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Aug 24, 2009 10:38 PM

how's Monterey Market lately?

My neighbor told me sotto voce that she thinks Monterey Market looks a lot cleaner inside since Bill Fujimoto left. She has shopped there twice a week for the last two decades, and says she knows a lot of the folks who work there, but she can't get anybody to talk about what happened or what is happening with management. She hasn't noticed any change with the produce, in terms of variety, sourcing or price. She is also under the impression that now the side of the family who own Berkeley Bowl have more of a management interest in Monterey Market than they did previously.

Can anybody speak to any of this?

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  1. IIRC, the family that owns Berkeley Bowl is unrelated to the Fujimotos.

    I haven't been to Monterey Market in about a year, so I can't speak of the cleanliness. It's a bit of a haul from Central Contra Costa County, so I never did go very often.

    1. There have been quite a few reports on here that the produce has slipped in both quality and variety. Maybe your friend could report back about what she is finding there that makes MM worth shopping over other places.

      1. I've been shopping at Monterey Market for 30 years. Previously traveled over from San Francisco and now the Montclair district for 20 years. The quality has slipped significantly in the past six months. Many produce vendors are selling much less to MM (I think there is a boycott) Instead of a plethora of white peaches from Brentwood, a huge variety of tomatoes , wonderful organic strawberries from small farms, the are dribs and drabs of produce. They have increased the amount of flowers, but the flowers aren't as fresh, and don't last as long.

        It isn't further for me to go to Lafayette than North Berkeley so I'm very glad to hear that Bill has relocated. I feel sorry for all of those wonderful people who work at MM, but I'm most interested in Quality. Cleaner?--who looked at the floor when there were Oregon truffles, bins of tomatoes and peaches, apples that tasted like the one's my Mother grew. On to Lafayette! I'll let you know about my trip to Diablo Foods.

        9 Replies
        1. re: biensur

          I find that very unfair .... I only get there once a month since I moved north. I was there last week and if anything it did seem to be cleaner. The rest seems great as usual and the quality as great as ever. With the economy as bad as it is I doubt if anyone would be stupid to sell less to them.
          Did you come here specifically to post . Your post certainly turns me off about having anything to do with Diablo Foods if your intent is to pump up business for them.

          1. re: celeryroot

            I'm actually glad to know where Bill relocated to. I haven't been to Diablo Foods in a couple of years, but last I checked they don't need anyone to pump up business for them - they are a great market. I love their butchers.

            1. re: celeryroot

              If you're a Monterey Market loyalist, that's fine, but don't bash people or farmers for wanting to be supportive of Bill Fujimoto. Bill has helped many small farmers throughout the years, and if they want to sell less to his brother, that's their choice.

              Diablo Foods had a fabulous reputation here in Central Contra Costa county even before Bill started consulting for them.

              1. re: celeryroot

                celeryroot, a lot of people have noted the same things about Monterey Market since the ownership change. There are a few different threads on here about the topic. Biensur was very specific about what has changed. When was the last time you were at MM? Did you see anything there that you couldn't find anywhere else?

                1. re: Shane Greenwood

                  This week, good large sweet princess grapes $1.49/lb. Still found padron peppers $5.98/lb. Corn 4 for $1 and sweet red bells for $1.29/lb. The corn was fresh enough to make an uncooked relish with the peppers. I saw a nice selection of dates and mushrooms.

                  1. re: Shane Greenwood

                    mid last week........great sweet white peaches , padron peppers and really nice wild arugula. I also love Montereys wild mushrooms for both quality and price. I found some golden chanterelles , oregon I think, first Ive seen this year. Very nice and fragrant.
                    Ive shopped at Monterey for 25 years plus and frequently asked Bill questions and think the world of him . But M also has many dedicated employees who work hard and have alot of pride in what they do. I found it annoying to have someone come on CH for the sole purpose of criticizing M and then never to be heard from again.

                    1. re: celeryroot

                      Well I certainly hope that biensur gives us the update on Diablo Foods they promised, but I think I'll give them at least a day. <g>

                      1. re: celeryroot

                        Thanks for the update. Sounds similar to other stores that carry in season produce though. I guess if I lived close to MM, I would stop in, but I'm having a hard time getting excited about making a special trip like I used to.

                  2. re: biensur

                    I've been shopping at Monterey Market for 30 years too, but for the past 15 or 20 the quality was not competitive with what I've been buying at farmers markets. I go there occasionally to buy things nobody else (including Berkeley Bowl) stocks, such as Sierra Beauty apples, and for the variety of wild mushrooms.

                  3. The biggest change I notice from last year to this season is the lack of unusual peppers. There is a featured section up front with a named source and correspondingly high price but the pepper section itself just has the standards. The end of summer used to bring a wide selection of unusual peppers to try.

                    There is a general slowdown in the unusual seasonal and the bargain offerings recently, making the braving the parking situation less appealing.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: EdwardAdams

                      Im not sure if this is the reason but the weather may have something to do with this. I have 4 padron pepper plants and so far have gotten 2 peppers......mine are now starting to just form the same with my tomatoes. My lettuces have been wonderful all summer and are still doing great. Normally they bolt by mid/end of July , but we have had cool nights so they love it. There seems to be a delay on some of the usual seasonal produce.

                      1. re: celeryroot

                        I have to agree with that. Almost everything seems later this year. The chayote vine outside my house that would be heavy with chayote this time of year is only just past past flower stage with tiny chayotes. .

                      2. re: EdwardAdams

                        I was at Monterey Market on Monday (Sept. 14). Large selection of chili peppers, and everything else. Their selection changes on a daily basis. Not sure what you mean by
                        'named source and correspondingly high price' seeing as their prices for peppers are way lower than anyone else's!