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on Nov 23, 2010
I will miss the smiling faces and helpful tips on food preparation at JJ&F Market. I could always rely on their meat and produce experts to steer me in the right direction,provide top quality ingredients, and help make my meals a success.
Good luck to all of you!
Considering that there are two other markets in the area the closing of JJ&F is not the end of the world. Maybe now that JJ&F is gone, the rule against grocery stores bigger than 20K square feet in order to protect JJ&F, we can have some reasonable sized grocery stores in town.
I LOVE JJ&F! I'm so sad if they close. They have great produce and great people working there. I love that I can walk there with kids in tow. This is very very sad news.
to not a college terrace resident: did you ever stop to think that while it may not be the end of the world to you, there are three owners who are now out of a job.
Best sandwiches in the country, in my opinion. I played on the JJ&F little league team, and I've been eating their sandwiches ever since. Whenever I came back from college for summer or Thanksgiving or Christmas, my first stop was home, and my second stop was JJ&F. I liked their sandwiches so much that I once had a friend who visiting Stanford bring me back a sandwich with her on the airplane, and I ate the sandwich ~7 hours later when she arrived in Philadelphia. And yes, it was worth it. I'll miss this place.
Didn't they support the big development and threaten to move if it wasn't approved? I wonder whether they got some $$$ from those developers.
Feels like another betrayal.
I've been shopping at JJ&F for 30 years ... this is very sad! I was just there earlier this a.m. to pick up the Thanksgiving turkey, as I've done for so many years ... it's the end of an era ... I hope the new owners can measure up ...
"there are three owners who are now out of a job."
No one has forced them to sell. They made the decision. AFter 30+ years maybe they have had enough and decided to enjoy life a little bit.
They said: "the inability of a small market to compete in buying power led to the demise."
This is a very significant statement. In other words you must be a bigger store to buy and sell in bulk to get the buyer's discounts that make a grocery store profitable.
Bearing in mind that Mountain View has approved the building of a mega-Safeway on the Sear's site, it is definitely time for Palo Alto to approve bigger and better grocery stores. I bet when the new Safeway opens on San Antonio Road, all south Palo Alto will be shopping there, and again PA will have missed out.
I am very sad to see JJ&F, "my little bodega" close, it has been a wonderfully anachronistic market in which staff and customers actually know your name (without reading it off your credit card as at Safeway)and where you can get advice on produceand meats.
It does bring up huge questions re: effectiveness of the City meddling in our local economy:
1) Is it equitable and a good investment of taxpayer resources (we gave the developer significantly more density and therefore traffic impacts in the neighborhood and across the City to get a market) to micromanage the placement of a market (or restaurant or ....)
2) Do they assets being sold by JJ&F include the below-market lease explicitly or implicitly? A new owner would certainly pay a premium for the location with a guaranteed ow 30-yea lease versus any location down the street at a market-rate lease of normal duration. If so then taxpayer resources effectively gave the Garcias a "golden parachute" by increasing the value of their business even before construction starts. Okay maybe a silver parachute, but real dollars in any event. Think about it, what "assets" are there: cash registers, butcher equipment, display cases, all of which probably would cost more to store during the construction period than their value. I've noticed the inventory, especially wine disappering over the last month so they are trying to minimize those assets. The "goodwill" of the JJ&F brand is worth something, but with a very local market who will know that J, J, and F are gone, and a two-year construction hiatus from which few of the employees are likely to return, I don't suspect it is worth much.
Small grocery stores just can't compete any more. Palo Alto residents enjoy a wide variety of foods and the small stores can't stock them all. Please Palo Alto, let some bigger stores get built. Don't let the NIMBYs force us to drive to Mountain View for all our shopping.
"No one has forced them to sell."
If you are loosing money you don't think that forces you to sell?
"There are three owners out of a job."
What about all the other employees?
I will miss JJ&F's outstanding meat market, flavorful locally sourced produce, and owners and staff who provide excellent customer service.
""No one has forced them to sell."
If you are loosing money you don't think that forces you to sell?"
Are they losing money? Will they open their books to show us?
"There are three owners out of a job."
What about all the other employees?"
