Addition to Kentfield location; also has plans for Tiburon and larger farm

[caption id="attachment_13071" align="alignright" width="260" caption="Stockbroker turned boutique grocery entrepreneur Don Santa"][/caption]

KENTFIELD, TIBURON - After more than 23 years in business, the owner of Marin-based Woodlands Market has commenced the most significant expansion plans in the company's history, including additional square footage, an off-site produce farm and construction on a second location and neighboring cafe.

Stockbroker turned boutique grocery entrepreneur Don Santa has spent the last two decades gradually building the modest, 20,000-square-foot Woodlands Market into the $30 million business it is today. With profits on comfortable footing and recently vacated space nearby, he said now seemed as good a time as any to begin his first major investment in growth.

"We've been perpetually bursting at the seams for some time, and when the space became available we were quick to take it," Mr. Santa said.

[caption id="attachment_13072" align="alignright" width="288" caption="Overhead rendering of new cafe"][/caption]

The "five-year-plan" kicked off last month with the groundbreaking of The Woodlands Cafe, a 4,000-square-foot breakfast and lunch eatery that will adjoin the market's Kentfield store. Though the restaurant will have a more casual, counter-order and pick-up model, the aesthetic was likened to an upscale Italian piazza with large outdoor patio, high ceilings, bistro umbrellas, a fountain and outdoor fireplace.

Menu items will include freshly prepared salads with local produce as well as gourmet sandwiches, homemade gelato and ice cream and thin-crust pizza. Previously, the space was occupied by Willie's Cafe, which was created by Mr. Santa's sister and other partners but later sold to an outside owner who ran it for the last five years. The cafe directly abuts the main market building but has a separate entrance and dividing wall.

The remodel began late last month and will conclude later this fall with a grand opening celebration tentatively slated for Oct. 1.

At the same time, Woodlands is preparing to open its second location in south Marin by taking over Tiburon's Boardwalk Market. The transition scheduled to begin late next year will not interrupt business operations but will include a top-to-bottom remodel. The 13,000-square-foot store will be gutted in sections and eventually house all of the home location's offerings, including a specialty meat and cheese department, on-site bakery, local produce and ready-to-eat entrees.

Also part of the three- to five-year plan, Mr. Santa hopes to grow the size of the Woodlands farm, a small, two-acre property about a mile from the central Marin location. The garden currently includes about 100 fruit trees and a small vegetable plot, but it has the capacity to grow to up to 20 acres.

"We try to do everything in the interest of being as green as possible, using sustainable materials in the remodels, installing rooftop solar panels, and the farm is an extension of that effort by attempting to really reduce our carbon footprint," Mr. Santa said.

Eventually, the Woodlands Kentfield location could also grow by another 4,000 square feet, once the lease for a business in the last space in the shopping center expires in the next few years. The Woodlands Cafe would move into the empty slot, and the store would spread into the restaurant space. Mr. Santa said the large cafe patio could then be used as an open-air "farmers' market" type venue.