Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Possible Reprieve for Taylor's? Fresh & Easy May Be On the Way Out

Apparently all is not well in the world of Fresh & Easy. A woefully underperforming appendage of the worldwide British grocery store empire Tesco, the pale green grocers with the fog free fridges may soon be going the way of the dodo.

According to the press reports that we have seen over the past two weeks, the Tesco home office in London is very unhappy about its American operation, with Fresh & Easy proving to be a major cash drain on the corporation's coffers. And because of this they could decide to cut their losses and pull the plug on the whole deal, and fairly soon.

A report from Reuters on June 29 (click here) tells this very melancholy tale:

Tesco Weighs Future of Fresh & Easy - World No. 3 retailer Tesco promised to pull the plug on its loss-making Fresh & Easy chain in the United States if it continued to disappoint, and rejected new calls for an independent review of its strategy for the venture.

"If we see no chance of success, we'll do as we've done in Japan," said chief executive Philip Clarke, referring to Tesco's deal this month to exit that market.

Then there is also this from the UK newspaper The Telegraph (click here):

Tesco will leave US if it fails to make profit - Philip Clarke, the chief executive of Tesco, has signaled that the company will abandon its American supermarket venture if it cannot make it work.

Mr. Clarke's remarks were made at a testy annual meeting in Cardiff, where shareholder's repeatedly questioned the Tesco boss about the supermarket group's declining fortunes.

Fresh & Easy, Tesco's grocery chain on the west coast of America, has yet to make a profit despite an improvement in sales following a major revamp of the business. Last years it racked up losses of 153m (in British pounds), after losing 186m in the previous year.

What does this mean for Sierra Madre? To begin with the much ballyhooed interest of Fresh & Easy in moving into the space at the corner of Baldwin and Sierra Madre Boulevard might not be quite as certain a thing as many here had perhaps too easily assumed. For the parent company in Great Britain to be publicly stating that they are taking a serious look at shuttering their failing U.S. enterprise should probably be taken as evidence that Fresh & Easy isn't exactly in a position to save Sierra Madre.

There is also something else that we should consider. What if Taylor's Quality Meats, a legacy Sierra Madre business if ever there was one, is chased out of their current location by a frantic LLC landlord eager to unload its bad investment on Fresh & Easy? Is there any guarantee that parent company Tesco will continue to prop up what is by some accounts a dying venture? Leaving us with nothing at all on that site?

Hopefully these matters will be taken into account when the Fresh & Easy people start hanging around City Hall looking for permits and a CUP. Certainly it would behoove us to know that they will actually be around for more than a minute before we allow them to start tearing things up at Baldwin and Sierra Madre Boulevard.

It is bad enough that we might be losing Taylor's for an outlet of a mediocre supermarket chain that, in my opinion, is neither compelling or necessary. What would make matters even worse is if we should lose Taylor's for what turns out to be absolutely nothing.

A word of caution. Should this situation be improperly handled, we could end up with another blighted property not unlike the Skilled Nursing Facility. That must now be considered a distinct possibility.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

118 comments:

  1. It would be hard to imagine Fresh and Easy taking on the cost of a tear down and building a new structure. In Arcadia they revampted the old Vons, using all of it and then condensing to using half of the building. Are there any instances where there built an entirely new structure for their west coast US venture?

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  2. Anybody tell Nancy Walsh yet?

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    1. I hear she is hard to get ahold of. Tapped out, apparently.

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  3. I remember seeing something about Fresh and Easy doing their marketing survey to see if they would make headway where there was a strong Wal-Mart clientel. We have a long way to go (Monrovia) to get to Wal-Mart and I avoid it like the plague. Where is the next closest one? Rosemead? El Monte?

    Also, the appearance of Henry's and Sprouts probably did them in. And well established Trader Joes. Just don't see it happening here. Dawood's in Monrovia did not last too long, which was too bad as they seemed to have their act together, then what? Cheap prices but the fresh fruit and vegitables were just on the edge of going to rot. Had to eat all that stuff real fast.

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    1. Wal*Mart is attempting to open two smaller "neighborhood market" stores in Altadena. People there are up in arms.

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  4. Just what Sierra Madre needs. An empty and abandoned Fresh and Easy building.

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  5. You'd think city hall would have done a Google News search on Fresh & Easy. I just did and this story is all over the business press.

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    1. What makes you think "city hall" hasn't done a Google News search on Fresh & Easy?

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    2. I'd have thought the city would have shared the news with the residents rather than crowing about a possibly soon to be defunct supermarket chain showing interest in the Howie's site. With this kind of resume I'd think Fresh & Easy'd have a hard time finding someone to even rent them an apartment.

