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Here’s hoping you were able to say your goodbyes to the old home of the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op before it closed. Goodbye to the narrow aisles, goodbye to the sometimes infuriating parking lot, goodbye to the endearingly small departments. Now, it’s time to say hello to its new home just two blocks west. If you’re anything like me, you might have some apprehension about the new space. I know the old store backwards and forwards and can get in and out in 3.28 minutes flat, but what if the new store is sterile and lacks the quirky charm of the old space? Fear not. Nick Conn, Social Media Coordinator, who showed us around while staffers put on the finishing touches, perfectly captured the vibe of the new space by saying “It feels like you’ve left your starter home and this is the home you’ve saved up 40 years for.” Exactly — not some cookie-cutter tract home, but the thoughtfully designed home that we deserve. There’s still plenty of warmth in the form of rough-cut wood accents, skylights and rustic metal art installations, and while there’s much more space, it still feels intimate. But what about all of the newness? That’s what we’re breaking down for you here — a guide to the fun perks and features of the new Co-Op.
Getting there: Since the congested parking lot was a common gripe at the old store, let’s start where you start — at the entrance:
- Parking lot out front: has a quick charge station for electric cars from SMUD, exposed spaces, and covered parking along the right and left sides of the lot; enter from 29th St.
- Parking garage: park on the first floor, or on any floor after 6pm; enter from S St. or through the alley between R St. and S St. The lot has two more charging stations and they get priority parking in terms of proximity to the entrance.
- Street parking: on R St. or on 28th St.
- Bike parking: 24 shiny new racks await your two-wheelers — all under a cover to shield from sun and rain!
- Light Rail: the station on the corner of R and 29th is right across the street!
- Looking to get to Temple Coffee the short way? Follow the sign that says “COFFEE” through the armadillo-topped gate.
Ready-to-eat section: Where you can choose from the digital menu screens and enjoy organic produce, grass-fed meat, and house-made sauces:
In terms of serve-yourself options, you have:
- Salad bar
- Hot food bar
- Olive bar (conveniently adjacent to the now ample cheese department)
Along the perimeter, behind glass cases/counters, you have:
- Pizza: by-the-slice for while you shop, and small and large sizes — also perhaps for while you shop? Grazie!
- Sushi: made in house by Mermaid Sushi using the Co-Op’s seafood sustainability standards. Arigato!
- Taqueria Counter: customize your order in a Chipotle-esque format by ordering street tacos, a burrito or bowl, or a taco salad — each with your choice of chicken, pork, tofu ranchero, or seasonal veggies. Gracias!
- Sandwiches + Grill: specialty sandwiches (a la Horseradish Roast Beef or Kale Pesto Tofu), grilled to order (fancy a burger with a housemade beef, turkey, or vegetarian patty, or a cubano?) and create your own (mix and match your choice of seasonal organic produce, and meat or vegetarian options all between locally baked bread). Thanks!
Prepared foods: for when you’re unprepared for work lunch, a potluck, or the onset of hangriness.
Gone are the days when you had to take a number and wait to get your two scoops of German potato salad. Now everything is conveniently packaged for you to grab and jet.
Yes, but what about the sweet stuff?
- The coffee and tea bar offers coffee from fair trade suppliers Equal Exchange and Pachamama with treats like house-made caramel sauce. Loose-leaf teas hail from Portland’s Jasmine Pearl Tea Merchants. Also be sure to try the taps of nitro coffee and kombucha.
- The gelato bar slings flavors from local Devine Gelateria, with such flavors as fromage blanc with figs, espresso almond fudge, pistachio and caramel sea salt. You can also snag a scoop or two of the rotating sorbeto options which are currently coconut lime and Orange Julius (bonus for vegans? Sorbeto fits the bill!)
- The juice and smoothie bar serves up tasty and healthy treats made from the produce department’s seasonal and organic selections. Some juice options include the Green Hornet (cucumber, celery, wheatgrass, garlic) and the G-Force (carrot, apple, lemon, ginger). But if a smoothie’s what you’re looking for, you can try the Sunshine Delight (banana, strawberries, pineapple juice and coconut water) or the Kickin Kale (banana, apple, kale, ginger and lemon) to name a couple. If you’re not seeing what you’re craving, you can create your own juice or smoothie by choosing a base and dreaming up the add-ons.
- The self-serve pastries beckon from behind clear plexiglass, allowing you to choose the biggest muffin top or flakiest croissant for yourself, which is a departure from the former set-up where you ordered from a staffer behind the counter. Also a change for the new Co-Op is their effort to make even more in-house, including the pastries.
Take a seat: where to eat all of the delicious aforementioned prepared foods.
- There are four snazzy new spaces for you to take a load off:
- Two upstairs, one indoors and one outdoors (can be accessed by stairs or elevator)
- Two downstairs, one indoors and one outdoors
- Stools, chairs and booths await your quick bite, your coffee date, your post-bike-ride morning breakfast with your buds, or your 3pm business meeting. And the (beautiful!) communal tables encourage CO-existing with your fellow man.
- The Co-Op now has Wifi — perfect for those study sessions or start-up meet-ups.
What else is new? So much!
- The meat, dairy, bulk, plant-based, freezer, and refrigerated beer sections have all been expanded, which means there are plenty of new brands, and more offerings from existing brands (read: more ice cream).
- There are personal water-bottle refill stations upstairs and downstairs.
- Speaking of water, the large water jug fill-up station now has 6 nozzles versus 4 at the old store, and it has a brand new stainless steel water-filtration system.
- There are (pretty) restrooms both upstairs and downstairs.
- Speaking of water again, the plumbing in the restrooms uses “greywater,” or the byproduct water required to make the water filtration process possible.
- There is a Demo Kitchen counter where you can sample products and recipes nestled behind the produce department.
- Said produce department now has gads of new space with more room for displays. Also on display is a reminder that the produce department is (and has been) certified USDA Organic, a list of farms the Co-Op buys from, and a run-down of what’s in season right now, so look up the next time you’re perusing the produce.
- There’s an ATM machine right inside the front door by the prepared foods section.
- Check out stands, where you give them all your money: 16 total — three at the Customer Service desk, three in the deli area, and ten regular stands
- The Community Learning Center is no longer annexed around the corner, but rather upstairs with seating for 32. Two TV screens and a projection screen allow even those in back to see what the chef is doing up front. It’s gorgeous. You can browse and book a class — anything from sausage making to urban beekeeping — here.
- In addition to the regular sized shopping carts and baskets, you also have the option of half-sized carts and kid’s carts.
- Reduced-price produce will now be donated to the River City Food Bank right behind the new Co-Op on 28th St. Sure, that means no more $1 bags of peppers, but it means that food is going to those most in need. Win win!
- New neighbors! The Co-Op now serves as the anchor store, so to speak, in one of the best little compounds in town: Pushkin’s Bakery, Revolution Wines, Refill Madness and Temple Coffee.
Hours: still the same, though they may expand in the future
7:00am-10:00pm every day
As the nation’s Farm-to-Fork capital, we have a lot to be proud of, and the new Co-Op is just one more (big) feather in our cap, helping bring the farm to you so you can put the food on your fork. Take the CO-Opportunity to check out the new space and scout out all of the new happenings!
Stay connected with all things Sacramento and beyond.