The cat appears to be out of the bag when it comes to the fate of the now vacant Fresh & Easy space. A topic that has gripped the Portola with speculation, debate and prayers for a Trader Joe’s on the various online forums. Noticed by an eagle-eyed resident, a liquor license permit application sign has been spotted on the property. The application outs the Grocery Outlet as the proposed new tenant for the space ahead of any official announcement from the city or grocer.
So what exactly is Grocery Outlet? Rumors are already circulating that they sell merchandise from other markets that is nearing expiration but thankfully this isn’t the case. According to their website, Grocery Outlet only buys directly from manufacturers. The products are excess inventory which can result from issues such as production overruns or packaging changes. Basic items such as milk and eggs are purchased through conventional distribution channels so that they always stock the basics. These items are not as deeply discounted as the overruns but they claim to check local prices to undercut all nearby competitors. On the management end of the business, each location is independently owned and operated, the company looks for local residents to own, manage and staff each location so that every store has a “local personality”. I’ve been told by my sources within the PNA (me, I am a PNA board member) that the store is currently looking for someone within the Portola or S/E San Francisco to own and manage this location. The Portola location would be the 6th on the Peninsula, joining Geary Blvd in the Richmond, Visitacion Valley, Redwood City, South San Francisco and Palo Alto (fancy!).
Despite my desperate pleas to Trader Joe’s HQ, I’m pretty satisfied with this news. We were turned on to Grocery Outlet while shopping for Burning Man supplies last year and we have been relying somewhat on the Bayshore location since the closing of F&E. Our experience has been overwhelmingly positive which was a surprise to us as admitted Trader Joe’s and Rainbow Grocery fanatics. At the Bayshore location, there is an entire aisle dedicated to organic products and produce, a large beer & wine section with local brands such as Anchor Steam and Speakeasy Brewery and household items such as 100′ garden hoses for $15, perfect for the Garden District!
This being San Francisco and all, there will be at least one community meeting where we will all have a chance to dust off our pitch forks and light our torches to demand changes to the building and proposed business. My secret source at the PNA tells me that an official announcement should be expected soon and this will include community meeting dates. I plan to suggest they plant trees along the backside of the building to soften the large blank wall that runs along Somerset and perhaps add some murals on the blank Somerset and Silver Ave. facades.
What would you like to see with this new store? Once the grief passes for the TJ’s that never was, share with us in comments.