New Trader Joe’s Opens in Palo Alto

Trader Joe's

The brand new Trader Joe’s grocery store in Palo Alto will celebrate its grand opening this Friday, December 4, 2009. It’s located at Town & Country Village at the corner of El Camino Real and Embarcadero Road. There will be a ceremonial lei-cutting at 8:00 AM accompanied by face-painting, live music, and balloons. The interior is decorated with local flavor such as logos and spirit wear from nearby Stanford University, Palo Alto High, and Gunn High School. Residents have lamented the lack of grocery stores in the city, so many are looking forward to this latest addition.

Your pictures from have arrivedWithout a doubt Trader Joe’s is a happy place. My fondest memory of TJ’s is from a family vacation we took to Monterey, CA many years ago. Our son was a young toddler so we rented a suite with a full kitchen so we could keep him fed with milk and Cheerios on our own schedule and not have to deal with eating out for every meal. We shopped for our groceries at the Pacific Grove Trader Joe’s. Sure we bought staples but since we were on vacation we also loaded up on a variety of tasty snacks like party mix, trail mix, chips, and cookies. It still ranks as one of our best vacations ever.

Ever since then I always associate Trader Joe’s with treats, not “serious food,” but we have several friends who do all their everyday shopping there. We’re not quite on that bandwagon since we live walking distance to a different chain grocery store. Also it’s a recognized fact in our family that as a rule Traders Joe’ses have…the…worst…parking lots. Always small, cramped, and awkward. We think they design them that way on purpose, maybe to encourage greener modes of transportation. Well it works for us. We walk…to a different store.

Speaking of parking, I expect it will be a challenge for the new Palo Alto store. When I was at Stanford twenty years ago Town & Country was languishing. I went there for Hobee’s but that was it. In 2004 the then-51-year-old shopping center was purchased by Ellis Partners LLC who set out to transform the place by painfully terminating some longtime tenants’ month-to-month leases and kicking off a multi-year $25 million renovation. It seems to have worked. It has the same funky charm but they have managed to attract a vibrant mix of restaurants and boutiques and the village now is packed. Some might say too packed, a victim of its own success. A couple months ago I thought I’d swing by at lunchtime on a weekday to grab a smoothie from Jamba Juice. I spent 15 minutes circling the entire center twice looking for a parking spot with no success. I finally gave up and went to a different Jamba Juice that had plenty of parking to get my Razzmatazz on. The Trader Joe’s will add some new spots but at peak times I know it will be a struggle. And don’t get me started on the bizarre left turn exit onto Embarcardero.

I don’t mean to be a killjoy. I’m genuinely happy for the many Palo Altoans who will enjoy their new store. I even expect the Stanford dorm parties to start serving better fare. In my day it was inevitably giant bags of pretzels and yellow popcorn from Costco; here’s hoping for baklava and Pirate’s Booty. No excuses! So go to Trader Joe’s, bring your own bag, and when you get home raise your glass of Two Buck Chuck in good cheer. Salut!

Trader Joe’s Grand Opening

Friday, December 4, 2009
8:00 AM – 10:00 PM
855 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA

[Source: San Jose Mercury News]

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