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    3. Come on. City Hall never tells residents anything. They think we're idiots only good for taxing.

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  6. Well so has the Montecito LLC sold the Howie's property to Fresh & Easy? I'm sure it was a multi million transaction... how come it didn't show up in the real estate news? If the property wasn't sold, was it leased? Haven't seen any news of that either. Fresh & Easy can't just take over, take down, and rebuild without a piece of paper from the property owners.

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    1. Hopefully the check will bounce.

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  7. That is just what we need a baby Wal*Mart. I will never shop WM if I can help it. Sometimes end up there when I am traveling. A few years ago the local churches with humanitarian consciousness as their core mission (sorry, to put it like this but there are lots of churches that I cannot likewise describe) were showing a film: Wall*Mart, the High Cost of Low Prices. Wal*Mart has many purchasing scams: they advertize for example a cheap microwave oven. You go have a look at it and it is a piece of crap. But you are in the store for a microwave, buy another one and more likely pay more that you could have gotten it elsewhere. Also, they have driven manufactures to the brink of ruin by stating at what price point they would by at and then the manufacturer can hardly make a profit by providing it to Wal*Mart at that price. The film also showed the Chinese workers working for slave wages at the companies that supplied Wal*Mart.

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    1. I have an idea, how about bringing back production to the USA.
      I think that would be a novel idea.
      Perhaps if we had a governments on the state and federal level more interested in us "serfs" than stuffing their pockets with campaign money, and golf resort junkets, we would not be in the mess we are in now.
      We would all then have enough disposable income to buy that better microwave made here.
      Come November I am voting for all new leadership. I am looking for change.

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    2. Me too. Time to dump the donklephant.

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    3. Good luck on the third party candidate - or fourth party one, or the fifth. A vote for one of them is a vote that favors one of the donklephants.

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    4. 10:17 - the donklepant has you right where they want you.

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    5. I voted for Ross Perot.

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    6. So did I 12:12. And about 20 million other people. Didn't work. That's something, when 20 million plus two aren't enough.

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    7. It did help to rid of Lord George Bush I, however. I doubt Clinton would have won had Perot not run.

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  8. @7:50 - Well dah. Gees your comment is lame. (Fresh & Easy can't just take over, take down, and rebuild without a piece of paper from the property owners.)You mean title?

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    1. Gees? Might want to refrain from the use of the "lame" epithet, and temper your inordinate pride in realtor speak.

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    2. I was struck by the "dah".

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  9. A brand new empty building on that site would be easier to lease out than the dumpy building that's there now.

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    1. How can you be sure they'll even build it? It doesn't sound to me like Tesco is interested in flushing any more money down the Fresh & Easy.

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  10. I was in Taylor's yesterday, needed to buy one item, and was very surprised to see that they now have many, many more items, I ended up buying several.
    If they slowly expand into a bit larger "small market" they will do very well.
    I live down the street and will stop in there often.
    They have good meat and fish, good fruit and vegetables and I bought a great loaf of sour dough bread there.
    Let's support and keep Taylors. It needs to be "marketed" by us, the Sierra Madre residents. Forget the food trucks or driving three to 6 miles to pick up a few grocery items. Support Taylors.

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    1. Taylor's isn't as 'small town local' as one might think- their meat is factory-farm raised and is imported all the way from Nebraska. There are better alternatives.

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    2. You miss the point 11:55 am. Taylor's isn't about raising the animals in their backyard and butchering it fresh every day. It's about great qualify meat, poultry and fish that's adequately looked after in the meat cases and handled by people who's faces we've come to associate with good custimer service. Stop in about noon on Wednesday for the best salmon within 20 miles. I can all ahead and pick up the exact piece of meet I'm looking for that's not usually in the case. Their stew meat is actually sirloin and can be threaded directly to skewers - yes, it's that tender. Yesterday I took home pears that were precisely at their peak from the fruit display. Local milk and cheese from Altadena.

      For cleaning supplies and household items I head on over to Smart & Final, like I did this morning. Bread? If you're looking for bakery bread, try Wildflour's.

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    3. Thanks for your reply. My argument is that as long as it's from a corn-fed feed lot it is not good quality. If you truly want high-quality cuts try ordering from Creston Valley Meats. Their produce is raised and rendered the old fashioned way, and they deliver weekly. I'm not saying Taylor's is bad, their just not above mediocre.

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    4. From the Creston Valley Meats website:

      Rab-kin-deen patties $2.70 per lb:
      Ground whole sardines with bones, head and guts 33%, ground rabbit heads, feet, guts with organs 33% and ground chicken with bone. In 1 pound bags + ... more info

      Lots of game meat, rabbit heads and guts, chicken heads and innards.

