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Bob's Market Owner Who Kept Spirit of Neighborhood Grocery Stores Alive Dead at 92


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By Jorge Casuso

April 9, 2024 -- Bob Rosenbloom, owner of one of the last independent neighborhood markets on the Westside, died Friday, leaving behind the legacy of a simpler time that is rapidly vanishing in Santa Monica.

Rosenbloom was 92 and had been battling congestive heart failure for the past two months, his family said.
Bob Rosenbloom
Bob Rosenbloom (Courtesy Bob's Market)
Bob's Market, which has been a Sunset Park landmark on the corner of 17th Street and Ocean Park Boulevard since 1979, has drawn a loyal following over generations who cherished its old-time feel and neighborhood coziness.

"We're a neighborhood market," he told Mayor Phil Brock on a podcast in 2017. "We try to cater to the neighborhood, try to get you what you want. It's simple. You buy what they want and sell it to them."

Rosenbloom made sure the market -- which has donated to local non-profits, schools and religious institutions -- was more than a place to buy excellent wine, fresh cuts of meat, made-to-order sandwiches and produce bought daily.

"It's like a meeting place," he said. "They (customers) spend an hour or two shopping."

Zina Josephs, a longtime leader of Friends of Sunset Park, said Bob's Market "has been the heart of the neighborhood since Bob Rosenbloom took over the store."

"He has set the tone for the staff -- friendly and helpful -- and people from all over Santa Monica and nearby communities come to shop there," Josephs said.

"Girl Scouts are welcome to set up shop to sell cookies, I've collected many petition signatures in front of the store without Bob ever complaining, and it's where you run into friends and acquaintances from around the neighborhood."

At the close of Tuesday night's City Council meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Lana Negrete noted that Bob's Market is a safe haven for kids who gather there after school and, for some, the first place they worked.

"I don't know any other market that can bill you at the end of the month and let your kids have a password to go in and buy food without cash," said Negrete, a Sunset Park resident who frequents the market.

"Bob's has a personal touch that is unmatched," she said.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Rosenbloom graduated from Fairfax High School, attended UCLA and served in the Air Force during the Korean War, according to his family.

He spent his early years working at his father Irv Rosenbloom's markets -- first the Ritz in Venice Beach, then the Food Palace at Pico and Bundy.

"I grew up in the grocery business," he told Brock. "My mother's family had a chain of markets with eight stores."

On Bob Market's website, Rosenbloom recalled, “I started working in my father's store in Venice in 1940, and it seemed so comfortable, it just made sense to eventually start my own store."

In 1965, he opened the first Bob’s Market on National Boulevard and a second location on Palms. In 1979, he bought Royal Foods on Ocean Park Boulevard and turned it into the largest Bob's Market.

After opening a fourth store, he sold the three smaller ventures to focus on the current market in Sunset Park.

“Our focus has always been to serve the needs of our neighborhood and it is a joy," Rosenbloom said on the store's website. "I’m happy to be with my family and the friends we’ve made over the years.

"There are people who I’ve seen coming to the store since they were children. Now they’re grown up and are starting to bring their own kids here. That’s very special to me."

On Tuesday night, the City Council adjourned its meeting in memory of Rosenbloom.

"Bob was not just a business owner," the Council wrote in a statement read by Negrete. "He was a pillar of our community, a tireless supporter of local children (and) school organizations."

"His dedication and warmth made Bob's Market more than just a grocery store. It was a cherished community hub that gave our not so small town a small town feel."

On Tuesday, Bob Market's website posted the following notice:

"In 45 years, Bob's never closed once. To honor him, we closed the store at 12:00 p.m., on Tuesday April 9th, to celebrate his life at Hillside Memorial Park. . . Bob's Market will reopen on Wednesday, April 10th at 7 a.m."

Rosenbloom is survived by his wife of 40 years, Bette; his older sister, Betty Ann; his four sons, Rainbow, Rick, David and Barry; his daughter, Paula Sunny; his three stepsons, Steve, Gary and Chuck; and ten grandchildren.

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