Classy Convenience

L.A. c-stores feature the unexpected

LOS ANGELES -- Sushi, lattes, gourmet chocolate. All things you don't expect to find at a mini mart are exactly what is offered at Famima stores, according to a KABC-TV Los Angeles report.

With six stores in Los Angeles and 1,200 in Japan, Famima appeals to the customer who is looking for quality in a hurry. Offering Asian, international and American products, Famima is a high-tech, streamlined market, the report said.

There's fresh sushi made daily and foreign foods, such as Indian curry dishes and spaghetti Bolognese. [image-nocss] There are magazines and periodicals from Europe and a digital photo maker. And some of the Famimas have wireless Internet for use while enjoying gourmet coffees.

Japan-based Famima plans to open 200 Famimas in California by 2009.

But large chain convenience stores aren't the only ones offering what some call Gucci groceries. One sole proprietor in Venice, Shari Robins, recently opened Robins Nest on Venice Boulevard.

A chef for over twenty years, Robins offers some foods from local vendors: artisan breads and L.A. Mill coffees, along with locally produced tofu, sausage and cheese.

Robins likens her store to East Coast bodegas. She hopes neighbors will come in for a loaf of bread, bottle of olive oil or even flash-frozen fish. Whatever ingredient is needed to make a meal special, she's catering to her neighborhood with loads of gourmet yet nutritional goodies.

In addition, Robins Nest is environmentally conscious with recycled packaging and biodegradable bags. Robins hopes to open more stores in hot spots near apartment or condo complexes offering mixed-use permits.