On Friday, four locations of Safeway Community Markets, including two in Berkeley, will officially return to the Andronico’s name.
The Safeway Community Markets at 1850 Solano Ave. and 1550 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley have already undergone the transition. Interior signage at the market on Shattuck Avenue changed a couple of weeks ago, according to an employee at the store, and Berkeleyside received tips from readers that the exterior logos were updated over the weekend. The transition to the Andronico’s name will be official on Friday, according to a press release sent on Monday from the grocery chain.
For those who haven’t been following the three-year-old saga, here’s a little refresher: these two locations — along with two others in San Anselmo and Los Altos — were once Andronico’s Community Markets, before Safeway purchased the then 87-year-old family-owned local brand at the end of 2016. (In fact, the store on Solano Avenue is the original Andronico’s supermarket founded by Frank and Eva Andronico in 1929.)
Although the grocery giant rebranded the four Andronico’s stores in early 2017 with the Safeway name, the company continued using the Community Market designation and offered higher end products and more deli options in these stores than at its regular Safeway markets.
While Safeway rebranded the four markets, it retained the name for the flagship Andronico’s on Irving Street in San Francisco and, in January 2019, opened a new store called Andronico’s Community Market in Monterey. This caused confusion among some shoppers, who thought the former owners had once again reclaimed the stores, but, in February 2019, Safeway spokeswoman Wendy Gutshall told Berkeleyside that all locations are still owned by Safeway and the decision to use the Andronico’s name was due to the “size of the space and customer base.” At the time, Gutshall also confirmed the supermarket chain was considering bringing back the former family name to its remaining Community Markets.
The return to the Andronico’s name appears to be an effort to brand these sites as local markets, rather than big-box chain stores.
“Maintaining the unique Andronico’s heritage and the essence of a local specialty neighborhood market is important to our customers and employees,” Brad Street, Safeway division president of Northern California, said in Monday’s press release. Safeway wants 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,” he said.
Safeway said Andronico’s Community Markets will “carry more fresh offerings, organic groceries, and inspired made-from-scratch meals and treats,” but each location will have its own mix of products based on community need.
Safeway will host a public celebration on Friday, starting at 9 a.m., at all four renamed markets and the Irving Street Andronico’s. Each store will donate a check for $2,500 to a local non-profit. In Berkeley, the Shattuck Avenue location will be donating to Berkeley Humane Society; the Solano Avenue store to Thousand Oaks Elementary School.