News


New family to run JJ&F grocery in Palo Alto

Longtime family of Sonoma County grocers takes over Palo Alto market's operations; name change in the works

Editor's note: A March 14 version of this article stated that the Garcia family still owned JJ&F Food Store; however, the ownership is in transition.

A new family has taken over operations of JJ&F Food Store in Palo Alto and may purchase the store, according to one of the new managers.

The 62-year-old Palo Alto market was owned by John, Dennis and Lloyd Garcia until November 2010 and was sold to Emerald Market in Redwood City, John Garcia confirmed Tuesday morning.

But he learned last week that JJ&F was either being sold or that Emerald's owner was going into a partnership with a family, the Khourys.

Five brothers -- Mark, Chris, Ronnie, Johnny and Issa Khoury -- hail from three generations of grocers and are operating the business, Mark Khoury said.

On Tuesday (March 15), Khoury said his family is buying Emerald Market and had agreed to operate JJ&F at the request of Emerald's owner. The family is trying to purchase JJ&F from Emerald, he said.

Khoury mistakenly stated in an interview on Monday that the College Terrace neighborhood store was still owned by the Garcias, who were helping to run the store.

"I apologize for the confusion," he said, stressing that the brothers want to work hard to make the store fresh and appealing, with excellent customer service.

Garcia said his cousins were helping the transition. He said the Garcias are having issues with the sale to Emerald.

"It's still going on," he said, declining to elaborate.

The Khourys took over management of the store at 520 College Ave. on March 9.

The five brothers range from 26 to 35 years old and have experience in running grocery stores, Khoury said.

The family plans to bring better prices to the deli, more produce and a wider selection of goods, he said.

"We are born and raised in the grocery business. Our dad was a butcher, and our grandfather was in the grocery business," he said.

JJ&F will get a new name -- Jojo's Market, he said.

The family's stores include Pohley's in Windsor (Sonoma County) and Economy Food Market in Napa. Both stores received five-star Internet reviews for fresh and unusual produce and friendly customer service.

The Khourys had a large mural painted on the side of the Windsor store to honor the city's past and threw a large party after the mural was completed last fall.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Carroll Harrington
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 14, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Now this is just about the best news I have heard! Accolades to the Garcias and the Khourys. There can be a heaven on earth[;-)


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Sorry to be sceptical, but I smell a fish!


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Posted by Question
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 14, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Does this move mean they get to keep the developer money, part of the College Terrace Center deal?


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Posted by Not a college terrace fan
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 14, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Sounds to me like the khourys are saying that the current owners sold poor quality meat, stale produce and overpriced deli. Wonder if the college terrace residents realize they have been played as suckers all these years. After all they were always proclaiming how wonderful jj&f was. Too bad the rest of the city had had to suffer with substandard grocery stores due to the demand by CT residents that jj&f be protected from competition. Maybe or council will learn about the free market system


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Posted by friend of the Garcia's
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 14, 2011 at 9:35 pm

My understanding is that JJ&F was sold in November to the owners of Emerald Market. My guess is that they couldn't make a go of it so is turning around and selling it to the Khoury family. Either way, the Garcias no longer own the market.


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Posted by Lol
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 14, 2011 at 11:07 pm

"We are born and raised in the grocery business."
Sounds funny.


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Posted by lindalu
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 14, 2011 at 11:16 pm

I don't think they meant that they sold bad quality meats or that the store wasn't being taken care of! It sounds like change is good and the Khoury's know grocery business and will be there for a long time! Being born and raised in the grocery business is like a person living on a farm grew up a farmer. I mean give people a chance! Be happy that the store is not being bought by a big chain like Safeway or Costco or even Luckys! Good Luck Khoury Family and I enjoyed the first week with you!!! God BLess


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Posted by Keep the Name
a resident of Ventura
on Mar 14, 2011 at 11:43 pm

I wish they would keep the name, JJ&F. As long as the Garcias are involved in any way with the store, it would be nice to preserve that part of JJ&F's long-valued identity in our community.


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Posted by JJ&F shopper from the 80's
a resident of another community
on Mar 15, 2011 at 2:14 am

Do a little Googling and you'll see that the Khoury family store Pohley's (Windsor Superette) in Windsor had a problem with its Workers Comp Insurance circa 2007 and with its liquor license circa 2009.
On the positive side the store received the Windsor CofC 2010 Small Business Award.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 15, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Gosh, with the higher price of gas and prospect for even higher gas in the future, the local market might be a really great business to be in - good luck!


