It's been a dream of mine for several years to open a corner grocery store that sells gourmet products, select kitchenware like dishtowels and wooden spoons, flowers, and a small selection of good cheeses and cured meats. My store would have a little of this and a little of that, and I based the idea for it on the local grocery stores where I'd done my own shopping over the years. Mostly small independent merchants who had created a cozy, neighborhood destination, or sold unique items that were just beautiful to touch and see. The types of stores where you feel so comfortable you could browse for an hour and leave empty-handed (although this is rarely the case). Or stores that inspire you so much with their goods, that you want to rush home to cook or bake or taste-make.
The recipe for my store was one part Mayflower Market in Pacific Heights, SF, for its inviting corner location, delicious sandwiches, and friendly staff. I used to leave my keys with Chris behind the cash register for my out-of-town guests.
One part Bay Cities Italian Deli and Bakery in Santa Monica, for their incredible specialty Mediterranean foods like dried pastas, capers and prepared antipasti.
And one part Marty's Liquors in Newton, MA for its vast selection of mustards, cocoa powder, olive oil. Not to mention their rows and rows of wine and craft beers that are nearly impossible to find anywhere else in the Boston area.
There are a few other parts to the recipe, of course, but allow me to add yet another inspiration to my list. Perhaps the very prototype for the store I've always dreamed of having: Royal Blue Grocery in Austin. I have been going to their their location on 3rd Street since I got here three weeks ago, buying a coffee on my way to work, and a bottle of wine on my way home (don't worry - not every day). Not long after I got here, I saw a sign go up on the ground floor of a building around the corner from me that said Royal Blue Grocery Coming Soon! I was overjoyed! They finally finished construction and opened their doors on Friday. Yesterday I went in to buy some milk and check it out. I tried to sneak some photos but this was the only one I could get - but I think you get the idea. Specialty food heaven.
They are still stocking the shelves and refrigerators, but I can tell it's going to be beautiful. I just love it all - the blue sign, the great music playing, the cafe seating outside, the big flower boxes being built, and mostly, the random assortment of products they sell, from a $1 bar of Dove soap, to $200 bottles of wine. I have met the owner once or twice while getting my morning coffee (a Red Sox fan!), so I may try to get a little closer to him to see how he made Royal Blue a reality.