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Development plans could push out JJ&F market

Original post made on Nov 15, 2007

Late last year, a dispute over back rent and rising rental costs threatened to shut down the family-run JJ&F Food Store in the College Terrace neighborhood. The 60-year-old market survived those hurdles -- but now faces more daunting ones.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, November 14, 2007, 12:00 AM

Comments (19)

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Posted by Not a tragedy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2007 at 8:50 am

While some College Terrace residents may see the closing of JJ&F as a great tragedy, there are still two other grocery stores in close proximity.
How many neighborhoods in PA have no grocery stores within a short distance?
I think College Terrace and PA will survive the potential loss of JJ&F


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 15, 2007 at 9:34 am

Not a Tragedy, unsurprisingly, doesn't live in College Terrace.

One of the great things about JJ&F has been the wonderful people who run the operation, and who have involved themselves in so many ways with the surrounding neighborhoods.

JJ&F serves not only College Terrace, but Evergreen Park, much of the Stanford community, and parts of Southgate. Further, it's been a market that permits a *walk* to the market, instead of a drive.

So, losing JJ&F will be a loss for all the above, and additional, reasons.

That said, with Trader Joe's slated to come into T&C, it will be very difficult for a general market to make it in the JJ&F location.

I'm sad to see JJ's go.


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Posted by Not a tragedy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2007 at 9:40 am

Perhaps JJ&F should consider moving to Alma Plaza--there will be a small market there. JJ&F would fit in nicely there, plus it would fill a grocery need for that area.
Mike--What areas do Sun Country and Mollie Stones, the other two grocery stores a few blocks from JJ&F, serve?


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 15, 2007 at 9:57 am

It's "Country Sun", btw.

Both markets serve similar demographics, but their distance from CT make if far more difficult for many who have *walked* to JJ's.

Mollie Stone's also serves the Professorville neighborhood, but is notoriously higher-priced than any other market around here, including Whole Foods. Country Sun is not a full service grocery store, and it's prices on many non-staple items are also pretty high.

JJ&F's presence has been a boon for many, and it's disappearance will be a tragedy foir many. Sure, the latter will survive, but that doesn't change the fact that the walk will be longer (impossible for many of the seniors who frequent JJ's), and the prices and great people will also be missed.


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Posted by Not a tragedy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2007 at 10:00 am

Mike--it is not a done deal yet that JJ&F will not return, is it?
Also the Trader Joes at T&C is quite a distance away (relatively)--TJ's is also more of a niche grocery store and it's prices tend to be higher also.
At least CT will have two other stores within a short distance--same can't be said for many places in PA.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2007 at 10:06 am

Anyone who walks to a grocery store, is not going to buy much. Even if someone walks on a daily basis, they are most unlikely to be able to carry their groceries very far. Although it is nice to have a corner store which carries items you may have run out of or suddenly didn't know you may need, it is a luxury in this day and age. Yes, it is nice to have and I do believe the staff were exceptionally pleasant and they carried items hard to find elsewhere, but it is nonetheless a luxury to have a full grocery store in any neighborhood. These are going the way of the milk delivery, past memories.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 15, 2007 at 10:09 am

CT does have grocery store access. What's lost in the JJ departure is a community-friendly business (they've made MANY contributions to schools, neghbors, and adjoining businesses (for instance, they let Common Ground use their forklift).

I would disagree about TJ's pricing - in fact, their prices are *lower* on most items. I shop in both places, and know this for a fact. TJ's will take business from Mollie's, Country Sun, and Whole Foods.

Compare prices on things like fruit, nuts, canned goods, frozen items, alcoholic beverages, dairy, condiments, cereals, flowers, etc. - TJ's lower in all these areas - in general.

Still, I prefer JJ's, but that's moot at this point.


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Posted by CJ
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 15, 2007 at 11:52 am

There are a lot of graduate students and families in Escondido Village who frequent JJ&F, many who do not have cars. And College Terrace does have a lot of people who walk to JJ&F as well. So that is truly convenient for them.

I've been shopping there for nearly 50 years, and the people are wonderful. To have a family store and a small town feel is truly special. I hope they will come back, I really, really do.


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Posted by Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2007 at 12:53 pm

Someone wrote:
--
There are a lot of graduate students and families
in Escondido Village who frequent JJ&F
--

Perhaps it's time for Stanford to build a small shopping center on campus so that its on-campus residents don't have to travel great distances for food and other commodities.


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Posted by PA Dad
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 15, 2007 at 1:03 pm

I read the article to say that there WILL be a grocery store there whatever the case -- the question is whether it will be occupied by JJ&F or not. As a supporter of locally owned businesses, I hope JJ's will be able to stay. But I also think the store they have now is really run down and showing its age. I'd love for JJ's to be bigger, brighter and offer a wider range of fresh and organic produce. Given the choice, I'm not sure whether I'd prefer the same old store run by nice people or a new and improved store run by whomever else. After all, offering local residents an improved shopping experience -- which is what I'm hoping the new store will represent -- is a community service, too.

I'm crossing my fingers, though, for a great new store that will still be owned by great, community minded people.



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Posted by need more than crossing fingers
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 16, 2007 at 12:08 am

Here's the deal -- JJ&F would have to close for 12-18 months while the new store is built. How could they survive that?

Also the developer would only provide a shell; it would take a $2-3 million of working capital to create the brighter, fresher shopping experience that PA Dad is looking for. Grocery store margins are razor thin, and where are the Garcias going to get access to that capital?