      I'll continue on with Taylor's, thanks.

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    5. Interesting site. They list grass-fed sirloin for $5.65/lb. Not sure what to do with an emu steak...

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  11. There are several build to suit new ground up FnE stores. Typically however they will for financial reasons, remodel an existing store and change flags. The stores are around 13K sf. Not knowing what Howies is, I think it may be possible to do a smaller version of the FnE prototype. It may be just told old to make sense though. By observation its going to be hard to get enough parking to comply.
    FnE is not doing well unfortunately. I highly doubt they would come to SM. Only about 1 percent of all deal inquiries actually get built. There are several factors to be considered and approved by corp. Just because an application has been filed by them in the city doesn't mean they actually will be building. FnE is in their due diligence phase for the Howies location. It may not even pencil out in the end and they walk. Which I believe is going to happen. But then we will be back to square 1 again. Howies will eventually sit vacant and the homeless will take refuge behind the store. If the townsmen like Taylors so much maybe the city can go into the butcher business and subsidize Taylors to keep them in business. The libs would love that.

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    1. Taylors has been in business for decades and makes money.

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    2. The only taxpayer subsidized business I know about is the Bottle Shop. Are there others?

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    3. Taylors may make money but it is the property owner that is trying to make money and i am sure they are not,
      when they get a chance to make some they will sell and good by Taylors.

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    4. The dummies who bought that property thought they were going to get rich off the DSP. They have now been stuck with that place for years. We'll all be dead and gone and they'll still be stuck with it.

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    5. That is a very naive statement

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    6. Naive, or Steve Naive?

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    7. Nothing like a good ol' tried-n-true 'lib' joke on a Sunday morn...

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  12. As long as we still have the free wall (now the giving bin) in the canyon, I'll never need Walmart.

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  13. So all that hoohah about Fresh & Easy coming here we read in the Mountain Views News and Patch was just a bunch of crap?

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    1. How would that be any different than what they usually write?

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    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    3. Inappropriate to this site. Please refrain from such usage in the future.

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  14. I like an "open space" greenbelt concept for the Howies site. Tear it down and have grass, trees and a water fountain.

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    1. Wonderful!

      I've got $50 to contribute. Steve, can you manage the other millions? How much would that property cost anyway?

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    2. Have we asked Buxton if they have done a "secret survey" to let us know what should be built at the Howies lot?
      What has the Chamber of Commerce done to entice someone to town? Oh that's right, they just host the Wistaria Festival.

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    3. That is a pretty harsh judgement on the Chamber, 10:16. I'll have you know that they also sponsor the 4th of July dunk tank.

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  15. So who loses more money for their parent corporation? Patch or Fresh & Easy?

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    1. It's a tie.

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    2. Maybe they both could buy the property together. Call it Fresh & Patchy, or something.

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    3. Easy Patch.

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  16. Choosing Sierra Madre as a location for a new Fresh and Easy is a good indicator as to why the business is in free fall. Unless it 'captures' the whole population of the town, it will not be economically viable. I think Steve is right that this will be one of the 99% business deal inquiries that goes nowhere. Unless Tesco is acting out some sort of self-destructive wish.

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  17. Did you attend the Fox News Network Fear Mongering School of Reporting?, or are you just spewing forth personal commentary onto a gullible audience waiting your every utterance as gospel?...ya, I thought so.

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    1. You seem bitter.

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    2. Which "you" 10:05?

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    3. 10:05, Ya as in the Norwegian ya, or perhaps you meant the colloquial English yeah?

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    4. Maybe it is Helga, come to post the comments.

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    5. 10:05 must be referring to Reuters.

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    6. I think Helga is upset. The cow must have kicked her in the head during milking.

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  18. Taylor's is on a month to month lease, he is in a very difficult position as a business owner, 2 years..tops...Taylor's is toast.

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    1. Now that Fresh & Queasy is likely out of the picture, there are no other takers for that space. I'd say Mr. Taylor has at least another 5 years where he now.

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    2. Face it, the people who bought the site where Taylor's is set up got punked in 2007. They thought they were going to get rich, and it didn't happen. They should stop whining about it and move on.

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    3. move on is what they are trying todo by selling the site

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    4. It is the nature of their tragedy that each buyer that comes along will somehow end up not finishing the deal.

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  19. What about an upscale drive thru "dairy" a la Rigos on Foothill?

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    1. No drive throughs allowed in Sierra Madre. But other than that, nice idea!

