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Cosentino's Markets - Good News and Bad News

by Michael Chu
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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

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Written by Michael Chu
Published on August 10, 2006 at 11:56 AM
13 comments on Cosentino's Markets - Good News and Bad News:(Post a comment)

On August 10, 2006 at 08:50 AM, an anonymous reader said...
I love the Cosentino's in Santa Clara (I saw the article in the Campbell Times last night) - Michael, there's also one on Bascom Avenue should things become dire and the Santa Clara store does end up closing.

This one's on the way home from work for me though, and I'd hate to see it go as it's practically a valley institution.

On August 10, 2006 at 01:44 PM, awi (guest) said...
Subject: YAY
Michael is back!!!!!!!!!!!!

On August 10, 2006 at 02:02 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Get a hui together and buy the building.

On August 10, 2006 at 04:21 PM, wangela (guest) said...
Subject: it's a little out of the way, but i'll come by
my foodie boyfriend and i would love to explore the meat and mushroom sections :) maybe we'll have a cooking dinner party where everyone shops at cosentino's for their ingredients!

omg, that anti-spam code thing for commenting is a mind trip. i feel like i'm doing an IQ test or the nintendo DS "Brain Age" game.

On August 10, 2006 at 06:46 PM, lgshadowbloomers (guest) said...
Subject: Cosentino's
Hope I spelled it right!! Hey. I am happy to see such a positive use of the power of the 'net. Thanks for supporting your excellent, local store-with- a-heart. From Silverton, Oregon, I wish you and this endeavor GOOD luck.


On August 11, 2006 at 09:29 AM, Matt said...
Sorry to hear that they're having a hard time with their landlord. If I get to Cali before the end of the year, I'll be sure to look this place up.

On August 11, 2006 at 02:22 PM, Guest - Sharon (guest) said...
Subject: Cosentino's
I was very concerned by your article because I LOVE Cosentino's store! So I called David Bider, the leasing agent, just to let him know how much we love Cosentino's and want the store to stay on long-term. Obviously frustrated, Mr. Bider told me that the issue had nothing to do with him or any rent negotiations, that the Cosentino brothers just don't want to be there in the business any more. Thought I would share his perspective with you. Let's hope for the best for Cosentino's here in the Valley.

On August 11, 2006 at 05:20 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Cosentino's
Guest - Sharon wrote:
So I called David Bider, the leasing agent, just to let him know how much we love Cosentino's and want the store to stay on long-term. Obviously frustrated, Mr. Bider told me that the issue had nothing to do with him or any rent negotiations, that the Cosentino brothers just don't want to be there in the business any more.

Hmmm... that's not the impression I got from David Cosentino, but maybe we don't have the full story. Thanks for the info -- I'll see if I can get mroe information on this.

On August 11, 2006 at 07:28 PM, stickystyle (guest) said...
Subject: I hope more dont close...
I usually drive the 20min to get to the one in san jose off silver creek because of the stupid looks i get from the employees at albertsons when i ask the location of something as simple as capers :(.

Heck they are the only place in my area that knows there are more than three kinds of mushrooms :shock:

On August 15, 2006 at 02:13 AM, Lexi (guest) said...
Subject: Welcome back!
So glad the Cooking for Engineers is back up! I love your recipes. I just signed up at Fanpop. Good luck with Fanpop & with your crusade on behalf of Cosentino's.

On August 17, 2006 at 05:07 PM, Guest (guest) said...
Subject: The Cosentino family
My boyfriend's parents are acquaintences of the elder Cosentino brothers -- they were in expansion mode last year so I find the lease guy's story a bit suspect. I'll see if I can get any additional information...

On October 26, 2006 at 07:04 PM, LaLa20 (guest) said...
Subject: Cosentinos
Cosentino's is one of my customers and they always request the largest and freshest products to supply their customers.
When I'm in the Campbell area I stop by and do a store their produce (especially the huge heads of california garlic) and bakery items! :) :D

On December 18, 2006 at 05:43 PM, hungryinSC (guest) said...
Subject: Bummer
I knew that Cosentino's was supposed to close and then that their lease got extended. Your page is the first I've read that had the details about the lease expiring January 1. That's a real bummer.

I hardly ever shopped at the Albertson's across the street from Cosentino's, but at least it was an option.

If Cosentino's closes, that leaves the neighborhood without a grocery store. By this I mean that there will be a great many people who will not be able to walk to a grocery store--groceries will require a car trip.

And with Safeway remodeling their stores and raising their prices, I won't shop there any more. In fact, every time I've wanted ground meat and seen the price at Saveway in the past six months, I've gotten back into the car and gone to Cosentino's where I got my ground meat fresher and cheaper.

Bummer, bummer, bummer!

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