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Some of the Bay Area’s Best Vegan Burgers Are Headed to Marin

Malibu’s Burgers owner Darren Preston is about to open a second location in San Rafael

A burger.
Malibu’s Burgers are en route to Marin County.
Malibu’s Burgers
Paolo Bicchieri is a reporter at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, coffee and cafes, and pop-ups.

It didn’t take long for Malibu’s owner Darren Preston to get off of Piedmont Avenue and into an era of expansion. After closing his original location at the end of the year, the entrepreneur rebounded with a takeout-only Uptown Oakland location in early January. Now, he’s making an even bolder leap into Marin County, franchising his business for the first time.

Malibu’s will open a second location at 819 4th Street in San Rafael in late February or March 2024. The space is the former Caribbean Spices restaurant — which closed in early January 2024, according to Yelp reviews — and is therefore just about turn-key ready for the new burger joint. Preston says he has a partner for this location as he realizes that to grow the business he’ll need help along the way. “I want to be with people who see the vision and grow the vision,” Preston says. “It feels good to be around like-minded people who want to see that.”

Inside of a restaurant.
Yet to be fully remodeled, the inside of the San Rafael location is restaurant-ready for the new tenants.
Malibu’s Burgers
Two people.
Owner Darren Preston says the new outpost is a family affair.
Malibu’s Burgers

There will be Marin-exclusive offerings at the new outpost, but a lot of the core items will jump from the Oakland location to this one in the North Bay. The inspiration comes from Ike’s Sandwiches, where guests can head to their favorite outpost for location-specific items, but, as those in the know are aware, you can order whichever sandwich you’re craving at any spot. In that same spirit, the die-hards already know Malibu’s sandwiches paid homage to Oakland in their names and themes, such as the Ghostown Burger, a nod to the nickname for the Hoover-Foster Historic District neighborhood in West Oakland. Marin will reflect that in its forthcoming menu, too.

This location will have plenty of indoor seating with hopes of serving beer, wine, and cocktails down the road. He connected with Oakland artist Patrick Piccolo, otherwise known as the Sign Syndicalist, for murals and design of the new space, as Piccolo did for the original Malibu’s, Timeless Coffee, and more. Once the restaurant passes inspections, it’ll be all systems go toward vegan burgers in San Rafael. The new shop is just around the corner from Sol Food. That’s a good sign to Preston whose mom, Lourdes “Lulu” Marquez-Nau runs Casa Borinqueña. She’s Puerto Rican and used to take her kids to the restaurant back in the day. “Now Casa Borinqueña will be able to do pop-ups next to one of the biggest Puerto Rican restaurants in the Bay Area,” Preston says of teaming up with his mom. “For now we just want to get in and start selling burgers.”

Malibu’s will open at 819 4th Street in San Rafael in spring 2024.

Malibu’s food. Malibu’s Burgers