Cunha’s to re-open Friday
Khoury family runs
groceries across region
By Clay Lambert
A family with a long history in the Northern California grocery business has signed a lease to operate the former Cunha’s Country Grocery in Half Moon Bay. The Main Street market is expected to re-open Friday.
Mark Khoury, whose family owns similar small groceries in Palo Alto, Windsor, and Napa, said Tuesday that he would open the doors of Cunha’s Country Grocery on Friday. He said the name would remain the same. In fact, longtime operator Bev Ashcraft may figure into the future of the business.
“This is the first time I’m back in my store in five years,” she said. She was inside the building Tuesday, pointing out light bulbs that needed changing and other details. Ashcraft declined to say whether she would work in the store in the future. Khoury declined to elaborate as well, deferring to the former Half Moon Bay storeowner whose family name still adorns the building.
Khoury was busy answering his cell phone and talking to a steady stream of visitors on Tuesday. Inside, Cunha’s was a hive of activity behind white paper covering the windows. The shelves were entirely bare and workers were busy cleaning in advance of Friday’s planned opening.
Khoury said the business would be similar in many ways to the one the Cunhas, then Carrubbas, ran. He said there would be a sandwich station and a butcher in the back. In fact, his father is a butcher and has been in the grocery business for 40 years. Khoury said he and another of this five brothers would likely be in Cunha’s much of the time.
He said he would like to buy the building in time.
“Of course, everyone wants to own what they rent,” he said. “I have high hopes.”
Khoury said he only learned that Cunha’s had closed about a month ago and that he moved quickly.
“I saw so much potential and life here,” he said. “I love Half Moon Bay.”
It’s been an eventful decade at the corner of Kelly Avenue and Main Street.
In 2003, the iconic downtown grocery burnt to the ground. Residents who considered the business part of the family rallied around, holding fundraisers for suddenly unemployed Cunha workers. The city of Half Moon Bay fast-tracked permitting, and the store was rebuilt in record time.
When New Leaf Community Markets came to town in 2007, the competition for grocery business heated up in Half Moon Bay. Ashcraft sold her business and building to Peninsula businessman Franco Carrubba, who subsequently bought the nearby San Benito House and a portion of Shoreline Station.
Two years later, Carrubba’s business fortunes fell victim to the economy. He began looking for investors. When those investors didn’t materialize, the Carrubba family announced the business would close.