The Worst Safeway in San Francisco

Noriega & 30thApparently people like to complain about the service and stock at the Safeway groceries stores. I understand that, but I noticed something about a Safeway close to me that adds a new twist to the equation. What happens when former employees start complaining about the store?

My wife and I used to shop regularly at the Noriega and 30th Safeway, but since we have a car we’ve started to go to the beach Safeway in the Richmond District or the Daly City Safeway in Westlake and we’ve discovered something in our trips. All over the city in just about every Safeway we’ve been to we see a former employee of the Noriega and 30th place. When asked they all say the same thing, that was the worst place to work.

Now it’s one thing when people who shop there say that because well, people like to complain. I get that, but when the employees are moving to other Safeway’s because they don’t like it that’s a whole different story. I have to say that my experience has been seeing only cashiers that have moved to other locations and I can see why. They don’t like being associated with that store. They’re pretty good at what they do, but to be associated with all the other bumbling people who work there is something they don’t like so they move on.

So what exactly is the problem with this Safeway that puts it above the rest to be called the worst Safeway in San Francisco? Take a look at my personal list of favorites:

  1. Produce isn’t fresh. That can be kind sometimes. It’s usually starting to rot and they don’t have much of selection of rotting produce either.
  2. They run out of staples like milk and eggs and what is left has usually been beaten to death.
  3. No matter when you go they never have enough cashiers working.
  4. Dont ask, where is ____ because hardly anyone speaks English. Even the people who you think would don’t. Seriously. I asked where the bisquick is and was replied with, beesqueek? After explaining the whole process of using it to make homemade beeskits at home I was brought over to the Pillsbury pop-n-fresh pre-made beesskits.
  5. They painted the parking lot upstairs with marine enamel which gets slippery in the rain. My wife slipped and fell once and I let the manager know and he took our information and said he would call us and he never did.
  6. The people running the recycling out in front make too much noise and aren’t very neat in keeping their recycling in one place. They spill broken glass all over the parking spots and the place is so dirty that I’ve seen cleaner bus station bathrooms.
  7. Management just doesn’t care [most heard from former employees]. See 5. above also.
  8. Rats, rats, rats. The bread and beans are all chewed up and every door you walk into has at least two rat traps on either side. I’ve seen people bring up rat eaten bread and beans and they’ve received the response of, OK, thanks.
  9. The Starbucks creates spill over that leads to people blocking the aisles standing around talking with a cup of coffee. If you want to sit and talk, go to a real coffee shop, not a grocery store. It’s a grocery store, not a place to loiter.

Is that enough? I actually applied for a job at Safeway once and when going through the 4 hour training at the Noriega branch I learned something. They send people out to check and make sure that they’re following company policy and they listed a number of things they looked for. I guess they didn’t check this store prior to telling us that because they were in violation of every one of the rules that a Safeway isn’t supposed to break.

This is all very sad to me because I like to go out grocery shopping and I don’t like to feel like it is or should be an ordeal. I’m lucky in that I don’t have a problem driving to other Safeway’s, but I feel that the one closest to me should hold up its own and do the job it is supposed to do. There’s only a few cashiers left who know what they’re doing and once you learn who they are you pick them out right away and stand in their line even though you know it’ll be a longer wait.

OK, time to run off to Lucky’s…

I Miss The Independent Grocers

I’ve been frustrated a bit lately when I’m out shopping. Mostly because the people who work in the chain grocery stores don’t really care about what they’re selling, but about their meager paycheck that they get each week. When I can’t find something and ask one of the stockers they usually don’t know what I’m talking about. It didn’t used to be like this and I do kind of miss the old days.

I’ve been cutting back on my salt and realized that malt vinegar on a baked potato or fries didn’t make me feel a need for salt. So I’m in a store and couldn’t find it and asked a stocker where their malt vinegar was. She scratched her head because she didn’t know what it was. If I asked her where the Prid nam plah [Thai fish sauce] she would have been able to show me in a second where it was. I guess at that particular grocery store which caters to mostly Asians they don’t have to think about anything else.

We were shopping at another version of the same chain and I couldn’t find the Bisquick. I happened to see a stocker that was fairly caucasian looking so I asked him where was the Bisquick. His response? Beeskweek? vat is dat? [That’s my best insulting sounding version of a Russian accent]. I finally got through to him what it was and he took me to it, but as I said before, it didn’t used to be like that.

