After four years in exile, the Andronico’s name has returned to Rancho Shopping Center. And that serif-rific logo is just one former and familiar feature customers will observe reappearing at the market as Safeway reintroduces the brand to Los Altos.
“We’re really focusing on local, natural, organic specialty, premium,” store director Ethan Baker said last week during an interview with the Town Crier. “So they’ll notice a lot more selection up and down the grocery aisles and in our deli – we actually have chefs in-house who make fresh food daily. We have a lot of recipes that harken back to the legacy Andronico’s days.”
Employees and customers of five Andronico’s markets simultaneously marked the rebranding Friday morning at their respective locations with ribbon cuttings, free food samples and cooking demonstrations. Managers at each selected local charities to gift $2,500 checks to, and Baker picked Special Operations, a Los Altos nonprofit that fights child sex trafficking. He also recognized several long-time employees, including head florist Pippy Lam, who is retiring in March. Customer Judy Preefer, who has been shopping at the market since it opened as Andronico’s in 1996, received a wrapped gift and an Andronico’s ballcap, which she promptly donned.
Preefer called Baker a “gem,” and said he’s the reason she stuck with the store.
“I loved the Andronico’s store,” she said. “To me, this is a real gift to get the Andronico’s trademark back because I’m not a Safeway girl. Sorry about that. I like a specialty market, and I love it to where it’s inclusive in how the store manager, he treats you like you’re part of the team, you know? And they always go out of their way. They always have great customer service.”
Albertson’s, the parent company of Safeway, purchased five Andronico’s markets in 2016 and rebranded four, including the Rancho location, under the name Safeway Community Market. Now their official name is an amalgamation: Andronico’s Community Markets.
“Over the past few years, we’ve seen that maintaining the unique Andronico’s heritage and the essence of a local specialty neighborhood market is important to our customers and employees,” said Brad Street, Safeway division president of Northern California, in a press release. “We’re excited to bring back the quaint character and charm of Andronico’s, while enhancing the customer experience with an emphasis on more local choices, natural groceries and specialty items.”
Safeway began remodeling the Los Altos location in January, an ongoing process that has included expanding the produce section to nearly twice its former size. Customers who shopped at the market before, during and after the construction have praised the changes, Baker said.
“Some customers before were saying it was a little too tight, so they like the openness – they feel like they can shop around freely, spend more time in the store,” he said. “But as far as all the upgrades, the store’s gotten much brighter. They’ve added a lot of new LED lighting.”
It remains to be seen whether all the changes will convince customers fiercely loyal to the Andronico’s name to return to Rancho, but they’re part of the reason it has, Baker said.
“The community wanted Andronico’s back, a nice little neighborhood market,” he said.