“It's taken a year or so – too long – and we're very anxious, and excited: we're almost there,” said
Saad Hirmez, owner of the independent Apple Tree Market, who expects to re-open on Newport Avenue “in late February or early March.”
Hirmez's new, smaller retail space of about 7,000 square feet at 4976 Newport Ave. is about half the size of his previous spot at 4949 Santa Monica Ave. (a CVS since 2015). The Hirmez family had operated the Apple Tree Market grocery business on Santa Monica Avenue – ever since they took over the former Safeway in 1989 – as Ocean Beach’s only full-time grocery store until the business lost its lease.
The new retail space has gone through several reincarnations over the years. It was a Bank of America building for a time.
“That space has been many things,” Hirmez said. “The last thing was a surf shop. It's also been a bazarr, a gym – several things.”
The Hirmez family acquired the building in February of 2001.
Of his new facility, Hirmez said, “Its going to be a beautiful store and fill a major void in the community. It' going to be a full-blown supermarket with a meat department and produce, a dairy and deli. We're going to emphasize a lot more organic, with whole products that we didn't have have at the other store.”
The grocery owner said he will work with the community to stock his new store with them in mind.
“We're going to have to juggle and see what the community needs, and bring in products that work,” he said. “We want to listen to our customer's needs and give them what they want. It's going to be trial and error.”
The small size of the Hirmez building required some adjustments. Previously, Hirmez said there wouldn't be room for detergents, beauty products and other items typically found at a grocery store, items which can be found at two nearby drug stores – CVS and Rite-Aid.
As for alcohol, Hirmez said police previously approved the transfer of his license from the former location to sell beer, wine and spirits – though final approval from the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Department was pending. To gain police support, Hirmez said he agreed to several conditions, including: no single cans of beer, no half-pints or miniature bottles of spirits, no fortified wines and no sales after midnight.
Also, Hirmez noted no protests were filed when he applied for alcohol at the new location. He said that was a tribute to the solid reputation and goodwill he earned at his previous site.
Of remodeling and permitting, Hermiz said, “It's been trying. I really feel bad that we haven't been able to re-open faster.”
The grocery owner gave kudos to the beach community for its support.
“The response we've gotten from the community, the way they've welcomed us with open arms – they've been an absolute peach. We're glad to be able to give them a store where they can satisfy their ordinary grocery needs and staples, instead of having to drive out of town or live off of deli sandwiches.”
Apple Tree Market
What: Full-service grocery store.
Where: 4976 Newport Ave. in Ocean Beach.
Opening: Late February, early March.