Drive-through farmers markets? The Peninsula's food industry pivots to the new normal. | Peninsula Foodist | Elena Kadvany | Mountain View Online |

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By Elena Kadvany

Drive-through farmers markets? The Peninsula's food industry pivots to the new normal.

Uploaded: Mar 23, 2020

Two local food operators, a farmers market and a restaurant, are pivoting to drive-through service models to adapt to the Bay Area's shelter in place order.

The Portola Valley Farmers' Market, which had closed temporarily to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, will return this Thursday, March 26, as a drive-through market with online ordering. Dubbed the "Sanitary Allocation of Food Essentials," or SAFE, initiative, the new model "will provide our community access to pre-packed local, fresh food bags while minimizing risk exposure," an announcement reads. The market is launching the initiative in partnership with the Town of Portola Valley.

The Portola Valley farmers market has reopened temporarily as a drive-through model with online ordering. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

The drive-through market will run for three weeks from 2-6 p.m. at the farmers market's usual location at the Portola Valley Town Center, 765 Portola Road. People have to place their orders online by 7 p.m. on the Wednesday before the market. Staff will bring orders to people in their cars -- no physical contact necessary.

Bags of fresh organic produce, including artichokes, avocados, sweet potatoes and strawberries, are available for purchase, though products and quantities are subject to change based on availability with limitations caused by COVID-19, the website notes. Items for the following week's market will be posted online six days before to the event at noon.

The market will offer delivery for residents of The Sequoias senior living community and those in vulnerable populations. (Please see note on this when you check out of the online shopping cart.) People can also purchase bags of fruits and vegetables for families in need. Unclaimed food bags will be donated to a local charity.

To place an order, go to

Flights starts drive-through grocery store in Los Gatos

Starting Monday, March 23, the owner of Flights in Los Gatos has turned his shuttered restaurant into a drive-through, "no-touch" market, with groceries, local specialty food and other supplies available for purchase.

"They pull up like (at) McDonald's, order from a list and then go to the next window and pay," Flights founder Alex Hult said in an interview. "We come and drop the groceries in the trunk."

A line of cars wait to order groceries and supplies on the first day of Flights' new "family market" in Los Gatos on Monday, March 23. Photo courtesy Alex Hult.

Because restaurants have a different supply chain, Hult can order large quantities of food like milk, bread and eggs — plus commercial-sized rolls of toilet paper. All wine and liquor is 50% off; Flights is also selling batched cocktails to go.

Hult also teamed up with Los Gatos businesses to sell their products, including coffee from Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company, desserts from Nothing Bundt Cakes, beer from Loma Brewing Company, cold-pressed juice from Los Gatos Juice Co. and parbaked pizzas from Centanove.

He created the market as an alternative to dealing with the frenzied crowds and empty shelves at many local grocery stores — and also as a way to support his remaining staff. Hult has closed all but one of his five locations (including in downtown Mountain View), laying off more than 200 staff. About 10 employees are still working at the Los Gatos restaurant, plus volunteers. Flights is also offering pickup family meals that serve six people for $55.

"It's kind of a dual purpose — keeping my employees employed so they can feed their families and at the same time go through our current inventory but also do a good deed and help people," Hult said of the drive-through market.

The Flights market is open daily from noon to 7 p.m. at 165 Los Gatos-Saratoga Road, Los Gatos.