Chuck’s Grocery Closes, But Neighborly Gratitude Remains



Chuck’s Grocery on the corner of Cortland and Bocana has been an institution since just about forever. Yesterday was Chuck’s last day of operation, though, and Neighbor Michael Nolan shared this lovely appreciation:

Chuck’s Grocery Store, also known as Reliable Grocery, is scheduled to close after 40 years at its Cortland & Bocana location. I’ve known and enjoyed this incredible Palestinian-Chilean-San Francisco family for most of that time. I’d like to thank Chuck for letting me run a tab when money was scarce and I needed milk for the family. And to Vera for the tasty homemade salsa she would give me. And to Antoinette for providing an evening social center when I was feeling lonely and unappreciated. Thank you, Lama Family, for lifting my spirits. Por favor, let’s stay in touch!

Special bonus! Neighbor Michael also snagged this amazing photo of Vera Lama and her children leaving Santiago, Chile for San Francisco in 1973. In birth order: Tony, Antoinette, Claudia, Mauricio, Alejandro and Nadia.


PHOTOS: Above, Chucks Grocery and the Lama family on July 24, 2014, by Telstar Logistics. Below, courtesy of the Lama family

30 thoughts on “Chuck’s Grocery Closes, But Neighborly Gratitude Remains

  1. Wow Chuck’s kids grew up! I used to patronize Chuck’s a lot when I lived on Gates –great people, great store.

  2. Noooooo! My corner store of choice. 😦 Between the Deli Pub closing and this, that stretch of Cortland is going to feel lonely indeed.

  3. What is going to happen to the space? How about Deli Pub’s old space? I’d hate to see it vacant for as long as Pinhole Coffee has taken to open their store. Permits must be insane on this side of Cortland 🙂

  4. The Lamas themselves aren’t going anywhere, as I understand it. I believe they will be looking for another tenant for the space.

  5. Very sad to see the store close. It is always heartbreaking to see so much loved and longstanding companies close.

    On a Bernal Heights historical standpoint, does anyone know what was there prior to the Lamas opening their store?

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  7. I stopped in yesterday, and she said that she’s only closing for a couple of months to travel and spend some time with her family.

  8. The family has some prime Bernal real estate on Bocana. I noticed a nice orange-bristled city broom in their garage one time, and Claudia told me “oh yeah my brother works for the city.”

    Your brother STEALS from his job as a city employee, is what I was thinking.

      • Do you think the city lets employees have city property for personal use? I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer is yes, but that could explain why I found city services in San Diego to be far superior to San Francisco.

      • I don’t the know how the broom came to be in the garage, and I suspect you don’t either. You may be absolutely correct, but to make such an accusation in a public forum, you need more than “I noticed a nice orange-bristled city broom in their garage one time” as evidence.

    • @Byrd Bodega

      I will confess that I once also took home, I meant, stole, one plastic binder and two pens from work.

      • There’s another city worker on Crescent near Murray. Perhaps you’ve seen him in his city van with his elderly father in the passenger seat, while he stops by his house during the day? His brother can often be seen sweeping in front of the house with a city broom.

        City workers are thieves.

  9. I kept buying stuff/food there that seemed to be expired over the last few months. I got pretty aggravated with it and wish I could trust that I can pick something up w/o being paranoid about the “use by” date. Grody. :-/

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  11. I think the “neighborly gratitude” just evaporated in a $8,900 per month instant.

  12. I grew up in Bernal Heights and Chuck’s was an institution that I patronized from about the age of 7 (in 1976) until I left the neighborhood at age 18. Chuck and Vera were lovely people – Chuck was a little gruff and intimidating to me but he was a softy underneath; when I’d get an apple he’d give me another one for free for my sister. He used to comment on our manners because we’d been taught to always say please and thank you (which I gather wasn’t the norm with all his customers).

    Vera had a heart of gold – just a lovely, lovely woman. I was at St. Paul’s at the same time as Nadia and Alex (and maybe Maurice – hard to remember after all these years!). I remember all the kids quite well, though I haven’t seen any of them in years.

    Anyway, not going to get into the rent business or any of the other petty stuff people bring up above. I just want to say how much nostalgia I have for that time and place – it was special and I miss it.

    • Losing one’s home to a greedy shell game is petty? If you’re putting your personal nostalgia above another person’s home. Guinevere, I think it’s time to re-evaluate your ethics pertaining to that “heart of gold.”

  13. Greed. That store is still for rent. They probably want a fortune for it. The house on bocana is going through renovation. Betcha it goes up for sale for 2 mil.

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