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Is it just me, or is Galco's really gross?

  • s

I know the lure of the weird and retro sodas is really compelling, but Galco's is really filthy and they're sure not very nice there. There seemed to be a thick layer of grime over everything and my kids tried to grab some candy out of a bin and it was literally all stuck together. Plus, the soda costs about twice as much as it is at Soda King in Torrance. I know the Torrance place is a big schlep but Danny the owner takes such delight in his wares that it's a complete pleasure and a true education. Soda King also ships but those glass bottles are heavy so the shipping will probably cost more than the beverages. Even though I'm spitting distance from Galco's, I'll make the Torrance pilgrimage and stock up from now on. P.S. Soda King carries Sparky's Root Beer from Santa Cruz which itself is worth a drive to Torrance--or Santa Cruz for that matter. I've added a link for Soda King.

Link: http://www.sodaking.com

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  1. Hey here's a great advatnage of Galco's: I bought a whole case of weird soft drinks which of course I never drank; I left them in my musty, dusty basement for a year and they still look just like I did when I bought them! No Windex required.

    On another note, I have to admit that at first I was sort of vaguely interested in the whole Galco's thing. After sampling about twenty of the things they sell, I had a painful realization: Coke really is the best soft drink; most of these weird soft drinks contain very crude, not particularly appetizing artificial flavors.

    I'll stick with my eastern European natural fruit syrups (they are all great - I especially love the Slovenian brands) mixed with some carbonated water from my old fashioned sprizter. Better and cheaper than Galco's, and no dust issue.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Dylan

      Where do you get said Slovenian fruit syrups? Sound delicious.

    2. i go to galco's regularly, mostly b/c it is so close to my house. i haven't really minded, or even noticed, the dust or grime. i guess i'm not concerned about it since the bottles are all sealed up tight. i love some of the ginger ales they carry.

      in any case, i hv to take issue w/ your comment that they are not very nice. that is exactly the opposite of what my experience has been!! every time i've been there, the girl behind the counter (it has always been a girl, though a handful of different ones) has been very friendly! maybe if you found them to be otherwise, they were reacting to your attitude......

      5 Replies
      1. re: fat kitty

        No need to go hissing at Slow Foodie just because you have a hairball stuck in your throat. Slow Foodie had a different experience than you've had, doesn't mean he caused Galco's counter person to be not very nice.

        1. re: suz

          Sheesh! Fat Kitty simply made a reasonable guess about why the folks who work at Galco's, which if you'd ever been there you would know are usually the nicest in the world, might not have been nice to Slow Foodie. Of course, if they weren't nice that's no excuse, but since they are so friendly usually it's hard to imagine any other cause than someone's negativity.

          And the Lemon-Lime Whopee is fabulous!

          1. re: Jean
            Sheesh, indeed...

            It's not a 'reasonable guess,' it was a sideways way of calling Slow Foodie nasty and/or a liar.

            It's fair for SlowFoodie to describe his/her experience of Galco's.

            It's fair for others to describe theirs.

            It ain't fair for others to tell SlowFoodie "what you say happened probably didn't, or if it did, you caused it."

            Is that really that hard to understand?

            1. re: Jean

              I am apprehensive about jumping into this fray, but will clear this up by saying that my main criticism of Galco's is that it is extremely dirty. I like the old fashionedness of it very much but there's a big diff between quaint and filthy. Furthermore my most recent shopping trip was with my children who LOVE soda. We were all very happy. We were very friendly and we spent over a hundred bucks. My kid asked the cashier very politely about the availability of a soda he likes and she answered so curtly he was nearly in tears. Also, even though we were ringing up a large amount of soda the owner came through and pointedly removed our cart from the checkstand. We were then made to run outside and fetch an "outdoor" shopping cart to transport our purchase to the car. The store wasn't that crowded and it seemed that he could have taken the time to provide an alternative cart and/or have someone help us to the car with our purchases. My kids are real little foodies. They have charmed their way into restaurant kitchens all over the world. They know the inventory of Surfas by heart. And, they are huge soda fans. Yet, as we pulled out of Galco's driveway one of them muttered, "never again."

