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Millbrae Readies for Life Without Safeway

Starting today, local residents will have to find other food shopping options while grocer remodels its El Camino Real store. It will take about a year to build a new store featuring expanded services and additional parking.

Helen Erikson is going to have to go somewhere else to find her breakfast cereal, and franks and beans.

Starting today, Erikson, a retired bookkeeper who volunteers at the senior center and has lived in Millbrae for 55 years, will have to go elsewhere as the store undergoes renovations expected to take about a year to complete.

She remembers the store's 1962 opening.

"There's a lot more competition now, that's for sure," she said.

But now, she's among many local residents mapping out new places for food shopping.

"You know who's going to make out? Trader Joe's," she said." Lucky's and Walgreens."

Safeway loyalists need not despair though.

They'll still be able to shop at the nearby on 1450 Howard Avenue and two in South City (one on , and the other on ).

"I'll go to the Safeway in Burlingame," said Hillsborough resident Lorraine Pathas, a Millbrae Safeway shopper for 35 years.

Pathas said the Burlingame store isn't much further, but she's been able to work her Millbrae Safeway visits around other visits.

An inconvenience?

"Yeah probably," she said, "but I'll adjust to it."

Erikson said that for some, the closure will be more than a minor inconvenience, noting that some of the elderly she works with at the senior center depend on their close proximity to the Millbrae Safeway.

Safeway spokeswoman Wendy Gutshall said in an email that the company will provide incentives for Millbrae shoppers who travel to the company's other Peninsula stores.

"We are interested in serving the needs of our customers to bring them the best quality shopping experience," she said. "It’s important to us to minimize the impact to the community during the closure as best as possible and to create a new and better functioning store."

Gutshall, however, did not respond to requests for information on what measures the store has taken to provide for free or discounted delivery to elderly customers for whom traveling to the stores outside of Burlingame is not feasible.

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Gideon Rubin June 04, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Will you miss the Millbrae Safeway store while it's undergoing renovations?
Biemme June 04, 2012 at 07:44 PM
We will certainly miss it but why does it take one year to rebuild it? Barbara
Mitch June 04, 2012 at 09:21 PM
I will definetely miss it, but I think it is worth to wait one year. The store was getting very dirty and running down, maybe because of the high foot traffic and opened 24/7. A new store with additional parking, more produce, meat, pharmacy selection will be a great addition to the city, especially with this area with so many business closing down. We need more renovations in Millbrae business!
Marilyn June 04, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Safeway will be greatly missed, but my concern is how many people will like having to go up a flight in order to shop? With the parking that is already there, which does not belong to Safeeay,put the parking on top of the building, leave shopping on the street level, making it more convenient for shoppers and especially those with walkers, canes and wheelchairs.
Heidi Beck June 05, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Not really. The store was pretty dirty, it wasn't well stocked, the parking lot was too tight (my car got so many dings and scratches in that lot) -- I tried to avoid it as much as possible and usually shop elsewhere. I can't imagine what that parking lot under the store will be like -- between the pillars and the contrast in light/shade, I'm sure there are going to be fender-benders galore. But I guess Safeway didn't want to worry about people confusing the brake and the accelerator and hurtling off the roof. Though at the Burlingame store that's the best place to park because nobody goes up there, even though the surface lot is getting full with all the other businesses opening around the plaza. At least it will be clean when it's renovated, though the new "lifestyle" stores are so dark! I was shopping with my husband at the Burligame store last week and he said, "What's wrong with the lights? It's so dark in here."

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