Culture

Los Gatos specialty market fulfills dream for Chicago native


Yvonne Khananis was drawing on a memory from her native city when she opened a specialty food market in downtown Los Gatos. She took the name of her new business from The Goddess and Grocer, a place in Chicago started by a woman she much admired.

“She owned multiple restaurants in a four-block radius,” Khananis says. “I just loved her concept and food, so I switched it up, thinking the name would resonate with Los Gatos residents. I am paying homage to my roots and how I felt when I first saw it.”

Everything about Grocer + Goddess, located at 242 N. Santa Cruz Ave., is designed to draw shoppers in, with soaring windows, airy layout and neatly organized cupboards filled with kitchen essentials. Khananis also sells prepared food for takeout or dining al fresco at the market’s outdoor tables.

“I started this because I wanted a place where I could offer the things that are in my own home, the things I love,” Khananis says. “I wanted a place where I could find the food that I want to eat—a great salad that doesn’t cost $10 a pound. I try to do things that are healthy, clean and good, period.”

Khananis has been in the food service business for over 25 years, opening restaurants, starting a catering company and now this, her latest passion project.

“Food was my reprieve during childhood; it saved me,” she says. “I have been cooking since I was 4. My grandmother took care of me and taught me how to cook Middle Eastern dishes. It was her way of showing that she loved me.”

She moved to LA in 1996 to work for several catering companies and eventually for a private chef service, where she met her future husband. After 9/11, the couple decided to move back to Chicago and get married. Her Mom was working for the Chicago Police Department at the time.

“I was so worried for her,” Khananis says. “I had to go back.”

Khananis opened her first restaurant there in 2002.

“It was a breakfast place in Lincoln Square. It was so popular, people started asking me to do dinner service.”

After the landlord tripled her rent, customers and her alderman went to bat for her, finding her another location where she stayed for three years before moving to California after finding out her husband was a bigamist.

After she divorced, a friend who encouraged her to move Northern California. She landed in Los Gatos, pretty much broke. Thanks to her mother’s gift of a debit card, she founded Reverence Catering, a business that was going gangbusters until the pandemic hit last March.

“Netflix had just come aboard as a client, and then suddenly, I had to let all but two of my 24 employees go,” Khananis recalls.

Khananis signed a lease for Grocer + Goddess in September, built it out and opened in October, offering gourmet comfort foods, kitchen supplies and gifts for the culinary minded.

“I call myself crazy: I spent my last $70k on this,” she says.

Her Sunday soups like chicken …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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