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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  • cabrito

    Bring back the Co-Op!

  • If Andronico’s is a community market, I’m the King of Siam. They’re the same overpriced ripoff as always, just in shinier garb, meant to convince the uncritical customer that they really are the carriage-trade purveyors they’d like us to believe. Why pay a premium for major label products just because the shelving is nifty and the views are long? Why settle for crappy, tired produce that’s three times as expensive as it should be? (Don’t believe me? Try a price check sometime.) I always wonder if Andronico shoppers are simply not aware that Monterey Market, Berkeley Bowl, and other options exist in this town, or if they’re just too hardwired into the supermarket “experience” to howl over what Andronico’s is taking from their paychecks in exchange for a bit of eye candy.

  • Bryan Garcia

    I guess if you have the money to play the bloated prices, you at least get to avoid the crowds that those other stores attract. Andronico’s is usually pretty empty.

  • Bryan Garcia

    *pay the bloated prices.

  • The Sharkey

    Are those really open-topped ice cream freezers in the 4th photo?!?

    Something tells me those aren’t Energy Star compliant appliances.

  • Completely_Serious

     Yeah, bring back the Co-Op.  Make the Toyota dealer (or was it Dodge?) move back to where CIL is.

    Berkeley, The Most Nostalgic Place On Earth!

  • Bryan Garcia

    Maybe the resulting energy bills are why the ice cream probably costs about 50% more than other stores…

  • Guest

    We love Andronico’s, love the wonderful staff, love the attention to detail, and love the refurbishing.  Thanks! 

  • The Sharkey

    You really need to make t-shirts with that slogan.
    Maybe you could get Sarachan to sell them at T-shirt Orgy, or out of his rat hotel.

  • Tzitzimi

    Hey, are all you guys against workers in supermarkets making living wages and having benefits? guess so, by your remarks. Andronico’s is a union shop and as such I support them over good old Gruntway and Sloprite. S

  • Eric Weaver

    If someone is willing to invest in a business in Berkeley we should be glad.  It seems that the commentators on this site can only come up with negative reactions to anything that happens in Berkeley. No one requires you to shop there but why all the efforts to tear Andronico’s down?

  • Bryan Garcia

    Safeway is also union.

  • Irisandjules

    I may have to disagree with this. Berkeley Bowl, I believe, has a union, and I know for sure Berkeley Bowl West pays a living wage (from one employee I talked to – and from seeing people that have worked at either Bowl for many, many years), and I think Berkeley Bowl has competitive pricing. I have always felt that Andronico’s has inferior produce at heightened cost. I agree that living wages should be paid.

  • tor_berg

    I don’t know what Sloprite is supposed to be, but I’m assuming that by Gruntway, you mean Safeway, and Safeway is union, mostly UFCW.

  • snarkalicious

    I would be willing to be even more than Andronico charges just to avoid being mowed down by the shoppers at Berkeley Bowl (and to a lesser extent Monterey Market).  Honestly, it gives me a panic attack to shop at BB sometimes.  

  • snarkalicious

    *pay even more

  • snarkalicious

    * pay even more

  • EBGuy

     At year-end 2010, Safeway employed more than 180,000 persons, of which
    approximately 80% are covered by bargaining agreements negotiated by no
    less than nine different international unions.[3] According to the contract directory, the UFCW represents 108,233 Safeway employees.

  • EBGuy

     TJs setup is similar.

  • Irisandjules

    Shopping at Berkeley Bowl makes you stronger! How about that for a new slogan :-) 

  • The Sharkey

    I think Safeway and Target both use similar cases, and I’m shocked at how energy inefficient they are every time I see them.

    I know they want to display product as well as possible, but it seems shocking from an energy-efficiency standpoint.

  • guest

    Berkeley Bowl doesn’t have a union.
    The employees voted against the union (amid some controversy).
    It is my favorite grocery store for many reasons already discussed in these comments.

  • David D.

    Neither Safeway nor Target use those old-school freezer cases. That’s probably part of the reason why they’re so much cheaper than Andronico’s! Trader Joe’s does, but somehow they keep their costs down anyway.

  • snarkalicious

    Stronger, tougher, and possibly more angry.  But the price is right, so I get it.  Just don’t understand why the customers are so INTENSE.  You’re just shopping for groceries, buddy!

  • berkeleyhigh1999

    Because they get all mad before they even get in the store when trying to park

  • anon

    Also the carts are bigger than they need to be, and the aisles are just barely too small for carts to pass each other  (a horrible design flaw).
    This leads to feelings of competition with other shoppers as you jockey for position.
    I shop there every week. But there are some serious problems.

  • Bryan Garcia

    Agreed on the cart size. Ridiculously over-sized for most shoppers. The carts at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are a much better size. I’m not sure why BB insists on the boat-sized carts.

  • The Sharkey

    Perhaps it varies from store to store? The Target in Emeryville has open-topped freezers, as does the Safeway in Alameda. I don’t know if the one on Shattuck does (haven’t gone since the remodel) but the one on Alameda is the “new” style of store and the last time I was there (it’s been a while) it had the open-top freezer cases. I believe the Lucky in El Cerrito does, as well as the Grocery Outlet on 4th Street.

