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99 Ranch Market officially opens doors for business in Westwood

99 Ranch Market is pictured. The Asian grocery store officially opened Wednesday. (Catherine Hamilton/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Sharla Steinman

Nov. 29, 2023 7:13 p.m.

This post was updated Nov. 30 at 9:58 p.m. 

UCLA students and community members have long awaited the opening of 99 Ranch Market.

A ribbon cutting ceremony marked the end of the three-year wait Wednesday. 99 Ranch Market corporate employees gathered for the ceremony, speeches and an exclusive tour of its new location.

Alice Chen, CEO of 99 Ranch Market, said at the event that she was grateful for all the partners who helped stock shelves, city officials who assisted in its opening, and customers who shopped during the grocery store’s soft opening, which started Nov. 16.

“We hope to be a place where not only you come to buy groceries, but you come to create memories as you share a meal,” Chen said during the opening ceremony. “Our vision and our mission today, as it has been for the last 39 years, is to be the best Asian grocer and serve our communities.”

99 Ranch Market’s shelves are stocked with a variety of goods, including fresh produce, seafood and snacks. This is the chain’s 60th location, with the next-closest location in Van Nuys.

(Catherine Hamilton/Daily Bruin staff)
The inside of 99 Ranch Market is pictured. The shelves are stocked with fresh produce, seafood and a variety of goods. (Catherine Hamilton/Daily Bruin staff)

Many UCLA students said having an Asian grocery store close to campus allows them to easily cook recipes they enjoy back home.

Michelle Zeng, a third-year business economics and education and social transformation student, said she was excited to cook recipes she enjoys eating at home. She added that the store was full of snacks and different foods and had a modern layout.

“I think my first feeling was, ‘Wow, I get to cook food that I love to eat at home,’” she said. “It’s exciting to have this so close to us.”

99 Ranch Market’s Westwood location will soon feature a food court and beer bar where community members can hang out and enjoy sporting events, said Roger Chen, 99 Ranch Market’s chief of staff.

“In case you can’t get a seat at Busby’s (West), you can come check out the game,” he said. “That’ll be a nice area for students to come chill, hang out, socialize and then also pick up some of their groceries on the way.”

Some community members have said having an Asian grocery store on the Westside is symbolic of the growing diversity in the area.

Raag Agrawal, a member of the North Westwood Neighborhood Council, said it is nice to see businesses that serve specific populations opening up. He added that Asian grocery stores can act as a lifeline for the community.

“It’s actually a sign of the Westside diversifying, which is historically majority white, so I think that’s a great point of progress,” said Agrawal, who is a doctoral candidate in the UCLA-Caltech Medical Scientist Training Program.

(Catherine Hamilton/Daily Bruin staff)
The ribbon cutting ceremony is pictured. Local officials and 99 Ranch corporate employees gathered to celebrate the opening. (Catherine Hamilton/Daily Bruin staff)

Jared Block, a psychology doctoral student, said he’s been to 99 Ranch Market locations that are much farther, so having one in Westwood will make shopping on a budget easier for students.

Diana Tran, a fourth-year cognitive science student, said she has always had to travel far for Asian groceries, and that having the ability to shop for foods nearby is meaningful to her.

“I’ve lived in Westwood for all four years here, and I’ve always wanted to have Asian snacks, Asian foods, and I’ve always had to travel super far to get it,” she said. “Having it nearby is so meaningful to me.”

Tran added that 99 Ranch Market is also a good opportunity for students to experience new cultures and cuisines.

“It provides students who maybe are not part of the Asian community the opportunity to experience new cultures and try new things they wouldn’t have been able to get at the Ralphs aisle, the Asian aisle at Ralphs,” she said. “Just letting people experience new cultures, I think that’s something that I really look forward to.”

Michael Russell, executive director of the Westwood Village Improvement Association, said he hopes the store’s opening draws people from surrounding areas into the Westwood community.

He added that the store also serves the growing diverse community in Westwood.

“I think it’s obvious that our communities are more diverse than ever, and we always want to celebrate culture,” Russell said. “It makes it fun living in LA because there’s such a wide variety in every part of the city that has something different to offer, almost every block, especially in Westwood.”

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Sharla Steinman | City and Crime Editor
Steinman is the 2023-2024 city and crime editor. She was previously a city and crime contributor. She is also a fourth-year political science student.
Steinman is the 2023-2024 city and crime editor. She was previously a city and crime contributor. She is also a fourth-year political science student.
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