Yesterday morning, Duc Loi Pantry opened its doors to the Bayview community with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, attended by Mayor Ed Lee, Supervisor Malia Cohen, members of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) and Assemblymember David Chiu.
Although Duc Loi's staff was still working on shelving groceries in the midst of the opening, that didn’t stop an overflow of eager shoppers, who’ve patiently waited for nearly three years for the return of a full-service grocery store to Bayview.
Since the 2013 closure of Fresh and Easy, Cohen has been working closely with the building’s former owner, Sansome Pacific Properties, and OEWD to find a replacement grocery to alleviate the neighborhood's food-desert status. She reached out to over 120 grocers before making a match with Duc Loi, whose owners, Howard and Amanda Ngo, have been in the Mission since 1987.
The expansion to Bayview was made possible by a $250,000 Invest in Neighborhoods grant from the OEWD, whose First Source hiring program staffed 16 employees at the store, seven of them Bayview locals.
The store also secured a $4.1 million loan from the Small Business Administration, which helped them work through the business planning, development expansion, and permitting process.
"For this community a lot of good things never have happened, but when they do, it's because of good leadership," said Mayor Lee in a speech at the event. "I'm proud to have worked shoulder-to-shoulder with OEWD, Supervisor Cohen and her staff because she's been passionate and patient."
He also noted Duc Loi's affordability: "Quite candidly, this grocery store is probably the most affordable in the city right now."
"No community in San Francisco should go without options for healthy food, and our residents in Bayview have been living here for years without that option," Cohen told the crowd. "This is a phenomenal family business that pays attention to customer service."
Chiu, who recently moved to Bayview, acknowledged the difficulty of buying groceries there. "When I moved here I experienced what I've read about and what we all know about, which is the reality that this is a food desert," he said. With a newborn son, "it took us an hour to take a trip halfway up the city to a Safeway or Trader Joe's, to get fresh food. I look forward to shopping here."
Minor construction is still underway in the 14,000-square-foot space, mainly on the Peet’s Coffee & Tea kiosk, which Howard Ngo says will be up and running within two weeks. Many attendees at the event made purchases, with Mayor Lee picking up a plant from the store's floral department.
"I am very honored," Howard Ngo told the crowd. "We will work hard to bring good food to this community—and good prices."
Duc Loi Pantry (5900 Third St.) is open daily from 8am-8pm. It's accessible by the T-Third Muni line, and there’s also parking in the building’s structure. For more information, visit their website.
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