Staff of Life celebrates 50 years

Staff of Life in Santa Cruz has been running a popular natural foods store for 50 years. — Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian

Watsonville location to open in Jan. 2020

SANTA CRUZ — Staff of Life Natural Foods, a Santa Cruz-based natural foods store, celebrated 50 years of business Saturday with an open air party. In a driving rain, scores of local shoppers and supporters showed up sporting umbrellas to mingle with staff and to try the dozens of store samples of teas, beers, wine, cheeses, herbal remedies, lotions and balms, and all kinds of finger foods.

The owners of the business are now in the initial stages of building another such store in the former Super Max Discount Foods in the East Lake Village Shopping Center in Watsonville.

The business originally started by selling bread out of the back of a pickup before they opened doors on Seabright Avenue. Co-owners Gary Bascou and Richard Josephson eventually moved to a store on Water Street in 1972. Then they moved across the street into a former Safeway store at 1266 Soquel Ave. in the Seabright neighborhood of Santa Cruz.

It is considered a “green” business for its environmentally friendly practices.

“Were very excited here at the Staff of Life to be bringing good quality food to the community of Watsonville,” Bascou said. “We’re trying to get down there as quickly as we can. We were just talking to a representative from PG&E, and that is one of our stumbling points right now, which has caused some delays. Our official opening date has now been moved to January 2020.”

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Staff of Life, a natural foods store in Santa Cruz, is planning on opening a new location in the former Super Max Discount Foods in the East Lake Village Shopping Center in Watsonville. — Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian

Bascou said the Watsonville store will be about 3,500 square feet less than the Santa Cruz location.

“We’re planning on expanding the building some with a nice big outdoor seating area out front,” he said. “We’re not taking the bakery there. Right now it looks like we’ll be hiring around 80 people.”

The Watsonville location, at 906 East Lake Ave., has housed a grocery store for more than 50 years. Super Max Discount Foods closed in May. It was Lamberts Market before that.

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