street from the hall. for eating.

Jose Rivas, who works at Market and lives on Avenue A, said recent growth in his neighborhood and the food hall as an anchor have brought life back to what was once a “ghost town.”

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