Long-awaited College Terrace Market opens for business | News | Palo Alto Online |


Long-awaited College Terrace Market opens for business

Customer turnout on first day 'far surpassed expectations,' says co-owner

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The long-awaited College Terrace Market, which offers products from local food manufacturers and farmers, opened in Palo Alto on Wednesday.

Co-owner Chris Iversen said that although Wednesday was a soft opening, based on word of mouth, the day far-surpassed expectations.

College Terrace Market's mantra is "Whole Foods quality with Trader Joe's prices," according to Iversen.

Cashier Elias Soza, who has been working as a grocer since the 2000s, described the place as "like home."

"Everybody that has been coming in has been so awesome," Soza said. "It makes my job a lot easier."

The grocery store has a bakery, full-service meat department, deli, ice cream parlor, sushi bar, meals to go, open produce section along the sidewalk and option for customers to order their groceries in advance for pick up. With its aisles labeled with green street-like signs labeled with neighboring roads, including El Camino Real, College and Stanford, College Terrace Market struck many customers as an atypical store.

Palo Alto resident Dorothea said that the prices were expensive, however.

"They have stuff that Safeway does not have. But of course, they have standard stuff, and that's more expensive here," she said.

Anthony Marin, another employee, says that everything ran smoothly, although turnout was less than expected.

Eileen Stolee, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, said that she has been to the market three times since it opened. She praised the "friendly and helpful" staff and "really beautiful" layout, adding that she loved "the fresh sushi and the cheese selection" and the option "to support local, organic, suppliers."

Despite high prices, Stolee said that going to the market was worth it given its small size and proximity to her house.

"I would rather pay a little more money and not have to fight traffic and time-consuming visits at large markets like Safeway," she said.

The 8,000-square-foot market at 2100 El Camino Real is part of College Terrace Centre, a three-story building that features 38,980 square feet of offices, 5,580 square feet of retail space, eight affordable housing units and a 4,100-square-foot rooftop garden.

First Republic Bank occupies the office space; Yelp had originally planned to open its new headquarters there but pulled out in early 2016.

The market was one of the required amenities for the transit-oriented development project, which threatened to shutter longtime family-owned JJ&F Food Store, which had been in business at the location for 63 years. Neighbors lobbied to ensure the development would have room for the market. However, shortly after the city approved the project, the grocery store owners sold their business anyway, and their successors had to close down in 2013.

The 1.4-acre site where the former JJ&F Food Store and Futon Shop once stood was demolished in 2014.

Michael "Miki" Werness, the market's operator and general manager, was approved by the City Council as the new grocer in 2014. He also operated Miki's Farm Fresh Market at Alma Village, which shut down after a six-month run.

"It was an inferior site. And the store faced the wrong way," Werness said of Farm Fresh Market in the Weekly's Shop Talk column.

College Terrace Market will be open Mondays through Fridays from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays through Sundays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.


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27 people like this
Posted by casey
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 14, 2017 at 6:34 pm

casey is a registered user.

headline: Customer turnout on first day 'far surpassed expectations,' says co-owner.

article text: Anthony Marin, another employee, says that everything ran smoothly, although turnout was less than expected.

10 people like this
Posted by Ingeborg
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Jun 14, 2017 at 6:47 pm

[Post removed.]

33 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 14, 2017 at 8:46 pm

Stopped by quickly on opening day (today), but only picked up a few items.. Not the place for staples (although perhaps in a pinch), but just had one of the AMAZING sandwiches for dinner, and I'm now a fan! Excellent quality! Definitely recommend . The seafood and meat counter also looked stellar as did the diverse wine selection. Very welcoming staff. Wish them the best of luck and hope they stick around. I'll definitely be a regular.

17 people like this
Posted by Franco Goldstein
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 14, 2017 at 10:08 pm


It's Gorgeous!

18 people like this
Posted by Local resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 15, 2017 at 10:31 am

This grocery store will only succeed if they stay true to keeping the prices low. Trader Joe's and Grocery Outlet are doing well bc of their competitive pricing. We already have Whole Foods, Mollie Stones and Piazza's for upscale food and pricing. People will drive to a location for a deal, especially a quality deal. Sure they will get sandwich and lunch traffic, but if you want people to do their grocery shopping be smart, make it a good deal. You could tell the meat and produce weren't selling at Mikki's. Good luck!

