Thursday, August 19
Zanotto's Grand Reopening
I just stumbled upon Zanotto's formal reopening at South 2nd Street and Fountain Alley in Downtown San Jose. I went out for lunch and then dropped by the store, which my apartmentmate said had opened again. (It had closed a little over a year ago but opened again last week with their stock consolidated into about two-thirds of their former space.) As I shopped for fruit, in walked Mayor Ron Gonzales and his entourage, who took a tour of the store. Print and broadcast media were there, and a photographer caught me with my hands in the preserves shelf.
I paid for my items and was about to leave, but the entrance was blocked by crowd waiting to hear important people speak. So, I stayed and listened. One of store's business associates spoke about the effort to reopen the store, and then District 3 City Councillor Cindy Chavez talked about what she described as Zanotto's infectious enthusiasm for investing in the community. Then Gonzales did his politician thing and talked about the store's relationship to the city. He noted that employees from the new city hall, where he said he would be working a year later--with or without computers (yes, he referred to the City Hall-Cisco contract scandal)--would make the two-block stroll to the store for its well-publicized sandwiches. Gonzales and Chavez then proceeded to one of the checkout stands to scan groceries and bag them, respectively. It was a typical photo op, and the groceries went into the charity bin.
Downtown already has three full-service grocery stores--Mi Pueblo to the north, Albertson's to the east, and Dai Thanh to the south. Mi Pueblo and Dai Thanh are a bit distant from the center of Downtown and seem primarily to appeal to a few specific ethnic groups. Albertson's is nearby and has good prices, but the parking lot's size demonstrates the store's intention of serving customers beyond Downtown. Along with the City Hall construction site, the lot also adds to the "Downtown Ends Here" feeling of Santa Clara Street between 4th and 7th Streets--good for business, bad for Downtown. Zanotto's, though, is within a couple of blocks from many apartments and offices and is well integrated with the streetscape. That could be a liability, as the store has no parking of its own, and even less now that the former parking lot next door, the future Heart of the City, is now just a hole in the ground. Maybe South San Jose residents will carry their groceries home on the light rail, which stops right in front. Anyway, hopefully this time around the store will reach a stronger market and keep expenses low enough to remain in Downtown.