Welcome back to the Happy Half Hour! This week, we’re chatting with Rachel Shemirani, senior vice president at Barons Market. Barons is a gourmet grocery store that was founded by a local family in Point Loma and has nine locations in San Diego and Riverside. Rachel’s father, Joe, started the business in the early ’90s because he couldn’t find an organic grocery store that sold food he enjoyed. Rachel and her sister, Dana, started working in the stores as cashiers when they were in high school, and now they both hold leadership positions in the company. Rachel oversees advertising and marketing, and is also the gatekeeper for new products—she leads weekly food panels to hand-select new products, which involves 40 people sampling anywhere from 80 to 120 different products, and whittling down the best. Rachel says that everything sold on Barons’ shelves has made the taste testers’ cut.
We chat with Rachel about how they compete with large grocery chains and what sets them apart, how they’ve been weathering the pandemic, and how they’re dealing with current supply-chain issues. We also get insight on what it’s like to work with your family every day, how organic foods have improved drastically over the years, and some of the cool new foods you can find in their stories.
In Hot Plates, CloudKitchens—which launched a ghost kitchen in Barrio Logan last spring—is opening a second location over by San Diego State University. Mamá por Dios, an upscale Mexican restaurant that started in Beverly Hills, is opening in the Gaslamp. And Convoy Street got a new restaurant, Eastern Dynasty, specializing in Cantonese barbecue.
In Two People, $50, Rachel’s pick is Harry’s Taco Club in Pacific Beach; she says to get any of the burritos and margaritas. Troy’s pick is the burger at Harbor Town Pub in Point Loma. David went to Sandfish Sushi & Whiskey in Palm Springs, and recommends the scallops with walnuts and yuzu. My pick this week is El Cacho in Chula Vista for mariscos.
Thank you for listening! As always, we want to hear from you. Need a restaurant recommendation? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you’re too shy, you can email us at [email protected]. See you next week!