22 people like this
Posted by midtown senior
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 15, 2017 at 11:44 am

Miki's market on Alma did not fail due to location or "facing the wrong way." It failed because they tried to be an upscale business in an area already dominated by Piazza's and and Mollie Stone's. They mistook the market and tried to sell $70 per pound cheese to homeowners already struggling to meet mortgage payments. Now they're trying to sell to college students and faculty.

5 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 15, 2017 at 11:51 am

Glad it's open. How's the parking there? Is the old JJ@F parking lot still there?

3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Loyalty and familiarity are very important when it comes to buying weekly groceries but not so much when needing something quick for dinner or running low on a staple. I used both Lucky's and Miki's on Alma and Fresh Market when it was on my way home and handy.

It takes a while to get used to the layout of a store and to get a "feel" for their merchandise. I hope that this time they can wait for at least a year before deciding whether this is going to work.

1 person likes this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 15, 2017 at 1:47 pm

It is not clear what the market is for them. JJ&F was not making it despite being iconic. The area has also changed with terrible traffic and parking. Molly's and Trader Joe's are clearly competition.

The Stanford housing being built is a clear possibility but not if it is too upscale. They don't seem to be targeting that demographic yet.

20 people like this
Posted by cheese lover
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 15, 2017 at 2:24 pm

I only discovered Miki's cheese department shortly before they closed. They might have had a few $70/lb cheeses, but they were the only "real" cheese store for miles. Every place else sells pre-cut, pre-wrapped cheeses. As any real cheese connoisseur knows, this is not the way to buy cheese. I don't know if College Terrace Market will have a real cheese department. I hope they do.

17 people like this
Posted by Katie
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 15, 2017 at 3:09 pm

It may be my new Piazza's replacement when not actually going to Whole Foods or TJ's. I welcome any new grocer to Palo Alto!

15 people like this
Posted by Jerryyyyy
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 15, 2017 at 4:20 pm

I think if the locals want the market at walking distance, they better use it. It is convenient and I am sure the rent is high, so if you buy expensive coffee there you are paying for the location and supporting the effort. I wish them well and bought an overpriced, but not too overpriced, bottle of wine yesterday. Bakery is very good too.

2 people like this
Posted by Barbara Griffith
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 15, 2017 at 8:30 pm

I live in Palo Alto - new to area. Where is this market? Address?

3 people like this
Posted by Paly Grad
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 15, 2017 at 9:53 pm

This market is in the brand new building complex on El Camino Real between Oxford Avenue and College Avenue. This is South of Embarcadero Avenue and North of California Avenue.

13 people like this
Posted by Richard
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 15, 2017 at 10:36 pm

The parking is so much superior to JJ and F's. We have found the pricing to be very competitive in many areas (e.g. sandwiches, natural poultry, meats, wine, and many other items. There are so many nice touches as an ice cream shop, fresh coffee, sushi shop, panini sandwiches, izzi's bagels, and the best in service a market has to offer. Everyone is on a first name basis. There were many young people in the store on my two visits suggesting they will attract many of the Trader Joe's shoppers.

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 16, 2017 at 12:21 am

Can a pedestrian be cited for crossing ECR at Oxford?
(The market is on the corner of ECR and Oxford.)

4 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Jun 16, 2017 at 9:48 am

Hey "Miki," you're so fine, I hope competing against Amazon doesn't lose your mind. Bezo's purchase of Whole Foods will further test our community's willingness to support local/physical stores versus low cost/online. Hang onto your hat....

1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2017 at 3:10 pm

I was passing so I decided to try it out. First off, I drove around behind and couldn't find a parking lot. I found street parking, but any parking lot is invisible.

Staff are friendly but slow. They will need to work faster at the deli and checkout when they have more customers.

I was disappointed in their bread selection but did find one impulse buy. Deli foods appeared to be a good selection.

I am not sure I would use it again unless I needed milk or produce when I was passing.

2 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 16, 2017 at 3:13 pm

Stopped in on my way home. No Semifreddi's or Acme bread. Yoghurt was twice what I pay at Safeway. Seems like another Mikki's, small selection, high prices.


Like this comment
Posted by amzn
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 16, 2017 at 5:47 pm

Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods isn't necessarily bad for small grocery stores. Amazon will focus on non-perishable goods that are easy to ship and deliver. That leaves the fresh foods business wide open. In many ways, small grocery stores are better at fresh foods than the big chain stores that have to buy in bulk from giant distant farms. The Milk Pail market in Mountain View, for example, is always full of customers and I assume most of their produce at small local farms. I haven't been to the College Terrace Market yet, but I hope they see the writing on the wall.

