On Saturday, Andronico’s Community Markets held a day of celebration to reveal to the public the results of seven months of work that have gone into making over its Shattuck Avenue store.
The BHS jazz band and the Cal “Straw Hat” Marching Band were both whipping up lively tunes near the store’s entrance, there were numerous tasting opportunities, and a raffle to benefit Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency (BOSS) was giving out prizes on the hour. Otherwise it was business as usual, as customers arrived in droves to shop for groceries and take in the new-look grocery store.
Much of the effort has gone into opening up the space, said Jonathan Packman, Executive Director of Marketing for Andronico’s and A.G. Ferrari’s. “We wanted an open design,” he explained, pointing out the chefs working in full view in the store’s back kitchen and places where walls have been torn down to allow better circulation. There are stained concrete floors, wooden crate-like produce bins, and many new elements: an expanded produce section, a gelato station, a new pastry case, olive bar, roast chicken case, and a hot food and salad bar.
The redesign was overseen by Oakland-based Lowney Architecture who also worked on the recently re-opened Gourmet Ghetto Safeway one block north of Andronico’s.
The investment in the Berkeley store follows a restructuring of the Bay Area grocery chain’s parent company which declared bankruptcy in August 2011. It was bought by investors, as was A.G. Ferrari, another local food group, and the two now operate together under new management in San Leandro. Several of the top executives formerly worked at Whole Foods, including its CEO, John Clougher.
The reorganization involved streamlining: two of Berkeley’s four stores — on University and Telegraph — were shuttered. The Solano Avenue one is due for a makeover next year, according to Packman. The other three remaining store are in Los Altos, San Anselmo, and San Francisco. Andronico’s was founded in Berkeley in 1929.
On Saturday, Reid Pomerantz, who has run the chain’s fresh meat and seafood operations for seven years, said he was pleased with how the new counters looked.
“They are actually smaller than before which makes them a little more intimate and better for customer service,” he said. Pomerantz is also proud of the high levels of training his journeyman butchers and fishmongers receive at Andronico’s, explaining that they take a stringent test on top of their union-standard training. “They know about food safety, customer service and product knowledge,” he said. “These guys are our biggest assets.”
Andronico’s prides itself on stocking more speciality items than its competitors. It also likes to help nurture local food start-ups, Packman said, guiding them on the rules and regulations that are involved in getting stocked in a big store, and then showcasing their products. Some of the locally made brands at the Shattuck store include Oakland’s Hodo Soy Beanery, Richmond-made Catahoula Coffee, and Berkeley’s Café Fanny Granola which, since the eponymous café closed, is made by Cassandra Chen at CC Made.
There’s also Three Twins ice cream, which, Packman said, is a particular favorite of his. He has collaborated closely with the San Rafael-based company since its launch, helping to make the leap from Farmers’ Markets to grocery store freezer cabinets. The tubs are in good company: the new Gourmet Ghetto Andronico’s has an impressively large ice cream and gelato section too.
Revamped Safeway opens in heart of Gourmet Ghetto [10.05,12]
Infusion of money should spiff up remaining Andronico’s [11.30.11]
Andronico’s on Telegraph Avenue to close [11.25.11]
Andronico’s to shutter University Avenue store [10.17.11]
Andronico’s and A.G. Ferrari saved from the brink [10.12.11]
Andronico’s files for bankruptcy [08.22.11]
Andronico’s plans recapitalization with new lenders and investors [05.25.11]
Four Berkeley Andronico’s face difficult conditions [05.24.11]
A.G. Ferrari closes Berkeley store, company bankrupt [04.05.11]
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