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Pacific Market stores being sold, but founding families to stay

  • Pacific Market's store in the Town and Country Shopping Center in Santa Rosa. (JOHN BURGESS/Press Democrat)

Pacific Market, the longtime family- owned grocery with stores in Sebastopol and Santa Rosa, is in the process of being sold to Vasu Narayanan, a San Rafael businessman who owns Oceana Market in Pacifica.

The Silveira and Mohar families, who opened the Sebastopol store as Fiesta Market in 1966, will stay on to run the markets, said Ken Silveira, current owner and president of the company. The deal is set to close by Jan. 1, he said.

"We're definitely woven into the fabric of Sebastopol," Ken Silveira said. "We're looking forward to the revitalization of the store. The last two years were difficult, and we're looking forward to getting our reputation back to where it should be."

Poor economic conditions and the closure of the company's Rohnert Park store contributed to the decision to sell, Silveira said. The Rohnert Park store opened in 2006, just before the economic downturn, and before a planned development of 2,000 nearby homes fell through, Silveira said.

"We closed the store, which put pressure on the other two stores," Silveira said.

He said the new owner is bringing an infusion of capital that will enable the grocery store management to focus on improving product lines and responding to customers' requests. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"The store has been a longtime staple in the Sebastopol community, because they attended very well to the customers' needs," Narayanan said. "The core values, that's what we wanted to focus on. We have a similar mindset, an almost identical vision of how to run a store in a community."

Employees at the store are excited about the change, and are looking forward to expanding their product offerings.

"We are thrilled," said one employee, who asked not to be identified. "We had a very lean operation for 14 months after the close of the Rohnert Park store, so we've been limited in our offerings."

Shopper John Everett, 60, a business consultant from Bodega, said that by comparison Oliver's Market has a broader selection of nuts, olives, craft beers and meats. Even so, he wasn't sure what the store should do to improve.

"They're using all their space now, so if they were to expand any of these situations, they'd have to take away what they had," Everett said.

Another customer complained about the quality of the produce and high prices.

But many shoppers praised the store's commitment to offering quality meals, including the outdoor barbecue and takeout Thanksgiving smorgasbord.

"They're a good alternative to Whole Foods," said Lynn Watson, a part-time teacher at Santa Rosa Junior College who enjoys taking advantage of the senior days. "I like the store. I hope it stays the same kind of flavor, in terms of what they offer."

You can reach Staff Writer Cathy Bussewitz at 521-5276 or cathy.bussewitz@pressdemocrat.com.

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