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Ralphs in Westwood plans major renovations

Ralphs grocery store may nearly double in size by the end of this year, as it expands its location into an adjacent vacant space in Westwood.
(Christopher Hoo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Trevor Cleere

Feb. 18, 2014 1:44 a.m.

Ralphs grocery store recently announced that it plans to nearly double the size of its Westwood Village location – making it the largest Ralphs in the state.

By the end of 2014, the grocery store is set to undergo a complete renovation and expansion into an adjacent vacant space on Weyburn Avenue, which housed Best Buy until 2012.

The expansion into Best Buy’s former location will add about 40,000 square feet to the store’s current 50,000, said Tim Manuel, the manager of the Westwood Village Ralphs.

Specific plans for the renovation are not finalized, but tentatively include adding a sushi bar, a stone pizza oven, a wine tasting area and a cheese shop, Manuel said.

The prepared food and produce sections will also be expanded to increase selection and to bring in more organic options, Manuel said.

Matthew Le, a fourth-year English student, said he thinks the renovation will benefit students and broaden the options available in the store.

While some students said they support the proposed plans for renovations, others said they think they are unnecessary and do not reflect student needs.

Ruth Robison, a first-year history student, said she does not plan on using the additions to the store.

“It’s excessive. I come here for basic groceries,” Robison said.

Kendra Doyel, a spokeswoman for Ralphs, said she could not estimate how much the renovations will cost yet because the project is still being planned.

The renovations will likely start by June and will take about one year to finish, she said.

Ralphs officials will try to keep the store open during renovations, but added that the store may close during the larger construction projects, Manuel said.

Ralphs, the original grocer to Westwood Village, opened in 1929 in the building that now houses Peet’s Coffee & Tea.

After closing in 1963, Ralphs returned to the area in 2001, moving into a larger space – its current location on Weyburn Avenue.

Steve Sann, the chairman of the Westwood Community Council, said the renovations would make Ralphs the second largest tenant in Westwood Village. CityTarget, which is below Ralphs, is currently the largest at about 100,000 square feet.

Sann said he thinks the proposed expansion shows that Westwood businesses are confident in the Village’s resurgence.

“The expansion reflects the current trend of leasing and construction in the Village of shops and restaurants, which demonstrates economic growth,” Sann said.

Further plans for Ralphs would include enlarging their pharmacy, which is the only 24-hour pharmacy in Westwood. The management also aims to improve the overall circulation of the store by moving the register stations to make checkout more convenient and changing the organization of the parking lot to reduce traffic.

Ralphs’ Westwood location is one of the highest performing Kroger-owned stores in the United States, Manuel said. Kroger is the parent company of Ralphs.

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Trevor Cleere
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