4 people like this
Posted by Richard
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 16, 2017 at 5:56 pm

There is a huge amount of parking available in the garage with an elevator into the market. Mickie says he will get the the food people are wanting. CT market is not or was never meant to be a Safeway, so comparisons of quantity of selections or rock bottom prices are unfair. They are a delightful neighborhood store with great service and good quality. Enjoy it for what it is, because it is important for our nieghborhood. They don't double the retail price and then pretend to give a discount like Safeway.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2017 at 6:36 pm

I drove around the back looking for a parking lot. Richard, the only thing I could find was what appeared to be for apartments so I didn't drive in. I guess I should have gone in there but it somehow didn't feel right to me.

8 people like this
Posted by Richard
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 16, 2017 at 7:29 pm


The driveway into the underground parking lot is off of El Camino Real between Oxford and College Ave. When you get into the parking lot, there are 25 parking spaces nearby the elevator into the CT Market. Very easy and convenient.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2017 at 7:42 am

I must be a dimwit then because I expected the parking to be at the back. How was I supposed to know?

2 people like this
Posted by Richard
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 17, 2017 at 11:11 am

Hey it is not your fault....they have not put up the parking signs yet.....Part of the working out all of the opening
issues...I went there last night and despite many people in the market, there were no cars in the parking garage but the staff.

3 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 17, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Actually not a real neighbor because we live on campus in EV. Was very much looking forward to having a market in walking distance and was positively surprised by the range they offer when I stopped by today.
What stood out to me:
- fresh meat counter
- sushi
- ice cream by the scoop and coffee/tea
However, prices for dairy (I got milk) seem high to me. Would get milk in a pinch but it would be hard for regular shopping. In general prices seem to be slightly higher but the convenience can't be beat. If the ice cream is good I am sure my kids will be regulars :)

3 people like this
Posted by cheeseguy
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 17, 2017 at 4:42 pm

Spent half an hour checking the place out this afternoon. My conclusions are as follows:
1) Prices are high on many items, as the post above suggests. 1/2 gallon of Cover low fat milk is $3.49. It's $2.99 at Whole Foods in Los Altos, it's $2.69 if ordered online at Goodeggs. Other prices on grocery items seemed consistently high.
2) The cheese department is a small selection of industrial cheese and does not compare to Whole Foods of Piazzas. Also there was a lousy selection of bread (no Acme or other good artisanal bread). The place is completely lacking in any high end, gourmet items.
3) There did seem to be a decent selection of prepared foods, sushi, and an ice cream parlor.
So, this is not a destination market. It's not a bargain market. It will serve customers of College Terrace who are not price sensitive or who just to pick up a few items, as well as some take out/lunch trade with he prepared foods, sandwiches, etc. Can it survive in that narrow niche? I doubt it.

4 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 17, 2017 at 5:28 pm

" Can a pedestrian be cited for crossing ECR at Oxford?"

Only if they survive.

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 17, 2017 at 7:54 pm

Thanks @Curm, I'll try it tomorrow morning after the Farmers Market.
Birch-College-Ash-Oxford is a nicer walk than along ECR.
Pedestrian rights need to be exercised or lost.

3 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 18, 2017 at 6:48 pm

College Terrace Market looks good to me. I was on foot but walked down the ramp and counted 38 underground parking spots marked for the grocery, plus 5 handicap spots. Stairwell also available. Underground parking may not be everyone's first choice, but sure keeps a car cooler on a day like today, and no bird droppings down there.

In the article above, "First Republic Bank occupies the office space" should be future tense. Office space still looks unfinished, and 3/4 of the underground parking is still behind chain-link fence. Exterior clocks on the First Republic end of the building are 5 minutes slow, but at least the two faces agree with each other now.

I myself won't do much shopping at this Market as I live much closer to Midtown Safeway (say what you will about it). But I hope Miki et al can keep this going for the convenience of the immediate neighborhood.

9 people like this
Posted by jayne
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 18, 2017 at 7:20 pm

We need a market in the College Terrace area to serve both Stanford, Stanford's new housing and College Terrace.

College Terrace Market could do themselves a big favor by targeting the needs of the people who will be coming to the market.

