Bristol Farms recently celebrated the grand opening of its prototype store on Mulholland Drive in Woodland Hills, California. It is the first major design departure for Bristol Farms in its 35-year history and is “a store that we’ve been dreaming up for a decade,” Kacie Davis, owner of KMDesign Co., which implemented the design, told The Shelby Report in an interview prior to the store’s opening.
The opening-day event was attended by city and company officials, kicking off with a “cookie cutting” ceremony.
“The cookie is one of our signature items for the bakery department,” Bristol Farms’ Chairman and Co-CEO Kevin Davis told The Shelby Report’s Bob Reeves at the event. “‘The Cookie,’ as we call it, is a giant chocolate chip cookie—all natural, no artificial ingredients. It’s 37 percent by weight Belgian chocolate, so when you break it open, it just melts. And we only serve them hot. We make them hot, we put them on that heated tray, and if they don’t sell within 30 minutes, we actually break them up and sample them. No cookie is longer than 30 minutes on the tray. They’re always melty inside.”
Bristol Farms hangs its hat on that cookie and, according to Davis, its stores run their ovens constantly to keep up with demand.
“We’re not doing a ribbon cutting because we look at ourselves as a food company,” President and Co-CEO Adam Caldecott told event attendees. “This is our No. 1 point-of-difference item.”
But the cookie isn’t all the Mulholland store has to offer.
“This is a culmination of about 35 years of Bristol Farms serving Southern California,” Caldecott said. “I am hopeful that you will have an experience inside this store that takes your breath away. You get to see all the nooks and crannies and the new items that we’ve brought to you. I really, truly believe that we brought a wonderful community store, and my team has just worked tirelessly to make this all happen. We look forward to serving this community for years to come, and I think we’ve given you just the store that can accomplish that goal.”
Story continues below
Read more about the new prototype:
A refreshed produce department
Among the new offerings featured at the Mulholland store is an updated produce department. John Savidan, director of produce merchandising, highlighted some of those new features for The Shelby Report.
“The whole department has about 260 organic items in it,” he said. “The conventional offering is very, very minimal, and we have only placed conventional items when we can’t find organic. So, we’ve got a real heavy presence of organic in this store…We’ve got a really nice, in-house chop shop program. We do all the vegetables right here, and we also have a very nice cut fruit offering. We have a guacamole station in this store…The center of the produce department is done with European-style tables. That makes it easier for the customers to shop—low profile. They still hold an adequate amount of product for shopping, but it really, really showcases the product better, and it’s a great way to show all the signage right in front of the products. Everything just looks really nice.”
The department is a little larger than most Bristol Farms produce departments, and now is located at the front of the store, near the foodservice area.
Support from fans and officials alike
The consumer response to the store so far has been positive. Reeves had the opportunity to speak with Bristol Farms’ “No. 1 fan,” George Martinez, at the event. Martinez, a local attorney, has been a loyal shopper since 2004, and the new store blew him away.
“This store sets the gold standard. And Bristol Farms is the preemptive retail store because of the wide aisles, the great presentation, unique customer service. All of those things combined make it very attractive and irresistible for customers. That, in a nutshell, is what Bristol Farms represents,” Martinez told Reeves.
He is particularly fond of the grocer’s prepared foods, cheese and produce departments, where he can find items that are hard to find elsewhere.
“That’s the magic of it,” he said. “And now, Bristol Farms has expanded, and they have a clean, clear vision, a path to even more success.”
City officials are almost as happy about the new store as Martinez.
“We are so happy that Bristol Farms chose this location. Bristol Farms in a great boost for our economy, providing many jobs for our local workforce,” said Diana Williams, CEO of the West Valley-Warner Center Chamber of Commerce, during the cookie cutting. “We are excited to shop and explore this concept store. The neighborhood has been abuzz for quite some time now, and we are excited to hear about and experience all the unique features of this Bristol Farms.”
“This is truly an exciting day,” added Los Angeles City Councilman Bob Blumenfield. “Bristol Farms is going to be such a great addition to our community. I’m looking forward to shopping here with my family.”
See more photos of the store on opening day here.