Staff of Life market to open in East Lake Village


(Officials from the popular Staff of Life food market of Santa Cruz plan to open a second branch in the former Super Max Discount Foods in the East Lake Village Shopping Center in Watsonville. Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — Staff of Life Natural Foods, a Santa Cruz-based natural foods store, will open its newest location into the space vacated by Super Max Discount Foods in the East Lake Village Shopping Center.

The company’s original store, located at 1266 Soquel Ave. in the Seabright neighborhood of Santa Cruz, has long been a grocery mainstay in North County. It is considered a “green” business for its environmentally friendly practices.

Watsonville Mayor Pro-Tem Jimmy Dutra made the announcement Wednesday night on his Facebook page.

“The community has spoken about getting businesses with healthy and organic-based choices, and here is our opportunity,” Dutra wrote.

Dozens of people responded to a Facebook announcement of the news Thursday, many of them excited that they will no longer have to drive to North County for organic and natural food.

“Watsonville is looking better and better,” Martin Rojas-Vera wrote on the Register-Pajaronian Facebook page.

Staff of Life owners did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

In an email, spokesperson Hollie Wendt said, “Our owners want residents to know that they consider Watsonville a stellar location with great people.”

Watsonville City Councilwoman Nancy Bilicich said she has received calls and emails from numerous people since the announcement.

“People are so excited,” she said. “I have never seen so much enthusiasm.”

Bilicich said the move will be a boon for Watsonville’s east side, which has had a dearth of nearby grocery shopping options since Super Max Foods closed in May.

“It’s going to enhance the east side of Watsonville,” she said.

The building at 906 East Lake Ave. has housed a grocery store for more than 50 years. Before it became Super Max Discount Foods, it was Lambert’s Market.

Dutra said it will undergo a “huge” renovation before it opens, but it is not yet clear when that will be.

Staff of Life will be an addition to the growing East Lake Village that already boasts Coffeeville, a sushi shop and Carmona’s BBQ Deli.

Fruition Brewing, which is expected to open in the fall, will be a 4,400-square-foot brewery that will offer craft beer and a small menu.

Watsonville City Manager Matt Huffaker called the announcement a “game-changer” for the city.

“We’re excited to see another quality company investing in Watsonville and expanding the community’s access to the healthy food options they deserve,” he said.

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