Mama Lamees, Now Open at Public Market

The community spirit continues to grow at Public Market Emeryville as Mama Lamees brings authentic Middle Eastern food to our food hall. A graduate of the nonprofit incubator La Cocina, chef-owner Lamees Dahbour is now open in a short-term stall that was previously occupied by Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement, another eatery from the La Cocina family. Minnie Bell’s signed a multi-year lease and is offering an expanded menu from a larger kiosk in the food hall. Both eateries are serving lunch and dinner, seven days a week alongside the other purveyors at Public Market, located at 5959 Shellmound Street in Emeryville.

Mama Lamees offers a rich menu of home-style foods that Chef Dahbour has cooked her entire life, building on her Palestinian heritage and experiences across the world. Public Market patrons can enjoy such classic dishes as shawarma, falafel and kababs, and also rotating specials unique to Mama Lamees, including Mnazzalet Zahra Cauliflower drenched in labneh and other specials.

“I’m so happy to have such an opportunity in this community food hall,” said chef-owner Lamees Dahbour. “There are so many yummy Palestinian foods that are not available elsewhere in the Bay Area. Now, you can visit Mama Lamees in Emeryville and get your fill.”

Both Minnie Bell’s owner Fernay McPherson and Lamees Dahbour are enjoying higher profiles following their inclusion in the new cookbook “We Are La Cocina.” The collection of recipes and stories also includes Nite Yun, owner of Nyum Bai, which was the first La Cocina graduate to lease a temporary stall at Public Market and initiated the food hall’s partnership with the nonprofit. La Cocina recognized Public Market Emeryville’s support at its recent gala with presentation of the organization’s Opportunity Award.

“We’re thrilled to continue helping La Cocina in their mission to lower the barrier to entry for talented women chefs from low-income communities,” said Mark Stefan, President and Co-Founder of Public Market owner City Center Realty Partners. “With the addition of Mama Lamees’ outstanding menu, Public Market visitors can now enjoy cuisines from all corners of the globe.”

Dahbour entered the celebrated La Cocina program after coaxing from friends who were bowled over by the delicious and unique dishes emerging from her kitchen. The short-term lease of the incubator kiosk that Public Market reserves for new food concepts will help Mama Lamees develop its operations and build capital.

“Lamees has wowed us from day one with her remarkable cooking and deep knowledge. She brings to these traditional recipes flavors of her migration through the Arab world – having lived in Kuwait and Qatar before immigrating to California,” said Geetika Agrawal, La Cocina’s Program Director. “Mama Lamees is the third La Cocina entrepreneur to take over the incubator kiosk at Emeryville Public Market. We are grateful to be working alongside the Emeryville team and can’t wait to see what magic Lamees cooks up.”

Public Market has been brisk with activities this season. Minnie Bell’s celebrated its multi-year lease with an elegant dinner in honor of Juneteenth. Local civic boosters presented “Emeryville: The Big History of a Small City.” Soccer and basketball watch parties abounded. The Food Hall’s ongoing events continue, including Trivia Tuesday and free live music on second Fridays. Coming soon, Public Market will welcome its next purveyor, Asian-fusion purveyor Baby Café.