Inner Sunset Andronico's To Become 'Safeway Community Market' Next Month

In a deal announced yesterday, grocery megachain Safeway will acquire all five Andronico's Community Markets, including the Inner Sunset outpost at Irving St. and 14th Ave. Under the deal, all the markets will remain open, and their unionized employees will retain their pay and benefits.

CBS5 reports that the newly acquired stores will be rebranded as "Safeway Community Market," and that the transition "will be fully realized by mid-December." 

“These markets will provide a specialty niche for Safeway,” Andronico's CEO Suzy Monford told CBS. “Safeway is committed to maintaining what is unique about Andronico’s while offering even better value.”

Founded in Berkeley in 1929 as "Park and Shop" markets, Andronico's was purchased by Renovo Capital after it declared bankruptcy in 2011. In addition to the Sunset location, there are two stores in Berkeley, and one each in San Anselmo and Los Altos.

Earlier this year, Renovo approached Safeway to propose an acquisition, "with the goal of preserving union jobs and keeping the stores operating," according to a press release.

"Andronico’s Community Markets have developed a well-respected brand and loyal customer base, and we are committed to keeping the local heritage alive," said Tom Schwilke, President of Safeway Northern California. 

The Inner Sunset location dates to October 1959, when it opened as Park and Shop. At 24,000 square feet, it boasted of "gourmet foods!" "pizza and barbecued chicken counters!" and an "ultra-modern self-service meat department!"

The market debuted as a Park And Shop in 1959. | SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 10/7/1959

By 1994, it was a newly renovated Andronico's, described by the Chronicle as "one-stop shopping at its finest, with "a multicultural hofbrau" that reflected changing tastes and increased affluence in the neighborhood. In September 2008, the supermarket held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate another months-long renovation; CEO Bill Andronico touted efforts to work with "local, sustainable purveyors," and the location expanded its wine, cheese and bakery selection.

But renovating stores and catering to upscale shoppers led to the company's instability. In 2011, it filed for bankruptcy, but was saved by the Renovo acquisition. To cut costs, it dropped from eight locations to five.

Safeway's acquisition of Andronico's will preserve it as one of the few remaining full-service markets in the Inner Sunset, where many smaller neighborhood stores have closed in recent years. Aside from Roxie's Market & Deli (500 Kirkham), the nearest groceries are also Safeway stores, on Taraval near West Portal and on Noriega in the Outer Sunset.

"That's a long ride when you're carrying groceries," said an Andronico's shopper last night, as she tucked food into a pannier on the rear of her bicycle. "It's good this place is staying open."

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