Why shop at your local grocery?

With the coming of Safeway’s “The Market” to downtown San Jose, the other downtown groceries are faced with some hefty new competition. One of those local groceries is Zanotto’s Downtown Market. This locally-owned grocery has been downtown since 2004, and the Zanotto family has been in the grocery business for 40 years. I wanted to give Zanotto’s management a chance to remind San Jose of reasons they might want to shop at a locally owned store, so I pitched a few (admittedly softball) questions at Zanotto’s Downtown Market co-owner Troy Tibbils:

San Jose Metblogs: What’s the connection between Zanotto’s Downtown and the Naglee Ave store?

Troy Tibbils: The Zanotto’s family has been in the grocery business for 40 years. They own and operate the Naglee store. The Downtown store is owned by Dan Zanotto (also an owner of Naglee) and Troy Tibbils. The recipes are from the family and are used at both stores. Items like the Secret Blackened Tri-tip, Corned Beef, other meat specialties, all the salads and other homemade items come from those family recipes.

SJM: What distinguishes Zanotto’s from the big grocery chains?

TT: We like to say we call you by your name because we know you, not because you flashed us your club card. We make everything from fresh ingredients taken right from the store. We cut our own beef—and we’ll do it the way you want. We actually answer emails. We’ll try to stock what people want. We deal with a lot of local companies (like Marianne’s Ice Cream and Sumono’s Bread Co.) Our produce is selected first—most chains just order what they want and take what they get. Our beef is range free—no additives, no growth hormones, cholesterol lower than chicken. One other interesting item—we actually have certain chain stores coming to us and asking how we make things, how we marinate our meat, etc.

SJM: Are there any particular products you carry that don’t show up at the big chains?

TT: Our Montana Ranch Beef is exclusive in the Bay Area to Zanotto’s. As noted above our produce is selected. You can’t find our homemade guacamole, salsa, burritos, salads and dinners anywhere. Our spices are unique—smaller container for less waste. Just the other day someone asked us about Kombucha Tea—which we carry, but they wanted a particular brand and we went out and got it. There are unique olive oils, dressings. Marianne’s Ice Cream is also unique.

SJM: Aside from selling groceries, how else is Zanotto’s participating in the downtown community?

TT: We often provide gift baskets, bags of groceries, etc. to local groups. We just provided free groceries as a raffle prize to San Jose State’s International Student orientation. We’ve supported St. Christopher’s, Horace Mann, and many other schools and churches. We’ve also provided tours of the stores for classes, lectures to special education groups on how to shop and we have a group of students with special learning needs who work at the store one day a week.

SJM: Anything else you’d like to add?

TT: We’ve served the downtown area for the last five years. We hope in that time we’ve built a reputation of quality and service that will keep customers coming back. We’re local, we’re family owned and we pride ourselves in service. We can be flexible and responsive which we believe makes us unique.


I’d like to thank Troy for answering my questions, and wish him good fortune in the grocery business. I will keep Zanotto’s in mind when I’m looking for the special products (Marieanne’s Ice Cream) that can’t be found anywhere else.

Zanotto’s Downtown Market is at 38 S. Second Street in downtown San Jose.

1 Comment so far

  1. joshuasantos on September 4th, 2009 @ 10:25 am

    Marianne’s Ice Cream?? I had no idea Zanotto’s carried that! That alone is worth the trip (closer than Santa Cruz).



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