Bristol Farms opens its doors in Santa Barbara
A new grocery chain opened its doors to local residents on Thursday and it was met with a great reception to start.
Bristol Farms opened its 14th storefront in California during Thursday’s soft opening of its newest location, at 3855 State St. in La Cumbre Plaza.
Aptly named Bristol Farms La Cumbre, the store features an open design, perfect for social distancing, and offers a variety of goods to its newest customer base.
“We know the community has been waiting for our arrival and we are excited to share everything that makes Bristol Farms a shopping experience unlike any other,” Denis Lacey, the store’s director, told the News-Press in an email.
The store’s director is also tied directly to Santa Barbara.
Mr. Lacey, who has lived in Santa Barbara his whole life, has had decades of work experience in the grocery business, including previously working as the general manager at the Montecito Village Grocery.
He is now excited to step into this new journey with a similar goal — to provide quality service to Santa Barbarans.
“Our mission is to bring people together through good food. For our La Cumbre store, we focused on reflecting the passion that Santa Barbara has for local, artisanal products. We created our first ‘hyperlocal’ display, featuring items from both Santa Barbara and Carpinteria,” Mr. Lacey said.
Since 1982, Bristol Farms has supported local farms and provided high-quality grocery essentials to its community.
Offering more than just groceries, Bristol Farms also delivers an extensive natural living section, coffee and juice bar, and a food hall format offering both full-service food stations and grab-and-go options.
“We didn’t want big lines of people queuing up outside, but it turns out most folks knew about it through word of mouth. There definitely was energy in the air today, as people were able to take their time and explore our departments. We had plenty of staff on hand to answer questions and give recommendations. It really was fantastic,” Mr. Lacey said.
“Every department has amazing offerings: from our gorgeous produce department with incredible local, seasonal and tropical fruits, our Hawaiian style Poke bowls, our brisket in the deli (smoked in-house for 12 hours), our extensive wine & spirits department, our phenomenal cheese department, our meat department with trained butchers, loads of plant-based options, and last but certainly not least, ‘The Cookie,’” Mr. Lacey said.
The store called Thursday a “soft opening” due to the coronavirus pandemic. The store wanted to avoid long lines of customers in order to adhere to social distancing protocols, Mr. Lacey said.
That did not stop locals from being excited, however, once the store was open.
“There was very little promotion and zero fanfare.”
Doors opened at 9 a.m. with “a steady stream of guests all day,” he added, explaining that word spread quickly.
“It’s been a very heartwarming welcome from the community.”
Overall, people seemed impressed with the store on its first day being open. Riley Smith, a native of Santa Barbara County, said she was very excited to have a new place to shop.
“It’s just a really cool place with good food,” Ms. Smith said.
Throughout the hours, people filtered in and out and were greeted by a slew of staff.
“As an essential business, we are grateful not only to provide nourishment to the communities we serve, but also to provide 140+ jobs – many from hard hit restaurants. We are fortunate to be able to add their experience and expertise to our teams,” Mr. Lacey said.
And, when you walk down any aisle, you can see why.
In nearly every section of the store, there is at least one person that can provide assistance. Whether people need help picking out the right vitamins, the proper wine, or simply have questions about any groceries, someone is right there to help. There are also people at the doors that consistently sanitize shopping carts and greet customers as they walk through the store.
Daniel Sorensen, of Montecito, was impressed with the wide variety of spirits.
According to Bristol Farms, the store carries more than 1,200 wines, 300 spirits, and 600 beers, kombuchas and seltzers.
“They had a beer I always wanted to try and heard about, so that was pretty sweet,” Mr. Sorensen said.
The grocer is offering several sales during its first week, one of the most exciting being the 40% off select cuts of prime, choice, and dry aged steaks, Mr. Lacey said.
While the first day was a success, Mr. Lacey hopes it is just the first of many.
“We truly have been looking forward to opening in Santa Barbara and can’t wait to build meaningful relationships in the community,” Mr. Lacey said.
The La Cumbre location will be open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Seniors can shop from 6 to 7 a.m. to avoid larger crowds.