That is between the owners and the employees.
why do you suggest-we live in a free market system. Do you think the city should subsidize JJ&F so they can stay in business. The move is to large supermarkets--look at the Safeway in MP, the Whole Foods in Lod Altos etc.
this should also be a warning to the city regarding the small groceries that may eventually open in Alma/Edgewood Plaza--we had our chance for a large grocery store at both locations and blew it.
What a shame!
I went there yesterday because I love their meat department and was surprised to see how empty some of the shelves were.
Now I know why.
From my perspective ... it's not that I think that JJ&F should be subsidized to stay in business, or that a larger store is inherently evil; it's that when we lose small, individual, quirky stores with friendly and knowledgeable staff, we lose a little of the fabric of our lives. It's too bad. I like the big Safeway fine, but I like JJ&F too for a quick conversation about Stanford hoops with my quart of milk.
Sorry to learn about the end of JJ&F. Another smaller store gone is a loss for our community. Please drop by Country Sun if you like small, friendly, independent stores. It's on Cal. Ave, not very far from JJ&F. A wonderful supply of natural foods, helpful staff awaits.
awwwwwww.... grew up shopping at JJ&F since 1956, knew Dennis when he was a teen heartthrob for the local girls...
best strawberries in town, always; best butcher counter with excellent service and advice; best deli and hand-made sandwiches; great prices on wine; and a place where they recognize everyone...
but it's true, I now do most of my shopping elsewhere, and go to JJ&F for specific things, like meat or deli or those terrific pies... Unfortunately, they just can't compete with the mega-stores in Menlo Park and Mountain View.
Too bad. end of an era. Thanks, John, Joe and Frank, and Lloyd, Dennis, and John, for running a class act and keeping your neighborhood happy for as long as you did. It was a great run...
I don't shop in PA for groceries any more. I go to Mountain View. Even with Trader Joe's in town, they don't stock as much as their MV store. I'm not going to drive to two or three stores to get my groceries. Sad that this store is leaving but PA won't ever get large supermarkets. The land here is too valuable to the developers and they will always prefer to build homes because that's where they get the most bang for their buck.
You're absolutely right. Those employees are also out of a job. and you are also right, they didn't sell because they want to, but because they had to. I'm sure there was no $$ from developer. They were required to have a grocery store so what would be the advantage of having JJ out of there?
Good riddance. I stopped shopping there 10 years ago after they refused to fix an overcharge, by simply telling me to "Have a nice day!" Wow.
Like Evan, who said "Best sandwiches in the country,...", my son grew up in the neighborhood and absolutely loves JJ&F's sandwiches. He always makes a point to go there when he is back on breaks and vacations. In fact, we've delivered him a sandwich once when we went to visit him at college! I will always recall with fondness seeing he and his friends sitting at one of the sidewalk tables, enjoying their sandwiches and the friendly atmosphere.
I've met so many people over the years who have moved out of the neighborhood but will still drive back to JJ&F just to pick up an unique item. That says so much about our neighborhood store.
You will be missed!
I also am saddened at the loss of JJ&F. However, I thought at the time, and still think it was a mistake to allow a massive project with a public benefit of a subsidized lease to a small grocery store. Public parking would have been a much better benefit. If we want California Avenue to thrive as an area with shopping/office/courthouse activity. adequate parking is a must. Instead we are putting in transit oriented developments that explicitly reduce the amount of parking available. And now the city council has approved a mixed unit development with offices and 8 apartments - I think with 19 regular parking places and 15 tandem spots - with a benefit of free transit passes. Right. And it is next to another development with 57 units and only 19 parking places, which has become a big problem for the area. Assuming older people don't drive was clearly a big mistake. See the article on the approval of Birch Plaza: Web Link
Just to remind everyone - Alma Plaza was zoned for a 30,000 sq. ft. (not 20k) grocery store and Lucky wanted a 40,000 sq. ft. store. When the last owner sold the property, it was with the requirement that no large grocery store could be built there - no matter what the city council approved. This was a classic dog in the manger story. Ironically, the Lucky in Mountain View failed, so there is no longer a need for that restriction. However, it is too late - we have yet another mega-development being built, with narrow streets, no driveways and inadequate parking, (next to a massive apartment complex with inadequate parking) with no significant public benefit and maybe a 7-11 type store.
