Palo Alto's College Terrace neighborhood will soon have a new grocery store with owners who are familiar to shoppers. The Khoury family will soon reopen in the location of the College Terrace Market, family patriarch Joe Khoury said.
Joe Khoury took over the space JJ&F had inhabited for more than 60 years at 520 College Ave. in 2011, after longtime owners and founders the Garcia family, sold the building. The Khourys replaced the long-beloved JJ&F Market with their own, but they were evicted in 2013 after the building was demolished to make way for the College Terrace Centre office, retail and housing development.
They expressed interest in returning to the new grocery site, which is located just north of the original location, after the Centre opened in 2016. But a different grocer, the College Terrace Market, was selected. Its operators closed the market in December 2017 after about six months.
Officials announced the Khourys return on Monday night.
The mixed-use College Terrace Centre at 2100 El Camino Real was completed in 2016, with the market designated by the council as a "public benefit." The city began charging the new building owner fines in July for violating the Planned Community ordinance for the site, which guarantees a continually operating market and fines the property owner if the site is vacant beyond six months.
But the fines will be short-lived. Jalil "Papa Joe" Khoury, whose family owns several businesses in the Peninsula, including the recently opened The Courthouse 2021 in Redwood City, told the council on Monday night that he looks forward to returning to the community soon.
He also said in a statement that after 43 years of serving people across the greater Bay Area, his family is "personally thrilled to return to our first roots in the Bay Area."
"We are looking forward to re-connecting with old friends here as we open our market with locally sourced produce, meats and, of course, our enduring emphasis on service."
The Khoury family was brought in by Jason Oberman, whose firm, Blox Ventures, bought the blocklong development in July for $78.5 million.
At the time, he told the Weekly that he hoped to find a grocer "something along the lines of JJ&F," a store he had often frequented.
In a statement, Oberman said his firm "not only wanted a high-quality market at the property, but specifically targeted JJ&F Market to bring it back to its former home -- a true win for the community, and a personal joy for me as my family enjoyed frequenting it from my childhood until it closed a decade ago."
"We're pleased we can now also contribute to the local organic food movement," Oberman said.
Mayor Liz Kniss lauded the news on Monday night.
"For everyone who lives in that area in particular, it will be really exciting to know that and celebratory for the community to finally have JJ&F back," Kniss said at the meeting.
While Kniss and Blox Ventures framed the agreement as the return of JJ&F, the Garcia family made it clear on Tuesday that they are not returning to College Terrace.
John Garcia told the Weekly that his family did not sell the name or the market to the Khourys and is not associated with the Khoury's enterprise.
On Tuesday, Oberman met with Garcia to discuss the name of the new market and to learn about the family's concerns, said Richard Hackmann, who is working with Blox.
Hackmann told the Weekly that because the Khoury family operated JJ&F for several years and was the owner at the time it closed, Blox was not aware that there would be an issue with bringing back the name. Hackmann said Blox and the Garcias will meet again early next month to make sure everyone is happy with the new arrangement.
"We don't want the JJ&F name to be used if the Garcia family is not comfortable with it," Hackmann said. "We really want JJ&F and the Garcia family and their legacy to be celebrated."
Staff writer Sue Dremann contributed to this story.