Kroger, the U.S. grocery chain that operates its namesake stores as well as Ralphs and Food4Less, will begin offering free coronavirus testing for all its frontline employees amid outbreak at some of its best known stores in Los Angeles, the company announced Monday. According to Kroger reps, the tests will be a combination of self-administered kits and public drive-thru sites.
Before parent company Kroger made the announcement, the Ralphs chain alone announced its own action on Friday, promising testing to all its 20,000 Southern California employees. Both announcements came after an investigative report by local NBC affiliate NBC4 revealed severe COVID-19 outbreaks at numerous supermarkets, with local Ralphs stores topping the list.
The largest cluster of cases (19 in total) was found to be at the infamous “Rock & Roll Ralphs” a shopping locale that came into prominence during the ’80s hair metal heyday due to the colorful characters and bonafide mega-rockstars who frequented the place. The name has stuck and management there even embraced it with a huge sign above the entrance the past several years.
If you’re new to L.A. and don’t know the history of this glam rock grocery emporium, read this excerpt from our 2018 “Best of L.A.” issue celebrating Offbeat Landmarks:
Best Place to Bang Your Head (of Lettuce)
Whole Foods, Sprouts and Erewhon are where yoga moms and overpaid Hollywood types go to fulfill keto needs and buy stuff for their latest organic diets, while Trader Joe’s attracts hipsters on the go, snagging salads and unique frozen fare. But most grocery stores in L.A. aren’t so easy to peg. Chains like Vons, Albertsons, Gelson’s and Ralphs vary widely depending on where they are in the city. One, however, reigns when it comes to evoking a specific slice of life like no other: Rock & Roll Ralphs. Located on Sunset just blocks east of Guitar Center, this mythic supermarket offers lots of eye candy, especially on the weekends, thanks to its proximity to the Strip, but it’s the hairspray and leather quotient of its past that gives it nostalgic appeal. Anyone who walks in wondering about the big “rock & roll” entryway sign should know that the place really did live up to the name on late nights in the ’80s and ’90s, with band dudes, groupie gals and random Hollywood freaks stocking their fridges, hooking up, throwing up and meeting up, sometimes in life-changing ways: Designer Maggie Barry met David Lee Roth in the frozen aisle after he admired her jacket one night, and she ended up becoming his personal stylist. 7257 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 512-8382, ralphs.com. —Lina Lecaro