New grocery markets in La Jolla: The Corner now open, Valley Farms coming soon
For the last five years, Vons grocery store has been without competition in La Jolla ... until now. The Corner Mercantile in La Jolla Shores recently opened and Valley Farms La Jolla will open near Windansea by the end of the year.
Besides Vons and other smaller specialty stores, the only other available grocery stores are the Gelson’s just outside of La Jolla in north Pacific Beach and the Whole Foods up in UTC area. La Jolla’s former mainstay, Jonathon’s specialty grocery store, closed in 2014.
The Corner Mercantile & Eatery
8080 La Jolla Shores Drive, (858) 246-6294
Having formally opened July 1, The Corner Mercantile owner Lisa Kennedy has been “organically stuffing the shelves with what people want.” She said the market will continue to grow and add to its grocery offerings.
“The community needed more of a grocery-type store with those grab-and-go items, so we’ve packed our place with snacks and sandwiches to go, as well as produce, boxed goods and natural foods,” she said.
The store has a deli counter for cheeses — both to take home and for the cheese plates Kennedy makes in house — and charcuterie meats, chicken salads, tuna salads, sausages and more. There is also a refrigerator for milk, eggs, vegetables, bread, yogurt and sausages. She noted meats to take home and cook will arrive in the not-so-distant future.
“We also have an eclectic mix of international goods and bulk items for people, whether they are visiting and need to stock their pantry or whether they live here and need something quickly,” she added.
There is a range of dry goods from organic to conventional (think Kashi to Pop-Tarts) as well as chips, snacks, sauces, soups, napkins, gifts and sweets.
The eatery portion of The Corner serves cold brew and drip coffee and sandwiches, flatbreads, bowls, and wraps for take-away or eating at the market.
Kennedy is also reviving the “tab” concept by offering gift cards stored in the back for locals, so someone could send their children to pick up something, even if they don’t have cash. She also maintains a list of requests from the community.
Case in point, a woman stopped in for a can of coconut milk she needed for a dish she was making that night. “We keep a back-of-the-store list, so if someone knows they will need something, they can call us and we’ll order it,” Kennedy said.
What is now The Corner has gone through several iterations in the last few decades. It was Squires Market for 15 years, then Shore Thing deli and sandwich shop, then Cooper’s market (which was managed by Kennedy and a former partner). However, a lawsuit between the partners meant closing Cooper’s.
“It was closed for nine months, and the community kept asking what happened,” Kennedy said. “It is right on the corner of La Jolla Shores Drive at Avenida de la Playa — the first thing you see when you come into The Shores — so something needed to be here. Plus, the spot needed to be brightened up.”
Now running The Corner on her own, Kennedy said the market is here to stay: “We’re here for the community. We want people to know if there’s something they need to just call us and we will get it,” she said.
Valley Farms La Jolla
6902 La Jolla Blvd. Opening later this year
By the end of this year, the Spring Valley staple Valley Farms Market will take over the ground floor of the in-development 18,330-square-foot property on the corner of La Jolla Boulevard and Nautilus Street. (The former Nautilus Professional Building will be transformed into a mixed-use luxury apartment complex with 15 one- and two-bedroom rentals.)
The family-owned market will offer high- quality, affordable grocery items and prepared foods in the 5,000-square-foot retail space.
As previously reported in the Light, the market will sell organic produce, USDA prime meat in its in-house butcher shop, sustainable seafood, wine and craft beer. It will specialize in prepared foods, including a gourmet deli and award-winning barbecue.
Third-generation owner Derek Marso said he truly cares about the customer experience, and Valley Farm Market has been an important part of the Spring Valley community for more than 60 years. It hosts community events and supports area charities and youth sports teams.
“We are planning to come in and serve the community,” Marso told the Light. “In this day and age, you get away from customer service and it’s more transaction-oriented, which is the antithesis of what we are. We want to say ‘hi,’ shake your hand, high-five you, and create an environment where you want to come back.”
Although the market was supposed to open in August, Marso said he plans to quietly open the doors some time before the end of the year — ideally November.
“We want to give people great food for the holidays, but we’re not going to have a grand opening. It’s going to be a random day on which we say come on in,” he said.
Part of the delay has been figuring out how to get Valley Farms’ barbecue to the La Jolla location.
“The City didn’t want us to have a smoker onsite, but we wanted to offer our tri-tip, barbecue chicken and ribs,” Marso said. “So we decided to make it available in our grab-and-go counter.”
Valley Farms La Jolla has applied for a license to sell alcohol, but it will not likely be approved/processed by the time the market opens.
Valley Farms La Jolla will also offer delivery to the greater San Diego area.
As to why he chose La Jolla for a second location, Marso said: “I always loved La Jolla; I love being down by the water. A friend of mine grew up here, and showed me the Nautilus Building location and he said how much a store like ours was needed in La Jolla. We figured this was something that was missing in the community and we want to fill that void.”
The best way to stay up-to-date on all the latest happenings at Valley Farm, including an opening date, is to follow valleyfarmmarket_lajolla on Instagram or visit valleyfarmmarkets.com/lajolla
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