Primarily this is the result of unrestrained greed on the part of the developer. The city council was somewhat at fault for finally giving into a patient developer who refused to even consider using the property as it was zoned or anything close to it. This was not a result of the "Palo Alto process."
Marie--without going off on a tangent, you have forgotten the Charleston moratorium that included Alma Plaza, to appease a very vocal neighborhood activists and the groups formed that seemed to oppose any kind of grocery store at Alma Plaza--but in the end the city council was at fault for not providing leadership--and now as you saw we have housing with a 7-11 type store--too bad.
NIMBYs killed the Alma Plaza grocery store, not the city council.
JJ&F has been a mainstay ever since we walked over from the Stanford campus and met John, Joe and Frank. Like many other families in Palo Alto we have prepared for countless evening meals and many celebrations with a trip to JJ&F for the fixings. We will sorely miss our friends behind the counter and trust that people with such a strong commitment to customer service will find jobs nearby and soon.
Does anyone shop in Palo Alto anymore? Cost-co, Best Buy, Target, Home Depot, Bigger Safeways, REI, Ikea, Sears, Bed Bath, Walmart, OSH. Not to mention the better hotels in EPA and Menlo Park. All our auto dealerships are slowing leaving town too.
This is such sad news. A highlight of working nearby was going to buy lunch and chat with Dennis, John, Lloyd, and all the fabulous cashiers, butchers and other employees. JJ and F's strawberries were the best! After my company moved, I continued to go to JJ and F. I will really miss you guys! I wish you all the best.
PLEASE PLEASE don't sell to the guy who completely RUINED Cuhna's in Half Moon Bay!!!!!!
Sounds to me that JJ & F was a glorified deli and perhaps a similar type of deli and luxury goods store is the way to go rather than a full service market.
Going back nearly 20 years, there were 3 supermarkets in Midtown. Now we have one and it is pretty poor in variety but always busy. Piazzas seems to do really well for such a small store.
The real question is which way are we going in our grocery shopping needs? Many of us like going to large Safeway style stores once a week for brand goods, staples, etc. but to smaller neighborhood stores when we run out of something. By just going to neighborhood stores for specialised items or forgotten or run out items, we are not able to keep small grocery stores in business.
If we had a large Safeway in Palo Alto (or Nob Hill, or ...) it would be used to the detriment of Menlo Park and Mountain View Safeways, but I suspect that TJs, Piazzas, Mollie Stones, etc. would not be affected as much as we think.
I used to buy meat at JJ & F because they used to bring in the whole carcass and cut it themselves. Lately, they have not had the same cuts and offal available which has been the reason I have stopped going. By trying to compete as a grocery store they have probably lost some of the customers they had when they provided the old fashioned service that some would drive across town for.
Sign of the times, we can't get the service that we had 20 years ago and the variety that the 21st century can provide at reasonable prices.
Thank you JJF for being such a friendly, high-quality neighborhood market. Even though I live in EPA, if I am in your area, I always stop in. I have been shopping with you since 1984 and will miss you.
Best hot pastrami in the world, hands down. This is so tragic. Thank you JJ&F and all of the familiar faces especially the quick-as-lightning cashiers and the deli staff who NEVER mess up my order. You will be SORELY missed.
What is more necessary is a grocery store in EPA. I'm tired of the Midtown Safeway parking lot being packed due to EPA shopping there.
I grew up in College Terrace and Joe, John & Frank's was a big part of my life. When I was a little girl, everyone knew me by name and that was the funnest part of going to the store. I loved the selection and the home town feel. As I grew up, I recall it was a "cool" place to go. Lunch time in the meat section was CRAZY because some of the best sandwiches could be had here. I rode my bike here often. I bought pop rocks here and thought I might explode if I drank a coke. I collected bottle caps when there used to be a soda machine next to the store (with bottles). I am sure Klutz books opened in our neighborhood because they liked JJ&F. I will miss the store and I am very thankful that most of my life this store has been in business. Thank you for the memories and best of luck in the next chapters of your life! (Sent from San Antonio Texas)
20 years ago, when my Mom and I would shop there when I was a kid, I remember the guy at the deli counter would always give me a slice of cheese.
