After 13 years in business, Joe and Kim Grant have sold South Park corner store and deli Grant's Marketplace. A note posted to the market's door in late December informed customers the longtime owners would "move forward with a new plan for our lives." It also stated another couple, Jason and Liana Peaslee, would be taking over the shop during the next five months while awaiting transfer of the store's liquor license.
The sale was not the result of slow business. "No failure here," says Joe Grant. "We're at the top of our game.”
Over the years, the former schoolteacher and his wife converted the onetime liquor store into a combination gourmet market, wine and beer bottle shop, and deli. "I've got customers who come all day long," he adds, "Come in for coffee…lunch…come in later for a bottle of wine."
Indeed, the shop has become a neighborhood hub, where South Parkers meet and greet throughout day. Along with locals enjoying food and drink on the shop's patio, regulars include students of the nearby Ginseng yoga studio, and teachers students, and parents coming from Albert Einstein Academy a block away.
While Grant declined to specify the amount paid for the market, he did suggest he's entertained offers for more money over the years but turned them down because he wanted to ensure the new ownership kept the neighborhood favorite intact. "Other people that were interested in buying it, most of them were going to turn it back into what it was, which was a liquor store, and I didn't want that," Grant says. "I wanted to make sure I found the absolute perfect person to buy it."
He thinks he found that with Jason Peaslee, who will apply years of restaurant experience — including an ownership stake of the Cottage in La Jolla — to elevate the market's food offerings. "I feel like I've run three of the four legs of a marathon," says Grant, "and I'm handing the baton off to Jason and he's going to finish this thing. Because he has the skill set to take it to the next level."
As for the Peaslees' plans for Grant's, customers shouldn't expect to see much change, at least in the near term. "Subtle changes," says Jason Peaslee, "more enhancements than change." He plans to start by upgrading breakfast offerings and may add to the market's food selection. Otherwise, he says, "It's successful, customers love it, staff seems to love it. If it's not broken, you don't fix it."
He's also going to keep Grant's employees. "They know all the people who come in," he says. "They care…and that's exactly what I'm all about. Nothing that I've seen would make me want to change really anything about the place so far."
Meanwhile, the Grants retain ownership of the property and live nearby. "I'm not going anywhere. I love this neighborhood," Grant says. "I just want to do something else."