According to Nancy Casady, People’s food market general manager since 1997, there have been dreams of expanding the organic-food co-op ever since the building they’re in now was paid off in 2013.
4765 Voltaire Street, Ocean Beach
The home of the longest-running grocery store in Ocean Beach moved to its current location on Voltaire Street in July 2002. Prior to then, Casady said they were one block west for nearly 30 years at a former pool and dance hall.
Next door to the market are two properties People’s acquired in 2013 and 2014. Across the alley from the parking lot is a duplex and east of that is what used to be Tiny’s Tavern.
As far as where they are in the process of the $1.5 million expansion, Casady said in an email interview, “Phase I (design and construction bids) are virtually completed. Phase II is the permitting process. It’s anticipated that it will begin this month and take between two to three months. Phase III will consist of construction, beginning hopefully in June and finishing between November and December....
“The duplexes [across the alley from the market] will remain,” said Casady. “The former tavern will be converted into an organic café and juice bar. There will also be organic craft beer and wine served.”
As far as brewing their own beer, Casady said they will leave that to local breweries. The floor plan includes both indoor and outdoor seating and an upper deck where the beer and wine will be featured. Casady said a vegetarian restaurant will also be located at the former tavern location.
Will People’s be keeping it green as far as building materials? “Most certainly,” said Casady. “For example, we are exploring the use of hempcrete (inner woody core of hemp plant mixed with lime-based binder) for some insulation.”
Landscaping work has begun on the duplex to provide more privacy for residents and unite the café visually with the co-op. Casady said, “There will be a screening hedge on the Voltaire Street side of the duplex fence. The interiors will feature drought-tolerant trees, shrubs, and plants.”
People's started out as a small neighborhood buying club in 1971. It grew into a Voltaire apartment storefront in August 1972; customers grabbed perishables out of the refrigerator and added up their purchases for the cashier. For its first decade, it operated as a workers' collective. In 1985, it turned into a food cooperative.