Palo Alto shoppers won't have any trouble knowing which family is in charge of the new College Terrace supermarket.
After some initial confusion over naming rights, the City Council gave its support on Monday night to the Khoury family, which will operate the new market at the College Terrace Centre, the blocklong development at 2100 El Camino Real. Departing from its initial plan to rebrand itself as JJ&F Market, a neighborhood fixture for decades, the new operator will now try to establish his own local legacy by naming the new store Khoury's Market.
The development has been without a market since December 2017, when College Terrace Market closed shop after about six months of operation.
Now, the Khourys believe they will have better luck. They had already operated a market on this block between 2011, when they took over ownership of JJ&F Market from the Garcia family, and 2014, when the market was shuttered to make way for the new mixed-use development. In August, the family patriarch, Joe Khoury, announced his plan to return to College Terrace, prompting talk among city officials of JJ&F's return.
The celebration was short-lived, however, as the Garcia family chafed at the appropriation of their former market's name. Faced with the Garcia family's concerns, the Khourys moved to drop the former name and use its own.
Jason Oberman, whose company, Blox Ventures, purchased the blocklong development earlier this year, said the Khoury family was his top choice to operate the new market. He noted that Jalil "Papa Joe" Khoury and his five sons all have experience working at the site and that they look forward to returning there.
The family, Oberman said, has been in the grocery business for more than 50 years, he told the council on Monday. They currently own and operate Park Plaza Fine Foods in San Francisco. Their other area businesses included Pohley's Market in Windsor (which operated from 1979 to 2016) and Cunha's Country Store in Half Moon Bay (which Joe Khoury's son, Mark, ultimately sold to his cousin.) The family also owns and operates the restaurant The Courthouse 2021 in Redwood City, according to a letter from Oberman.
"Now, they're very excited about potential of opening up in a new building on a site where they operated previously," Oberman told the council on Monday.
Oberman hailed Khoury's Market as a "new chapter for the property," which includes the First Republic Bank as its anchor tenant.
"This fresh start for the Khoury family underscores their updated approach to their produce, prepared food and deli items – seeking to bring back their old friends and now attract new neighbors to the market here in Palo Alto," Oberman said in a statement.
Blox had plenty of incentives to fill the vacancy. Because the project exceeded zoning regulations, it was approved as a "planned community" development, with the grocery store serving as the primary "public benefit" that justifies the zoning exemptions. With the market shuttering, building owners were required to pay daily fines until the new grocery is approved. To date, these fines have totaled more than $180,000, according to a report from the Department of Planning and Community Environment.
The council approved the new market on its "consent calendar," with no discussion or debate, by an 8-0 vote, with Mayor Liz Kniss absent. The family hopes to open the store in November, according to Oberman's letter.