After 20 years on Divisadero, Ted Nasser and Ray Salman are closing up their grocery store. The space at 621 Divisadero St. is up for lease, and Health Haven will be shutting its doors.
We interviewed owner Ted last November, when he shared the story of opening up shop before the street became a food and commercial destination. Health Haven first moved into its current space in 1994, making it the second-oldest health food store on Divisadero (Green Earth up the street opened its doors in 1992). This was pre-Falletti or Bi-Rite, when the neighborhood was much quieter, though still a popular transit corridor.
Two years after opening, the family built Pet Haven, which has been serving the neighborhood with pet supplies and food for decades, as evidenced by its counter full of pet photos.
Ted Nasser. (Photo: Stephen Jackson / Hoodline)
But Ted also shared with us how the changing neighborhood has hurt his business. "Before Falletti and Bi-Rite opened, we were doing much better. When I talked about this with the NOPNA, they told me they thought these stores would bring more people and be good for business. But now they’ve opened, and I’ve lost customers. They’ve hurt many small stores around the neighborhood, no doubt. This store used to support three families, but not any more."
Ted's brother-in-law Ray Salman confirmed the store's financial difficulties yesterday, telling us that the past two years since Bi-Rite opened have been a struggle. Health Haven has tried raising prices, adding a quarter or a dollar to items here or there. But at the end of the day business dropped significantly, and food was going bad on their shelves—a huge loss financially.
As to when they'll be vacating the space, it could be "two months or two years," says Ray. Health Haven will stick around until a new tenant is found to take over the lease, at which point the owners will surrender the larger store space, but hope to keep Pet Haven going with its own entrance to the street.
We'll keep you updated on the closure, as well as what could be moving in to the neighborhood in its place.