DISCOUNT GROCER GEARS UP FOR ALMA PLAZA ... The recent announcement that Grocery Outlet will replace the short-lived Miki's Farm Fresh Market has fueled speculation about exactly what kind of grocery store can be profitable at Alma Plaza at 3445 Alma St. in Palo Alto. Can a discount store succeed where an upscale store could not? Developer John McNellis is betting on it. "We have 6,500 people in Palo Alto on Social Security and more than 2,000 low-income housing units." One longtime Palo Alto renter agrees. Valerie Borg, a 70-year-old retired hair stylist, has a one-bedroom unit facing Alma Street. "I shopped at Miki's once. That's it. Not my type of store," she said. Borg remembers when Lucky Stores was her neighborhood grocer. "I loved that store. Lucky was nothing fancy. But who cares about fancy when all I want is to buy food at cheap prices. I don't care what the package looks like or if they have a pretty display," she said. Lucky occupied the back of the plaza from 1964 to 1999. The name of the grocery chain then changed to Albertsons and it continued doing business until 2005. Miki's opened in October 2012 and closed six months later after lackluster sales. The site now sits dark as it awaits its new tenant. All the shelving and the former bakery, cheese and deli counters sit empty. Grocery Outlet's anticipated opening is in the first quarter of 2014 and it is expected to employ 20 to 25 people, said a source familiar with the plans.
PHILZ ON FORBES LIST... A shout-out to Philz Coffee, which was just named online as one of "The 25 Most Creative Consumer and Retail Brands" on the ForbesList. There are two Philz locations in Palo Alto, another at Facebook in Menlo Park, and a newly opened shop in Cupertino. Philz has been on a roll lately. This past year, it was also voted as one of Zagat's 10 Coolest Coffee Shops in the U.S. "We're growing and we're thrilled," CEO Jacob Jaber said.
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