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El Cerrito: New super Safeway open ... and Rockridge news

They opened Thursday, 8/11.

It is more Raley's-like (which I consider a step above other supermarkets). However ... still Safeway.

Some things to note

- nice bulk food section (oatmeal, rice, nuts, etc)

- nice meat counter, ok fish counter

- pretty decent Kosher food section

I was disappointed in the cheese section though. One of the newer Safeways in Fremont had a really nice cheese section a few years ago with cheese being cut from the wheel. There's lots of cheese, but all precut.

If you have the Sunday Chronicle, there's a 79 cent coupon for Kleenix. The coupon isn't in the in-store ad. At check-out, you get a $1 off groceries on the next visit (courtesy of Kleenix). So not only is the Kleenix free, but you make money on the deal (21 cents)

On Sunday there were a ton of samples ... almost a sample stand at every aisle. It reminded me of Walmart in Mexico.

Very friendly staff that doesn't quite step over the line. A few years back Safeway had this over friendly staff and on Thanksgiving shopping at 4 am, after ever single damn staff member asked how I was doing, I wanted to bite them. It doesn't get that bad.

Huge Starbucks with outdoor seating. You probably can wave to the Starbucks across the street.

The store is really spacious with wide aisles ... yet even at 9 am ... empty ... it seems that almost every ailes was blocked by someone standing in the middle staring vacantly and oblivious to anyone who wanted to get by. That free sample thing didn't help either with people stopping and sticking there baskets in the way of anyone (me especially) trying to pass by.

Don't know if it was just the El Cerrito Safeway, but a number of items were less than Grocery Outlet. Cake mixes were $1.29 at GO and 99 cents at Safeway. There are some nice, local black grapes for 99 cents lb. They also had a deal on Land o Lakes mini moos (half and half containers that don't need refrigeration). They were $1.50 more at Raley's.

A 12 oz squeeze bottle of Kraft reduced fat mayo with olive oil was $1.99 ... half the price elsewhere. However, a big jar at GO is $3.49. I liked this. Last time I tried an olive-oil based mayo, I despised it (maybe Best Foods?) While this has a bit more junk in it than regular Best Foods, it's not bad.

As to Rockridge, I heard they are planning to remodel but are having some problems struggling to stay open. Not sure the issue. While I realize there are lots of better food options in Rockridge, sometimes you just need a normal supermarket. Hope they do the remodel. .

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  1. If you're talking about the Safewayon College at Claremont, it's always packed. The company's plans to expand have nothing to do with the store being in trouble.

    The Rockridge Center is the big one at 51st and Broadway. That one might be struggling.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      I can't believe Rockridge is struggling to stay open. We have never been there that we didn't have to stand in line to check out. Just finding a place to park is hard.

      1. re: Janet

        And Safeway is planning to take over the mega CVS (formerly Payless, Rite Aid, and Long's) and built a gigantic Safeway at the Rockridge Center location. Doubt they'd be doing that if it couldn't support the business.

        1. re: lexdevil

          Yeah, I don't think either of those Safeways is struggling, but both of them are planning on expansion, and I imagine one or both will close at some point during the expansion process.

    2. just drove by there today but didn't have a chance to go in. the parking lot was full, however.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mariacarmen

        That parking lot is incredibly inadequate. When I went about 9 am, it was full and the store wasn't crowded inside.

      2. The Safeway at College & Claremont's remodeling issues are a result of local opposition to the project's scale. http://www.berkeleyside.com/2011/08/0...

        6 Replies
        1. re: lexdevil

          Think the Solano and Berkeley Rose St. locations have had similar issues

          1. re: lexdevil

            Yeah, it must be that location. Just heard this from a staff member who whorks at both locations.

            1. re: rworange

              The Rockridge Safeway is the highest grossing SFWY in the stae

              1. re: donbonus

                The Rockridge Center Safeway at 51st and Broadway or the one in Rockridge at College and Claremont?

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Supposedly about 15 years ago the 51st and Broadway Safeway was the highest grossing Safeway in the Country!

            2. Is there an in house bakery there? There once was a Safeway Bakery in Lafayette I believe that had homemade fried pies.

              The traffic at the College and Claremont branch is already fairly bad. That intersection already has long waits and traffic backs up on both streets. Maybe not the best place for a superstore.

              3 Replies
              1. re: chocolatetartguy

                Yeah, they have an in-house bakery with a wood-fired oven.

                They haven't used the oven yet, but the flames are usually leaping about. They plan to bake some things in there, maybe even pizza.

                They have really good house-made sourdough sandwich and Dutch crunch rolls in the bins in front of the oven. The French roll had a nice chewy crust and soft, but not too soft bread.

                1. re: chocolatetartguy

                  I have a friend who lives right next door on Claremont -- it's definitely not a good place for a superstore, with traffic blasting down Claremont as if were a freeway, not a residential neighborhood.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Since my response was about the El Cerrito store, I didn;t look closely at the word "Claremont" and was about to respond that even though the El Cerrito location is next to BART and on San Pablo, the parking/.traffic situation really sucks. It is also directing traffic into the quieter neighborhood streets in back. It is right at the point where El Cerrito has two screwed up traffic lights which always backed up traffic in the past, but now can be a nightmare.

                    So in terms of Claremont, I can see how that would be even more of a horror. Safeway should give more thought to the traffic when slapping together these new stores.