Quick Take:

New Leaf Community Markets brand manager Lindsay Gizdich said the store is moving from Pacific Avenue in order to have more space. While New Leaf’s downtown location is 9,000 square feet, the new spot on River Street is 29,000 square feet, allowing the grocery store to expand its offerings.

New Leaf Community Markets said this week that it will be moving out of its location on Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz to the Gateway Plaza on River Street in 2025.

The store has been located in the former Bank of America (previously Bank of Italy) on the corner of Pacific and Soquel Avenue since 1996. The announcement comes as downtown Santa Cruz experiences a period of rapid change, with more development on the horizon.

Brand manager Lindsay Gizdich said the move is really focused on having more space. While New Leaf’s downtown location is 9,000 square feet, the new spot, located just under a mile from the current location, is 29,000 square feet. That will provide more space for expanded offerings, including more prepared food, a larger produce section and more local and organic products. It will also allow the store to once again expand its meat and seafood department, which it had scaled back in recent years, she said.

“We want a bigger footprint,” said Gizdich. “The downtown location is currently our smallest store. Our driving force is really to be able to best serve the community.”

The larger store also comes with more parking and it will open more opportunities for current employees and new hires, said Gizdich: “It’s a great chance for our current staff to grow and for us to hire more community members.”

Meanwhile, New Leaf is also gearing up to move its Capitola store from its current location on 41st Avenue up the street to King’s Plaza Shopping Center, in the space vacated in August by a Lucky supermarket. That will take place in 2024, with the downtown Santa Cruz move planned for the following year, according to Gizdich.

New Leaf Community Markets currently operates six locations, including downtown, the Westside, Capitola, Aptos, Half Moon Bay and the Silver Creek neighborhood of San Jose. The company opened its first store on the Westside in 1985, which moved to its current location on Fair Avenue in 2009.

In 2013, New Leaf stores were sold to Oregon-based New Seasons Market. That company was purchased in 2019 by Good Food Holdings, a subsidiary of a global South Korean retailer. The parent company, Emart, is Korea’s oldest and largest discount store chain. Good Food Holdings also owns four other grocery chains: California-based Bristol Farms and Lazy Acres Natural Markets, and Washington-based Metropolitan Market.

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Jessica M. Pasko has been writing professionally for almost two decades.She cut her teeth in journalism as a reporter for the Associated Press in her native Albany, NY, where she covered everything from...