OB’s Apple Tree Market to Re-Open in Old Bank of America Building

by on July 15, 2014 · 12 comments

in Economy, Environment, Ocean Beach

He promised for quite a long time. Saad Hirmez kept telling people who asked that he planned to re-open his old Apple Tree Market in the former Bank of America building on Newport Avenue.

But people kept looking into the vacant cavern of a building at 4978 Newport but they didn’t see any signs of a market coming in.

Yet, it’s all true. Hirmez has announced that the Apple Tree will be moving into the old bank – which has had several apparitions since being a bank – a boxing ring, the Rock Scissors Paper store.

Hirmez has hired an architect, he says, and has begun the process of obtaining a conditional use permit for selling alcohol.  Now that he is assured that he will not have any major competition in and around Newport – as it is clear that CVS Pharmacy is moving into the former Apple Tree – he feels comfortable in making his entry onto OB’s main drag with a food market.

His new place will only have about 9,800 square feet, or a little more than half the size of the old market. But he doesn’t know exactly when he’ll open. Hirmez told the U-T:

“We’re going to start our permitting process for construction and plans and all that, regardless of the conditional use permit, and we’re going to move forward, whichever comes first.”

This is all definitely good news for the folks of OB-central. They’ve been without a nearby good-sized food market – outside liquor stores and a few high-end small markets – since Apple Tree closed in 2011. And this has created a problem for low-income residents in finding decent and fresh food for that part of town.

Even though Apple Tree had its critics, its re-emergence in downtown OB will be a welcome sight. (If they could only control the smokers in the butchery.)

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Pat July 15, 2014 at 5:49 pm

Sure would be nice if they took better care of the property until their ready to open.

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avatar Tyler July 15, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Great news. Thanks for following up on this.

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avatar Frank Gormlie July 15, 2014 at 10:13 pm

Forgot to give a hat tip to Sarah L.

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avatar Dave Rice July 15, 2014 at 11:52 pm

Good news indeed, even despite the Neighborhood Market Association’s political tomfoolery this town still needs a mainstream grocery store – even if in miniature.

I love People’s for produce and their bulk bins, and Olive Tree for beer and sandwiches, but it’ll be nice to have somewhere a quick bike ride away where I can pick up that “one last thing” I need to finish making dinner…

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avatar DonCharly July 16, 2014 at 7:33 am

Check expiration dates on goods. It took us 3 weeks to stop going to the old Apple Tree Market. This happened to us in 2001, and I do not know if the future location in Newport will be the same owner.

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avatar Mari July 16, 2014 at 11:01 am

I can’t wait! They’re a mom a pop Grocery Store and they may have some expired items here and there but they are nice hard working people. I’m upset CVS is coming to OB. The Customer Service is horrible and I dislike using self check out counters.

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avatar SaneVoice July 16, 2014 at 1:33 pm

I’ll reserve my judgement until I visit the new location, but if it’s managed like the previous Apple Tree, no thanks. I shopped there a few times and was overcharged for items regularly. Then when I asked for a refund of the difference, I was treated like I was out-of-line for them not honoring their posted prices. And while an expiration date on dry goods isn’t a big deal, being a Mom and Pop store is no excuse to sell expired produce or meat. That’s against health code.

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avatar South Park July 16, 2014 at 4:53 pm

The Hirmez family also owns and operates Gala Foods in South Park. The Gala building’s architecture is almost exactly the same as that of the former OB Apple Tree; both buildings were formerly Safeways and represent 1960s-eras transitional architecture. I hope they do well with the new store in OB, because it might mean that the South Park store will benefit.

I’m not sure how long the Hirmez family has owned Gala, but it’s an important walk-to grocery source in the South Park area, with a good variety of pastas and grains (Bob’s Red Mill) , meats, canned goods, breads, all sorts of odds-n-ends, liquor/wine, and fresh fruits and veggies. That said, it’s not a chain market and can’t be expected to compete as such. There are two other nearby markets, Food Bowl (which is smaller, but has a competitive price edge on some fresh veggies and carries other niche items) and Miller’s Market (also owned by the Hirmez’s).

For a while, in 2007-2009, we thought that we’d lose Gala to a developer. Plans were made (http://www.americannationalinvestments.com/projects/southpark.html), a sale went through, but it all fell out, resulting in a lawsuit that led to the Hirmez’s holding on to the property. At that time, the elder Mr. Hirmez was the patriarch and headed all the grocery businesses. Following his death, his sons and daughters and family took over. The fallout from the failed sale of Gala was twofold: 1.Great relief by most of the South Park residents (some Golden Hill people tied into the GGHCDC publicly spoke ill of the market and championed the sale, primarily because they embraced density-infill and desired a new, huger assessment on the developed property, to increase the MAD monies that they collected and managed). 2. A greatly increased County property assessment that could not be undone; this surely cut into the bottom line on the family’s store profits.

The South Park residents felt unsure over the next few years that the Hirmez family would keep Gala as a grocery, but they did. And we are grateful that it didn’t turn into 60 rental units over retail shops built right up to the sidewalk, or a CVS. The Hirmez’s have (finally!) invested in sprucing up the store, have made the parking area nicer, and have allowed food trucks and a coffee stand to set up in the lot. It’s an important part of the community, a place to walk or quickly drive, to pick up groceries and greet neighbors, and I hope that the Hirmez family keeps it that way.

Now, if only they wouldn’t allow Ron Roberts to put up campaign banners on the building front! Wrong demographic for that here in SP.

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avatar obd9 July 16, 2014 at 11:58 pm

Yea! I hope it is sooner rather than later. Having a grocery store within walking/biking distance is a must have for OBecians.

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avatar Mari July 17, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Thank you South Park, before I moved to OB ten years ago, I lived in South Park. I had forgotten that it was same family.

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avatar DonCharly July 18, 2014 at 8:39 am

Mary….if you like EXPIRED products and goods, you will then love love OB Peoples Market with their FRESH produce and other goods. Do Better for your well being.

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avatar Hunter July 24, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Hooray!! OB needs a grocery store, period.
Cannot believe cvs is moving in right down the street from rite aid! You kidding me!
Peoples is great, if you can afford it!

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