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Drive-through farmers markets? The Peninsula's food industry pivots to the new normal.

Uploaded: Mar 23, 2020
Two local food operators, a farmers market and a restaurant, are pivoting to drive-through service models to adapt to the Bay Area's shelter in place order.

The Portola Valley Farmers' Market, which had closed temporarily to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, will return this Thursday, March 26, as a drive-through market with online ordering. Dubbed the "Sanitary Allocation of Food Essentials," or SAFE, initiative, the new model "will provide our community access to pre-packed local, fresh food bags while minimizing risk exposure," an announcement reads. The market is launching the initiative in partnership with the Town of Portola Valley.

The Portola Valley farmers market has reopened temporarily as a drive-through model with online ordering. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

The drive-through market will run for three weeks from 2-6 p.m. at the farmers market's usual location at the Portola Valley Town Center, 765 Portola Road. People have to place their orders online by 7 p.m. on the Wednesday before the market. Staff will bring orders to people in their cars -- no physical contact necessary.

Bags of fresh organic produce, including artichokes, avocados, sweet potatoes and strawberries, are available for purchase, though products and quantities are subject to change based on availability with limitations caused by COVID-19, the website notes. Items for the following week's market will be posted online six days before to the event at noon.

The market will offer delivery for residents of The Sequoias senior living community and those in vulnerable populations. (Please see note on this when you check out of the online shopping cart.) People can also purchase bags of fruits and vegetables for families in need. Unclaimed food bags will be donated to a local charity.

To place an order, go to

Flights starts drive-through grocery store in Los Gatos

Starting Monday, March 23, the owner of Flights in Los Gatos has turned his shuttered restaurant into a drive-through, "no-touch" market, with groceries, local specialty food and other supplies available for purchase.

"They pull up like (at) McDonald's, order from a list and then go to the next window and pay," Flights founder Alex Hult said in an interview. "We come and drop the groceries in the trunk."

A line of cars wait to order groceries and supplies on the first day of Flights' new "family market" in Los Gatos on Monday, March 23. Photo courtesy Alex Hult.

Because restaurants have a different supply chain, Hult can order large quantities of food like milk, bread and eggs — plus commercial-sized rolls of toilet paper. All wine and liquor is 50% off; Flights is also selling batched cocktails to go.

Hult also teamed up with Los Gatos businesses to sell their products, including coffee from Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company, desserts from Nothing Bundt Cakes, beer from Loma Brewing Company, cold-pressed juice from Los Gatos Juice Co. and parbaked pizzas from Centanove.

He created the market as an alternative to dealing with the frenzied crowds and empty shelves at many local grocery stores — and also as a way to support his remaining staff. Hult has closed all but one of his five locations (including in downtown Mountain View), laying off more than 200 staff. About 10 employees are still working at the Los Gatos restaurant, plus volunteers. Flights is also offering pickup family meals that serve six people for $55.

"It's kind of a dual purpose — keeping my employees employed so they can feed their families and at the same time go through our current inventory but also do a good deed and help people," Hult said of the drive-through market.

The Flights market is open daily from noon to 7 p.m. at 165 Los Gatos-Saratoga Road, Los Gatos.
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Posted by bill1940, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Mar 23, 2020 at 4:26 pm

bill1940 is a registered user.

Beautiful! We need more of this to protect the vendors and the public.

Posted by great idea!, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Mar 23, 2020 at 11:54 pm

This is an excellent idea. I love the CA Ave farmers market, but given the crowds and lack of PPE it unfortunately seems like a great place to transmit covid-19. Hopefully they also move to a drive-through model.

Posted by eenee, a resident of another community,
on Mar 24, 2020 at 11:01 am

eenee is a registered user.

Where do we put our order in online for the Portola Valley farmers market?

Posted by Elena Kadvany, education reporter of the Palo Alto Weekly,
on Mar 24, 2020 at 11:07 am

Elena Kadvany is a registered user.

Hi eenee: Here's the link to order: Web Link

Posted by sequoiadean, a resident of Los Altos,
on Mar 24, 2020 at 12:00 pm

sequoiadean is a registered user.

Good idea! I went to the Mountain View farmer's market on Sunday, and it definitely did not seem like a safe place to be considering the number of people there - especially children who do not understand guidelines about staying away from everyone.

Posted by Fresh food, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Mar 24, 2020 at 4:32 pm

"This is an excellent idea. I love the CA Ave farmers market, but given the crowds and lack of PPE it unfortunately seems like a great place to transmit covid-19. Hopefully they also move to a drive-through model."

CA Ave has not been crowded, and many vendors have bags now instead of picking through produce.

I do wish the farmers market organization would make it possible to place orders in advance at Cal Ave, though, so farmers would know how much produce to bring and it could be all ready to go.

Posted by Hutch Fam, a resident of Woodside: other,
on Mar 30, 2020 at 2:58 pm

We ordered the Market Essentials and Vegetable bags at the SAFE Portola Valley market last week and both bags were delicious and very fresh. They were so organized and very very careful -- there was no contact at all (they opened the back of my car and put it in!). I hope they keep this going throughout the SIP. I just want the fish guy to come too!
Thank you!

Posted by C, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Apr 1, 2020 at 11:38 am

Good to know! I hope more local farmer's markets, restaurants, and grocery stores do this. (Safeway seems to be overwhelmed, with a week delay.) You have people here and on telling us to support take-out, but take-out is, at best, a day's worth of food, while groceries are for one (or two) weeks. With the shutdown, everyone has more time to cook, and I don't think my parents are the only ones who want to cook and handle their own food! Please let us know of locals who provide grocery pickup and delivery -- and put it on the front page so we can patronize them!

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