Shop Talk | March 22, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - March 22, 2013

Shop Talk

PIAZZA EXPANSION COMPLETE ... A sigh of relief has swept over Piazza's Fine Foods at 3922 Middlefield Road in Palo Alto's Charleston Shopping Center. The nearly $2 million, year-long expansion has finally come to an end. The remodel added 4,000 square feet to the grocery store, putting the finished product at 24,000 square feet. "The job turned out to be much bigger than we thought," said store owner Gary Piazza, who shares ownership with his two brothers, John and Rick. "We moved walls, added refrigeration; we got new freezers (and) new milk cases; and we remodeled our two bathrooms," he said. The aisles in the store were also transformed. "People were angry about the size of our aisles; they said they were too narrow. So we made them bigger. They are now 6 feet wide, even more in some places," Piazza added. Another brand-new feature is the burrito bar. "I got the idea from our Hispanic cooks. We're using their family recipes for some of the items like chicken mole and barbacoa. We've had a great response so far and we only opened two weeks ago," he said. But the success of the grand remodel is bittersweet for Piazza. His father, Sicilian-born John Piazza Sr., who founded the grocery store in 1987, passed away last September. "I only wish my dad was here to see this," he said.

CONTAINER STORE AT STANFORD ... The Container Store has signed on to take over the former Andronico's Market space at Stanford Shopping Center. The 37,500-square-foot site has been vacant since July 2011 when the high-end grocer closed its doors after 14 years. The Container Store, a chain that offers large and small storage and organizational items for its customers, is anticipating a fall opening. "We're about to kick off our grand opening season. We've got six new stores opening this year, with the first three in Florida," spokesperson Nina Smith said. The company has 58 stores in the country.

NEW RETAIL AT SAN ANTONIO ... On time and on budget. That's what spokesman Greg Geersten says when asked about the construction of Safeway in the new Village at San Antonio Center in Mountain View. Scheduled for an April 19 opening, Safeway is the first of about 20 new retailers that will occupy the center, located at the intersection of San Antonio Road and El Camino Real. At 65,000 square feet, "it's the largest store Safeway does," said Geersten, who is managing director of the project being developed by San Francisco-based Merlone Geier Partners. In addition to upgraded departments and a large outdoor-seating area, there will be rooftop parking, with space for more than 160 cars. Other retailers that have signed on include Paul Martin's American Grill, which serves contemporary American classic dishes; The Counter, which has a nearby burger location on Palo Alto's California Avenue; Jared Jewelers; Fidelity Investments; Sleep Number Bed; Starbucks; and a four-star boutique hotel, with a swimming pool and conference-room facilities; and "an eight- or nine-screen movie theater," said Geersten. He added that three more restaurants "with well-known chefs" will be announced in the next few weeks.

Heard a rumor about your favorite store or business moving out, or in, down the block or across town? Daryl Savage will check it out. Email


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 22, 2013 at 4:28 pm

What a bunch of hypocrites the piazza brothers are. A number of years back, when lucky was seeking to build a larger grocery store in alma plaza, they were insistent that the city maintain the 20k square foot limit for grocery stores. They stated it was unfair to allow larger stores. And now.....? They have a store that is 20% over that limit. So why did they do it?
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 22, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Today while carpooling for lunch I saw the new Safeway sign going up on the building visible from ECR. Looks much more difficult to access than the California Street location. I'll reserve judgement until I try it. Piazza's and Miki's are nice, and JJ&F has its own special atmosphere, but generally my grocery shopping is midnight or later, when traffic is not an issue, and Safeway suits me fine.

Posted by shopper, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 22, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Does anyone know why none of the supermarkets in Palo Alto have decent selections of Asian foods/herbs/spices? I know there are dedicated Asian markets in Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and Cupertino, but those are all quite a drive and I don't want to add to the heavy traffic. If the city is really anti-pollution, can't we encourage a wider variety of local merchants?

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 22, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Very simple--- because all the stores are so small there. Is no room for specialty items. Ever been in the midtown Safeway? There is barely a decent selection of staples, so do not expect Asain food.
But as long as jj&f is protected and college terrace placated, nothing else matters

Posted by Honey dipper Dan, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 22, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Wow, not an issue has an acid tongue! I can feel the anger....why so bitter and angry? Your blood pressure must be through the roof!

