By Thomas K. Pendergast
Despite vacant storefronts lining commercial corridors everywhere, a space that was empty since well before the pandemic is now the site of a new Andronico’s market in the Outer Richmond District at Clement Street and 32nd Avenue.
The 16,600-square-foot commercial space next to the CVS Pharmacy is now filled by the latest link in the chain of Andronico’s markets, which includes another in the Sunset District and several others in Berkeley, Los Altos, Monterey and San Anselmo.
Operated by Safeway, which in turn runs more than 280 stores across Northern California, Nevada and Hawaii under the banners of Andronico’s, Safeway and Vons, it is part of the Safeway Northern California division of Albertsons Companies. It will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., every day. The store will employ 75 people.
“It’s really great to be part of Andronico’s here and now,” Store Director Dylan Atari said during the March 23 ribbon-cutting ceremony. “And I’m real excited to open this new store in a community that has been hungry, almost literally, for a premium grocer. We now have one here….
“Like the name says, we are a community market,” he said. “We’re here to offer you your daily essentials, high-end premium items, and we want to be not only your grocery store but your neighbors. We want to be your friends, so I hope we get to exchange smiles and names in the future.”
Part of the store-opening ceremony was a demonstration that the organization wanted to contribute to the district by donating to a local nonprofit organization.
“We’re a community market. What better way to give back to the community than to offer a $5,000 check to the Richmond District Neighborhood Center?”
Atari then introduced Michelle Cusano, executive director of the Richmond District Neighborhood Center.
“Thank you so much, from the Richmond Neighborhood Center, for the contribution that Andronico’s community market is making to the lives of our seniors and our families at the neighborhood center, especially in the Richmond District,” Cusano said. “It means so much to us when a business moves into the community and contributes and knows that it’s important to give back to the people who live there.”
But other stores have come and gone in the same space, most recently a Fresh & Easy market that pulled out in 2016 after its parent company, Tesco, closed all of its stores in the U.S.
Ironically enough, about a decade before that an Albertsons market left that same location and decades ago another Safeway was there.
Rick Pickering, vice president of sales support for Safeway of the Northern California division, said this time will be different, regardless of the economic impact of the pandemic on local businesses.
“We feel that we have the right size store for the neighborhood,” Pickering said. “We feel good about the offerings that we have in the store.
“We recognize that, yes, COVID brings unique opportunities, but it won’t last forever. We want to be here forever,” he said. “We’re excited about the Andronico’s brand. We’ve been working on this for a number of years to get back onto this site, going through all the permit processes, things like that. The day is finally here. We’re excited to have an alternative offering for the customer.”
Pickering noted the new location was on the smaller side compared to many of the huge grocery chains, but says he sees that as an advantage.
“Part of the Andronico’s brand … is the difference in the size of the buildings. With the opportunity of this one having just a smaller footprint and in a kind of a tighter neighborhood and things like that, we thought that it would fit well. We have several other of the Andronico’s that are small footprinted stores, that are also in very similar neighborhoods, like say, down in Monterey and over in Berkeley, so we feel that it would be a good fit.”
He says they will follow all the COVID safety protocols that they already use in their other stores, and will adhere to state and county guidelines.
For more information, go to www.andronicos.com.