I can't imagine Safeway doing that.
Sad to see JJ&F go.
Hey Off Topic - EPA DOES have a grocery store, much better than the lousy Safeway in Midtown. How do you know where the people who shop at Safeway live? Do you follow them home? Sheesh, you have a lousy attitude. It's a good thing you're not a store owner, you'd drive your customers away. Stores need to be grateful for ALL customers these days, no matter where they live, or where you THINK they live.
Trader Joe's is just 2 mins down the road.
Second all the "best sandwiches" comments. New T&C (VCH and TJ's) can replace most of the groceries together, but are not walkable to College Terrace. Country Sun is certainly walkable, but can they even spell Hvarti cheese?
For a City that wants walkable neighborhoods but relies on expensive residential real estate to fund schools and services this is a real conundrum. What if the new grocer can't make it in two years when the building is done? Big Oops all around! Business owners can only retire by selling, so to be selling before things have fully recovered must be tough.
Hey JJ&F -- The "grocery for lease" signs just popped up at Alma Plaza, how about it?
"New T&C (VCH and TJ's) can replace most of the groceries together, but are not walkable to College Terrace. "
Huh? I live further away than CT and walk or bike there most weekends. You just walk through Stanford and it's even a nice walk. If you're willing to hike over to Alma Plaza you can go to TJ's.
I grew up with JJ&F and I have great memories of hot pastrami sandwiches and chatting it up with the employees and owners. I'll remember you fondly John, Dennis, Lloyd, Peggy, Liz, Troy and Bud (a.k.a. Al).
I wish people would stop bickering and realize what the city is losing out on. One day you'll tell your children or grandchildren that when you were younger there were stores owned by families and not by mega corporations.
Having grown up with shopping at the Emerson street S.O.S. market we found JJ&F our answer for much of our incidental shopping. We NEVER shop in Palo Alto any more. Mountain View and Menlo Park because of the ease of parking, store size and selection. Palo Alto's attitude and the NIMBYism have reduced this once vibrant shopping area into boteque stores with inadequate parking, stores just big enough to supply "basics" crowded ailes. Biggest drawback is the City Council's attitude. Sorry to see JJ&F go but we understand their decision.
How soon do you think that the usual College Terrace residents will be before the city council demanding a city subsidized supermarket to replace JJ&F, more traffic calming, another renovatior for their library, more permit parking and a demand that Facebook leave town?? And how many of you think the council will say no to them?
Edo and others are right regarding shopping in other cities, as well as NIMBYism and myopic city council attitude.
Yet another standard College Terrace result. They "need" a local grocery store but want everyone else to pay for it.
Just look at JJ&F's leaving letter: "REMEMBER THIS...In order to have a neighborhood market in YOUR neighborhood, you MUST shop there.
As always, CT residents want the convenience but not the cost. Wholefoods charges way more and manages to get by without the need for a 30-year rent guarantee. Wow you can't even pay businesses to stay in College Terrace.
Not just Trader Joe's, but also the union killed JJ&F. They were inflexible, and now all the union members at JJ&F are out of a job. If all grocery stores were unionized (offering a living wage with benefits) then all could compete. It has to be all or nothing. Maybe we need a picket ...
To those who are sorry to see JJ&F go, how much shopping did you do there? Did you drive somewhere else to save a few bucks, burning gas and threatening the neighborhood store in the process? I'm not saying I'm not guilty too, but we all saw this coming, right?
Anyway .. the store isn't gone. There are very nice new owners. Say hi to Chris at the checkout! And support the store for heaven's sake. Or else we really won't have a neighborhood place to meet friends and chat.
Dear JJF Family, We in College Terrace will miss you all very much. Our frequent trips in the AM & PM to purchase groceries we need for breakfast or dinner, the smiling faces of the Garcia family and staff awaiting us. May those of your staff who would like to continue to work, be blessed with new jobs. And for those who have worked so long and hard, for so many years, may you find contentment in retirement. We are grateful for you.
Worse news than this is that Dan Brown's is closing.
People who sneer at neighborhood stores should remember that the disabled, elderly and poor don't always have the option of jumping in their cars and bopping down the road a couple of miles. Walkable neighborhoods are going to be required if we are ever to escape the tyranny of the automobile.