              1. re: Slow Foodie

                I am so sorry you had that experience. It's all very odd indeed, because one of the things I have always liked about Galco's is that they always (each of the 10 or so times I've been there) insist on helping you out to your car. The first few times I tried to tip the guy after he loaded everything into the back of my Honda, and after each of them (I'm fairly sure they were different people each time) refused, I fave up trying. Maybe they were having a bad day for some reason? That's of course not an excuse, but maybe an explanation. Anyway, if you ever get over the dirtiness objection (which I don't dispute but which doesn't really bother me since everything I buy there is in a bottle), you might want to give them another chance because they really, really are nice people there!

        2. I love the old-fashionedness of the place and the fact that it has a turn-stile is a total plus.

          1. I've been to Galco's many times, and they have always been nice, both the owner and the woman working the cash register. The woman has remembered me on my trips back (I don't go that frequently)

            If you join their case card club and take advantage of their specials, you can save some money. There prices have gone up over the last year, but so has their cost of doing business. Its worth it to me, I am able to get soda from Italy I didn't think I'd be able to find on the West Coast.

            Its not any dustier than some other stores I've been in

            1. I'm happy to add my voice to what seems to be a chorus of Galco's support. Galco's is great and the people are very nice and helpful.

              1. Galco's is FABULOUS! I always look forward to a trip there for sodas. I hear the sandwiches are really good too.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Nina

                  Sandwiches are nasty -- tasted rancid.

                  1. re: Hershey Bomar

                    I hear a lot of people knock the sandwiches there but I actually like the hot pastrami and the hot beef dip sandwich. Is it really that bad?

                2. If it's just sodas you're after, Dr. Soda at 13291 Paxton St. in Pacoima (alongside the 118 Freeway) is a local distributor that has most of 'em *and* they home deliver cheaply in LA County. You can order straight from their Web site: http://www.drsoda.com/

                  (Disclaimer: I am merely a satisfied customer of theirs. I live within driving distance and have used them many times to get Mexican Cokes. Though now that the Burbank Costco has them as well for a lot cheaper, I might have to switch allegiances, lol)

                  1. I have found Galco's pretty grotty, as far as hygene goes. I refuse to get a sandwich from that back counter.

                    As for attitude, I have had a mixed bag.

                    The first time I went in, the diet selection (yes, I drink ONLY diet) was dismal. I asked the famous, "I've been on TV with Huell" owner if he had more. HE looked as if I was toxic, and haughtily announced, "Of COURSE not! We DON'T sell diet, it uses fake sugars. CANE sugar is the best for soda! It's worth the calories to get the REAL THING." and he turned his back and left, not wasiting his time any more with this diet-soda heathen.

                    Since then, I thinbk Mr. Man has discovered that stocking a good selection of diets brings in a new area of buyers. Ahem. Yes, people will pay for interesting diet soda.

                    Now the selection has expanded, and keeps expanding. He is PROUD of it. A later time I was in, looking at the diets, he came over, smiling, not recognizing me as he serves a large clientelle and I am just me. He puffed his chest and smiled and said, "We have the LARGEST selection of interesting, unusual and any diet soda you'll find!"

                    He definitely has been nicer since.

                    My husband can sometimes find beer there he can't find anywhere else. It depends.

                    I think it's worth the grot and odd shifting attitude to go and see what they have.

                    Of course, since I drink Diet Sodas, you know I'm not hitting the candy, so I don't know about the hygene there. I admit, a lot of it looks rather old. You can get all of that shipped to you from a selection of candy nostalgia dealers. Plus, it ain't all that.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Diana

                      ive also found it filthy and not very inviting, kind of like a hurrican ran through the whole joint. and yeah, there were layers of dust on most everythings.

                      but interestingly they do carry a wide variety of beers which is always a nice touch. it's way too big, and definitely doesn't have any pizzazz to it. which is sad but yea, what can you do????

                      1. re: Diana

                        Yeah why drink diet sodas when you can drink the real thing? I guess it's a personal preference. I am surprised with everyone knocking Galco's that no one has knocked the neighborhood just to throw in their two cents. If they think Galco's is shabby then the neighborhood must be an eye sore for most who knock Galco's. The neighborhood doesn't bother me a bit but just saying.

                        1. re: HoundDogz

                          Better than it use to be, I lived there up the street from that place for almost a decade and never realized what it was as a kid. Now I have to make a small commute there.

                      2. Haven't been to Galco's in a bit, but never found it to have a dust issue. And I've been in some places where you just can't help but notice. I've always had only friendly experiences there over the years. I'm not much of a soda drinker, but like trying different ones out now and then. The sandwiches, I don't really care for.