Like this comment
Posted by Allen B. Veaner
a resident of another community
on Mar 16, 2011 at 11:04 am

My children, when very young, always loved a trip to JJ&F. It was an exciting, special treat for them. We all still have fond memories of this grand neighborhood shop--such a pleasant change from the dull sameness of the big national supermarket chains. I only wish the new owners would retain the JJ&F name. But I wish them every success. Cities need small, independent grocers, places one can walk to, meet neighbors, and choose merchandise that's not so run-of-the-mill.


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Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm

1. The "developers" mentioned by Question are the Chilcote family who have been long-time landlords and friends to the Garcia family. No idea what money you think they gave the Garcia's.
2. One reason the Garcia's no longer have the market is the five years it took to get renovation plans through City Hall. Maybe if they could've begun modernization way back and become a destination market, their business would've been able to survive.
3. JJ&F had the best quality across the board. However, in recent times they could not afford to keep upscale products in the store that people didn't buy and they just had to throw away. An example is Niman Ranch pork and steaks, which they carried for awhile (and I bought), but then they just had to stop.
4.JJ&F was a union market; that is, their employees had health benefits and retirement and some were there 30 years before retirement. The new owners can lower prices, because they're non-union.
5. When the HUGE Trader Joe's came in footsteps away, JJ&F's business declined by 200 transactions a day. Trader Joe's shouldn't have been a competitor for a store with the fresh products and personal service of JJ&F, where real butchers butchered sides of beef on-site, but true to form, Palo Altans ran to buy frozen goods and meat from who-knows-where.
6. Grocery stores have the lowest profit margin of any business -- 1% or less, and the Garcia's struggled for a long time before deciding to give up. They shortened the hours, and Dennis, Lloyd and John were back full-time in the store. The grocery store changed hands--literally if not financially-at the beginning of December. Dennis stayed on to help manage during the transition.

I wish Palo Alto Weekly had done more to promote JJ&F before it went under; I wish people in Palo Alto hadn't run to Trader Joe's; I wish family businesses had a chance in this town.


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Posted by not a college terrace fan
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 16, 2011 at 12:27 pm

;"5. When the HUGE Trader Joe's came in footsteps away, JJ&F's business declined by 200 transactions a day. Trader Joe's shouldn't have been a competitor for a store with the fresh products and personal service of JJ&F, where real butchers butchered sides of beef on-site, but true to form, Palo Altans ran to buy frozen goods and meat from who-knows-where."

JJ&f was protected from competition for years. That is why we have no descent sized stores in town and people drive to MV and MP for groceries. Time and the free market finally caught up with JJ&F.

"I wish Palo Alto Weekly had done more to promote JJ&F before it went under; I wish people in Palo Alto hadn't run to Trader Joe's; I wish family businesses had a chance in this town."
it is not the role of the weekly to promote a small overpriced store that catered to a limited,,yet privileged (in their own minds) clientele. Good riddance JJ&F.
Maybe you should have had the council pass a law requiring PA residents to shop at JJ&F. After all,the free market system did not apply to JJ&F and their CT cheerleaders.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2011 at 12:34 pm

By the way, TJs is not a decent grocery store, it is a boutique for those who don't want to cook.

I have used JJ&F but found that in recent years they did not carry the same meats that they used to have - probably because people no longer cook at home.

I long for a decent grocery store in Palo Alto, particularly one with butchers who cut meat. I was watching a cooking show on tv last night and the recipes were for sweetbreads and tongue. Nowhere that I know of would sell those ingredients!

PS, I don't live anywhere near JJ & F but went there when I wanted special cuts of meat.


Like this comment
Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 16, 2011 at 8:17 pm

To Resident: For tongue and maybe sweetbreads, you could try the Mexican markets like Hacienda in Menlo Park on Menalto. Maybe Mi Puebla. They may not have the finest brands of meats, but Hacienda does at least have Harris Ranch beef. I see cuts at Mexican or ethnic markets that I can no longer find at our other markets in the area. Yes, JJ&F would always cut things for me, like a small piece of meat off a bigger one. At other stores, I just get told that I have to buy the whole thing.
To not a college terrace fan: I shouldn't have said "promote." What I thought might have been nice some time last year was a profile piece of the family and market, mentioning things like it was the last market in Palo Alto to get whole sides of beef in and butcher them there. (Maybe Shaubs does that?) After all the stuff about City Hall and the like, I just thought a more in-depth story about JJ&F would've been interesting. It was certainly not protected. There are tons of markets in Palo Alto. I used to shop at Andronico's until I realized what a really nice place JJ&F was to shop.


