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.