Mercado Gonzalez Northgate opening, "Wegmans" or "Bristol Farms" of Hispanic grocery stores

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Re: Mercado Gonzalez Northgate opening, "Wegmans" or "Bristol Farms" of Hispanic grocery stores

Post by storewanderer »

ClownLoach wrote: November 21st, 2023, 12:44 pm
storewanderer wrote: November 20th, 2023, 8:58 pm Looking at the photos I have a few concerns:
1. Spacing on the various food counters - the way this is laid out I feel like a lot of counters will be hidden. There is not a clear line of sight where you can see all of the counters. Or even a fraction of them, at the same time, it appears.

2. Spacing around the store- it feels like there is too much space around meat/produce and not enough product.

3. It feels like with all of the excess space this will be a tough place to walk into and buy a cartfull of groceries to cook with. Tough due to not clear lines of sight to see around, spacing between departments, and what appears to be a strange lack of product.

I was expecting something more like those Pro's Ranch things but with the food counters added. Maybe it flows better in person.

This in photos reminds me of Save Mart's "Lucky California" concept as it was intended before the company was sold on the one remodel in Daly City that was done by Piccinini's granddaughter when she was running the chain, but with the food counters added. We see where that is- store is still there but never took off. The new build one in Dublin closed.
It's really hard to tell what exactly the layout is like from the pictures. Trying to piece it together I believe it's the Wegmans style split with the large hall of food serving counters, and then another large hall of produce surrounded by meat, seafood and more. So like a quarter of the store prepared foods like Wegmans, another quarter with produce meat bakery etc, and then the other half is aisles. Really can't figure out the spacing at all because some pictures make it look like everything is crammed together, while other pictures look like there is ample and even excessive space. Dying to go see it but can't get there till late next week.
I'm almost wondering if it is like food counters in the middle and store around the "edges" ?
What a weird layout that would be.
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Re: Mercado Gonzalez Northgate opening, "Wegmans" or "Bristol Farms" of Hispanic grocery stores

Post by magowan »

Looks more Eataly than H Mart in execution. Curious to see how it plays out.
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Re: Mercado Gonzalez Northgate opening, "Wegmans" or "Bristol Farms" of Hispanic grocery stores

Post by Bluelightspecial »

Will work in Long Beach, South Gate, Whittier or similar....but not in other areas
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Re: Mercado Gonzalez Northgate opening, "Wegmans" or "Bristol Farms" of Hispanic grocery stores

Post by ClownLoach »

Bluelightspecial wrote: November 30th, 2023, 3:13 pm Will work in Long Beach, South Gate, Whittier or similar....but not in other areas
Northgate has more stores within five miles of this site then all of those other cities. They are absolutely dominant there. I need to check their store count but I believe Northgate is approaching the same count as Ralphs in all of OC. This is an Orange County founded company that knows the market inside and out. This section of Costa Mesa is more heavily Hispanic than Long Beach. There is a huge Hispanic community there, but more importantly this store will better serve the Hispanic communities in Huntington Beach as well. And to be blunt, this is a store for EVERYONE. Take Eataly in Century City and double the size and you've got this Mercado by Northgate. Eataly is for everyone not just Italian people, this is following the identical model. It's a smash hit in every community and pulling from a huge radius. The parking lot is so packed that people are parking and walking from the Home Depot. This was a flagship tier Albertsons at 70,000 Sq ft that got the best decor and ambiance they offered but they just couldn't make a profit on such massive size so they wound up keeping the smaller Vons up the street, which ironically was the Albertsons that was given up to keep this 70,000 Sq ft building that was under construction during the Lucky-Albertsons merger.

Let me make myself more clear: there is an old stereotype out there about ethnic markets, and I am here to tell you that the new generation of these opening in the last 2 to 3 years is absolutely wiping those out. These guys are here to compete with every mainstream brand and kick their butts. And they're doing very well. You are now seeing these brands invade the areas where the stereotypical thoughts expressed here would say never go. 99 Ranch is opening a flagship tier store in Aliso Viejo and people are flipping out because they are so excited they're coming. H-Mart opened not one but two stores in Irvine that are nothing like their previous operations and are much higher end and higher quality than the very nice Albertsons they replaced and they're both thriving. Furthermore let me tell you that if the Gonzalez family wanted to make a statement they should work out a deal for the redevelopment of the Nordstrom phase at Irvine Spectrum and drop this exact same Mercado concept right there next to Target. It will be the biggest draw in the center right in the heart of South OC.