Like this comment
Posted by Eileen
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 16, 2011 at 9:40 pm

To Not a College Terrace Fan:

"JJ&f was protected from competition for years. That is why we have no descent sized stores in town and people drive to MV and MP for groceries. Time and the free market finally caught up with JJ&F."

The reason we have no "descent (sic) sized stores in town" is because the city has a rule limiting the size of all grocery stores in Palo Alto and has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with JJ&F. It is impossible to do anything reasonable and/or competitive in this city as far as I can tell. Are you even from Palo Alto or a surrounding community, or are you still yet another person who has moved here in recent years (my family has been here since 1913) and feels free to have an opinion about everything regardless of your knowledge (or lack thereof) of local history?

If you are going to express an opinion please try to get your facts straight.


Like this comment
Posted by They betrayed us
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 16, 2011 at 11:03 pm

The Garcias testified for the Carrasco project, they practically wept, it was so important that the monster project be approved. So much sentimentality for the grocery store, and for those wonderful men.
The Garcias threatened to move to Mountain View if the project wasn't approved.
Then they betrayed us. They fooled us and I have no doubt the developer has rewarded them. We trusted them and they betrayed our trust.


Like this comment
Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 16, 2011 at 11:43 pm

To They betrayed us: Wow, talk about polar opposites: I had tears in my eyes bidding farewell to Dennis and you feel betrayed? A family in business for 60 years is defeated by the recession, changing demographics, and Trader Joe's. They are bereft having to end their fathers' business and their life's work. They betrayed you? Talk about narcissism. Wow.


Like this comment
Posted by not a college terrace fan
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 17, 2011 at 6:40 am

Eileen:

"The reason we have no "descent (sic) sized stores in town" is because the city has a rule limiting the size of all grocery stores in Palo Alto and has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with JJ&F."
Since you have been here for so long, Eileen, you must be familiar with this article:
Web Link
(The 20,000-square-foot cap applies to three stores in the city: Piazza's Fine Foods, Safeway, and JJ&F, which are zoned "Neighborhood Commercial.")
That said I think you will find that there has been pressure form certain people to "protect" JJ&F from competition.

" It is impossible to do anything reasonable and/or competitive in this city as far as I can tell."
I will agree with you.

"Are you even from Palo Alto or a surrounding community, or are you still yet another person who has moved here in recent years (my family has been here since 1913) and feels free to have an opinion about everything regardless of your knowledge (or lack thereof) of local history?"
Regardless of how long I have lived here, I AM FREE to have an opinion on everything even though I have not been here since 1913. Is that the new rule in PA, that only people that have been here for a certain number of years can voice their opinions on matters

"If you are going to express an opinion please try to get your facts straight."
Is that a request or a command from someone who has been here since 1913?


Like this comment
Posted by Lily3
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 17, 2011 at 8:27 am

Not a fan of College Terrace: Kindly note, Eileen mentioned her family has been here since 1913, not that she personally has been. It is the flagrant disregard for such factual details that characterize your opinions. Regardless of how long you have lived here, your opinions are welcome; however, opinions based on assumptions, bias, and accusations do not advance the conversation.


Like this comment
Posted by not a college terrace fan
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 17, 2011 at 9:08 am

Lily3:
"Regardless of how long you have lived here, your opinions are welcome; however, opinions based on assumptions, bias, and accusations do not advance the conversation."
Did you also tell this to Eileen? Considering her comment (Are you even from Palo Alto or a surrounding community, or are you still yet another person who has moved here in recent years (my family has been here since 1913) and feels free to have an opinion about everything regardless of your knowledge (or lack thereof) of local history?) is based on assumptions and bias.


Like this comment
Posted by They betrayed us
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 18, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Chris wonders... They betrayed you?
Yes they did. They advocated for the developer knowing that their future was uncertain. They threatened to move to Mountain View if the developer was restricted in any way. Yes, they tugged on our heart strings, then sold out.
Not the first time businesses and developers fooled the public. Just read the papers.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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