Why did end up opening its doors in Wildomar on Clinton Keith Road?
“That’s a funny story,” said Rachel Shemirani, marketing manager for Barons and daughter of the company’s founder.
Wildomar was not on anyone’s radar at company headquarters in San Diego in the late 2000s, but Rachel’s dad, Joe, saw something special in the tiny city.
“He scouts locations. He’s the gatekeeper,” she said. He found Wildomar and liked the neighborhood and the demographics. After doing his homework, he informed the Barons team that he had found the ideal spot to open a new flagship store.
“Wildo-what? We thought he was crazy. We were a little nervous,” Rachel admits with a laugh.
Turns out, Wildomar is a sweet spot for Barons.
The grand opening for the 18,000-square-foot store was held nearly two years ago on March 21, 2010, and business has “exceeded all expectations,” according to Rachel. “There’s definitely a buzz in the air, but we don’t know where it’s coming from.”
Rachel concedes that surrounding businesses inside the upscale strip center play a factor. moved in after relocating from across the street and now patrons who come for dinner often have to wait for a seat. Moms and dads picking up their kids from the charter school inside the center -- – can be spotted doing their grocery shopping at Barons. A martial arts school, a yogurt shop, a Jiffy Lube and a KFC are also neighbors.
But Rachel believes the players inside the store are the biggest factor.
“We have such a great team,” she said of the Wildomar employees. There are 25 people working at the store, and nearly all have been there since the opening, Rachel said.
“They are part of the family, whether they like it or not. Sergio [Sergio Guzman, the Wildomar store manager] started with us when he was 16 or 17. He’s in his early 40s now,” Rachel said.
Barons is family – literally. Call the corporate office and the automated greeting offers up a list of employee extensions to choose from, many -- if not most -- have the Shemirani last name.
“Yes, we are definitely a family business,” Rachel said.
Barons goes back more than 20 years. The company sprouted up in 1991 with a line of specialty foods and wines in San Diego, then broadened to include more produce and organic offerings, Rachel said.
“We offer high-quality products like Dean & Deluca or Zabar’s in New York, but our prices are more like Trader Joe’s,” she said, noting that the company’s primary focus for 2012 is expanding its line of locally sourced products. Currently, the store almost always features some locally grown produce, and many specialty food items, including Temecula wines, are available.
Currently, Barons has four stores: Wildomar, Temecula, Pt. Loma and Rancho Bernardo.
“Each is very different, but community is always very important to us,” Rachel explained. “Wildomar is tight-knit; we look for that. We want to be that true neighborhood market.”
Rachel said the company wants to be part of the neighborhood by giving back to the community. Causes involving youth and animals are the biggest benefactors. and the are just two of several local organizations that have seen support from Barons, Rachel said.
“We aren’t going anywhere,” she added. “Wildomar is a great place for us to be.”