The previous Northgate flagship was Lincoln & State College in Anaheim and that was also a fancy Ralphs that replaced a old 1970s store that was torn down a few months ago; it is still called the "Hispanic Whole Foods" because it is so well done but this new concept is far beyond. It is just incredible. I cannot say enough about it and I'm going back next week because unfortunately I did not have enough time.
Last edited by ClownLoach on December 1st, 2023, 8:40 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Mercado Gonzalez Northgate opening, "Wegmans" or "Bristol Farms" of Hispanic grocery stores

Post by ClownLoach »

storewanderer wrote: November 21st, 2023, 9:35 pm
ClownLoach wrote: November 21st, 2023, 12:44 pm
storewanderer wrote: November 20th, 2023, 8:58 pm Looking at the photos I have a few concerns:
1. Spacing on the various food counters - the way this is laid out I feel like a lot of counters will be hidden. There is not a clear line of sight where you can see all of the counters. Or even a fraction of them, at the same time, it appears.

2. Spacing around the store- it feels like there is too much space around meat/produce and not enough product.

3. It feels like with all of the excess space this will be a tough place to walk into and buy a cartfull of groceries to cook with. Tough due to not clear lines of sight to see around, spacing between departments, and what appears to be a strange lack of product.

I was expecting something more like those Pro's Ranch things but with the food counters added. Maybe it flows better in person.

This in photos reminds me of Save Mart's "Lucky California" concept as it was intended before the company was sold on the one remodel in Daly City that was done by Piccinini's granddaughter when she was running the chain, but with the food counters added. We see where that is- store is still there but never took off. The new build one in Dublin closed.
It's really hard to tell what exactly the layout is like from the pictures. Trying to piece it together I believe it's the Wegmans style split with the large hall of food serving counters, and then another large hall of produce surrounded by meat, seafood and more. So like a quarter of the store prepared foods like Wegmans, another quarter with produce meat bakery etc, and then the other half is aisles. Really can't figure out the spacing at all because some pictures make it look like everything is crammed together, while other pictures look like there is ample and even excessive space. Dying to go see it but can't get there till late next week.
I'm almost wondering if it is like food counters in the middle and store around the "edges" ?
What a weird layout that would be.
You actually called it. The store is around the edges with the aisles around the left edge. But it works.

This is the single most dazzling grocery store in California. It's a third Eataly, a third HEB Central Market, and a third Pike Place.

The execution is absolutely unreal, the design is stunning, and it is a massive hit already. They clearly spared no expense.

It really is like a village of shops with aisles and what I would call "pavilions" of key categories. All their prep kitchens are open glass and sparkling. Store is just incredible. Worth the 90 minute drive.

I still think it's too nice for the neighborhood, but the used car lots and stuff are getting replaced with million dollar condos.
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Re: Mercado Gonzalez Northgate opening, "Wegmans" or "Bristol Farms" of Hispanic grocery stores

Post by storewanderer »

So they are running all of the departments, or are some of the departments tenants?
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Re: Mercado Gonzalez Northgate opening, "Wegmans" or "Bristol Farms" of Hispanic grocery stores

Post by ClownLoach »

storewanderer wrote: December 1st, 2023, 10:55 pm So they are running all of the departments, or are some of the departments tenants?
I believe Northgate is running everything except one single stall (churros which are from La Mora from Mexico City), the bar and the sit down fine dining restaurant. Need to double check the bar and restaurant as I know it's a partnership but I'm not sure who owns operations. Everything else is 100% Northgate.

