With its hand-painted sign on the window and a steady influx of Mar Vista locals gathered on antique metal barstools around the counter inside, aviation-themed Grand View Market looks as if it's been on Venice Boulevard for decades. After all, the AMF Mar Vista Lanes across the street was opened in 1961 (first as Mar Vista Bowl), and the L&R Barbershop around the corner has been open since 1940. But in contrast to its decidedly old-school neighbors, Grand View Market opened just a month ago and has been selling natural and organic groceries in the site of a former 99-cent store that sat vacant for nearly three years.
The family-owned market from the Zlotolow family, who also own Venice Ranch Market on Rose Avenue, is striving to become Mar Vista's go-to destination for everything from organic groceries to local coffee, craft beer and wine, deli sandwiches and juices. There's even talk of installing kombucha on tap, according to staffer David Zlotolow, who says one of his neighbors home-brews the fizzy, fermented stuff.
Zlotolow is the son of Miriam Zlotolow, whom he describes as “the queen of Venice” because she knows everyone within a 2-mile radius of Venice Ranch Market. She opened the flagship grocery more than a decade ago to keep herself occupied after the death of her husband, a doctor. With last month's soft opening of Grand View Market, the Zlotolow family business has shifted from medicine and real estate to groceries and homemade guacamole, for which Miriam Zlotolow has become legendary.
David Zlotolow, also a doctor, said the Westside family inadvertently fell into the business of owning markets via their real-estate ventures. “The land was for sale and we just took it over,” he says of the Busby Building, which now houses Grand View Market. Often referred to as the most historic building in Mar Vista, the Busby Building was built by Culver City druggist Louis Claude Busby in 1924 and, according to L.A.'s Office of Historic Resources, it served as the home of Daley's, an L.A. market chain that became Mar Vista's first full-service grocery store.
Now the Busby Building once again houses a neighborhood market, which Zlotolow says is constantly evolving. “The fact that we serve food and sell food is important to the Mar Vista Community Council,” he says, noting that Grand View Market sells groceries, serves fresh deli sandwiches and also holds a type 41 license, which allows it to serve beer and wine on-site and stay open until 2 a.m. daily. (They're currently only open until 8 p.m. daily but hope to extend their hours in the coming weeks.)
Zlotolow and his brother also have plans to host live music nights and install flat-screen televisions to watch sports at the bar, but for now, their focus remains on stocking local produce from the Mar Vista famers market, natural and sustainable meat from Rocker Bros. Meat & Provision in Inglewood, and organic groceries from United Natural Foods, a major distributor for Whole Foods Market.
While there's a handful of decent bars and coffee shops in the neighborhood, Grand View Market is aiming to be one of the city's few hangouts where you can just as comfortably sit with a beer at the bar as order a coffee and work on your laptop, thanks to Mar Vista Open, the community's free Wi-Fi network.
On a boulevard characterized by old-school barber shops, traditional tattoo parlors and an unintentionally retro bowling alley, is it possible that Grand View Market is too ambitious for its own good?
“Basically, we're just listening to what people in the neighborhood are asking for,” Zlotolow says. If you want kombucha on tap, big-screen TVs, a grocery store that stays open until 2 a.m. or a live music night in a deli, ask Zlotolow, and you might just receive.
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