By Michele Murphy and Julie Horner
San Lorenzo valley native Eric Kennedy is the new owner of the Zayante Creek Market & Deli. This neighborhood corner store in the heart of Zayante was established in the 1940s and served the area first as a Chevron gas station. One of a cluster of buildings now owned by David Faulkner in the miniscule central district, including a retro barbershop and the now defunct 1960s counterculture hotspot Club Zayante, Faulkner has memories of going to the Zayante Market with his dad to buy bait to go fishing for bass at nearby Loch Lomond. In a nod to the market’s past, Faulkner found a vintage gas pump, much like the original, which he installed at the store and modified into an electric vehicle charger. This outpost market located deep in the redwoods retains that old world feel but offers today’s necessities.
“I think corner stores are an important part of a community,” Faulkner said. “They act as a social hub and offer convenience and community you can’t get at a big supermarket. Zayante might be just a lost and isolated suburb of Felton if we didn’t have our downtown corner store to keep us connected.”
Complete with a generator, the market is a valuable information resource during emergencies and a place to catch up with neighbors any time.
For more than 17 years the market has been lovingly operated by Lisa Truong, who retired and turned the market over to Eric Kennedy on December 1, 2021. Lisa worked closely with Kennedy, teaching him all the nuances that make a market like this sustainable and successful. During her tenure she was a one-woman show and rarely took a vacation day. Her love of the place showed and customers became friends and family.
Kennedy, who grew up in Boulder Creek and went to San Lorenzo Valley High School said, “We’re going on 50 years. There’s the history of the Zayante Club, which sat across the street, and there’s definitely a lot of Bohemian mystique in this area that is still alive and well.” Locals will notice the new sign out front. “We decided to give it a fresh look and feel. The building owner made the original sign and the new one,” Kennedy said. And it’s the first of many refreshes. “I’ve been spending a lot of late nights cleaning and dusting and scrubbing. I’m looking forward to bringing my little ones down here this summer.”
Kennedy works full time at the market. “I love the freedom of it. I’m anchored to it but I’m up moving, talking with people in very real modes of their personalities, not masks, but genuine versions of themselves, very friendly and open. I just love hearing about peoples’ lives and chit-chatting.”
Kennedy said, “I wake up excited, literally bounding out of bed because I’m eager to transform this place a little bit while maintaining some of the things that make it charming and useful. This is the perfect time to take over a business. I can take the slower months to do the back office sort of stuff, and in spring things will bloom and I’ll be ready.”
Future plans include earlier hours with coffee and breakfast options, tables for picnicking out front, affordable local wines, and farm fresh food options. Kennedy said, “During the summer you have Loch Lomond, which draws a lot of people from out of the area right here. I’m looking forward to that. We’ll have fishing poles and tackle, picnic baskets, and all the stuff they’ll need to have a fun day at the lake.”
Kennedy pictures a grassroots scene filled with live music, cafe style coffee, and a space for relaxed community gatherings to go along with your essentials and sundries. “It’s the last of its kind,” Kennedy said. “In the summer I don’t know of any better climate, it’s just gorgeous, we’re right on the river.”
9210 E. Zayante Road, Felton (831) 335-2542
IG: @zayante_market | FB: @ZayanteMarket
Photo caption: Eric Kennedy and the Zayante Creek Market & Deli
Photos by Peter Woodward @BrittwoodCreative