Andronico’s unveils new-look Gourmet Ghetto store

The redesigned Andronico’s on Shattuck Avenue was overseen by Oakland-based Lowney Architecture. Photo: Tracey Taylor

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.

A gelato station at the pastry counter is one of the many new features of the store. Photo: Tracey Taylor

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 cheese counter at the Gourmet Ghetto Andronico’s, renovated as part of a restructuring of its parent company. Photo: Tracey Taylor

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.”

An impressively large ice cream section includes many organic, non-dairy and artisanal brands. Photo: Tracey Taylor

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.

The Shattuck store is one of two of Berkeley’s original four to remain in business. Solano is due for a makeover in 2013. Photo: Tracey Taylor

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]

This story is also published on Berkeleyside NOSH, our brand new food section covering Oakland and Berkeley, launched last week. If you’re interested in local food news, bookmark NOSH and follow Berkeleyside NOSH on Twitter, and on Facebook.

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  • guest

    I do really like the staff but unfortunately the prices and quality of produce make me shop in other stores.

  • hilldah

    Obviously most Berkeley shoppers have not lived in the East or Midwest.  Any of our Berkeley food shops would be outstanding anywhere else.  The entitlement of the average Berkeleyan is beyond any comprehension.  I have never heard so much complaining about food stores.  Get a life people.

  • Paisey731

    Wow, I can’t believe the venom In some of these Andronico’s posts- a service-oriented, small grocery chain. You’d think they had lead smelters in the parking lots! I really appreciate the service-orientation there, especially at this time of year. Berkeleyans tend to talk out of both sides of their mouths: we say we want locally-owned businesses that pay living-wage and source locally, but they musn’t be too successful lest they attract more customers in cars to the neighborhood. At the same time, Berkeley residents feel free to head to Emeryville, El Cerrito, Albany to stock up at the big box stores. What’s replacing the old Park & Shop on Telegraph? Walgreen’s. Is that a win for the community?

  • another BUSD parent

    Good comment, Paisley.

     We are fortunate to live in a community with stores at every price point in (almost) every neighborhood.I’m mostly at the lower end (yay Safeway and TJs) but the rare girding of the loins to shop BB (i park on a side street hike my way in and pretend im in a different country with really cranky natives) is worth it too.

    Happy Thxgiving shopping, everyone!

  • Bill N

    Fresh yes, so fresh that you’d better eat in in a day or it starts to go bad.

  • Anonymous

     Or even just in southern CA. In LA a Trader Joes is a beacon of hope in a sea of awful supermarkets. Here it’s just a place to buy party snacks and cheap Chinese-made processed food.

  • Bill N

    Yes, both Andronico’s and Safeway workers are represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5

  • guest

    Try Berkeley Bowl West.
    No parking or cranky natives issues!

  • guest

    That is the beauty of no preservatives!  The same is true for Farmer’s Market produce, specially the amazing strawberries!!