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2012 in Review: New Businesses in San Rafael

This last year has seen a flurry of new businesses opening in downtown.

As we make way for a new year, there is no better time to look back at the last 12 months. This year, several new business owners decided to set up shop in our city's borders. See some of the most notable new businesses, and add any ones we've missed. 

Terrapin Crossroads

Although many Fairfax neighbors were opposed to Grateful Dead Phil Lesh's plans to open a music venue in their neighborhood, San Rafael did not object when the Leshs decided to relocate to the Canal after the Seafood Peddler moved out in January 2012. 

Read more. 

Biomarin

BioMarin, a publicly traded multinational biopharmaceutical company that specializes in providing treatments to patients with rare genetic diseases, relocated its headquarters from Novato to San Rafael in January, 2012.

The company grew from 250 employees in 2004 to over 1,000 worldwide, with around 800 from Marin. Around 350 employees are working in the San Rafael location at 770 and 790 Lindaro St. 

“We did look in other places throughout the Bay Area, but this space was the most attractive and provided the best opportunity for our expansion,” Biomarin spokesman Bob Purcell told Patch.

Read more. 

Tesla Motors

The Palo Alto-based company that manufactures high-end electric cars opened their first Bay Area service center at 470 DuBois St. in San Rafael this fall. The new center is one of 18 service centers that exist in North America, a number which Tesla hopes to double in the coming months, according to spokeswoman Shanna Hendriks.

Read more. 

Woodlands Pet Food and Treats

Woodlands Pet Food and Treats opened its third Marin location at 902 Third St. at the end of October, filling a space that was left vacant byWestern Sports Shop since December 2011. The store sells healthy food, accessories and supplies for pets. The San Rafael location also features a self-service pet wash station.

Western Sports, which sold merchandise to anglers, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts for 65 years, closed their doors in January 2012 after they couldn't find a new business owner.

Read more. 

iHeart Closet

One of San Rafael's youngest business owners, 25-year-old Lily Guidry, decided to take her online clothing retail business to a boutique location on Fifth Avenue. The store, called iHeart Closet, offers “fashion forward” and affordable trends and accessories for 16- to 30-year-old women, she said.

“I always had to travel to San Francisco or other areas to get trendy clothes I could afford,” Guidry told Patch just before her business opened in August. “Then I thought, there is definitely a need for this kind of a store in San Rafael.”

Read more. 

Sol Food Expansion

Sol Food owner Sol Hernandez was busy this year. Not will she be expanding in to Mill Valley, she also opened her first ever retail shop just across the street from her popular restaurant on Lincoln Avenue. 

The store, named Conchita, specializes in gifts and home accessories and will open its doors on Nov. 23 at 799 Third Street. The 400-square-foot space used to be occupied by Rafael Video and sells small furniture, bathroom products like soaps and lotions, linens, kitchen items, jewelry and some clothing.

Read more.

More Restaurant News

San Rafael has been bustling with restaurant news in the past year. Rachael Griffin, a 42-year-old fried chicken wing chef extraordinaire opened The Chicken Diva, a new pop-up restaurant that operates out of Whistlestop's cafe, in June. The menu features mouth-watering, Southern-style favorites like sweet potato turnovers, homemade macaroni and cheese, fried okra, corn fitters, corn bread and (of course) fried chicken wings.

Best Lil' Porkhouse is a a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it joint on Miracle Mile that serves ribs, brisket, pulled pork sandwiches and all the fixings. The tiny restaurant opened in the summer. 

San Rafael artists and art lovers also have a new hangout called Odalisque Cafe on Fourth Street. The cafe, which open in November, is nestled between the Marin Jewelers Guild and Art Works Downtown on the 1300 block. In addition to serving wine and food, the owners Lisa Long and Dwight Bandak and chef Jay Yinger hope to make the cafe a community hub for art and culture.

Did we miss your favorite new business? Add it in the comments. 

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David Crane December 26, 2012 at 04:40 PM
All mentioned are wonderful additions to San Rafael - especially Odalisque and Woodlands Pet Foods.

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