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Gilroy Garlic Shoppe closed by eminent domain, relocating after nearly 40 years

A South Bay landmark has abruptly shut down.

It’s the first store drivers see coming into Santa Clara County on Highway 101 — The Garlic Shoppe, south of Gilroy.

It’s stood there for nearly 40 years, selling everything from garlic braids, to hundreds of hot sauces – even garlic ice cream.

“We’re basically one of California’s welcome centers as you’re coming into gilroy. First restroom in town, and we’re the first garlic shop in the world,” said co-owners of the Shoppe, Alex Larson. 

He owns the business with his brother Charlie, but they lease the land.

He said that in mid-January they were given a 30-day notice that eminent domain was being used to close the iconic building to make way for a new highway interchange.

“We’ve known that something was supposed to happen since 1985, but every time that we’ve prepared for it something has fallen through,” said Larson. 

VTA says they’ve actually been in contact with the owners about relocation for two years.

The agency lays out on its website why the Highway 101 and Highway 25 interchange expansion is badly needed — too much traffic and too many accidents.

The change has been difficult — the emotions, and the weight of what comes next is hitting them all hard.

“Everybody’s depressed, our poor employees, we’ve had them here for years and us as well,” said Larson. “We’re not getting a dime, not one red cent for the loss of business that we’ve been here for all this time.”

Construction is supposed to start in the fall.

Customers stopping by Monday were caught off guard.

“It is a loss of a real landmark for Gilroy,” said Tom Dominy of Monterey County. “This will be something for the eyes that people are going to miss.”

The Larsons will move the product a few hundred yards north to the Rapazzini Winery  – which they also own.

But claim they’ll need a new location next year because the project will force drivers to make a long detour to even get to them.

“To find a place like this, there is no other place,” said Larson. 

They’ll continue selling at the winery and online until The Garlic Shoppe finds a new home.

The VTA said in a statement, “VTA staff has been conducting outreach to the owners of the Garlic Shoppe regarding the need to relocate the business for nearly two years, since at least March 2022. The owners were also present in Court on November 30, 2023, when the Court stated that VTA would be granted possession.”

Source: NBC Bay Area

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