My Mom always hated chain grocers and always wanted to support the local so we went to Foremost Market as a kid. Mark and Vic and Lynn were like family to us.  Their prices were competitive with the chains, but that just meant that they had to work harder. These three were Armenian I think, but they knew their customers well enough that one night we got a phone call that I answered and heard, Eric this is Mark tell your Mom that we’ll have fresh basilico and tagiarini in early tomorrow. My Mom always made pesto before it became cool and it was being slathered on everything and Mark knew that and he knew that by telling my Mom that she’d be in first thing in the morning to pick it up and we’d spend time making pesto sauce when I got home from school.

If I stopped by on my way home from school to grab a soda I’d always be told what was good so my Mom would know what to buy. There was always one of them going through the produce yanking the stuff that had gone bad instead of leaving it there figure someone will be stupid enough to buy it. I miss Foremost Market. Everything that wasn’t boxed or canned came from somewhere close by and they even sold Wright’s Pink Popcorn and regularly carried It’s-its. I suppose I shouldn’t focus looking back on the old days, but at least back then they were more helpful. As a side note, Foremost was the first place I got to try prosciutto di parma and it was the industrial made crap that the chains sell today.

Super Bowl Madness @ the Grocery Store

Beer, Booze, Beef and Chips. That’s pretty much what I found missing yesterday at my local Safeway grocery store. Now I don’t know why we would have thought it would better to go during the beginning of the Superbowl pre-game show, but I’ve now learned why the grocery stores are so crowded on Super Bowl Sundays. The shoppers are of three types of people.

  1. The die-hard Super Bowl fan: They’re up and out early in the morning to get all the supplies for the day’s festivities early so they can go home relax and probably be drunk and passed out  into the first half hour of the game.
  2. The “intellectually challenged” Super Bowl fan: THey probably figure they can rush out right before the game because no one will be there because they’re all home watching the game or maybe they forgot something or just wanted their fried chicken hot out of the fryer.
  3. The “I don’t care about the Super Bowl” types: I have to admit, I fall into this group except when the niners are playing it. I could give a rat’s ass who wins because if it ain’t going to be us then it doesn’t matter. Unfortunately all of us think  that everyone will be watching the game so they decide to go shopping at the same time as the #2’s.

Well, it was packed and the aisles of alcohol, chips and meat looked like they had been picked over like some of the photo’s I’ve seen of back east during the blizzard. Empty shelves everywhere and the people were lined up down the aisles. People were complaining about all the people there yet these were the people with a six pack of beer in their hand or a loaf of bread. If you didn’t like all the people did you really need to go shopping on one of the worst days to go grocery shopping? If you need a six pack of beer why not walk down the street to the liquor store and pick it up and pay an extra buck for the convenience?

Well that wasn’t the worst of it. My wife when to pick up a box of rice and beans only find it all spilled out of the back of the box through a hole that had been chewed there. She grabbed another than hadn’t had been rat-shackled and continued shopping. Then as we’re standing in line my wife made a comment to the guy standing behind her. I didn’t know what they were talking about at first, but then realized that along with his groceries he had brought up a bag of hot dog buns that had cleared suffered from rat infestation.

Great, San Francisco has rat infested grocery stores?!?!? Well I guess so since I’ve begun to notice that Safeway stores [who are based in the Bay Area where they started] have started to have a rat trap need their elevator entrances [the rats take the elevator?] on the roofs or their front doors. Now there are sometimes two or three rat traps there. I don’t see them at any other grocery store I’ve been to in San Francisco, only Safeway. I dropped the two words “Safeway” and “Rats” into google and look what it gave me back. Not exactly giving me much reason to go back to shop there. The cashier even admitted to man with the rat chewed bag that they had been having a hard problem with the rat infestations. I really felt like telling her that it wasn’t just her, but every Safeway in the city that you’ll find rat traps outside, but she’s nice and knows me so I’d rather say it to her in a place not as open and public since saying something like, “Your Safeway is infested with rats” in a crowded Safeway may not be good for business and I wouldn’t want to get trampled by everyone running out the door.

This is a sign though that the Board of Health needs to be notified. I know I’ve got a lot of readers in San Francisco so I’m hoping at least one of the 5000+ readers in SF works for the Board of Health or hopefully one of the 50,000+ readers in California works for the state Board of Health and give someone a kick int he butt. When I purchase food I want to be non-rat involved. I know there’s all these weird government guidelines about how many rodent hairs can be allowed into certain food produces, but still when you’ve got obvious evidence a rat problem that you and the guy behind you in line discovered, more people are going to find out about it.