The Phams may not have realized it when they made their shopping plans Tuesday morning, but they are the target customers for the South Bay’s newest retail experience.

Wife An wanted to check out 99 Ranch Market’s first-ever store located inside a mega-mall, Westfield Oakridge in South San Jose. The warm weather had her husband, Binh, thinking about outdoor cooking and grills.

“My wife came for the groceries and I found they have the Daiso store here,” he said.

So while she was braving the crowds inside 99 Ranch, he headed into the mall — there’s a huge entrance near the eight grocery checkout stands — to do his shopping. He came back to the store, barbecue grates under one arm, to meet back up with her and head home to Milpitas.

Customers wait in line to enter the new 99 Ranch Market at the Westfield Oakridge shopping center on Tuesday, March 22, 2022, in San Jose, Calif. The new grocery store is the chain’s first location inside a mall and its first new-concept store in California. It’s being touted as both a supermarket and a dining destination, with enhanced in-store and takeout options. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 

They were among the hundreds of shoppers who descended on the Blossom Hill Road mall Tuesday for the opening of 99 Ranch Market’s newest store — in a setting that the company officials believe will have broader appeal than a specialty mall. It’s the 18th in the Bay Area and the 56th overall for the nation’s largest Asian grocery chain, founded in 1984 in Orange County.

Like Macy’s and Target and the Century Theatres, this Oakridge store will serve as an anchor at the massive center. Beyond that, this “new concept” store is being closely watched as an innovative retail experiment as U.S. malls look to fill vacant storefronts.

“This could be a game-changer,” said Teddy Chow, NorCal vice president for 99 Ranch. “It’s more of a food destination than a grocery outlet.”

Several quick-service counters serve dim sum, steamed pork ribs, sauteed head-on prawns, noodles, the chain’s popular Taiwanese burritos and more. The fish and seafood counters will steam or stir-fry customers’ purchases for free. Soon a sashimi counter — a first for 99 Ranch — will open at this store.

The new 99 Ranch Market at Westfield Oakridge Mall in San Jose — is being touted as both a supermarket and a dining destination, with enhanced in-store and takeout options. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 

Shoppers can make their hot deli and bakery purchases either inside the store or from service windows inside Oakridge. Curbside pickup of groceries is also offered from the store’s location on the northwest, or Thornwood side, of the mall.

Many in Tuesday’s crowd were longtime fans thrilled to have a 99 Ranch location closer to their San Jose homes.

“This is biking distance,” said Jim Banks, who has been eagerly watching the “coming soon” signs here during the year-long construction. “I like getting my live crab and lobster. Now this will be the closest place.”

Linda Ng, who bought a live tilapia from the seafood counter, a beef shank, vegetables and assorted other groceries, said: “Before, we had to go to Cupertino. It’s a good difference for me.”

Almaden area residents Brenda and Ben Mandac said they appreciate what he called the store’s “eclectic” selection, filling their cart with an array that included Filipino sausage, black soy sauce from Japan and frozen Hong Kong-style chashu buns.

Customers shop in the new 99 Ranch Market at the Westfield Oakridge shopping center on Tuesday, March 22, 2022, in San Jose, Calif. The new grocery store is the chain’s first location inside a mall and its first new-concept store in California. It’s being touted as both a supermarket and a dining destination, with enhanced in-store and takeout options. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 

“But this is the dangerous part,” Brenda said, pointing to the bakery, where they grabbed a loaf of their favorite, coconut toast, from the displays that also featured birthday cakes, tiramisu and cheesecake.



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