My neighborhood grocery store is Cosentino's Market in Santa Clara (on Homestead and Lawrence). Their produce is top notch - consistently better than any other grocery store in my area. They carry a variety of fruits year round (in apple season they have been known to carry over 30 varieties including my favorite - honeycrisps). They also have an extensive meat counter and real butchers as well as an incredible deli selection. Their staff is also extremely knowledgeable about food and they have no hesitation in cutting open a fruit or vegetable to taste as well as explaining how to prepare them. They also let me photograph their produce (as seen in the Ingredients Dictionary [which will one day be completed]). So what's the bad news? Read on and I'll tell you.
As most of my readership has noticed, I've been gone for a while (a little over two months). I've been working on a project called Fanpop (more on this in a later post) which has taken the vast majority of my time the past six months. The last couple months, I've been just coding, testing, driving up to San Francisco and back, and sleeping. Cosentino's closes at 8pm and I usually get home later than that - so I didn't get a chance to stop in for a while. This is also the reason why I haven't been cooking all that much (and when I do cook, I'm in such a rush, I can't document it for the site).
So, last week, after taking Fanpop into public beta, I stop into Cosentino's and my worst fears are realized - they are closing by the end of the month because their lease is up. Apparently, Cosentino's was unable to come to an arrangement with their landlord and was forced to shut down. They had decided not to put signs up advertising their demise because they were still hoping to convince the landlord to let them stay. A closing sign would mean their customer base would start leaving early. Even so, because of word of mouth and an article in the San Jose Mercury News, their customers began to decline over the last couple months.
Over the last couple years, I've made friends at Cosentino's. Larry - who always greets me with a smile, calls me by name, and asks about either the website or my wife. Ray - who will forever have a special place in my memory as the man who introduced me to the honeycrisp apple (and always tells me when they get some in stock - a necessity since the honeycrisp season is amazingly short) and who recommends restaurants with high quality to price ratios. This isn't the first supermarket to go out of business where I've known and been known by their employees. A few years ago Lucky's was taken over by Albertson's and just last month several Albertson's in my area shut down. In fact, the Albertson's across the street from Cosentino's just shutdown two weeks ago.
So what's the good news? Last night, they got their lease extended. Even more bad news? The lease extension is good only until January 1. So, come 2007, we may be without Cosentino's Market in Santa Clara. A giant "For Lease" sign hangs at the street corner - a sure sign the landlord is trying to line up a new tenant to replace Cosentino's. Perhaps a deal fell through that caused the owner to allow Cosentino to stay for a few more months. Maybe (as the owner of the liquor store three shops down the strip mall suggests) the landlord is waiting to see what replaces the Albertson's across the street? We'll probably never know since no one seems to answer the telephone number on the "For Lease" sign (and David Bider seems to be just a middleman).
David Cosentino, son of one of the original four Cosentino brothers that started the three gourmet groceries and manager of the Santa Clara store, says he's thankful for the support from his customers but wants to get the word out that Cosentino's in Santa Clara is still in business - at least for the time being. If more customers discover Cosentino's and become regular shoppers, then the revenue could help them during lease negotiations (perhaps making it easier to agree on a rent price). I also spoke to a couple of the owner/proprietors of the neighboring stores in the small retail center and they all had concerns. They all agreed that if Cosentino's went out of business, they probably would too. The clientele that Cosentino's brings in are people who understand and value fresh produce and good food. These people are the ones who end up visiting the neighboring shops as well. If Cosentino's shuts down, there's no telling who will move into the dominant store front and what sort of customers they will cater to. Will the new customer base find the mom & pop shops next door interesting? Also, will the small shops be able to survive while the major retail area is being remodeled and prepared for the new tenant (assuming that will happen)?
So, what can you do? If you live in the south San Francisco Bay Area, come by and visit Cosentino's in Santa Clara at the north-east corner of Lawrence Expressway and Homestead Road (3521 Homestead Rd., Santa Clara, CA 95051). I'm sure many of my readers would enjoy discovering a market that regularly carries at least six varieties of eggplant, a wonderful assortment of fresh mushrooms including shitake, porcini, woodear, and chanterelles (all at reasonable prices), every major type of pear when they are in season (the pear article pictures were also from Cosentino's), and the only place I've found that carries white pudding (a pork and oatmeal sausage) for which I get a craving for every couple months. Who knows, you might even bump into me, and you might help save one of the last groceries stores that has exceptional produce (and a real meat counter).
Update May 23, 2007 - Cosentino's Market on Homestead is closing on May 26, 2007. Most of the staff is gone now and the produce department has been partially removed.}?>
Cosentino's Market (Santa Clara)
3521 Homestead Rd.
Santa Clara, CA 95051
Open: M-F 9:00a-8:00p, Sat 8:30a-7:00p, Sun 9:00a-7:00p
Cosentino's Markets - Good News and Bad News
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