The sandwichs they offer are good and have quality ingredients. However, the sandwich police wouldn't make me the sandwich I wanted -- because in their words, coleslaw is not allowed on sandwichs. Sorta weird, but then when I asked for 1/2 servings each of ham and turkey (no smoked turkey) I was told the only way they could do that was by charging me for two sandwiches (ie one turkey and one ham) and then they'd use 1/2 of the ingredients of each, but charge me full bore.

They also do not stock a) tampons, b) medicine for yeast infections, c) condoms, d) baby diapers e) pet food in any brand you may have heard of f) ice cream like Ben & Jerry's or Haagen Daz, (only really fancy brands) g) snack foods (like brownies & or a wide selection of chips) and h) have a serious stocking problem (twice I saw two different sku's of an identical item with wildly different prices>)

I appreciate the owner's interest in stocking high end, more profitable, organic goods. But do some marketing research already!! All it would take would be a serious study of which SKU's your supplier sells the most of at the least, or a place for customers to leave feedback at the most.

I give this place something like six months. I had hoped the owner had learned a lesson by running the failed Miki's market, but I guess not. Hope they improve their game soon as we really need a place to shop in this neighborhood.

3 people like this
Posted by Sarah
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 19, 2017 at 4:30 pm

I stopped in this morning to check out the market with my son, who needed some items for a trip to the beach with his friends. Wow, was I disappointed. The prices were really high, the selection was weak, the employees were socializing. I honestly think Whole Foods and Piazza's have better prices. Sure, good place to pick up sandwiches or sushi if you are passing by or live in the neighborhood. But people haven't learned, make it price competitive and people will come. i welcome any new store to the area, but wake up! They will not steal customers from Trader Joe's. Not with those prices. It will not stay open.

11 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2017 at 6:31 pm

My impression is, everything about the architecture was designed to succeed as an office space and fail as retail.

There is nothing human or inviting about the environment. Every material you come in contact with is concrete or steel. The outdoor seating is right next to the industrial cacophony of El Camino where you sit in the sun separated from the sidewalk by a gated steel playpen. A banal concrete space on the opposite side of the building looks like it could be some sort of public space but is enclosed behind an imposing steel fence with a locked gate. There is no need for a gate. Why would anyone want to enter what looks like an outdoor prison holding cell?

There is no natural landscaping or natural materials anywhere above ground. The only greenery to be found is strangely below grade in the parking garage.

The apartments look like the kind of place I used to rent in Cabo for $15 a night. Southern California strip mall architecture twisted into a concrete hamster habitrail by PACC meddling.

Bottom line... Edgewood Plaza 2.0.

5 people like this
Posted by Wrong
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 20, 2017 at 10:44 am

Safeway just opened a 28k square foot stir in monte Loma plaza in mountain view. Meanwhile we get a 7000 square foot boutique store.

2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 20, 2017 at 3:21 pm

^ That Monte Loma building has always been there, operated as a grocery by several owners.

14 people like this
Posted by Richard
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 20, 2017 at 3:35 pm

So many people here keep comparing CT market to other markets like Safeway or Trader Joes. CT Market will have it's own identity as a community market as it should be. If you try to compare a local dress shop with Macy's or Bloomingdale's, any store will come up short on variety and prices. They intend to make changes so that our local community is happy with the CT market so I hope they are reading your comments on what is needed. There is a big difference from making negative comments aboout a store that is just opening up and trying to get a feel for the community's needs, and suggestions for the market to be successful in the future. I hope the above comments are meant to help. Our community has waiting a long time for CT Market so let's help them be successful.

3 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 20, 2017 at 6:07 pm

@Richard The problem is that the CT residents (along with much of Palo Alto) have a fantasy of a what a community market was from 50 years ago. What they fantasize about is a local market that has big selection, cheap prices and long hours.

I would be surprised if any considerable portion of the CT residents turn to the new market for a majority of their grocery purchases. I predict that they are not going to pay the high prices for the small selection They might stop by for milk or something they need in a hurry but not use it as their main grocery shopping location.