                        1. Anybody have an address on Soda King's Torrance location? Nothing on their website above, nor in Google or Yahoo. Thought it might be worth a trip. Thanks!

                          1. Do any of these places carry Beverly (that disgusting Coca-Cola bitter aperitif beverage from Italy)? My best friend is kind of obsessed with it for some reason.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: mrhooks

                              I don't know the brand but I do know that Eagle Rock Italian Bakery & Deli sells a bitters soda. I've seen it at Monte Carlo Deli in Burbank as well.

                            2. I love Galcos. I love how it's so old school. It reminds me of the type of place that you'd see on Happy Days and the Cunninghams would have shopped. Most grocery type of stores in the '70s looked like that too, as if they have not been remodeled since the '50s. It has a lot of old school charm, maybe that is why it's called Galcos Old World Grocery. I don't need to go to a plain and bland modern drink shop like Bev Mo (Previously beverages and More), I want to go to a place like Galco's with a good selection and a personality to go with it. It's like taking a time machine back to the '50s or even the '70s or '60s. I hope he doesn't go modern and start fixing the place up. People these days like things that are super neat and clean with no personality. We get enough of that already, old school like Galcos is a refreshing step back to a day when Elvis was on the Top 10 and the High Schools were safe for kids to attend. Okay I was born in '67 and graduated HS in 1985 so I didn't live in the '50s but it's nice to be in a place like Galco's. By the way Mr. Nese is very cool. I talk to him while I'm in there and he's great.

                              1. How do I not know what Galco's is? Where is it?

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: EliAnnKat

                                  It's in Highland Park section of Los Angeles. It's on York Blvd but I don't have the address off hand. It's great.

                                  1. re: EliAnnKat

                                    I saw Galco's again on Huell Howser. It was an update from the original show. The address is either 5702 or 5720 York Blvd.

                                    1. re: EliAnnKat

                                      If you like off the wall sodas, candy and beer, this is the spot for you.

                                    2. Maybe it's because I grew up in Highland Park, but I love this place! There sandwiches aren't the greatest but it reminds me of when I was a teenager in the 80's. Sure, sentimental B.S., but it just has that old market feel about it. I think people now feel everything needs to be hypoallergenic, super modern, "A" rating from the f''ing county clean. What hasn't killed you makes you stronger! I still like those old Ma and Pa greasy spoons and other places that have history. We need to support places like this. LA is so quick to tear down history and build some modern strip mall or outdoor shopping plaza like The Grove.

                                      Anyway...even if the service isn't always friendly, the place might be old and dingy and it is expensive...It is STILL a real treat for me when I go back to LA and load up on the old and new sodas that I love and grab a few Blockbusters for old time's sake.

                                      Support those old local places in your community...or we'll all be eating those God awful chains like P.F. Changs or Cheesecake Factory.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: kozaki

                                        Love your review...couldnt agree more :-)

                                      2. I like the place but I think the tunover of stock is slow and the sodas go somewhat bad. They don;t have the flavor they should have when they are old.

                                        1. I am thinking it is just you. Or maybe you were such a fan of Soda King (that seems to b eno longer in business) that you felt you had to slam Galco's.

                                          I don't find Galco's gross at all. I love their sandwiches and the staff has always been great, helpful and informative.

                                          16 Replies
                                          1. re: scottca075

                                            I have to agree with you scott. Galco's is not gross at all. In fact it's a very clean store and Mr. Neese keeps everything orderly and in place. He has a charming store. It reminds me of old school market's from the '70s when I was a kid. I know he does not have much in the way of groceries but mostly what he is famous for, sodas and even a selection of alcoholic bevs. You are right his sandwiches are great. I normally get either the pastrami or the beef dip.

                                            Mr. Neese is full of great information. He's very friendly and provides excellent customer service. He and his store have a lot of personality, something that most stores these days do not have. I say two thumbs up for Mr. Neese!

                                            1. re: HoundDogz

                                              This thread is still around? Anyway, it must be said that Galco's has an A from the health department. Which is good enough for me.

                                              1. re: condiment

                                                That's a good point. If it has an "A" rating then that proves it's not gross. Mr. Neese runs a tight ship. He goes by the book and does things right. How can one say it's gross. It's far from that. Some people just don't like walking into a market that looks like it's stuck in the 1970s but has not changed since the '40s/'50s. I like that stuff but some don't appreciate it.

                                                1. re: HoundDogz

                                                  It's just a matter of perspective.

