The new Nob Hill Foods opened today in Alameda, at the newly christened "Bridgeport Center" at the foot of the Fruitvale Bridge (two blocks along Blanding from the Park St. Bridge and four blocks from my house). When I went by around 6 pm to check it out, it was jammed: not a single space in the whole parking lot and miles long lines at the checkstands. Yesterday Alameda residents got coupons in the mail for $10 off a $40 purchase that are good only for a week, so people really turned out in force. They were also handing out coupon books and store maps at the door -- very thoughtful! Despite the crowds, the mood was festive, especially since there was some kind of lottery going on: periodically they would spin a wheel to pick a checkstand, and someone (the first in line at that checkstand, presumably) would get their order free.
I'm not familiar with Nob Hill's product mix (there aren't any in the East Bay), so I took some time to walk the aisles to see what they have.
I'm pleased to say that this store did not provoke the same hatred that the new Alameda Safeway did. Probably the best thing about it was that the aisles are wide enough for two carts to pass comfortably, and the aisles are broken in half in the middle, which makes it easy to navigate. The product mix is mid-scale supermarket: not Draeger's or Andronico's but not Albertson's either. It has a cafe with a view of the estuary, a post office branch (desperately needed), a bank and a pharmacy. Hours are 6 am to 11 pm every day. I probably won't shop there often -- I'll stick to specialty stores/TJ's for most things -- but it's nice to know it's there for the few things I still need a supermarket for and for late night emergencies.