Last October 18, Allied Gardens residents celebrated their neighborhood's 60th birthday in the Waring Road parking lot where original shopping-center businesses included Food Basket.
5185 Waring Road, Allied Gardens
(Has gone out of business since this article was published.)
The grocery store became a Lucky store and was an Albertsons when it closed in February of this year. The closure — reputedly unrelated to the sale of stores to the Haggen chain and required due to the merger of Albertsons and Vons — surprised employees, residents, and the owner of the Allied Gardens Shopping Center. What the closure meant to the neighborhood was expressed earlier this year at forums including the Allied Gardens-Grantville Community Council town hall and District 7 city councilman Scott Sherman's March 12 State of the Navajo Neighborhoods meeting.
While the store remains empty, the April 23 Del Cerro Action Council meeting brought news of a temporary solution. Sherman staffer Liz Saidkhanian announced the May 15 grand opening of the Kiwanis Farmers Market. The market, sponsored by the Grantville-Allied Gardens Kiwanis Club and Cloverfield Management (the center owner) will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Fridays in the center located on Waring Road between Zion and Orcutt avenues.
Cloverfield waived the fee for the market, property manager Linda Lasher said in an April 28 interview.
On April 27, I met with past Kiwanis president Joe Huston and San Carlos residents David Klaman and his wife Diem Do. The couple owns and operates Community Crops. Klaman said his involvement in farmers' markets started in the late 1990s in Ocean Beach. He manages the farmers' market there and also runs Gaslamp and Otay Ranch markets. The Allied Gardens market is the opportunity to "do [a market in] my neighborhood," he said.
Huston said Sherman spoke to the Kiwanis Club and "floated the idea of a farmers' market," and Jay Wilson of the Del Cerro council brought up Klaman's name.
"We're a nonprofit organization,” said Huston. “What we raise goes back to the community. With the loss of the grocery store," the service organization looked for ways to help. Kiwanis are handling tasks such as advertising and banners; they will have a booth at the market.
By the last weekend of April, Klaman said vendors included "vegetable guys" and an "orange person." The market won't offer flowers because SD Flower Shop is a center tenant, and Klaman will "not bring in anything that competes" with businesses.
In addition to produce, Do said market offerings will include prepared foods and crafts. Tables and chairs will be set up so residents can dine and visit.
Huston said organizers hope to have weekly entertainment, noting that the Kiwanis Club has relationships with local schools. Do and Klaman also have a connection to young entertainers. Their nine-year-old daughter Dani is a member of Off the Hook. Her two band mates are ages 8 and 10. Do said the market is planned as a "fun family event. The family can come, hang out, and do grocery shopping."
As for the shuttered store, Lasher said she couldn't comment on a prospective tenant. "We're very actively in the process of obtaining a tenant. Hopefully it will be a market."
Residents are hopeful and weighed in on their preferences at meetings and on the Allied Gardens San Diego Facebook page. Residents endorsed Sprouts and Trader Joe's. While residents also favored Keil's, they acknowledged that the store has a San Carlos location.
Klaman and Wilson are also optimistic. When a grocery store comes to the center, they hope the farmers' market will move to another Allied Gardens location.