For weeks, John Powell and Diana Yau have been taking evening walks by the new Montrose Trader Joe’s, peeking inside the windows. When they finally stepped inside during the grand opening Friday morning, Powell had one word to describe the moment: euphoric.
“We’ve been giddy. It’s been the No. 1 conversation,” said Yau, toting a shopping bag filled with dog treats.
More than 150 people crowded at the store’s front door at 8 a.m. as employees donned colorful leis on shoppers and a Reggae band played Bob Marley’s “Stir it Up.”
Store manager Rachel Peterson said the “great turnout” was slightly more than what’s typically seen at Trader Joe’s openings.
Councilman Ara Najarian said that when the city approved the grocery store a few years ago, officials knew it would be well-received.
But as as checkout lines snaked down the store’s front aisle, even he said the turnout was surprising.
“I’ve done openings before, but this is by far the biggest and most enthusiastic I’ve ever seen,” Najarian said.
Customers said the roughly 14,600-square-foot store at 2462 Honolulu Ave. was a welcome change from the chain’s second-oldest location in La Crescenta — a much smaller store that store closed Thursday.
Several have characterized the new Trader Joe’s as a vital anchor for the Montrose Shopping Park, which is lined with several independent stores that have struggled to attract foot traffic during the protracted recession.
“It just infuses a lot of life into the area. It’s a very good survival thing for us,” said Mike Wetzel of La Crescenta as he sampled pot roast and polenta.
Marie Chicarelli, who manages a senior living apartment complex nearby, held half-and-half in one hand and bread in the other as she danced in front of the band with friend Carmen Dominick.
“This is wonderful,” she said. “We’ve been waiting so long for this.”
-- Britanny Levine, Times Community News
Photo: Shoppers look over the food selection at the grand opening of the Montrose Trader Joe's on Friday, October 28, 2011. Credit: Roger Wilson / Staff PhotographerCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times