Bristol Farms Market Opens in Santa Barbara
By Bonnie Carroll
Bristol Farms Market opened in La Cumbre Plaza Santa Barbara on Thursday with a warm welcome to area residents who were happy to shop and peruse the large gourmet grocery and enjoy the many organic and health-conscious options the market is known for.
In the mid-90s I was a reporter covering the Beverly Hills Bristol Farms opening in the former Chasen’s Restaurant location. I was thoroughly impressed with the quality products featured in the sophisticated market that had once been a favorite haunt of major celebrities and political personalities when Maude Chasen was the hostess with the mostess in her renowned dinner spot on Beverly and Doheny Boulevards in West Hollywood.
Every year President Reagan and George Burns would hold their February 14 birthday parties at Chasen’s, and it was rumored that Elizabeth Taylor once paid a fortune to have Chasen’s chili delivered to her at the set of Cleopatra in Rome. People in Beverly Hills embraced the quality food and service of the new gourmet market, where a small section still contains original booths with nostalgic photos of the old Chasen’s where patrons can eat lunch. This market continues to be one of their most successful store locations.
The market in La Cumbre is the very latest design of the company, it is quite large and includes unique food stations, along with a huge inventory of fine wines and liquor products. Everything I saw during my visit looked delicious, and the staff (all in masks and in compliance) could not have been more pleasant.
Denis Lacey, General Manager of the new location, gave me a tour and explained the many take-out food options being offered due to the pandemic. The bakery has an assortment of gorgeous cakes, but I appreciated that you could buy just one piece if you liked, and their beautiful pies can also be purchased in half portions.
The Sushi & Saki area was overflowing with fabulous sushi combinations, and the sandwich bar had people waiting in line at 10:30 a.m. Lacey explained, “we have created a special to-go section for entrees with a manager to facilitate patrons requests during the pandemic... essentially, it is a take-away menu of delicious lunch and dinner dishes.”
To celebrate the opening their steaks were 40% off and people were buying them, including me. Bristol Farms carries so many gourmet and organic choices in just about every food and beverage variety you would want which makes shopping there an exciting learning experience. Everything from gourmet Prosecco Bear candies to exotic cheeses to unique gift items can be found as well as all the usual grocery items people are looking for. I was impressed to see a section spotlighting locally produced products and an exquisite wall of Margerum Wines had been created to highlight the Bristol Farms amazing wine section.
Margerum wine wall
Shoppers who are searching for that elusive ingredient that will complete a culinary recipe and create a masterpiece know they can get it at Bristol Farms. It is the gourmet grocery store that has what chefs and cooks look for. Lacey, who was a manager at Lazy Acres in Santa Barbara for many years, and his staff are welcoming area people to stop by and get to know them and become familiar with their special inventory.
Bristol Farms opened its first store in 1982 in Rolling Hills Estates and was started by Irv Gronsky and Mike Burbank who had worked together in the food industry for almost twenty years. Their vision was to combine the service and food quality of a corner grocer, butcher, and baker with the theatre of Harrods in London. The first store was an overwhelming success. The company added further stores in California. In June 1999, they acquired a famous landmark, Chalet Gourmet in Hollywood.
Local foods section
In 2004, Bristol Farms was purchased by the Albertsons chain and in October 2005, Bristol Farms purchased Santa Barbara-based Lazy Acres. Many believe the independently owned single store Lazy Acres sold to Bristol Farms as a defensive move against Whole Foods' pending arrival into Santa Barbara. While this is Bristol Farms' first and only location in Santa Barbara, the 28,000-square-foot Lazy Acres store itself continues operating under its original format. The Long Beach Bristol Farms was converted into a second Lazy Acres in November 2012.
Four former Albertsons locations have been converted into Bristol Farms: One in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, the second location in Palm Desert, which originally opened as Lucky, a third location in the Westchester neighborhood of Los Angeles, and a fourth in Santa Monica.
Shoppers seemed excited about experiencing the new Bristol Farms, and I know that I will be going back soon.
More information about Bristol Farms at the La Cumbre Plaza can be found here.
Bonnie Carroll is a veteran journalist specializing in food, travel, and health. Learn more at lifebitesnews.com.