December 8, 2011
Kosher Club to close its doors after 30 years
Kosher Club, a warehouse-style kosher market on Pico Boulevard, near La Brea Avenue, will close its doors on Friday, a victim of the competitive kosher retail industry in Los Angeles.
“After 30 years in business, the Kosher Club has decided to close its retail operation,” management wrote in an email sent to customers Wednesday. “As many of you know, we have struggled these last few years, and we decided to make a change.”
Owner Daryl Schwartz was not available for comment Thursday morning, but customers and employees at the market said they were saddened but not shocked to hear the news.
Kosher Club lies proximate to, but not within, the heavily Orthodox neighborhoods of Pico-Robertson and Beverly-La Brea. While loyalists insisted the easy parking and friendly service were worth the drive – less than 10 minutes from both neighborhoods – most customers preferred to patronize markets closer to their homes, which have proliferated in recent years.
Additionally, some customers agreed that prices at Kosher Club were slightly higher than at kosher markets on Pico, most of which also offered a lusher produce section than Kosher Club.
This week, prices for all merchandise (except the meat) were marked 30 percent off to clear the shelves, which by Thursday morning were mostly empty. A Chanukah display held only a few remaining puzzles and some chocolate. The bakery shelf offered some day-old loaves of bread and bags of pita. The meat case – renowned among kosher connoisseurs—sat nearly empty, opposite shelves with a jarringly sparse selection of wines.
Loyal customers, many of whom found out about the closing when they showed up to shop on Thursday, were distressed by the closing.
“I come here once a month from South Bay to do all my shopping. I’m just devastated. Where will I go now?” asked one customer, who identified herself as M. Averch.
“This is home to me,” said Baruch Littman, a long-time customer and friend of the owners. “When I leave my house to go to a kosher market, I have never gone anywhere but here. Never. They have the best meat case in the entire city. Rosie is the best butcher in the entire city.”
Littman, vice president of development at the Jewish Community Foundation, said when he opened a restaurant in 1981, Mickey Schwartz, father of owner Daryl Schwartz, was the only one to extend him credit. Schwartz and a partner owned West Pico Foods, Inc., a distribution company. When they sold the company, Schwartz opened Kosher Club at the property in 1987.
Kosher club was early to develop online shopping and home delivery, but that wasn’t enough to compete with stores farther west on Pico Boulevard. Three large kosher markets and a handful of smaller ones do a brisk business on the stretch of Pico between La Cienega Boulevard and Roxbury Drive.
Angel Soto, who has worked for the Schwartzes for 30 years, most recently driving the home-delivery truck, witnessed the volume of customers at other kosher markets, and said he was concerned about Kosher Club.
Soto, along with about a dozen other employees, were told of the closing this week. Soto said customers have already offered him jobs, so he’s not worried about himself.
Averch, from South Bay, stood talking to other customers, extolling the service and products at Kosher Club, and wondering where she would shop now.
“And,” she added, looking at the newspaper rack near the register, “now where am I going to find my Jewish Journal?”