PIAZZA EXPANSION COMPLETE ... A sigh of relief has swept over Piazza's Fine Food at 3922 Middlefield Road in Palo Alto's Charleston Shopping Center. The nearly $2 million, year-long expansion has finally come to an end. The remodel added 4,000 square feet to the grocery store, putting the finished product at 24,000 square feet.
"The job turned out to be much bigger than we thought," said store owner Gary Piazza, who shares ownership with his two brothers, John and Rick. "We moved walls, added refrigeration; we got new freezers (and) new milk cases; and we remodeled our two bathrooms."
The aisles in the store were also transformed.
"People were angry about the size of our aisles; they said they were too narrow. So we made them bigger. They are now 6 feet wide, even more in some places," Piazza added.
Another brand-new feature is the burrito bar.
"I got the idea from our Hispanic cooks. We're using their family recipes for some of the items like chicken mole and barbacoa. We've had a great response so far and we only opened two weeks ago," he said.
But the success of the grand remodel is bittersweet for Piazza. His father, Sicilian-born John Piazza Sr., who founded the grocery store in 1987, passed away last September.
"I only wish my dad was here to see this," he said.
CONTAINER STORE AT STANFORD ... The Container Store has signed on to take over the former Andronico's Market space at Stanford Shopping Center.
The 37,500-square-foot site has been vacant since July 2011 when the high-end grocer closed its doors after 14 years. The Container Store, a chain that offers large and small storage and organizational items for its customers, is anticipating a fall opening.
"We're about to kick off our grand opening season. We've got six new stores opening this year, with the first three in Florida," spokesperson Nina Smith said.
The company has 58 stores in the country.
NEW RETAIL AT SAN ANTONIO ... On time and on budget. That's what spokesman Greg Geersten says when asked about the construction of Safeway in the new Village at San Antonio Center in Mountain View.
Scheduled for an April 19 opening, Safeway is the first of about 20 new retailers that will occupy the center, located at the intersection of San Antonio Road and El Camino Real. At 65,000 square feet, "it's the largest store Safeway does," said Geersten, who is managing director of the project being developed by San Francisco-based Merlone Geier Partners.
In addition to upgraded departments and a large outdoor-seating area, there will be rooftop parking, with space for more than 160 cars.
Other retailers that have signed on include Paul Martin's American Grill, which serves contemporary American classic dishes; The Counter, which has a nearby burger location on Palo Alto's California Avenue; Jared Jewelers; Fidelity Investments ; Sleep Number Bed Starbucks and a four-star boutique hotel, with a swimming pool and conference-room facilities; and "an eight- or nine-screen movie theater," said Geersten.
He added that three more restaurants "with well-known chefs" will be announced in the next few weeks.
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