‘Feel good about your food’: New Jimbo’s store opens in Carmel Valley

Inside the new Jimbo's in Del Mar Highlands Town Center.

The new Jimbo’s… Naturally store opened in Del Mar Highlands Town Center on Sept. 18 with a community celebration. Gill Sotu, a San Diego spoken word artist performed a poem written just for Jimbo’s that seemed to encapsulate founder Jim “Jimbo” Someck’s ethos in one simple line: “Customer first, kindness always, integrity forever, because it’s the right thing to do… naturally.”

Carmel Valley and area customers were without a Jimbo’s for two days while the store migrated from the old store into its new home in the Del Mar Highlands Town Center’s expansion. Someck, an avid runner, compared the challenging process of closing one store and opening another to running a marathon. Rather than hitting the wall, he was anxious to get to the finish line. He was excited to open the doors to the new store to the community who has backed him every step of the way.

Jim "Jimbo" Someck with Organics Unlimited President and CEO Mayra Velazquez de Leon and Logistics Manager Danny Velazquez de Leon in front of their product, GROW Bananas in the new Jimbo's.

The community showed up big on Sept. 18—customers were in line as early as 5:45 a.m. as the first 50 people received a reusable Jimbo’s bag filled with over $200 worth of product. By 10 a.m., a large crowd had gathered in front of the new store for a ribbon-cutting ceremony where Someck paid heartfelt tributes to longtime vendors, community partners, faithful customers and employees.

“I used to believe that I needed to the smartest person in the room. It wasn’t until I realized that I need to hire people that were smarter than me that I became successful. I have been blessed to have so many people working for me for all these years, thousands and thousands of Jimbo’s employees and every one of their names should be up there too,” Someck said pointing up at the marquee. “When I look at Jimbo’s I see their names.”

Someck founded Jimbo’s back in 1984 with the vision to have a piece of organic fruit in every child’s recyclable lunch bag. A longtime Carmel Valley resident who now lives in Solana Beach, Someck now has five stores including 4S Ranch, Escondido, Carlsbad and Horton Plaza. The Del Mar Highlands Town Center store introduces a fresh new look—“We have totally rebranded the store,” Someck said.

On every wall of every section, the signage reflects what Jimbo’s represents: committed to freshness and quality, greens from the source, organic and grass fed meat, sustainable seafood, no preservatives, scratch made everything, gluten-free and vegan choices. One of Someck’s favorites: “Feel good about your food.”

The new store is also 10,000 square feet larger than Jimbo’s previous Carmel Valley location and has expanded in many areas, most notably in its prepared foods.

The new Jimbo’s store is full of firsts such as an olive bar, build-your-own Mediterranean and taco bars, sushi bar and an enhanced juice bar—all made with organic ingredients whenever possible.

The store also include Jimbo’s first pizza oven, an authentic wood-fired oven straight from Italy that cooks up creations such as vegan and veggie-loaded pizzas as well as tasty combos like bacon arugula and BBQ chicken.

Due to the increase in prepared foods and take-home options meant to cater to people’s busy lifestyles, Someck hired 70 more people for the store.

“We’re excited, there’s a lot more food production,” said Someck. “We pride ourselves in customer service and making people feel good about the experience. I want my customers to feel like the store is theirs.”

Of all the things in the store, Someck said what he is most proud about is that they are the first in on the West Coast to eliminate plastic in their water aisle. In the aisle, water is sold in glass or cardboard containers and also includes several refilling stations.

Someck said he has been considering a plastic-free water aisle for years as part of his ongoing commitment to the environment. A little over 10 years ago, Jimbo’s was the first store to eliminate plastic bags.

“Back then we were told it wasn’t a great business decision and once again, we are told it isn’t the smartest decision to eliminate the sales of single-use plastic water bottles at our store,” Someck said, noting of the top 50 sellers in the store he estimates half are water in plastic. “But with our oceans, landfills and natural world directly suffering from the overuse of plastic, at some point, you just have to take a stand. The time is right now to say we’re not going to sell water in plastic and hopefully we can start eliminating all plastic in our store.”

Someck said he hopes the community will embrace the decision.

In the front of the store, there is also a complimentary water bottle filling station with messages from Someck and the Surfrider Foundation about conservation—one stunning statistic on the digital display estimates that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean then there are fish. While filling up will be free, customers will have an opportunity to donate to Surfrider and other Jimbo’s nonprofit partners at the station.

Jimbo’s at the Del Mar Highlands Town Center will be the first Jimbo’s to package all its fresh juice in glass bottles—implementing another initiative to eliminate the use of plastic.

Jimbo’s expansion is seen throughout the store—there is a bigger selection of cheeses sourced from all over the world, expanded wine and craft beer aisle, more organic coffees and enlarged indoor and outdoor dining areas.

The produce section is Someck’s pride and joy.

“Produce is my passion,” Someck said of the 100 percent organic fruits and vegetables straight from the local farms that he has established great relationships with over the years. The fresh and colorful produce in the new store is lushly displayed in new reclaimed wood produce stations.

The produce section is next to an expanded bulk bin section where now every product is organic.

Bulk products equal less packaging, less waste and less greenhouse gases—Someck’s favorite is the cashews (“I eat a lot of cashews”) but the bulk bins are also home to Jimbo’s Maple Nut Crunch Granola, his wife Colleen’s original recipe. The couple met when Colleen was working behind the deli counter at the first Jimbo’s store on 30th and University—they married on the store’s one-year anniversary in 1985.

In recognition of the Jimbo's opening, Del Mar Highlands Town Center donated $25,500 to the Solana Beach School District, San Dieguito Union School District and Del Mar Union School District.

In recognition of the grand opening of Jimbo’s new location, Del Mar Highlands Town Center donated $25,500 to local schools in support of youth education during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The donation will be divided among 17 local schools in the Del Mar Union School District, San Dieguito Union High School District and Solana Beach School District.

“Jimbo’s in Del Mar Highlands Town Center shares our deep commitment to the community,” said Patrick Donahue, chairman and chief executive officer of Donahue Schriber and owner and operator of Del Mar Highlands Town Center. “We came together with Jimbo’s to support youth education and encourage our area youth to learn about the farm-to-table movement that Jimbo’s has made integral to its business. We’re absolutely honored to support the marketplace’s growth and can’t wait to celebrate this new opening with the community.”

Jimbo’s is located at 12841 El Camino Real. For more information, visit jimbos.com