by Sam Loeffler
I’ve lived in Vallejo a little over a year and one of my biggest regrets is not discovering Anchor Pantry sooner. As a plant-based home chef, I’m always looking for high-quality foods and ingredients you can’t find at Safeway, Costco or even Trader Joes. Some of my favorite stores to shop at are Sprouts and Whole Foods, neither of which are convenient to travel to. Enter….Anchor Pantry, right here in downtown Vallejo!
When I first stepped foot in Anchor Pantry I immediately knew this would become one of my routine stops. Like a kid in a candy store, I didn’t know where to start – chocolates from around the world, savory sauces, jams & jellies, fresh Acme bread – how is a girl to choose?!
After calming my inner child, I slowly made my way around the store, giddily filling my basket with items on my list and brand new discoveries. An Acme herb slab of bread, artisan white cheddar cheese, pistachio pesto – mmm this is going to make a good panini.
As I made my way around the back of the store I was met with the friendliest smile from a woman who looked like she was sharing in my food excitement. “Hi, I’m Jessica, welcome in.” She then began commenting on items in my basket and recommending recipe pairings in a way I knew she wasn’t just your average store owner.
In getting to know Jessica Brooks I came to learn she was once a chef, has a degree in hospitality management and over 20 years’ experience as a retail manager – and is clearly passionate about food! She opened Anchor Pantry in early 2021 because she was tired of leaving town to find gourmet ingredients and food items.
When her original store location had a major setback from a devastating fire in May 2022, the Vallejo community rallied to support her, even fundraising money to soften the loss. Only three months after the fire, Jessica was up and running in a new space. This July she will celebrate Anchor’s one year anniversary – a testament to her determination, resilience and grit.
When I asked Jessica what’s most important to her in curating products for the store, she said she selects items based on what you CANNOT find at Safeway & Raley’s. The more unique, the better! She also buys from small businesses, women owned, black owned, AAPI owned, LGBTQ owned etc., and stocks items based on customer requests, reviews and award winners.
She says everyone should have at least three gourmet items in their pantry at all times: good quality olive oil, coffee beans and nut butters. I couldn’t agree more (I’ll throw wine and chocolate in there too!).
Finally, Jessica said she wants people to know the residents of Vallejo are artistic, interesting, cultured, and very diverse. It’s the most friendly place she’s ever lived – a place where your neighbors actually know each other and she’s excited for the continued improvement of Vallejo’s historic downtown.
If I haven’t yet convinced you to check out Anchor Pantry…..well, that’s ok – more Acme bread for me 🙂
You can check out Anchor Pantry’s full catalog on their website at https://anchorpantry.com/. Anchor Pantry is located in downtown Vallejo at 620 Marin Street. Be sure to say hi to Jessica when you stop in!
About Sam Loeffler: I moved from the Bay Area to Hiddenbrooke in February 2022 with my husband Romeo and our dog Forrest. After renting for a few years in California, we are thrilled to put down roots in Vallejo. We both fell in love with this neighborhood for it’s surrounding nature, plentiful walking paths and tranquility (a light sleepers dream). Romeo and I met 10 years ago in Chicago, after he immigrated to the U.S. from Ecuador and I moved to the “big city” from a small town in Indiana. Romeo is a passionate home automation designer – a career path he pivoted to after graduating from med school. I work in brand management (a mix of marketing and general management) for CPG companies and I’m currently on a six-month sabbatical. We are both what I call “active nerds” – we love playing sports and exercising (basketball, golf, Orange Theory), hiking, traveling and can also be found competing against each other in Jeopardy every night, reading books and scouring antique shops. Most importantly, we are self-proclaimed “foodies” and enjoy trying new restaurants,. We love meeting new people in Hiddenbrooke so please don’t be a stranger!