So what is hard to imagine without going is that what were for example a steam table of tamales at all the other locations gets redone into a whole stall type setup where you can buy them as you always would at any other Northgate, or they're served up as a entree to eat in the store. Picture the same concept again and again. You're taking the Northgate store and making it both a store and restaurant, exactly the way Eataly operates which is probably the most similar concept, they make it where that new Bristol Farms Newfound Market concept misses. I actually went back today to look some more and buy a bunch of carne asada to barbecue tomorrow. Meat department is completely open including entire cutting room and it might even be cleaner than Costco. Also surprised the beef is all USA Sourced and all Choice or above, hamburger expertly ground in store and looked fabulous, etc. Really nice store.
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Re: Mercado Gonzalez Northgate opening, "Wegmans" or "Bristol Farms" of Hispanic grocery stores

Post by ClownLoach »

ClownLoach wrote: December 2nd, 2023, 12:16 am
storewanderer wrote: December 1st, 2023, 10:55 pm So they are running all of the departments, or are some of the departments tenants?
I believe Northgate is running everything except one single stall (churros which are from La Mora from Mexico City), the bar and the sit down fine dining restaurant. Need to double check the bar and restaurant as I know it's a partnership but I'm not sure who owns operations. Everything else is 100% Northgate.

So what is hard to imagine without going is that what were for example a steam table of tamales at all the other locations gets redone into a whole stall type setup where you can buy them as you always would at any other Northgate, or they're served up as a entree to eat in the store. Picture the same concept again and again. You're taking the Northgate store and making it both a store and restaurant, exactly the way Eataly operates which is probably the most similar concept, they make it where that new Bristol Farms Newfound Market concept misses. I actually went back today to look some more and buy a bunch of carne asada to barbecue tomorrow. Meat department is completely open including entire cutting room and it might even be cleaner than Costco. Also surprised the beef is all USA Sourced and all Choice or above, hamburger expertly ground in store and looked fabulous, etc. Really nice store.
I think I have been in over half a dozen times now, and brought many skeptical friends and family with me. All have jaws hitting the floor when they walk in and are left speechless by this store. They are maintaining 100% execution at every single venue within the store, they've expanded hours and as a result most of the counters are open to 10pm Friday and Saturday nights. The upkeep has been flawless and the oddities are executed so well they're not any inconvenience (such as the bakery where you serve yourself with tongs and trays as per tradition, but then have to go to a special counter where you pay immediately). All of the prepared foods I have bought were great, you can sample virtually anything, and the meat is so incredibly good... The most delicious carne asada you've ever had. This store is a long drive and I probably pass a dozen or more Northgate locations on the way but it's like nothing else in SoCal, and it is actually busier now than when it first opened with social media influences clogging the aisles but not buying much... Now they are selling a ton of food and merchandise. An absolutely outstanding store.
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Re: Mercado Gonzalez Northgate opening, "Wegmans" or "Bristol Farms" of Hispanic grocery stores

Post by ClownLoach »

Went back late this evening. I'm sure that everyone is assuming that this store must have died down by now, the cracks are showing etc.

The damned store is even busier now than when it first opened. It is absolutely the busiest supermarket I've seen in SoCal.

Over 100 customers in a line just for churros with a line stretching to the main entrance (the churros have a separate little storefront door on the left).

They've had to add dozens of additional cafe seating tables and it isn't enough. If this was a restaurant it would be the busiest in town.

Every department is open full service till at least 9pm, many till 10pm and they mean it - nothing is taken down or closed until the department is done for the day. And there are over 20 of them.

If you told me this store was doing $5 million a week I would believe you.

It proves that if you run a great store, everyone will shop there regardless of concept - at any given moment half the customers are not Hispanic. This store is the most authentically decorated and operated Hispanic grocery store in the US, but it appeals to everyone.

It proves Hispanic customers appreciate high quality and premium offerings, as they are selling much more expensive items than a conventional Northgate. For example I bought some of the last marinated USDA Prime Carne Asada Arrachera in the building, the most expensive such product versus lesser cuts. The expensive stuff sells first. The prices on hot, fresh tortillas either flour or corn have gone up to at least $4 a bag and many customers grab multiples packs despite being double or triple the price of conventional supermarket brands... They sample these for everyone and they're the most delicious tortillas you've ever had. I suspect many customers drive past multiple Northgate stores to get the unique offerings of this store.

And it proves you can run an insanely high labor, high service model. Pavilions couldn't do it. Whole Foods couldn't do it. Even Eataly in Century City has scaled back many offerings since first opening. But this store not only has maintained them, they've expanded the hours as well. Are there hiccups typical of food halls (tough to find seating, sometimes long lines)? Sure, but it works because it's also a great store.

Finally, it proves that you can spend a lot of money on a retail brick and mortar store experience and turn a huge profit even in 2024.

