City Feed is coming to Centre St.

November 30, 2007
By

JOHN RUCH

JP CENTER—City Feed and Supply, the popular local convenience store and café, is taking over the former Videosmith storefront on Centre Street as a second location. Construction began last week with an eye on an April opening.

The original City Feed at 66 Boylston St. has been a hit with its mix of alternative groceries, coffee and a deli menu. All of that and a bit more are coming to the now-vacant 672 Centre St. storefront at the corner of Seaverns Avenue.

“It’s a little more than three times bigger than Boylston Street, but we’re not going to have three times more of everything,” said City Feed owner David Warner in a Gazette interview, explaining he’s shooting for an “airy feel” to the 3,000-square-foot space.

But some improvements will be hot soups and sandwiches on the menu, and some type of seating for up to 18 people along the large front windows.

The prominent storefront has been boarded up for months following the slow death of the movie rental shop. The site drew controversy last year when D’Angelo, a national chain sandwich shop, considered the space. Community opposition killed that plan after the Gazette revealed it. Landlord Jim DeVillis told the Gazette at the time that he would look for a tenant Jamaica Plain residents would favor.

“We’re very comfortable with the tenant,” DeVillis said about City Feed this week. “We think it’s a good fit for the neighborhood.”

City Feed has been actively searching for a second location for at least two years. Since its 2000 opening, it has been a repeat winner of “best convenience store” honors in the Gazette’s reader-voted “Best of JP” awards.

City Feed prides itself on a local focus, especially targeting pedestrian traffic—what the store’s web site calls the “Ped Set.”

Likewise, the store features local and regional products. That will increase in the new location, including in the bigger fresh produce section, Warner said.

As with the original location, the full slate of coffees will be all organic and all fair-trade certified through the organization Equal Exchange.

The bigger location will allow City Feed some office space for the first time, making Centre Street the company headquarters. Warner said that storage space will also allow the company to buy in larger volume and lower its prices.

Groceries, coffee and sandwiches aren’t unique items on the Centre/South business strip.

“There’s a lot of competition on the coffee end,” Warner acknowledged. But, he added, City Feed will have a significantly different inventory from the local Tedeschi’s convenience stores. And South Street’s Harvest Cooperative Market is a full-service grocery store, which City Feed is not.

“We’re not a one-stop grocery shop,” Warner said. “We’re more of an add-on to people’s lifestyles.”

The window seating will be for eat-in coffee and deli service only, not restaurant-style service, Warner said.

Warner received major business planning and financing assistance from the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation’s Small Business Development Program. The architect and construction crew for rebuilding the space are JP-based, too.
“It’s a neighborhood effort,” Warner said. “I’m glad we’re going to be part of a home-grown effort in what I think is a really key location in the heart of the Jamaica Plain business district.”
The City Feed space is in a much larger building that also includes the former CD Spins storefront at 668 Centre. That branch of the Boston-based chain used CD store shut months ago—due to a flood, according to a sign that was briefly in a window. DeVillis said he believes CD Spins intends to return. The local CD Spins phone is disconnected, and the company’s headquarters did not respond to a Gazette request for comment.
DeVillis has been rehabbing the external storefronts on the building to give it an updated look.
“It definitely will enhance the building,” said DeVillis. He added that only finances are preventing him from immediately redoing the entire facade of the multi-story building, which is currently covered in siding. He said he hopes to do a second stage of facade rehab later.