"Walkable neighborhoods are going to be required if we are ever to escape the tyranny of the automobile."
JoAnn--walkable neighborhoods is a "feel good" phrase bandied about by members of our council and nighborhood leaders when talking about a pie in the sky concept that will never happen in Palo Alto. Think about it--in order to have "walkable neighborhoods", every neighborhood will have to have a grocery store, dry cleaners, coffee shops, restaraunts, library branch etc. Do you really think the NIMBYists, naysayers and our "alltalk no action" council will ever let that happen?. I mean our council wasn't even able to keep two exisiting shopping centers in town!!! Sorry, this is a car community.
Sign of the times. Really haven't shop there in years.
The union issues really didn't kill JJF, it was not keeping up with what people wanted...Trader Joes, Whole Foods and Molly Stones type stores.
Well, Palo Alto is a very different place than when I was a kid. There are up sides, and down sides. All the small businesses are closing due to competition with chain stores, and the chain stores come and go. Lesson is dont get attached to the way things are, and its not about friendship or community, its about business.
I am devastated by this news, this will be a huge loss, as you are the neighborhood treasure. I've shopped at JJ & F for over 20 years, and have never felt more welcome in any other store. The staff has been outstanding: incredibly friendly, they take an interest in knowing you personally, they are always helpful (where else can you bring in your cooked brisket to be sliced). Their meat and produce sections are terrific (their strawberries are the best in the world and I will miss their fabulous cooked chicken). Wishing each of you all the best and if you ever need any customer recommendations, do call on me.
For those who want Safeway, Raleys, Nob Hill, etc.: go visit the cities across the bay: they have the big stores and the big parking lots, but those cities are utterly bland and boring.
It's the small, locally-owned businesses that make a town. JJ&F was a great little grocery store. I also like Country Sun.
The big stores get the bulk discount; the little guys can't compete.
I am more interested in the supermarket's produce selection than in saving a few pennies. The smaller stores are much more boring, especially for fresh foods.
Over the years I tried JJ&F a few times and, frankly, never got the appeal. Overall prices were way too high and staff was, well, OK, but not on a par with the old Co-op on Middlefield.
Just moved to SF where I have a tiny corner green grocer -- think Sigonas -- with better pricing on organic fruit and veg that routinely beats Whole Foods et al. The quality is even better. Shows you can get convenience and pricing. JJ&F failed on that score. Don't see how the new owners could do worse.
One of Palo Alto's main strengths were the small neighborhood markets.
While growing up on Byron/Melville I enjoyed countless memories hanging out at the old Channing Market, or the SOS market.
JJ&F will be missed!
I think small markets like this are great for the nearby neighborhood. But please don't stifle larger markets at the same time. The city has room for both. Many shoppers now drive to Mountain View or Sunnyvale to do their shopping and will shop in Palo Alto if what they want is available.
Dear JJ&F family, how sad I am to see you close! Every person there was kind, friendly and helpful. I loved the cozy feeling of the store, the conversations and smiles as much as the great meat, fruit and veggies. I often ran into my neighbors, and I always left with a warm feeling. I know the times are tough, but this is such a loss for our community--it won't be the same without you. I want to thank you for the 11 memorable years I've enjoyed shopping with you and wish you all the best. Most of all, I will miss my friends at JJ&F.
We lived on the Stanford Campus for 36 years and during that time JJ&F was our market for fruit ,meat, dairy products et al. John knew that I played golf and almost every time I visited the meat section , he would disappear into the back of the store and return with a bag of golf balls for me! Where else could you find service of this calibre!
Goodbye and good riddance to JJ&F. The "special" neighborhood with 3 grcoery store is losing one. Oh, woe is me--the humanity. All this hair pulling, teeth gnashing and sack cloth and ashes wearing over a store that people obviously did not support. Let's get a little perspective here,
Maybe now Palo Alto can get some decent grocery stores, so we do not have to drive to Menlo PArk and Mountain View. Don't you think it is time?
Since moving to College Terrace 10 years ago we've been going to JJ&F on almost a daily basis and have really appreciated the place. Part of it has been the food--especially the high-quality meat and the deli section, and every summer the strawberries. A lot of it has been seeing friendly familiar faces. Dennis, John and Lloyd, we'll miss you. The staff too (Mike, other Mike, Dan, the meat guys...). Best of luck to you all in your next endeavors.