I enjoy the new Piazza's, although it was tricky shopping while they moved things around. They did have the courtesy to have a gentlemen scouting the store for customers looking lost or confused, which was way helpful. I love the new wine are, it is very inviting. As a retired sommelier, I love discussing purchases with the wine manager. The cheese section is really excellent, and the service is great if you want to taste a cheese you are not familiar with. The employees are really knowledgeable about their departments, which is helpful to us since we do entertain regularly.

When the opening of Miki's was announced, A LOT of people felt an Asian grocery store should have been opened instead, because PA obviously needs one. When we lived in Taiwan, we became proficient at Chinese and Singaporean cooking, and now we drive to Castro St to shop for the authentic ingredients. It would be nice to bikeride locally to an Asian grocery in the cargo bike.

Posted by shopper, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 22, 2013 at 6:46 pm

Many of the Asian markets in Mountain View and Sunnyvale are small. Why can't they do business in Palo Alto? Not enough people here enjoy eating or cooking Asian food?

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 22, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Honey dropper Dan--- thanks for the compliment. Just expressing my opinion. Bitter-- no. Angry--- yes. We could have a neighborhood shopping center at alma plaza, but look at what wee ended up with. The cities loss is the piazzas gain.

Posted by Dude..., a resident of Midtown
on Mar 22, 2013 at 7:18 pm

It is no longer Alma Plaza. A new sign put up yesterday identifies it as Alma Village. And, yes, it was a rotten location to build houses, they have sold very few in all these months. Miki's is small, dark, narrow-aisled and disappointing, except for the mushroom section. A nice, big supermarket and shopping center would have been much more useful, but blame John McNellis. He owned the property. He does not have to live here, he lives in Atherton.

BTW, not an issue, your anger is oversized in relation to the problem, one you can do nothing about, so calm down before you blow an artery.

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 22, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Dude--- I a not sure where you read anger into my comments --- but everyone has their own opinions. But there are things I can do -- not shop at piazzas for example. Unfortunately the same thing is happening at Edgewood plaza now. The city apparently does not want any specialty grocery stores, shopper. Just Safeway- like stores and overpriced higher end places likemikis and whole food. Ranch 99 in mountain view iis large by palo alto standards.

Posted by Rresident, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 22, 2013 at 10:27 pm

So, Piazza's is now 24,000 sq. ft. It's high time the City allowed grocery stores of at least 40,000 sq. ft., instead of limiting them by city code to 20,000 sq. ft.

With these huge mega Safeways on our borders in Menlo Park and Mountain View, over time Palo Alto's little 20,000 sq. ft. stores will not be able to compete. Wake up City Council let's get some decent sized grocery stores with a good selection of Asian specialties.

I'm so glad I live on Mountain View's border so I can get to the new Safeway, I'll spend my money in Mountain View.

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 22, 2013 at 10:40 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 23, 2013 at 2:14 pm

I will be at the new Mountain View Safeway right when they open - should be great. In fact, that entire development keeps looking better and better (and their construction work is done in a timely fashion, cough cough by comparison to a certain city I know- Edgewood Plaza, anybody?)

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 23, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I will join you at safeways, anonymous. Can't wait. Also the plans to build a movie theatre is good news also. If this was a palo alto project, the city council would still be listening to the NIMBYs and deciding how many rounds of consultantsbtheynwill need in order to make it 10 years befor ground is broken.

Posted by danielle, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 23, 2013 at 10:47 pm

for Asian groceries, try Marina Market in San Mateo or Ranch 99 in Foster City

Posted by Open minded, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jun 3, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Trying to be open minded ( and because the Safeway in Los Altos is closed) I went to the new Safeway at San Antonio just after it opened and the expanded Piazzas a few days later. Safeway is big, but I didn't think it had much more selection. The pharmacy is now very large, one assumes margins are higher there. and now i can get meat out of packages, but the butcher in the old small store used to cut and pack things in quantities that you wanted if you asked. overall, I was disappointed that the increase in space did not give me much more. I felt Piazza's did offer more selection in the new space, even though not necessarily what I wanted. Neither can replace the Milk Pail.

I understand what Not an issue is saying, if you don't take the changing times into account, it certainly smacks of hypocracy. And hypocracy ishould be condemned. But the intervening years have brought changes and undoubtedly the size of businesses and houses is one of them and lessons have been learned. I would hate for that shopping center to go the way of Alma plaza because Piazza's could not compete.

Posted by Michaelquiek, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 1, 2017 at 9:50 am

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