                                                  I know some people who have compulsive disorders who would think it is gross and I know people who could be on hoarders who would think there is nothing wrong with the place.

                                                  I'm pretty average and I would say that it is far below sparkling but not a total rats nest.

                                            2. re: scottca075

                                              while Soda King may not be around, the South Bay now has Real Soda: http://www.realsoda.com/

                                              And I'd much rather go there for a case of whatever I need then hit up Galcos. The stock will always be "fresh", and the prices are more reasonable.

                                              1. re: TonyC

                                                I agree prices at Galco's are high and while the place may not be gross, it doesn't look appetizing enough for me to get a sandwich there.

                                                1. re: reality check

                                                  Re: the sandwich shop at Galcos. I love the unintentionally funny classic episode of Huell Houser's California Gold, where he visits Galcos. Huell really chats up the woman making the sandwich behind the counter and gushes about her artistry with coldcuts in the sandwich she is preparing for him. Then he receives it and sets it down, like she just handed him a mail order catalog for pet supplies. Huell won't even take a bite (he never does), and his praise is never satisfyingly consumated in actually tasting the product he's been going on about for several minutes. Classic Huell!

                                                  1. re: silence9

                                                    I have to see that episode. It's been years since I saw it so I don't recall that. So he praised her sandwich without tasting it? Maybe he was praising how well she made it and maybe prior to that filming he had a sandwich there in which he was able to praise her since he's had it before? I don't know, I gotta see that episode.

                                                    Man that Huell guy really gets excited about the smallest things. He could see an ant on the ceiling and get excited and do a show on that. I'm a fan of his but he gets carried away sometimes.

                                                    Also he is running out of good ideas and locations to do shows on and some of the show topics are a bit pushing. I mean doing this for 23 or 22 years I think after awhile he'll run out of ideas. I know that when I went to ELAC (East LA College) a guy in my guitar class said that Huell Howser did an episode in the art department or something. This guy in my class was taking ceramics and said Huell did an episode there. It was when his show was called California Gold. I think it was 1988.

                                                    One episode I loved is when he did one from this old couple's house who grew pineapples in their drive way. That was pretty good.

                                                    1. re: HoundDogz

                                                      Yeah, I love all the food-related episodes of California's Gold; besides Galco's, he's also visited Philippes (insisting that the woman behind the counter double-dip his lamb sandwich, then never tried it), a well-known raspados stand on the east side (got one with the works, then never tried it), and a Basque community (near Bakersfield?) with a multicourse banquet restaurant (looming over someone's table, only to never try the house specialties). The list goes on and on. His epitaph will no doubt read: "Never tried it". Nice guy, albeit goofy...

                                                      1. re: silence9

                                                        I liked the show he did on the origins and operations of In 'n Out...

                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                          Oh yeah that In n' Out episode was great. I loved that one. Loved seeing the original workers back from the mid '50s being in their 70s now. Wonder if any of them still worked there flipping burgers! J/K, they did not.

                                                        2. re: silence9

                                                          I never noticed that but you are right when I think about it. He does not touch his food. The one episode that was very bizarre was this husband and wife who eat vegetation that grows wild in the city in empty lots. They make salad out of this stuff. In this episode he did taste it and claimed it taste great. I think in this episode he had to try it because most people never ate a weed salad before so he had to make it look good.

                                                          I saw him in downtown across from the library on 5th. He was walking really fast and went up the escalators and into the "Library Tower" as they call it. I tried to follow him but he was walking seriously fast. He did not notice me, he was already walking fast. He was not doing a show but I can only guess he went in the building to meet his financial planner or something because that is the business district.

                                                    2. re: reality check

                                                      Maybe it doesn't appeal to you to get a sandwich there but if you are ever so inclined to give it a try you should. I think you'll be pleased with the sandwich after you try one out. They are very good. Also he is doing some remodeling to a degree. He's not changing it too much, the personality is still in the place, the old school charm but he's doing some upgrading or remodeling. Go give it a whirl, you may like it.

                                                      1. re: HoundDogz

                                                        I loved the sandwiches there, I think they're the most underrated part of the store...I don't really drink sodas anymore, but the selection at Galco's is neat to look at. The beer selection is great too, but somehow they don't have all the foreign brands that I'm looking for (mostly Australian).

