WATTS (CBSLA) — When the Smart & Final grocery store in Watts was destroyed in the 1992 riots, the company’s CEO made a commitment to not only rebuild that store, but to continue opening new stores in the area.
“During the riots back then, our CEO at the time had a store burn down,” Dave Hirz, Smart & Final president and CEO, said. “He rebuilt the Smart & Final, and then went on national television and committed that we would not only rebuild the store that was burned down, but that we would remain committed to the community of South Central, and here we are in Watts 20-some years later, hopefully fulling his promise.”READ MORE: Former LBUSD Safety Officer Charged With Murder In Death Of Mona Rodriguez
On Wednesday, the company opened its 10th store in South Los Angeles — next to the Jordan Downs Plaza in Watts.
“It’s taken a long time for the community to start coming back with different stores and different opportunities,” Rita Douglass, a Watts resident, said. “It should be nice.”READ MORE: Parolee, Ironwood State Prison Inmate Charged In More Than $500K EDD Fraud Scheme
Along with bringing in fresh, organic produce to an area once deemed a food desert by the United Sates Department of Agriculture, the store is also bringing in jobs — 50 of them — to the community.
“I think it’s like really phenomenal that Smart & Final is providing jobs for this community,” Juan Vargas, a Smart & Final employee, said.
The new center will provide a number of services for the community and will also soon include a Nike store, Ross and a Starbucks.MORE NEWS: 'I Can't Believe It's Been Three Years:' Community Prepares To Remember, Reflect On Tree Of Life Shooting
“This is a new Watts,” Councilman Joe Buscaino said. “These are new beginnings.”