The storefront of the Safeway Community Market on Solano Avenue in Berkeley.
The Safeway Community Markets on Solano Avenue is the site of the original Andronico’s supermarket founded in 1929. Photo: Stuart Luman

Safeway Community Markets, the name that Safeway uses for several former Andronico’s markets in Berkeley and other Bay Area locations, may return to the old family name, according to Wendy Gutshall, a spokesperson for the supermarket chain.

Berkeleyside recently received tips from readers suggesting that the Andronico’s family might return in some capacity to run the supermarkets, but this is not the case, according to Gutshall.

In late 2016, Safeway Inc., a subsidiary of Albertsons, announced its acquisition of Andronico’s Community Markets, and, early the following year, rebranded the two Berkeley locations that were sill open — at 1550 Shattuck Ave. and 1850 Solano Ave. — as Safeway Community Markets.

In an email, Gutshall stated that Safeway has invested millions in both the Andronico’s and Safeway Community Markets brands and is “exploring the idea of re-establishing the Andronico’s brand in the Bay Area.” Gutshall declined to offer any timeline on when, or if, the two Safeway Community Markets in Berkeley might be renamed.

She said Safeway has not been in touch with the Andronico family.

Currently, there are four Safeway Community Markets in the Bay Area, two in Berkeley, on Solano — the site of the original Andronico’s supermarket founded by Frank and Eva Andronico in 1929 — and Shattuck avenues, and two more in Los Altos and San Anselmo.

At this time, Safeway operates two markets under the Andronico’s Community Market name.

One is the former flagship Andronico’s location on Irving Avenue in the Sunset District of San Francisco. According to an Inner Sunset Andronico’s employee reached by phone who has worked at the market since 1997 and asked not to be identified, the market kept the Andronico’s name through its bankruptcy and acquisition by a private equity firm in 2011 and its sale to Safeway in 2017.

The other opened in Monterey in January with the Andronico’s name.

A third branded Andronico’s Community Market is planned for the Richmond District at the corner of 32nd Avenue and Clement Street. According to San Francisco Planning Department records, Safeway has applied to open a roughly 17,000-square-foot Andronico’s Community Market in a former Fresh & Easy supermarket space. The permit application is currently under review, according to San Francisco senior planner Mary Woods.

The former Andronico’s at 1550 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley, seen in 2016 before it became a Safeway Community Markets. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Gutshall said the new San Francisco and Monterey locations were branded as Andronico’s Community Markets because of the “size of the space and customer base.” Requests to further explain how these criteria helped Safeway decide on the branding were not answered.

The websites for each brand, Safeway Community Markets and Andronico’s Community Markets, show that both stores are very similar in design and content. On the “Who We Are” page of the Andronico’s website, it describes itself as being an “eclectic, upbeat neighborhood hub for feeding a healthy lifestyle,” while Safeway Community Markets’ “Our Story” page says it offers “unique, local ingredients and treats along with pantry favorites that no kitchen should be without.”

Although the former Andronico’s markets in Berkeley have become more like regular Safeway stores in that they sell Safeway-branded products and accept Safeway Rewards cards, they differ in noticeable ways, such as being smaller in size, not having a Starbucks café (which are in most larger Safeway stores), and selling higher-end products and deli options not available at a regular Safeway.

Gutshall said she would let Berkeleyside know if and when the Safeway Community Markets in Berkeley are to be rebranded as Andronico’s.

Stuart Luman is a freelance writer based in Berkeley. He has previously been an editor at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a fact checker at Wired Magazine, and a high school English teacher in East...