Business & Real Estate

What's in a name?: Andronico's fans to see as brand returns to Los Altos

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Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Safeway Community Market in Rancho Shopping Center is preparing to drop the company’s rebranding from 2016 and revert to its former name, Andronico’s. Items from Safeway’s Signature line are currently on sale.

Some call it the “Baby Safeway.” To others, it’s “Safronico’s.” As soon as this week, however, customers may start referring to the petite market in Rancho Shopping Center as Andronico’s once again, as signage – and more – is set to revert back to its pre-2016 state.

The change is part of a rebranding effort Safeway is undertaking at four Safeway Community Market locations known as Andronico’s until 2016, the year Albertsons, Safeway’s parent company, purchased them: two in Berkeley, one in San Anselmo and the one at 690 Fremont Ave. in Rancho Shopping Center in Los Altos. A fifth location in San Francisco retained part of the original name, which is shared by an Andronico’s Community Market that opened January 2019 in Monterey.

“Over the past few years, we’ve listened to and learned what is most important to our customers and employees to retain the unique character and charm of Andronico’s and set it apart from traditional Safeway stores,” Safeway spokeswoman Wendy Gutshall said in an emailed statement. “We’re excited for the opportunity to make some changes and enhance the customer experience, while creating an eclectic, upbeat neighborhood hub for feeding a healthy lifestyle.”

Marc Taala, assistant manager at the Los Altos store, confirmed the news last week and said remodeling could begin this week.

“They want to go back to the old way it was,” Taala said. “They should have kept it the way it was.”

Taala said local gourmet products Andronico’s once carried, such as specialty olive oil, cereals and meats, will return as the store shelves are “reset.” Currently, many Safeway Signature items, those marketed with the supermarket chain’s exclusive branding, and other lower-price staples are on sale – some as much as 50% off – to make room for the new inventory. The bargains include discounts on peanut butter, grape jelly, fruit in a can, jars of pickle spears and Pedigree Chopped Ground Dinner – the last, of course, intended for dogs.

Construction, including the extension of some aisles, was scheduled to commence Monday and will take place at night so the store can reopen to customers each morning, Taala said. An official grand opening will follow in February.

The store will continue to offer and honor Safeway Club Cards, Taala said.

Grant Park resident Beth Davies asked a Safeway cashier about the Los Altos store’s future last week when she noticed bright-orange discount stickers affixed to so many products. Before Safeway bought Andronico’s, Davies didn’t frequently shop there because the prices seemed expensive to her.

“I’m not a gourmet person or a foodie, so I would only go there when I was shopping for something special or for the convenience of a drop-in market,” she said.

Davies said she would start shopping at the Miramonte Avenue or downtown Los Altos Safeway locations more if she discovers the name reversal means heftier price tags, too.

Andronico’s was Olga Koutatalides’ “go to” for meat before it became a Safeway Community Market. She lives in Cupertino and stopped shopping at the store after the 2016 rebranding because there are closer Safeway options to her home.

“I am willing to try it again, but if it is just a Safeway I will not continue shopping there,” Koutatalides wrote in an email to the Town Crier.

But the burning question on Safeway shopper Tracy Gibbons’ mind is whether anyone will finally tackle the traffic congestion at Rancho Shopping Center, which some drivers employ as a cut-through around traffic lights.

“Everybody hates that parking lot,” the Los Altos resident said. “It’s a nightmare.”

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