It is the perfect supermarket for today's California. It's not trying to be a Fred Meyer type operation with everything under the sun. It has minimal GM product, which makes sense because no one wants to buy it outside of Walmart/Target/Costco these days. It is very high security, but you can pick up and touch everything (Liquor is in its own walled off store, and self checkout is aggressively monitored with scan to exit doors).

And it is exceptionally well run. The food prep areas are completely open behind glass at the back. They are "cleaner than an operating room" and certainly superior sanitation than any other grocery store. Even at 9:30pm they were just putting out freshly made salsa and guacamole, restocking and culling produce, and baking fresh pan dulce. The store never gets messy, never has out of stocks, and it has been flawlessly maintained since opening with perfect cleaning, no burned out lights, everything working. They spent top dollar on every inch of the decor too, and it shows.

I think even the most stubborn critics (like me) would absolutely love this store. It's at least an hour drive for me to get there and I don't care. I probably spend more here than any fancy store. It's totally worth it. Cannot stop praising it (even though it is pretty darned crowded).
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Re: Mercado Gonzalez Northgate opening, "Wegmans" or "Bristol Farms" of Hispanic grocery stores

Post by storewanderer »

ClownLoach wrote: February 11th, 2024, 12:39 am Went back late this evening. I'm sure that everyone is assuming that this store must have died down by now, the cracks are showing etc.

The damned store is even busier now than when it first opened. It is absolutely the busiest supermarket I've seen in SoCal.

Over 100 customers in a line just for churros with a line stretching to the main entrance (the churros have a separate little storefront door on the left).

They've had to add dozens of additional cafe seating tables and it isn't enough. If this was a restaurant it would be the busiest in town.

Every department is open full service till at least 9pm, many till 10pm and they mean it - nothing is taken down or closed until the department is done for the day. And there are over 20 of them.

If you told me this store was doing $5 million a week I would believe you.

It proves that if you run a great store, everyone will shop there regardless of concept - at any given moment half the customers are not Hispanic. This store is the most authentically decorated and operated Hispanic grocery store in the US, but it appeals to everyone.

It proves Hispanic customers appreciate high quality and premium offerings, as they are selling much more expensive items than a conventional Northgate. For example I bought some of the last marinated USDA Prime Carne Asada Arrachera in the building, the most expensive such product versus lesser cuts. The expensive stuff sells first. The prices on hot, fresh tortillas either flour or corn have gone up to at least $4 a bag and many customers grab multiples packs despite being double or triple the price of conventional supermarket brands... They sample these for everyone and they're the most delicious tortillas you've ever had. I suspect many customers drive past multiple Northgate stores to get the unique offerings of this store.

And it proves you can run an insanely high labor, high service model. Pavilions couldn't do it. Whole Foods couldn't do it. Even Eataly in Century City has scaled back many offerings since first opening. But this store not only has maintained them, they've expanded the hours as well. Are there hiccups typical of food halls (tough to find seating, sometimes long lines)? Sure, but it works because it's also a great store.

Finally, it proves that you can spend a lot of money on a retail brick and mortar store experience and turn a huge profit even in 2024.

It is the perfect supermarket for today's California. It's not trying to be a Fred Meyer type operation with everything under the sun. It has minimal GM product, which makes sense because no one wants to buy it outside of Walmart/Target/Costco these days. It is very high security, but you can pick up and touch everything (Liquor is in its own walled off store, and self checkout is aggressively monitored with scan to exit doors).

And it is exceptionally well run. The food prep areas are completely open behind glass at the back. They are "cleaner than an operating room" and certainly superior sanitation than any other grocery store. Even at 9:30pm they were just putting out freshly made salsa and guacamole, restocking and culling produce, and baking fresh pan dulce. The store never gets messy, never has out of stocks, and it has been flawlessly maintained since opening with perfect cleaning, no burned out lights, everything working. They spent top dollar on every inch of the decor too, and it shows.

I think even the most stubborn critics (like me) would absolutely love this store. It's at least an hour drive for me to get there and I don't care. I probably spend more here than any fancy store. It's totally worth it. Cannot stop praising it (even though it is pretty darned crowded).
This operator executes and actually cares about its stores. Had any of the other small Hispanic chains tried this, I don't think the result would have been this good.

Have they done anything to resolve the parking issue? I've heard the parking lot is not big enough (it is a huge lot).

The bigger question is how many more of these can they open, and where?
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