    Now that I think about it, I guess almost everybody uses these things even though they’re stupid and energy-inefficient. Bleh.

  • The Sharkey
  • Tizzielish

    The new Target in Emeryvile has many aisles of frozen food with doors but they do use open freezer cases at the end of a couple frozen food aisles to display their,I think, their best deals of the day/week. Target uses less. . .but they use them.

    The new Safeway in Berkeley does not have any such cases — are we assuming freezer cases with doors use less energy than open ones?  Is this a known fact?

  • The Sharkey

    …are we assuming freezer cases with doors use less energy than open ones?  Is this a known fact?

    I couldn’t prove it and can’t find any relevant information in a basic Google search, but based on what happened to my heating bill when I installed dual-pane windows in my house, I’m guessing that dual-pane glass freezer doors help insulate them better than no doors at all.

    But some of the newer ones use miniature “air curtains” to help maintain temperatures, so they might be more efficient than I think they are.

  • The Sharkey

    I’ve switched to using baskets at most stores now. I find that when I have a basket I make fewer unnecessary impulse purchases and have an easier time getting around the store.

  • Chris

    I shop there less and less as most of their produce sits in cold storage for a long time. If it’s on-sale at BB then guaranteed it’ll be rotten in your fridge in less than 3 days… I don’t need 7 brands of strawberries, just 1-2 that are fresh.

  • guest

    Berkeley Bowl West has more parking, bigger store and fewer enraged customers.  I have never had issues during weekly shopping.

  • guest

    I find Monterey Market to be freshest with fewer options

  • Chris

     Agreed – which is why I shop there when I have extra time.

    Don’t even get me started on BB eggs. NOT FRESH!

  • Pmanso

    If anything, the new store is less attractive than before. Its prices remain near larcenous and there aren’t nearly enough store personnel to handle customers’ needs. What strikes one most forcefully about the redesign is that they’ve sacrificed a good many products in order to highlight the most profitable items like booze and prepared foods…Feels like they’re running scared with the recently expanded Safeway only two blocks up the street.

  • Mbfarrel

    Boycott Lucksafe!! Bring back Park & Shop!!

  • Barbara

    I for one feel we should keep Andronico’s in business. They are a local family. They are trying to improve their produce although it is expensive in comparison to Monterey Market. Their employees are all terrific. I can’t say that for any of the other large markets. 

  • David D.

    My comment is in reference to local examples: Safeway on Shattuck and Target in Albany, in this case. Target has some open-top refrigeration units, along with every grocery store I can think of, but those aren’t quite the same.

  • Marie

     Did you know that a gallon of Clover Organic milk is .50 cheaper at Andronicos than at Berkeley Bowl?  And that Wallaby yogurts are also cheaper? 
    If you know what to buy, it’s got some good things. 

  • David D.

    Andronico’s is owned by Renovo Capital. The family drove the company into debt…

  • David D.

    Because their failed business model resulted in the loss of a locally owned company and the closure of my neighborhood supermarket, leaving the community with fewer jobs and my neighbors and I without easy access to a full-service grocery store.

  • Just Me

    I drove by the new Safeway on the way to Andronico’s on Sunday night. At 8:30, Safeway’s parking lot was packed, while Andronico’s was nearly empty. I hope Andronico’s can make it. I agree about the prices; however, I’ve always liked Andronico’s, although I now shop mostly at the Berkeley Bowl as BB is closer to my home. Andronico’s always seems to have some unique baking item/ingredient that I just can’t find at BB, not to mention Safeway. 

  • David D.

    Safeway and Lucky are unionized, and despite their best efforts to alienate me as a customer, I still buy a plurality of my groceries from there. (The rest come from Target, Trader Joe’s, and Monterey Market.)

  • Meiklejohn

    Oh but how do you deal with B Bowl West’s AMAZING beer aisle? OMG that’s one of the best places in B-town, and a cart is a must.

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

     They aren’t as inefficient as one would think the cold air sinks and warm air rises someone  standing with the door open for extended amounts of time in a upright case freezer lets out more cold air than the open topped casket style because to cold air flows out and down from the open door.

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    see my reply above about the efficiency…i managed at Lucky’s many
    moons ago in my 20’s and remember this discussion back then (in the
    80’s) the theory is that if its a true casket style once the air is cold
    it sinks and the pressure between the cold and the warm air makes a
    barrier and not much air transfer happens.

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

     Berkeley Bowl south (original) had a union and then voted to remove the union.

  • Iceland_1622

    I almost do not desire to mention this as I do not and will not do any shopping here today or in the future as per personal preference and other needs, wants and desires.  With that stated, unless they have installed a full complete and new roof and or carefully isolated the leaking ceiling water pipes at this Shattuck Store, look upwards for rotting & leaking ceiling tiles when the heavy rains set in.  Oddly during the exhaustive original rebuild, none of this was addressed or just was allowed to degrade along with everything else as it’s emerged.  Then the horrid bizarre and surreal restroom issues that remained fully unresolved nor even acknowledged or addressed across years if not decades. They would need a completely new business model before a certain social clientele will ever even think of returning.