Mall Grown Up: The Veranda
Concord’s first new shopping center in decades puts a fresh spin on an old commercial concept.
A rendering of The Veranda in Concord.
Rendering by Centercal Properties
Concord has been the East Bay’s go-to city for malls since the 1960s. Anyone who grew up in the area remembers browsing for a new outfit or sipping an Orange Julius at Sunvalley Shopping Center, or seeing a play or being thrilled by Benihana’s chefs at the Willows Shopping Center. This year, there’s a new mall in the market: The Veranda, a sprawling, 375,000-square-foot oasis of retailers, restaurants, and entertainment venues that opened its first stores in late October and has been rolling out new attractions ever since.
It’s a modern mall in every sense. The Veranda’s multiplex movie theater, Luxe Cinema, has large reclining seats and a full IMAX screen—just the second to open in Contra Costa County. And for those who prefer craft beers, grass-fed beef cheeseburgers, and crème brûlée to sodas, popcorn, and Red Vines, the cinema also features a full bar and gourmet in-theater dining.
Restaurant options include several firsts for the East Bay: EMC Seafood and Raw Bar; Puesto, a Southern California–based taqueria; Super Duper Burgers from San Francisco; and Popbar, an international dessert shop that serves gelato Popsicles. The center also hosts the area’s first Whole Foods Market 365, an offshoot of the upscale grocery chain that sells high-quality foods at competitive prices. Meanwhile, locally owned businesses including Coffee Shop and Residual Sugar Wine Bar and Merchant also plan to open new locations in The Veranda.
As for outdoor attractions, the complex boasts an elaborate fountain with 20 arching jets choreographed to music, and Northern California’s first Luckey Climber, a massive structure for kids to scale after trying on school clothes at T.J.Maxx.
Concord Retail Pioneers
First chain restaurants:
Jolly Beefburgers and A&W Root Beer. The Concord Historical Society says these two came to town in the early- to mid-1950s.
First major shopping center:
Park ‘N’ Shop. Opened in 1957, the strip mall along Willow Pass Road once held a small amusement park, which was eventually relocated to Pixieland on Olivera Road. Today’s incarnation of the Park ‘N’ Shop offers an impressive range of restaurants that serve a variety of international cuisines.
First multi-screen theater:
Sunvalley Cinema. In the late 1960s, the single-screen theater opened on the bottom floor of the million-plus-square-foot shopping center. A few years later, in the early 1970s, the cinema was split into two screens.