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    2. I have always thought that drive through public comment would improve resident attendance at City Council meetings.

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    3. Absolutely right 10:26.

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  20. A new way to look at city planningJuly 8, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    A creative marketer like Sprouts, Trader Joes, or Whole Foods, could take the other half of the property and add their own mini-market seeing the needs of the community and benefit greatly and keep Taylors. Daniel Pink lays out this innovation in his popular selling books DRIVE and A WHOLE NEW MIND. This is proven success based on research from designing cities to understanding the way we work, both as individuals, small groups and leaders.

    It is not pop gobbley goop. His work is rational, sensible and highly respected among city planners, education specialists and creative-innovative industrialists.

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  21. a drive thru dairy concept is a cool idea and keeping with the community. The economics of drive thru dairy's like the ones of yesteryear just dont work today. They would have to sell $5/gal milk and $4 loaf of bread. I dont believe SM is willing to support that for nostalgia sake. Its unfortunate that to run a business today cost so much. What the country needs is an adjustment in the value of our dollar upwards or just more dollars per hour.

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  22. Not sure if drive thru's are prohibited in SM provided one can comply to planning codes ie traffic queing, lights out, noise, etc. A drive thru just doesnt work for that Howies site.

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    1. They are prohibited. Period. It was a big fight.

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  23. As a recent addition to the Sierra Madre population from the home of Tesco in the UK, I couldn't be happier that Fresh & Easy won't be moving in to save Sierra Madre....I hated shopping at Tesco and I have only used Fresh & Easy a couple of times and have hated it too..I had no clue that they were owned by Tesco, but becoming aware of this makes the whole Fresh & Easy experience now make sense in my English head...

    In my opinion (not that I guess it is worth much)we should be campaigning to not only keep Taylor's but to improve on it, with better butchering and more extensive range of meats, and then make the veggie side of the store the same with a wider range of really great quality but not outrageously expensive fruit and vegetables..Finally, add on and start baking fresh bread and pastries...Perhaps a crazy idea, but being English, we embrace the neighbourhood stores and love our fresh meat, fruit & veg and cakes...

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    1. Lou - thanks for the post and the insight on Tesco. I think Taylor's is pretty unique, so I was very pleased to print today's news. You have a great blog, by the way. If anyone wants to check it out, it is called Sunnyside and you can get there by clicking on "Lou" at the top of her post. Who knew?

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    2. Problem is Taylor's isn't really any more of a neighborhood store than Happy's is. The folks there are nice and all but the Pasadena farmer's market has better produce, more organic and better selection. I wouldn't miss Taylor's either way.

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    3. Nonsense. Taylor's has been here from the year of the flood. Farmer's Mkts are mostly a fraud. The produce is picked up downtown by minimum wage workers and sold out of the backs of trucks for the profit of people who would be hard pressed to tell you which end of the chicken produces eggs.

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    4. Wonderful idea for Taylor's expansion. And if the Chamber and Walsh would get on it, stop that customer drain from Taylor's that they instituted every Weds. afternoon, help the local business instead of hurting it, maybe Taylor's could lower the prices on the fruit, vegetables and dairy.

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    5. 12:17 - you must not shop at the Pasadena market-the vendors I buy from there arrn't shy about telling you exactly where and how their produce is sourced.

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  24. FYI, locally sourced, Nebrask feed lot, Creston Valley varmits, it all travels downhill to the Hyperion Waste Water Treatment Plant.

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    1. Unless, of course, you're still rigged to a septic tank.

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  25. Taylor's probably have higher prices on the fruit & veg not because of lack of demand but because they can't get a better rate from their distributors. I heard a rumor that Trader Joe's retails their flowers cheaper than Leonora Moss can procure wholesale. That's capitalism at work.

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  26. How's about this: save up your vegie purchase needs until Wednesday and go buy vegies and fruit at Taylor's and move the activity eastward from the Hermosa Ave. farmer's market. All in all, this idea of a farmer's market rings hollow when you are trying to buy locally, it all still has a big carbon footprint and is hauled into Sierra Madre (or Pasadena) from some distance. As for blueberries you are paying avaition fuel surcharges, but you can cut that down some if you don't buy off season when they are coming from Chile. Oregon is closer

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    1. How about just growing your own vegetables in your yard instead of all that thirsty grass

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    2. Some of Taylors fruit and veggies come from Chile or Mexico. So you can't win one way or another. I buy what and where I want at a place that has the freshest and cheapest. And it isn't the farmers market or Taylors, it's Ralphs. Albertsons produce sucks and farmers and Taylors are too expensive. There are other ways to be green than to worry about where to buy produce.

