Owner John Anagnostakis and his son Tony get to know customers

Photo by Gilroy Life
John Anagnostakis with a can of dolmas from Greece in his South Bay Natural Foods store.

South Bay Natural Foods offers a surprising selection of hard-to-find items for specialty diets, as well as household and animal supplies. Tucked away on Westwood Drive, near First Street, the store features an evolving inventory that will make each visit unique. Whether you’re looking for gluten-free products, organic offerings, ethnic specialties, or something you’ve never tried before, there’s a good chance you’ll find it on South Bay Natural Foods’ shelves.

Owner John Anagnostakis opened the store in June 2018. He grew up in a small town in Greece, immigrating to the United States in 1996, where he opened a produce business. John’s son, Tony, who also works at South Bay Natural Foods, is quick to say of his father, “He came to America, but he never really left Greece.”

The family unit is the center of Greek culture. John is a father of two sons and two daughters, who he raised on his own. Although he lives in San Jose, John chose Gilroy for his business because his two granddaughters live here. “I like being close,” he said. “It’s all about family.”

And that attitude extends to South Bay Natural Foods’ customers. John and Tony welcome their visitors with a heartfelt greeting and take the time to chat with them during transactions. When asked, “What’s your favorite item in the store?” John didn’t hesitate to answer, “The people who shop here.” He then added, “Everyone here is so wonderful. We’ve met a lot of nice people here. That’s the part I like best.”

Like his hometown in Greece, John says Gilroy has a small town feel, making it a good place for a business like his. The Anagnostakises get to know their customers, discover their interests, and offer a variety of items people want to purchase. For many, this range of products might otherwise warrant a trip to San Jose. That’s why finding them right here in their own community is a huge plus.

“We try to cater to people who have special diets, so there are lots of gluten-free options, and some organic products,” Tony said. “We’re dedicated to helping everybody. And always offer a good price.”

So, what can you find at South Bay Natural Foods? You can feed your sweet tooth with matcha Pocky, Medjool dates, tea rusks, biscuits, and cookies. Need a quick dinner? Make a meal with international sauces, condiments, noodles, rice mixes, curry, and canned vegetables. Got the munchies? Check out the selection of salsas, chips, jerky, puffed corn, nuts, and dried fruits. Just want to stock your pantry? South Bay Natural Foods offers staples like olive oil, pancake and waffle mixes, polenta, oats, granola, soups, salad dressings, nut butters, fruit spreads, canned beans, flours, honeys, and more. Thirsty? Treat yourself to coconut water, ginger beer, sparkling lavender water, soymilk, elderflower tonic water, cold brew coffee, and teas from all over the world.

John once owned a farm in San Jose, and he loves animals, so he offers items for pet owners. He remembers all too well how expensive those could be when he owned his farm, so he keeps prices affordable.

Tony said one thing that’s surprised him is the variety of grains that people purchase. “We have a lot of special grains that are harder to find, like faro and barley. Some people develop a taste for these ancient grains and use them in different ways, like substituting faro for rice in risotto. Rice and wheat are easy to grow, but people are starting to realize they’re not as healthy.”

In the future, John hopes to expand his offerings. Ideally, he’d want to add more produce, as well as meat, and more ethnic choices. He’s even considering adding a deli counter. “We want to have a little bit of everything for everybody,” he said.

With a friendly atmosphere and new products to discover, a trip to South Bay Natural Foods will make you feel like you’re part of a big, extended family. And that’s the way John and Tony want you to feel.

Though he works 16 hours a day, seven days a week, John never gets tired of pleasing his customers. “When I hear the happiness, the ‘wow,’ that people say when they walk through the store, it makes you feel good,” he said.

Donna Lane