Cala Foods and Bell Markets

Cala was a San Francisco area chain founded by the seven Cala brothers which began operations in a former Public Foods store at 633 Bush Street in 1942.

Innovative at its peak, Cala was the first chain in San Francisco to operate 24 hours a day, and among the first in the country to use scanners. In 1965, the company expaded with the purchase of Littleman Stores. Further expansion came in 1973 with the acquisition of QFI and in 1976 with the purchase of Jolly Markets in Marin County. The company itself was acquired by Yucaipa in 1988, aligning itself with Boys, Viva, and FoodsCo in Southern California.

After a series of Yucaipa mergers in the 1990s, Cala and Bell became a division of Ralphs, which is itself became a division of Kroger. Stores once stretched as far south as Santa Clara County, but were limited to San Francisco and Marin by this time.

As of 2006, the number of stores was diminishing and the chain, as well as all of Ralphs Northern California operations, was put up for sale. In May 2006, it was announced that Kroger had agreed to sell twelve of the fourteen remaining Cala and Bell stores to a group headed by Harley DeLano, the former president of Cala/Bell and CFO of Yucaipa/Ralphs in the early 1990s. Most of the remaining Cala stores operated as Delano’s IGA for a few years before closing. One Cala Foods location, however, remained in San Francisco, still owned by Kroger, until its closing in 2011.

Cala Foods, California and Hyde, 1968 (from the movie “Petulia”):

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Updated on 10 February 2024

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