To those who can find their way to the Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park, grabbing a menu at the nearby Assemble Marketplace will be a snap. To get to both places, enter the Columbia Sportswear parking lot, drive past it and then take a right toward the Craneway Pavilion. Michael Petrilli, the new Assemble food and beverage director, likens the rebranded food group and its waterfront location to a smaller version of the San Francisco Ferry Building. “Historically, Assemble was a full-service, fine-dining restaurant,” he says. When they reopened in August, Petrilli and his team decided to “embrace a multi-concept marketplace.”
Assemble is the main dining space now run by local chefs Heather Mervine and her husband Hector Hernandez. Known for their Point Richmond restaurant, Brezo, the chefs turned to catering at the height of the pandemic last year before moving their brunch and lunch menus to Assemble. The kitchen also provides prep space for two restaurant stands on the patio. On approaching the restaurant, Tommy’s BBQ Company faces out to the parking lot, while the Rocky Island Oyster Co. sits just to the left of Assemble’s front door.
“It’s a partnership that’s unique and fun, that draws in different people,” Petrilli says. “Because if you have an American sit-down formal experience, that’s limiting. But if you can combine it with an oyster bar and a barbecue joint, then that has some legs and meets a broader demand.”
About six months ago Petrilli, with his business partner Calvin Young, started a restaurant-consulting business called Pacific Standard Hospitality. Shortly thereafter, he started to work with Orton Entertainment, the LLC that owns the Craneway Pavilion. Prior to that, Petrilli worked for the Oakland-based 1100 Group, which runs, among other restaurants, The Star on Grand and Ben ’N Nick’s Bar & Grill. He decided to work on the new iteration of Assemble because the “beautiful” event space had been on his radar for some time. He’s known the Craneway’s general manager for several years. Petrilli worked with the previous chef, the late Richard Mazzera, at Berkeley’s Cesar.
For a couple of months, Assemble also featured a small market with groceries, but the restaurant-opening took up everyone’s time and attention. “Selling local produce wasn’t an urgent matter for us,” Petrilli says. There were also delays in the supply chain. “So that’s a work-in-progress.”
He believes that the Pavilion’s setting, on the water, makes it a great destination. “If we can get multiple vendors operating here, serving great food, I think we’re going to be successful at providing something for the community,” he says. And the Richmond Ferry Terminal is just a few feet away.
Right now, Assemble is mainly focused on lunch, and on catering both public and private events in the Pavilion next door. In September, the various food outlets all catered the Rocky Island Summer Music Festival. And this past weekend found the expansive parking lot packed with the minivans of post-holiday families attending the Craneway Craft Fair. Petrilli says that in December they plan to cater several holiday parties. But in 2022, Assemble will expand on the Monday-night “chef dinners” that the Rocky Island Oyster Co. currently hosts.
“Rocky Island has significantly expanded their menu over the last couple of weeks,” he says. “They’re growing into where they want to be.” Next year, Petrilli and Young plan for these event nights, likely Tuesdays and Saturdays, to evolve into beer and winemaker dinners. There’ll be prix fixe meals ranging from $50 to $110 per person, depending on the chef.
The Brezo kitchen does make pastries and cookies in-house, but Assemble doesn’t open until 11am. For people commuting to work on the morning ferry, a dedicated coffee stand is still in the works. “That’s something we’ve talked about a lot, having a coffee-delivery system based outside, like a cart,” Petrilli says. “Ideally, we’ll be open from 7am to 7pm, seven days a week.”
Assemble Marketplace. Assemble open Wed–Sat, 11am to 2pm; Rocky Island Oyster Co. open Sat–Mon; Tommy’s BBQ Company open Thur–Sat. The Craneway Pavilion, 1414 Harbour Way S., Richmond. 510.215.6025. assemblemarketplace.com