                                                        1. re: Normal Garciaparra

                                                          I'm always on the lookout for Castlemaine XXXX( fourex)myself, but for some reason they stopped selling it in the US. Its brewed in Brisbane, and I emailed their website, but the fella there said "sometime in the future" as to when they will be resuming export to US again. I used to buy it at one of those little liquor stores on Colorado in Eagle Rock. They used to come in these squat little bottles.

                                                    3. re: TonyC

                                                      Too bad Realsoda only has half the selection that Galcos has.

                                                  2. GALCOS...still the KING!!
                                                    Runners up? Soda King( defunct), realsoda, rocket fizz.

                                                      1. Wow, this thread is still chugging along 8 years after the initial post... The following is less an indictment on Galco's than it is on speciality soda shops in general: I have found that with the truly unique and/or iconic sodas in their old-timely glass bottles, the turn-over rate on some of these babies is exceeding slow, so much so that their metal bottle caps accumulate rust on the inside; so much so, that when the bottle is opened, the rust found theirein is not just on the metal cap, but often fused onto the glass lip of the bottle itself. Few things, soda wise, more deflating and frustrating than opening an icy bottle of an highly anticipated bottle of pop, to find the glass lip encrusted with rusty corrosion. No matter how diligently I wipe away (most) of that rust, my imagination becomes tainted with the thought of hypothetical trips to the ER for tetanus shots... And I realize, no one is to blame for this, but it puts me off of the older glass-bottled/metal-capped iconic sodas more and more. Never tried returning these, as it's just the luck of the draw...

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: silence9

                                                          I've never had any rust issues on any of their sody pops. They always seem to keep updating their stock. Almost everytime I'm there, a fella is delivering cases. But I guess there was a time when business was slow. It does happen, but oy, that bottle must have been on the shelf a mighty long time. I have gotten a rusty bottle top in Central Cali in a mom & pop store once. I bought it because I thought they were re-issueing the Peter Max bottles...they weren't.

                                                          1. re: garagehero

                                                            I've been going to Galcos for about 7 or 8 years now and not once encounters rust issues with their sodas. The owner, Mr. Nese, keeps the place very clean and sanitary. I don't think their sodas stay on the shelf long at all because people constantly go in there and buy sodas all the time. Their sodas have a high turn over rate in my opinion.

                                                          2. re: silence9

                                                            Lots of us get tetanus boosters periodically, especially if we work in the garden or anywhere outdoors where you might pick up a cut or puncture. But it's unlikely that you'll get that from a soda, especially if you pour it into a glass. Not like botulin that harms you if you swallow it.

                                                            A rusty cap wouldn't seal well, and the soda would go flat, too.

                                                            No help for a tainted imagination, though.

                                                            1. re: Akitist

                                                              Hi... Thanks (Akitist) for the info, I appreciate it and found it helpful. That said, despite your point about rusty caps not sealing well and resulting in telltale 'flat' soda' (as well as HoundDogz defense of Galco's above - and his opinion that the sodas at a store like Galco's aren't on the shelf long enough to rust), I'll simply state the following and then shut my yap on the topic: I _just this past Wednesday_ purchased a 12-ounce glass bottle of the classic 'Green River' from the Bristol Farms branch in Playa Del Rey. The contents of the bottle was clear, crisply well-carbonated and tasty - but the inner bottle cap and top/outer lip of the bottle was rusty as hell. I wiped it clean and drank it down and survived just fine. Believe me or don't, but the inner rusted cap and outer bottle lip were an abomination of nastiness. My imagination didn't need to be in marathon-shape to make the leap toward worrying about residual particulate matter. Like I said, I drank it and it was just fine. But my own experience tells me that busy stores that move product briskly can indeed carry rusted products, sealed and bubbly, thank you. If no one else in the universe has had this problem/issue, I am more than glad... Now I'll shut up....

                                                          3. I can't believe nobody has commented on the...uhm...aroma, of the place. I feel like holding my breath when I walk in, and that is actually the main reason I rarely go there. The sodas are great. They carry a cucumber flavored soda that is wonderful in the summer. :-)
                                                            I love the old-style neighborhood grocery store atmosphere, but the musty smell must be imbedded in the pores of the building.
                                                            I've found the owner to be very nice. He LOVES his sodas.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: PasadenaRose

                                                              I don't get that smell you smell. I like going in there. It's like going back to when I was a kid when mom and pop stores were around and you got to know the owner(s). I like the way he runs the place. Sure it's mostly sodas and beers now rather than groceries but I get that old school grocery vibe that I used to feel as a kid in the '70s. Great place.