business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Los Angeles Times reports on what appears to be the salvation of Corti Brothers, the Sacramento gourmet grocery icon that looked like it was going to be forced out of its location and replaced by “Good Eats,” a gourmet bistro-market partly owned by Michael Teel, the former Raley’s CEO.

According to the Times, “A petition to keep the store in its current location was started and quickly amassed almost 1,500 signatures. Mayor Heather Fargo got involved in the effort. Then, when a who's who of the area's chefs gathered last week for a press conference to protest the closing, the event turned instead into a celebration when it was announced that the seemingly unprepossessing market -- home base of Darrell Corti, chief provisioner of the 1970s California food revolution -- would remain where it is, at least for now.

“The competing gourmet business that had leased the building even took out an ad in the Sacramento Bee to announce it was abandoning the site and to explain its side of the story.”

The key, the Times says, is the store’s unabashed commitment to being a food store. “Corti's role in the food world went well beyond mere merchant. He is deeply knowledgeable on a wide variety of culinary topics and always willing to share that knowledge. For many food lovers, before there was Google, there was Darrell … Corti is a true connoisseur -- always discriminating but never snobbish.”

KC's View:
I love stores like these, but let me sound a sober refrain for just a moment.

Reprieves only come every so often. I’m not entirely sure why such an institution would find itself to be at risk. At some level, it seems to be because Corti’s business acumen is not as sharp as his knowledge of food.

But to stay viable in 2008 and beyond, you have to be good at both, you have to be able to marry business smarts with food intelligence.