5 people like this
Posted by Richard
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 20, 2017 at 6:44 pm

Marc....I sort of agree with you which is my point......JJ and F servived for many years by being a ma and pa store for the neighborhood and while there has been a shift towards large stores and buying on line with Amazon where you can buy things cheaper, there is still a desire for many, including my daughter, for a service orientated small market. The difference, for example, is buying on line for a dress vs. going to Leaf and Petal on California ave and getting to try on the clothes and get some help from the store to find what you need. Just like a dress shop, CT market will eventually find the products that will sell and are wanted by the neighborhood.. Also, why drive for 15 to 20 minutes, find it to difficult to park, wait in long lines, get absolutely no service, to buy cheap products that Safeway and Costco can make a big profit on, when you can walk or drive your bike locally and get fresh food from a neighborhood vendor who is there to serve us rather than a company who just there to make a big profit. If all we are as humans is to find the cheapest product from the largest company who can buy things at the highest volume so that they can attract the highest amount of customers, than lets get rid of ma and pa stores and do all of our shopping on line. That would be a sad day, dont you think?

2 people like this
Posted by @richard
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 20, 2017 at 8:22 pm

@richard people drive to grocery stores for less expensive items bc they are trying to save money to survive living in Palo Alto. That's why Grocery Outlet is thriving. My suggestion to the new market is to run promotions to draw in the customers. People think higher prices are needed, lower prices and more people will come shop. Or just don't advertise Whole Foods quality, at Trader Joe's Prices. Very misleading.

5 people like this
Posted by cheeseguy1
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 21, 2017 at 7:22 am

FYI, Costco does not make a "big profit" on items it sells. In fact, they typically use a flat 10% mark up over their cost regardless of the item (no loss leaders to bring in traffic).Much of their operating profit comes from the membership fees. y9awk In addition, though we want to think of them as the evil big corporation, they actually pay a living wage and good benefits to their employees (I have seen the same employees at the local Costco for 20 years, something you can't say about many businesses) It's not a company of exploitation or greed (their CEO used to be among the lowest paid of any Fortune 500 company). They sell top quality products that they stand behind at good prices while valuing their employees. That's probably something you can't say about many businesses.

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 21, 2017 at 1:46 pm

^ and Costco shares have been a solid investment.

Like this comment
Posted by Therasis
a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2017 at 2:46 pm

Never seen so much whining and complaining in all my life.

I'm quite glad I don't live in Palo Alto any more; it's just not the same anymore in terms of the people there.

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 21, 2017 at 3:29 pm

I was in the neighborhood late yesterday afternoon (Post Office errand) and wandered into College Terrace Market thinking about a sandwich on their terrace. Many pre-made sandwiches in the case, but unclear what all was in them, or how long they'd been there. Subway is my usual sandwich stop, where I can supervise the ingredients, though I preferred Togo's when we still had them. Sorry to say, I left empty-handed and headed back to Cal Ave, where I ended up with a great but more expensive meal at one of the sidewalk cafes which I'd never tried before. In response to @Therasis' comment above, all I saw along Cal Ave were happy people enjoying meals and conversation on a perfect summer evening.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Stanford

on Jun 24, 2017 at 11:40 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

4 people like this
Posted by Great market!
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 25, 2017 at 1:23 pm

Hi. We stopped by today, parking was easy, and the market was clean and bright and well stocked. Folks around here are lucky to have it! The workers are friendly, and there's lots of easy-to-pickup stuff as well as things that are more staples. Yes, it's a bit more expensive (more like Piazza's than Safeway), but at least you know where the money is going, and it's not to corporate overhead. We bought things ranging from desserts to dog treats to vegetables and cheese, and are looking forward to going again next time. I encourage everyone to check it out, and consider supporting your local businesses, so that they stick around!

7 people like this
Posted by Terracen
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 25, 2017 at 3:00 pm

I visited the market a few times. I understand that they are still settling down. I think as prospective customers we should provide feedback on what we would like them to carry. And the owner/manager should REALLY try to accommodate the asks. I suggest they establish a proper way of collecting feedback and communicating it, just like a stand on the door that they can talk to people. Otherwise, I do not think that they can survive.

I hope they do read this tread, this is money!

My feedback so far:
- their carts are small and do not have a toddler seat that opens up (standard stuff). They were around 6 people in the market shopping when I was there and two had toddlers they were carrying around in their arms while trying to shop. Must have been very inconvenient.

- the market looked half empty to me. Not efficiently designed. They should consider adding another isle or something. They can add more options potentially.

- They do have one or two options for some items, which happens to be the most fanciest options you can find in WF. E.g: frozen waffles, only organic Buckwheat option is available.

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 25, 2017 at 9:26 pm

Good thing they don't have too many aisles. Without aisle numbers you would need a map until you memorized the aisle names.

"Where's the mayonnaise?"

"On College"

"Where's College?"

"Second aisle."

For a small store their aisle names probably will work fine.

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