By Kumar Bloomstein
Almost any resident of Claremont knows Wolfe’s Market. Across the street from Claremont School of Theology on the corner of Harvard Ave. and Foothill Blvd, this central Claremont meat and grocer stronghold has edged its own niche in a surprisingly competitive grocery market around the Claremont/La Verne area. Providing the best (in Claremont) quality meats, cheeses, natural and organic groceries, sandwiches, and wine, bar none. A large store that shrinks when you enter, Wolfe’s Market’s offerings are not of the volume of comparable supermarkets and grocers. This locally owned independent Market, however, can still surprise one in the variety and selection despite the smaller size.
Quality over Quantity. This is the foundation of Wolfe’s. The emphasis on quality products; smaller in portions but more expensive, have led Wolfe’s to successfully brand themselves to a demographic of more wealthy Claremont consumers who have the means to consistently purchase goods from Wolfe’s. For an average college student at Pitzer or another Claremont College, Wolfe’s is not the location to shop for all your food and drink. Its simply too expensive! However, what I believe (coming from someone who lives a block away from the Market) is that this amazing grocer has a place within a college students diet because select items of value that simply can’t be beat! A prime example is the thick cut bacon (8.99 per lb) that’s one of the best if not the best back in Claremont. Obviously nine dollars is about 35% more expensive than typical bacon in common grocers, but the quality can afford itself if one can make that bacon last. The key with Wolfe’s is spending money intelligently in a manner that maximizes quality and value. In the surrounding grocery stores of Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, Stater Bros, Vons, one can spend less frugally and with less direct effort to maximize the dollars being spent. At Wolfe’s, one must keep in mind they are shopping a local business, non-chain grocer that has more emphasis on quality ingredients than profit margins.
Wolfe’s can be deduced to four main sections of excellence in which they absolutely knock out any competition for value:
The first is the cold sandwich section. For a somewhat hefty price of 10 dollars, one can splurge on a fantastic cold sandwich on the best of breads with side salads and pickles and peppers…I digress. The cold sandwich section is absolutely killer. Amazing for that occasional splurge, a little too expensive to consistently buy (unless you have a real income).
The second section is general produce. From amazing wines and beer to eggs, milk, juice and veggies, the general produce section is probably the least visited section for an average 5C student, mainly because most of these items can be bought for cheaper while maintaining decent quality at Sprouts or Trader Joe’s.
The third section is the deli. Arguably the strongest section of the bunch, the deli commands the respect of anyone who has a taste for meats, cheeses, and seafood. Again, with the theme, the deli is pretty expensive. However, unlike the general produce section or the cold sandwich section that can be found elsewhere, the deli provides products that are non-existent in other stores in the area. The pure quality of the pork, beef, turkey and fish products are so high…just about everything is as fresh as you can get in the Inland Empire. The deli is simply fantastic, a sure-fire winner for this local Market and the most consistent stronghold of the store’s variety. The final section is the grill, or the hot plate section. Countering the cold plate section outlined earlier, the hot plate section serves sandwiches and dinner plates that are cooked to order and just delicious. From burgers to grilled chicken to beef to corned beef piled reubens, the hot grill has it all. Next to the hot grill is the bakery section with pastries and coffee, along with the Wolfe’s Meal Plan station, which provides local residents personalized meal plans to help lose weight and curb eating habits. Across these four sections, one can find a huge amount of different foods, great tastes, and surprising value. This is precisely why this review is not about a single food item. Visit the Market for yourself and buy some food. Come back a couple weeks later and buy some different food. Rinse and Repeat. Everything will be delicious. Explore this Market, because there are a ton of different dishes and food items to try, and really the sky is the limit (not really but kind of). One of my favorites in Claremont, Wolfe’s Market is an amazing grocer that is limited by high price but recovers from the fantastic quality and selection they provide. Supporting local business, that often provides the best quality food, can be hard on the wallet. There might be no better example than Wolfe’s Market in Claremont.
Overall score: 8/10
Location: 2 blocks east of Indian Hill Blvd, from Pitzer drive west on Foothill towards La Verne. Past the Bernard Field Station (or what’s left of it – RIP Bernard Field Station) is the Claremont School of Theology; across the street is Wolfe’s (on corner of Harvard and Foothill). Look for the bright neon pink sign and beautiful palm tree.