staff of life watsonville
Staff of Life has delayed the opening of its Watsonville location until next year. — Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

WATSONVILLEStaff of Life has delayed the opening of its Watsonville location until next year, according to spokeswoman Hollie Wendt.

The Santa Cruz-based natural foods store was set to open its second location in the East Lake Village Shopping Center sometime in the fall.

“After much discussion and deliberation at Staff of Life, we have come to the decision to delay the opening of our new store in Watsonville to early 2021,” a statement from the store read. “There were multiple factors that influenced our decision-making process.”  

Among them: the ongoing fire season, which this year brought the devastating CZU August Lightning Complex fires, and the possibility of additional rolling blackouts.

“Rolling blackouts and shut-offs could be devastating to a retailer our size,” the statement read.

The health and safety of their employees during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic was also a concern. Earlier this month an employee contracted the novel coronavirus, causing the store to close for deep cleaning

“Opening a store at this time presents multiple risky problems, but we think the situation will improve over the coming months and we are excited about our future in Watsonville,” the statement read.

The store first announced it was opening a Watsonville location in 2018

The building at 906 East Lake Ave. has housed a grocery store for more than 50 years. Before it became Super Max Discount Foods, it was Lambert’s Market.

Staff of Life will be an addition to the growing shopping center that already boasts Coffeeville, Fruition Brewing, Sushi Qu, Hong Kong Garden, Chilie’s Pizza and Carmona’s BBQ Deli.

Wendt said the Watsonville location has been designed “architecturally different than a traditional market.”

When it does open, it will feature locally grown organic produce, the largest selection of artisan cheeses in South Santa Cruz County and craft beers and wine. Their meat department will showcase the highest quality antibiotic-free meats, poultry and seafood, Wendt said.

There will also be a smoothie and juice bar using fresh, organic ingredients, and a large section of vitamins, supplements and natural cosmetics. The deli will offer a wide variety of vegetarian and meat sandwiches along with take-out entrees. In addition, the store will carry its well-known traditional and gluten-free pastries and bread along with gelato bars.

“We are looking forward to serving the community of Watsonville in the coming year,” the statement read. “We are committed to providing Watsonville and surrounding areas with healthy food choices in a welcoming environment. We will post updates as we move through this process.”

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Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor of The Pajaronian for five years and three years as Managing Editor. He is a Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus.


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