Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Revitalization Sharpens For Plaza

Revitalization Sharpens For Plaza
New Asian store projected as anchor for shopping center on Peabody
By Jennifer Gentile/Staff Writer
Article Launched: 02/17/2008

Cellophane still covers several display cases at the County Square Market, which is in the process of moving in to Vacaville's Peabody shopping center, but it won't be long before they contain all manner of Asian fare.

The store is a work in progress, and according to General Manager Richard Yen, it should be opening at the beginning of April. The family-owned operation has claimed a more than 25,000 square-foot space in the plaza, which is located on Peabody Road.

The city is hoping the new business will revitalize a shopping center that has struggled for roughly two decades. According to Economic Development Director Mike Palombo, the center has had "a tough life," particularly since losing a Lucky's grocery and an adjacent Thrifty drug store.

A Chandler's furniture store occupied the site afterward, and according to Palombo, the use did not generate enough return trips to turn the plaza around.

The city seized the opportunity to bring the Asian market to town in July. That process required the City Council to transfer development impact fee credits, which reduced ownership's cost of moving in by about $33,000.

"Even though (the market) is a specialty store," Palombo said, "It'll generate a lot of return trips and it'll be very good for that center."

Yen said the Vacaville store is about 8,000 square feet bigger than County Square Market's other location in Pleasant Hill. In the past, the family has had operations in Oakland and San Francisco, and it is in the process of adding another location in Alameda in the coming months. The Vacaville store will feature a full-service deli, offering selections like restaurant-quality dim sum, and a meat counter that can cut to a patron's specifications.

"We also have background in the restaurant industry," the general manager said, referring a Bay Area eatery the family operated called Jade Villa. "Our chef is very professional."

Large tanks stand ready to house dungeness crab, lobster and other live, seasonal seafood. Another section will be devoted to fresh fish.

"If a customer likes oysters," he said, "that's what we're also famous for." Both Asian and American produce will be available in another part of the market.

The shelves will be stocked with "about 60 to 70 percent Japanese and Korean products," Yen said, adding, "If you want it, we have it, pretty much."

Remodeling and set-up will continue in the coming weeks, and like the city, Yen is optimistic about the business's reception in Vacaville.

"I think Vacaville is a very family-oriented, traditional city," Yen said, "and we are a very family-oriented business, so it's a good place for us to be."

Jennifer Gentile can be reached at vacaville@thereporter.com.

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