Remember: the developers are asking for exceptions to the normal zoning limits -- lots of them. Their original proposal was for a 14,000 sq. foot grocery store as the main public benefit. Not it's just over 7000 square feet. That's not a grocery store, that's the size of a 7-11.

Unless people find an "angel" or a group of angels who care enough about what makes JJ&F a special family run place with a small town feel to make it economically viable for the Garcias to make the leap through the construction phase to the new "College Terrace Centre", then they will be forced to close. Think Kepler's scenario. Anyone want to step forward?

As for the "improved shopping experience" that PA Dad wants, those places are chains, and they won't touch a location with less than 14,000 feet. We are all going to lose big time.


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Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 16, 2007 at 12:29 am

So should the town have approved the zoning variances? Or should they have held out for the 14,000 sqft store? How do those decisions get made?


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Posted by Shopper
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 16, 2007 at 7:05 pm

I find JJ&F to be a very pleasant shopping experience with great service. They are generous to the community and add more than just a place to buy milk butter and eggs. I hope they make it through the latest round of "progress". PS I am only a shopper. I don't work there, date any of the employees, have not accepted any bribes and am not related to the family that owns the market.


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Posted by Long time shopper at J. J. & F.
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 17, 2007 at 2:47 pm

I have been shopping at J. J. and F. since my parents and I moved here in 1946 when I was 2 1/2. The meat department, convenience, friendly staff and service has kept me shopping there ever since that time. Johnny, Joe and Frank were wonderful and their children have carried on the tradition. Now that my husband does most of the grocery shopping, he has earned an appreciation for the importance of "where" you shop and the quality of the products and service experience. He used to wonder why I just didn't "buy everything at Safeway" and why I was so particular about buying meat and most of our produce from JJ&F (have you tasted their strawberries in May and June?) Who else will carefully cut your meat, chicken or fish just the way you want it prepared? Who else will give the children a slice of cheese? While these are not essentials to life, they, nevertheless, make daily living in Palo Alto more pleasant. It is quite sad to lose yet ANOTHER small, accessible, friendly business in Palo Alto. In my sixty-one years in Palo Alto, too many have gone the way of the BIG store. I am sorry, but Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, etc. are just not, nor can they ever be J. J & Fs.


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Posted by want to do more than lament?
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 30, 2007 at 1:36 am

"Think Kepler's scenario. Anyone want to step forward?"


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Posted by Just Wondering
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 27, 2008 at 4:25 pm

JJ&F is a vital part of College Terrace, and has been for over a generation. Who will replace them? I shudder to think. 7-11? Clearly, the best outcome for the neighborhood would be for the Garcias to somehow survive the construction hiatus, somehow come up with construction capital, and somehow reoccupy the newly reconstructed block.

JJ&F bonds, anyone?

How many square feet is the current JJ&F? Is 7,615 square feet a viable size for the Garcias to consider the above, even as a pipe dream?

We just got a glossy mailing asking our opinion on the College Terrace Centre (sic), but not revealing who is behind the mailing or how the results will be used. Hmmm... The lizard part of my brain is on high alert.

I wish the Garcias well. If JJ&F moves to Alma Plaza, I will drive (it's too far to walk and too dangerous to bike) to shop for the wonderful non-chain items and friendly service that have made JJ&F near and dear to us for so long.

In early stages of urban blight the first to go are stores like JJ&F. Is this the bill of goods?


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Posted by Kirk
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 27, 2008 at 5:01 pm

"But commissioners did give developers points for sustainable design ideas, including a park with a butterfly garden complete with docent tours, bamboo screening on the building's wall, solar panels and a "vegetated roof." "

Web Link

If I was the owner of this property, I would just develop the property within the existing zoning, and tell the planning commision to bug off. Forget the grocery store. If the planning commission denied me development rights, within existing zoning, I would sue them, big time.

The absurdity of Palo Alto attitudes is amazing.


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Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 27, 2008 at 9:18 pm

Fred Balin of College Terrace and the CTRA Task Force studying this issue here.

Just Wondering wrote:
"How many square feet is the current JJ&F? Is 7,615 square feet a viable size for the Garcias to consider the above, even as a pipe dream?"

The current JJ&F site is 8,712 sq ft (6,459 sq ft, sales; 2,253 sq ft, other)
The Garcia's have written and stated that they can live within a redesigned 7,615 sq ft space. Under the developer's proposal they can get more, but it will not be subsidized.

Kirk wrote:
"If I was the owner of this property, I would just develop the property within the existing zoning, and tell the planning commision to bug off. Forget the grocery store."

Certainly an option, although not one the developer is currently proposing. If they do elect to go for it, aside from site and design review and request to combine four parcels into one, it's his right under the existing code.

If either of you or anyone else in College Terrace who sees this post and has just received the applicant's flyer with response form, needs more information, contact me (fbalin@sbcglobal.net). I'll either provide it or put you in touch with another knowledgeable neighbor on this issue within the Terrace.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Apr 28, 2008 at 1:53 am

Once you plant bamboo you can't get rid of it.
Photovoltaics sound impressive, but they still are relatively new.
Check our Y2E2. They can not get theirs up to speed.
It is a buzz word that sounds cool, but is not yet perfected.
Many photovoltaics in the LEED designs failed, but it architects/builders know all the right words to use to get things pushed through the city.

I will miss this quaint market.


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