Alhambra's staple supermarket Super A Foods will close on Feb. 3 after 32 years on Main Street to make way for a mixed-use development.
More than a year after a developer proposed new designs to the city, Super A finally lost its lease about a month ago, according to Store Director Nick Sawaya. "The money is not the problem. They want to do development over here," said Sawaya, who worked for the Super A company for 24 years before coming to Alhambra a year and a half ago to be store director. “I wanted to remodel the place you know, make it nice. But the city had other plans. It didn’t renew the lease.”
Former City Manager Julio Fuentes announced during the Jan. 14 City Council meeting that a commercial and residential project will take Super A’s place. Sawaya said construction is set to begin in March. The city projects it will take two years to complete.
In previous meetings, council members have advocated for a supermarket in the new plan. “That market is the most critical point of the development, and it's really important because Alhambra is underserved by markets," Councilwoman Barbara Messina said at a September 2011 Alhambra Redevelopment Association meeting when plans were proposed. "It needs to be a market like a Trader Joe's or Bristol Farms, a market that is going to serve everybody. We do not need, and I don't mean this to be offensive, but we do not need an ethnic market there.” Messina later added that she had supported Super A remaining in the community.
Louis Amen started the Super A Foods Company in 1971, targeting customers in neighborhoods where bigger named grocers did not see a viable market. Super A opened in Alhambra in 1981, a time when there were few local grocery stores in the area.
Both regulars and new customers were upset by the recent closing sign and said the central location in Alhambra makes it accessible throughout the city. Many Alhambra High School students frequent the grocery next door because of the variety of snacks and affordable prices. Student Adam Atencio, 14, comes to the store to buy some drinks after a hard wresting team practice. “It’s located in a convenient place right next to the school which made it easier to stop by here and get snacks,” he said. “I’ll miss the store when it’s gone.”
When asked what he would like to see take Super A’s place, Atencio said, “It’ll be cool if it were a Trader Joe’s.”
Manuel Raymundo, 66, a resident of Alhambra for less than two years, was confused as to why the store was closing. “I am very sad to see this store come to a close,” Raymundo said. “I don’t understand why it has to be closed since it’s a good store and it has a lot of customers. It’s sad because this will probably become more apartments. We don’t need more apartments.”
Would you like another grocery store to replace Super A? Let us know what you think!