My family has been going to JJ&F for over 30 years. I remember getting free slices of cheese there as a kid, picking up sandwiches there as a teen, and now making a point to swing by every time I'm home to see my parents. When my mom was diagnosed with leukemia 20 years ago, JJ&F called us up and offered, unsolicited, to deliver groceries to our house and to set up a charge account that us kids could use if we ever needed to pick anything up for my mom. You won't see that kind of personal service from any grocery store that replaces JJ&F.
I don't understand the appeal of super jumbo gigantic, truly outsized markets. Is it that you really want some place that will stock or cook the very specific food you want to take home with you because you don't/can't cook for yourselves? Very little sold in the center of the store is healthful or made of real food.
I have just come back from out-of-town where I visited a very large store. It had two full length, front-of-the-store-to-the-back length open freezer cases. A hideous waste of energy stocked completely with every variety of frozen pizza known to mankind. Then there were three more aisles of upright freezer cases full of I-didn't-see-what. In the front of the store the night crew had built a 12-foot high wall of Coca-Cola and Sprite.
Let's have small grocery stores that sell ingredients and open a new kind of place, a take-out only deli catering enterprise so that all the non-cooks of the area can shop for the restaurant food they desire at what they think are reduced, non-service prices (with no tips).
With a reasonably stocked kitchen a person doesn't need to shop at a one-city-block store.
@jb, yes, I do like the very large stores with fully stocked shelves and lots of variety. On top of the wide selection, the prices are generally quite a bit lower. And they have what amount to stores-within-stores - bakery, deli, flower shop, wine & liquor store, fish market, drug store, etc. which cuts down on shopping trips.
If the boutique store you describe can draw customers, I'm all for it. But banning bigger stores because too many people will want to shop there - that's a odd kind of logic.
@Yes, I didn't realize I had implied I thought large patronage was a drawback in a grocery super-store.
The "boutique store" you refer to is actually the kind of pared-down store I have found in the places I have lived. When I go to the store with my list I am not interested in seeing the 99% of stuff in the store that is not on my list.
I have cooked since I was 5 and I am not interested in developing a taste for high-salt, high-sugar, high-fat manufactured foods. The fish counter at Piazza's is fine with me; my fish intake isn't that varied. If I want flowers, I go out to buy flowers. I like and can walk to the Walgreen's or CVS pharmacies. I don't buy a variety of breads and very little sweet bakery. I can make those. Most groceries can supply the occasional bottle of wine I buy.
I feel vindicated in this simplicity by a few writers in various fields who have found that the larger the field of choices we have, the tenser and testier we get about our choosing. Eating is not the reason we are on this earth. But cooking just might be!
This is very sad news to all of us who greatly appreciate what the Garcia family and their employees have meant to our community over the years, and it will not pass easily or completely.
But the closing of JJ&F must also be a tremendous disappointment to the owners, and especially to John Garcia. He was not ready or of age to retire, and he did not want to give up the business. Instead he invested himself totally, and over a period of years, in moving a project that would include a new, more viable JJ&F market design and location, to pass council muster.
And he succeeded. But that was not enough.
In July 2009, just after the City Council overturned the Planning & Transportation Commission's denial of the project application, the developer touted that construction could begin this past summer and conclude as early as the end of next year. Web Link
But when the project returned to the council for final approval in December, his development schedule moved the start of construction back by 18 months and occupancy by 4 years. [Page 93 within Web Link ]
For JJ&F, the real finish line was one they could not meet.
Too bad fred. You will just have to make do with the other two groceries in the area.JJ&Fs "loyal "customers obviously abandoned the store long ago for better selection and better prices.for once college terrace does not get what they want.how sad.
I find it very sad that this space is being used for anything other than expressing sorrow and loss for a great little Family market that did it's best to serve the surrounding community since 1948. I want to thank everyone involved for the love and sense of family that came along with being a long time customer at JJ&F. You are loved and will be missed.
It is called freedom of speech, sandy. Good riddance jj&f. Maybe now we can have decent stores in palo alto
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