Andy Bachich calls it his “field of dreams.” Now he hopes they will come.
The dream is the new Andy’s Local Market, the successor to Bachich’s grocery store at the palm-tree-lined Loch Lomond Marina.
“It’s more than just a grocery store,” he said of the market that opens Saturday. “It’s a destination, here along the waterfront.”
With windows and table seating overlooking the marina, the San Pablo Bay and the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge in the distance, Andy’s Local Market might be the first to defy the naysayers who claim the eastern leg of Point San Pedro Road — about 3.5 miles east of downtown San Rafael — is a “terrible place for a grocery store,” Bachich said.
Bachich, 55, who grew up in the Santa Venetia neighborhood of San Rafael, has a lot of experience defying the odds.
In 2008, Bachich, a veteran contractor who spent his boyhood summers rowing boats at nearby China Camp State Park, purchased a slightly rundown building just a block east of the current store and named it Andy’s Market. At least six previous owners had tried to make a go of it at that location — and failed. Bachich managed to survive.
“I bought it on the condition that I would keep it for a year,” Bachich said. “It’s been 10 years.”
His dream, all that time, was “to build something on the water,” he said. With the recession, however, he put the dream on hold and fixed up the old Andy’s Market, all the time running designs in his head of how he would construct his own market with high-beamed ceilings and a nautical, rugged but whimsical theme that drew upon the marine ambiance of the bay. Meanwhile, he and wife Troy built up a loyal local following.
“I rely on this market for everything,” said Allan Flach, who, with wife Teri, has lived near the old Andy’s Market for its entire decade-long run. “We’re in this market every day.”
It took the slow-paced evolution of a high-end waterfront housing development on the surrounding land — including a yearlong contract negotiation between the developers and Bachich — to make the new market a possibility.
“The Andy’s Market component we call the ‘white hat’ part of this development,” said San Rafael Community Development Director Paul Jensen, who has been working on the Village at Loch Lomond project since 2002. It includes the Strand housing development, the marina, Andy’s Local Market and a large public park.
After 25 public hearings during a five-year period, San Rafael City Council approved the plans for the Village at Loch Lomond in 2007. But the plans sat there for a decade.
“The approvals have been in place for 10 years,” said Jensen, who is still at the Loch Lomond site on a weekly basis to oversee the continuing progress. “The project went nowhere due to the recession.”
About four years ago, construction started on the Strand, an 81-unit townhouse and single-family home development along the waterfront. About 35 homes have been built so far, and construction on the remaining units is pending demolition of the old Andy’s Market — likely within the next two weeks or so.
Jensen estimates it will be about a year for site grading, permits and other approvals before construction begins on the rest of the homes. However, the Los Angeles-based developers, Marina Village Associates, have already set up an onsite sales office and a website at thestrandmarin.com.
The new Andy’s Local Market is a celebration of marine decor, with custom wood boats to display produce, boat propellers as ceiling fans, tiled fish figures on the seafood section floors and channel markers refashioned as lamps. A coffee, beer and wine bar was built by Bachich and his team of contractor friends from a 24-foot-long slab of walnut from arborist Evan Shively’s reclaimed-wood mill in Marshall.
Polished steel bolts that might grace a cruise ship stateroom adorn the sides of the thick wood tables. Aisles of food and drinks are grouped in the center of the store, so that the entrance lobby is spacious and welcoming.
“I wanted people to come in and be able to see their neighbors,” Bachich said. “I knew I had to make it a very special store.”
Around the main portion of the market are food preparation areas, some with windows for customers to observe staff making pasta from scratch. A special cold room is set up for salad preparation for Andy’s Local Market, as well as for Bachich’s smaller Sun Valley Market in western San Rafael and his proposed Andy’s Corte Madera Market that just entered the town approval process.
For dining, Bachich has a few tables inside and more tables outside overlooking the marina.
Collection Boutique Cardigan Boutique NY Boutique NY Cardigan Collection One unique feature is a self-service or staff-assisted (the customer may choose either one) produce washing section, so that fruits and vegetables purchased at the store will be ready to use immediately upon returning home.
Andy’s Local Market took a lot of work — seven days a week for a year — to build, Bachich said. He hopes it will be worth the effort.
“The whole reason I’m building this is not about the money,” Bachich said. “It’s about creating something really unique on the water that the whole neighborhood could enjoy — it’s actually their market.”