The owners of the upcoming Irvine Ranch Market on Balboa Island in Newport Beach plan to have everything the tight-knit community needs while preserving a lot of what it knows.
This summer, staples such as bread and milk, conveniences such as sandwiches and a hot deli case and attractions like a wine and tapas bar will pack the former Hershey’s Market, the longtime occupant of the high-profile corner of Marine and Park avenues.
Robin Kramer and David Wong own the Irvine Ranch Market in Costa Mesa, where Newport’s Back Bay is visible from the parking lot and Newporters are already loyal customers. The gregarious Kramer, who has owned the shop with Wong since 2000, hugs regulars in the produce department.
Hershey’s, the island market at 200 Marine Ave., closed around the holidays, quieting a corner that has been home to an old-fashioned general store of various owners and names since 1929.
Kramer and Wong came across the opportunity to move onto Balboa Island a few weeks ago, several months into their search for a second location for their popular prepared foods.
On April 1, the duo signed a lease, not just for a bistro but another full market. Later that week, they were meeting with architects and planning the purchase of fixtures and the graphics for the oversize golf cart they’ll use for neighborhood deliveries.
The market is expected to open by August.
The space has been gutted and will get a new interior and refreshed facade but keep the familiar silhouette.
“We want to keep the integrity of Hershey’s,” Kramer said. “We want to keep the history.”
At 4,000 square feet, the new location will be about a quarter of the size of the Costa Mesa store, which will remain open as the flagship. The new outpost will have many of the same features: baked goods, meats, house-made sushi and sandwiches to go, liquor, produce and dry groceries. Kramer and Wong will continue to source specialty items locally.
The Balboa Island space is too small for a self-serve salad bar, but salads will be made to order behind the deli counter, Wong said. He’s willing to grill a just-purchased steak too. And he’s getting a new rotisserie.
Hot foods look to be a forte, with the couple’s son Ryan Sumner, a classically trained chef who most recently led the kitchen at Newport’s Lighthouse Cafe, joining the family business and crafting signature recipes.
Wong and Kramer’s plan for a compact wine bar would give the Balboa location something the Costa Mesa shop doesn’t have: onsite alcohol consumption.
Kramer said they will decorate with photos of the site’s past, courtesy of the Balboa Island Museum & Historical Society a few doors down.
Balboa Island sprang up from a sandbar around the turn of the 20th century and has maintained its quaint vintage aesthetic, especially on Marine Avenue, a commercial village of mostly mom-and-pop boutiques and eateries.
“The building’s [almost] 100 years old and we want to keep that because that’s what the people remember,” Kramer said.