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History of Grocery Stores in Altadena including Ralphs

  • Places
Bye Bye Ralphs

Competition from the new Aldi’s store on the corner of Lake and Calaveras is the likely reason that Ralphs will be closing at the end of this month. And although many of us will miss the local market with its neighborhood ambiance, history shows that Altadena’s grocery stores come and go as time marches on.

Now Ralphs, the building at 2270 Lake Ave., 

constructed in the 1950s, was originally Market Basket. The
building will be vacant soon.
Photo: Leon Ricks

In 1930 Altadena boasted 35 grocery and meat market stores. Altadena Grocery Company (below) catered mostly to mansions like those along Mariposa, keeping kitchens stocked with fresh produce.

Altadena Grocery Store (Now Ms. Dragon Printing)

The Big Lots store at Lake and Washington (at that time part of Altadena) was originally a Market Basket as was the Baja Ranch at Fair Oaks and Ventura. Although we’ve yet been able to confirm it, the store front that is now Altadena Hardware was Market Basket (below) and the new one on Lake was built to replace it.

Originally a grocery market, 
this building is now Altadena Hardware

We’ve been told that there was a small market on the west side of Lake above what is now Chase Bank, called Gilmore’s. There was also The Boston Store on the southeast corner of Lake and Boston, It was small and a great place to get “penny candy”.

A&P is now Masters Building Supply
370 E. Woodbury

A grocery was located on the southwest corner of Fair Oaks and Mendocino. During the second world war, the owner maintained a produce business for a Japanese family interred at Manzanar.

The Rite-Aid building on Altadena Drive
 was originally built as an Albertson’s.
Model Grocery was located in the Mariposa Hotel,
now the site of the southern part of the Webster’s building.

Reminiscing about her childhood in Altadena, Kathy Larson Hoskins said, “When our family moved to 963 Calaveras in 1950, the property that is now Ralph’s was vacant.  It was a grassy expanse with several trees clustered in the middle – a lovely place for kids to explore.  As I remember there were a few cottages there. I think one of them was moved up the street and eventually became Fox’s restaurant.” 

Fox’s restaurant building was originally located
on land cleared for Market Basket.
 (By the way
that’s smog in the background).
Kathy added, “Shortly after our move, construction on the new Market Basket started.  Our family would walk over to the construction site each evening after dinner in the summer and check out what was happening.  My brother loved taking our dog and exploring.”

Market Basket Prices in the 1950s
Read lots more about the history of Market Basket and its transition to Ralphs at one of our favorite blogs:  Avenue to the Sky

If you have memories of grocery stores now gone, please let us know so we can post them here.