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  27. Not sure if that is correct absolutely. Drive thru's prohibited. Maybe just not wanted but if space allowed and it worked Im not so sure drive thru's are prohibited. They always need a CUP and could trigger an EIR. There simply just isnt the proper site for one in SM.

    If DT's are prohibited why is there a drive thru bank at BoW? Drive thru gas station? Drive thru cleaners? You just dont want an In n Out or McDonald's.

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  28. So, a little history is in order. There is a no drive through ordinance in Sierra Madre. No time to get the # for you now, archives are in ny attic.

    This came about when the lot where Prudential Real Estate is now was up for sale, owner was an insider here in town, and I Enjoy Bagels wanted to build a drive through bagel shop. The residents around that area and others across town who guarded then, as now, the small town nature of of Sierra Madre did their research on neighboring communities that had drive-throughs (Bagel shops, burger places, etc) to show what congestion would come to that corner, at SM Blvd. and Alburn.

    Just as the ordinance was being passed (it is not advisory, it is an ordinance) I Enjoy Bagels was bought out by the conglomerate the owns Boston Market and some Pizza chain. We dodged a bullet. If it has been built as a simple, nice, oh don't we all enjoy bagels, then the next franchise could just come tromping though without a flicker on our part.

    Now if they had proposed a drive-through daqueri joint as found all over Louisiana we might have had another outcome.

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    1. I still have a Drive thru No Bagels Yes bumper sticker

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    2. The proposed bagel drive through was another Danny/Billy Sullivan (of Bottle Shop fame) project....

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    3. No it was the project of a fellow on middle brookside (does not live there anymore) who was in to selling franchises who was pushing the bagel drivethru, Billy just build the building and would take any tenant that he would lease it out

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    4. I drive-thru Sierra Madre on my way to Pasadena to pick up bagels at Einsteins.

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  29. Tell my how you get your gas without driving the gas conveyance up to the pumps.

    Tell me if you fling your dry cleaning out the window or park in the circular drive-way and walk inside.

    The Bank is of course a drive-up teller, you deposit money and get money out but it is a far difference transaction than long lines of cars waiting at the call box to order and then moving up to get the purchase at the window. Witness the mess at In and Out, Foothill or Santa Anita, Goldsteins Bagels, etc.

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  30. We really do need to shop local...Taylors....and get rid of the Wednesday Farmer's Market. It is not needed when we do have a market here, and there is a Pasadena Farmer's Market on Sat mornings and in Monrovia on Friday evenings.

    How can they want to build when at the same time they take away business from our own Taylor's?

    No common sense. Explain that math to me?

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    1. The math is the owners of the property make more money when the sell or get a bigger tenamt

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    2. The only thing local about Taylor's is that the are a shorter drive away than Hastings Ranch.

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  31. lots of good comments on the Tattler today. Everyone must be home waiting to descend on Memorial Park and the Elvis concert

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    1. By Elvis I imagine you mean the young singing Elvis. Not the dying on the bathroom floor drug addicted Elivis.

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    2. Elvis gave it everything he had. All that was left at the end was pain.

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    3. He was caught in a trap he couldn't walk out of.

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  32. Whether pre- or post-'68 comeback version- is he locally grown or factory farmed from Vegas?

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  33. He is locally grown but gone way Vegas post comeback white suited Elvis. Come home to honor the good people of Sierra Madre.

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    1. The Ding-A-Ling of Rock 'N Roll.

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    2. Elvis Moran and the Lookie Here, featuring the Nancy A Go Go Dancers

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    3. Hmm.. the first song that comes to mind is Jailhouse Rock...

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    4. The Spinal Tap Chicks

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    5. I wonder if they'll do their big hit "My Mommy Sells Houses and I Drink Beer?"

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  35. I take it that none of you were at the concert which was wall to wall Sierra Madrian who were there to have a great night out at the park, enjou the music, and visit with friends. What could be better than that. No negatives as I could see.

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    1. I blame Elvis for this Fresh & Easy debacle.

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    2. Q) What's the difference between Elvis and honest realtors?
      A) Elvis has been sighted.

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    3. The other day I phoned up some company to book tickets for an Elvis tribute act. It was annoying because it was one of those automated recordings. I had to press one for the money, 2 for the show.

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    4. I was home having a masha cup.

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    5. Is there a happiness ordinance in Sierra Madre?

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    6. No, but there is an 'unpleasant truths' ordinance.
      Whatever you do, keep that sunny smile, no matter how thick the lies and incompetence!

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    7. I thought a masha cup was happy. You didn't like it?

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    8. Really 11:00? Ugh. How do they deal with all that boredom?

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