San Francisco History

The 1970s

Safeway

Safeway started the 1970s with 24 stores in San Francisco, the oldest being three pre-1940 stores at 1010 South Van Ness, 279 West Portal, and 1330 Bush, all of which are now demolished. These and nine others were closed during the decade (the Bush Street store being relocated next door) and three were opened. Most of the closed branches were small, urban locations with no parking. The 3350 Mission store was the final Marina prototype built in San Francisco. In 1980, Safeway was operating 15 stores in the city and the transition to large supermarkets was complete.

Safeway remained surprisingly willing to operate urban stores during the 1970s; a new location with parking garage opened at Bush and Larkin, and several other branches added rooftop parking in the early 1970s, including the reconstructed 1940-era store on Monterey Boulevard. Also, a small new downtown unit on Jackson Street (at the base of an urban renewal apartment project) has been successful since opening in the late 1960s and was recently expanded and remodeled.

However, the very oldest urban units with no parking were finally retired by 1975 and the final pre-1954 unit on California street was closed by 1980. And most new construction involved semi-suburban locations like the store at Fulton and La Playa, and the new Diamond Heights Safeway-Super S combo.

Lucky

Lucky Stores hit its peak in San Francisco during the 1970s, with three stores in 1970 and four in 1980. The fourth came when the chain acquired several former Albertsons locations, including the San Francisco store on Alemany Boulevard. Ironically, many of these stores would sprout Albertsons signage again twenty years later when Lucky Stores was acquired by Albertsons.

Cala Foods and Bell Markets

Cala Foods reached its peak of about twelve San Francisco units in the mid-1970s, with a combination of modern stores of its own (and most of the remnants of the Littleman chain) and a few older, smaller stores. In addition, it also had several branches outside the city. Bell Markets operated two locations in Noe Valley (one a former Safeway near 24th and Castro) and a few stores on the Peninsula. At some point, these two chains merged.

Other Chains

By the 1970s, San Francisco had reached the point of oligopoly, with the grocery business dominated largely by three chains: Safeway, Cala, and Lucky. Purity was gone by 1973, as were Big Bonus and the other assorted chains which had been absorbed into other chains.

About the only survivors were QFI (purchased by Cala Foods in 1973) and the new Canned Foods Grocery Outlet which occupied space formerly held by Lo-Mark and Big Bonus (and may or may not have been connected to these chains otherwise).

Mayfair would exit the San Francisco market during the 1970s. Its Bay Street location was taken over by the Berkeley Co-op, while the Ocean Avenue branch became a Brentwood Market, joining the existing branch at 4175 Mission.

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