Corner Market Owner Rebecca Stevens (photo credit: l'oakavore)

Corner Market owner Rebecca Stevens (photo credit: l’oakavore)

While Corner Market is literally a corner market, owner and chef Rebecca Stevens sees it as much more than that. For this entrepreneurial Oakland shopkeeper, Corner Market is a gathering place, a convenience store, a cafe and a culinary hub all in one.

Rebecca opened Corner Market on busy Telegraph Avenue across from the KFC-Taco Bell in March, and while it’s not everything she hopes yet, she is adding more dry goods, more prepared foods and more culinary energy to the shop all the time. Just this month, she added a line of homemade soups to her repertoire. By December, she hopes to offer ready-to-eat desserts in a jar, like baked custard and caramel panna cotta.

Corner Market is spare but sunny, clean and inviting. Products are attractively displayed on a mix of wooden and metal shelving, punctuated with simple signage designed by Rebecca’s graphic designer mom. Carpenter and artist friend Alex Case did the design and layout of the store, building it out of recycled materials collected from Urban Ore. The store has whimsical, turquoise-colored outdoor cafe tables to encourage lingering over coffee, donuts, kombucha and the latest issue of freebie Edible East Bay.

CornerMarket_Interior4Rebecca describes Corner Market’s mix as “best quality basics, plus coffee and donuts.” She says she’s not trying to be super high-end, and she has been happy to find that her tastes have naturally aligned with those of neighborhood residents. The store stocks everything from organic fruits and veggies, milk and brand-name dry goods, to local honey and BBQ sauce, as well as Lev’s Original kombucha and handcrafted brooms from Quinn Broom Works (a pet project of her dad’s). In the morning, Corner Market offers hot coffee and a selection of Oakland-based Pepples organic vegan donuts. Each product in the store is hand-selected by Rebecca because it meets her culinary standards, because she has some connection to the maker, or because local residents have expressed a need for it. Rebecca says popular items are toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and most surprising to her, kombucha and pancake mix. Two of Rebecca’s personal favorites are a line of figs and apricots from the former owner of Piedmont Avenue’s now-closed Zatis restaurant, and Honey Badger’s Illegal BBQ Sauce, handmade in Oakland by Ron Pringle.

Telegraph is a busy transit corridor, but Rebecca gets a surprising amount of foot traffic from neighborhood residents and kids on their way home from nearby Peralta Elementary. When they stop in for an afternoon snack (Barbara’s Snackimals are a favorite), Rebecca knows them by name.

Corner Market, Telegraph Avenue (photo credit: l'oakavore)

Corner Market, Telegraph Avenue (photo credit: l’oakavore)

Rebecca saw how the opening of Sweet Adeline in 2005 at Adeline and 63rd helped turn an unwelcoming corner into a hub of community activity. That’s what she hopes for Corner Market. She plans to do that by making the market more than just a pitstop. It’s also a pick-up location for the Say Hay Farms weekly farm box and a meeting spot for the newly formed neighborhood association Friends of Upper Telegraph.

Rebecca, who grew up in the Bay Area, has spent the last 20 years living in North Oakland — close enough to the store to ride her bike with a pink bakery box full of freshly baked donuts balanced on the handlebars. Rebecca earned a culinary degree from the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York, then spent some time at Royal Coffee (now Cole) and Pepples. She has authored two small-press cookbooks: SoupLove: 12 Simple Seasonal Soups, which she sells at the store, and LoveSandwich, which is out of print. Over the years, Rebecca has dabbled in catering, and she is looking to expand her catering business under the Corner Market brand. Thanks to the use of a shared space at The Berkeley Kitchens, Rebecca has a small catering business. The catering menu features simple picnic fare, like bite-sized frittata squares and bite-sized sandwiches, as well as spiced nuts, cookies, fruits and even a sundae bar.

The frozen soup line that Rebecca began selling in November features a rotating collection of flavors from her book, SoupLove. Look for kabocha french lentil, tomato fennel, lemon lentil, cannellini minestrone and split pea. While you’re there, you can pick up a loaf of Acme bread, which Rebecca’s dad picks up and delivers fresh to the market every morning. In the months ahead, Rebecca wants to expand her prepared foods offerings to include housemade salads and spreads. She’s also talking about serving soft-serve ice cream and kombucha on tap.

Corner Market Mission Statement (photo credit: l'oakavore)

Corner Market Mission Statement (photo credit: l’oakavore)

Rebecca still thinks of her store as a work in progress. So much so that Corner Market hasn’t had a grand opening yet. And perhaps it never will. From what I can tell, Rebecca won’t feel like she’s done everything she wants to accomplish for a long time: There will always be more to do and make and be and bake at this blossoming intersection of 61st and Telegraph.

Corner Market
6040 Telegraph Avenue
(510) 734-2127
Open Tuesday through Friday 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Facebook.com/CornerMarket
Neighborhood: Upper Telegraph

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