Down to Business: Does Roseville live up to its hype?

By: Scott Thomas Anderson, Editor
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In the summer of 2012, Roseville Assistant City Manager John Sprague told the Press Tribune he believed the city’s long-term planning and economic influence would help “lead the Sacramento region out of the Recession.” Now, with city leaders hoping a new developmental services department will lure even more businesses into Roseville’s thriving commerce center, a number of energetic entrepreneurs talk about the advantages and drawbacks that come with banking it all on Roseville.

The image of commerce in Roseville is largely tied with its renowned “four corners,” the Westfield Galleria, The Fountains and the north and south Creekside Retail centers. Businesses within these four shopping areas generated nearly $873 million in sales in 2012 before Black Friday or the Christmas shopping season even arrived.

 Such figures gave the Galleria and The Fountains serious drawing power for new businesses in 2012: In July of that year, Pottery Barn picked the Galleria for its first PB Teen location in California and Charles Gadalla likewise chose it over Fisherman’s Warf in San Francisco to house the very first Flip Flop Shops franchise in the northern half of the state. The Fountains saw even more businesses move in during 2012, including new locations for Sacramento-based staples such as the Mexican dining house, Zocalo, Roseville’s second addition of Jack’s Urban Eats and longtime jewelry magnet Kenny G. and Co. Stieber’s Sweet Shoppe, a family-owned business, threw its doors open in The Fountains before the end of 2012.

But the “four corners” were the not spots in Roseville to draw regional and national companies. In October of 2012, The Fresh Market, a North Carolina-based deluxe grocer with 126 locations across the country, opened its first hub in California at Roseville’s Rocky Ridge Town Center. This busy section of Douglas Boulevard continues to see its own frenzy of activity: Two years ago, Cindy Jacobs decided to move her store Wigs R You from Auburn Boulevard in Citrus Heights to the Rocky Ridge Town Center. Given that many of Jacobs’s wig clients are residents going through chemotherapy, her new location’s proximity to Kaiser Medical Center and Sutter Roseville Medical Center has made shopping easy. Jacobs’s store also appeals to seniors, many of whom live in Roseville and Granite Bay.

“The draw is the community and how nice the location is,” Jacobs said. “It’s been a much better spot in a lot of ways then where we’d been. Obviously we’re right by the hospitals and there’s a strong senior community; but it’s not just those specific elements – the bottom line is Roseville’s an area with a lot more businesses. Our business has certainly been better since moving here. I have no regrets at all about it.”

This week, across the street from The Rocky Ridge Town Center in the Rocky Ridge Plaza, Dave and Jewel Farrell opened their first California location of Peg’s Glorified Ham n Eggs. Family owned and operated, Peg’s Glorified Ham and Eggs has four register-ringing locations in Nevada, and has been named by Esquire Magazine as one of the top places in America to eat breakfast. When the Farrells decided they would try their hand at opening a fifth restaurant, this time in the Golden State, a long, road-weary odyssey landed them in Roseville.

“We really stumbled on this city in the beginning,” Dave Farrell remembered. “We’d driven down to San Francisco and then all over parts of the state.”

The Farrells say east Roseville stood out to them as a place where Peg’s style of family-friendly, kid-friendly, dog-friendly, down-home dining on huge skillets of breakfast food would be embraced by locals.

“We love everything about Roseville,” Jewel Farrell said. “You can feel a really good vibe here. It’s kind of big city, in the sense that it’s close to Sacramento, but it’s still small and homey, which fits our family’s personality.”

She added, “Everyone here has been so welcoming.”  

Roseville has managed to tempt restaurant owners away from other parts of California this year as well. Across the city from the Rocky Ridge area, Ralph and Caterina Muhareb have opened Café Americano on Foothills Boulevard, after pulling up stakes from a dining business in Fresno. Similarly, Maryam Riazi and Mehran Beheshei just left a successful fast-serve kabob stop in Rancho Cordova to open Giraffe on Fairway Boulevard, a Southern French Mediterranean diner.   

But not all business people have found Roseville to be an ideal city to realize their dreams. Kevin Kemper says he owns one of the most energy efficient, environmentally friendly commercial buildings in the entire city — though getting it built took 8 years of struggling with various personalities at city hall. Kemper said his comments are not meant to embarrass city workers but rather constructively and proactively bring to the community’s attention that the entire city can benefit from keeping its departments small and not overly intrusive.

“Business and governments everywhere are being choked with more and more regulation,” Kemper said in reference to his frustrations with Roseville. “Everyone’s productivity suffers as a result.”

Kemper’s green-energy building on Derek Place now houses the popular Roseville Brewing Company and the Aikido and Healing Arts Center of Roseville.

City officials have described the new developmental services department means to streamline the process of getting businesses going.

Other challenges that have hampered business involve crime, transients and drug activity in certain parts of the city. In March of this year, several business owners in Old Town Roseville told the Press Tribune that — despite a constant presence from the police department — Old Town’s hotels and at least one of its bars were drawing gang members, drug users and aggressive homeless people to its corners, pushing regular customers away. At least two business owners in Old Town called such concerns exaggerations and said area’s rustic and historic charm far outweighed its occasional problems.

Gabriella Diaz has been operating New to Me discount store on Lincoln Street since spring: Diaz said the location continues to be challenging in terms of foot traffic, but for now she’s sticking it out.

“I’m here all the time and making sure to keep the prices low,” she said. “Just hanging in there for now.”