Meet Your Merchant | Family affair brings organic, deli items to Kings Beach
January 8, 2014
KINGS BEACH , Calif. — Tahoe Central Market, King Beach's new produce market and deli, opened its automatic glass doors on Christmas Eve and hasn't had much down time since.
Keeping items stocked is one of the biggest challenges as the market's first week has been much better than anticipated, said owner Bob Habeger.
Bob and his wife Vickie, along with their three sons and two grandsons, are a family with 30 years of experience in the produce business. The Habeger family has worked with Del Rio Botanicals, a produce farm north of Sacramento, for many years and looks forward to bringing more of their product to the area.
Tahoe Central Market is located just across North Lake Boulevard from the Kings Beach pier and fills a niche that was needed in the area, said Bob's youngest son Bobby.
“We’ve had great response from the community. In Kings Beach there was a lack of a healthy store.”
"We've had great response from the community," said Bobby. "In Kings Beach there was a lack of a healthy store."
Bobby was most enthusiastic about the grab-and-go deli and juice and smoothie bar. The North Tahoe native feels these additions to the market will offer a healthy and quick option to beach goers in the summer and locals all year round.
Tahoe Vista resident Erin Jackson stopped by the deli on Monday after "driving past and seeing how packed it's been" during the last week. Erin said she was pleased to find that Central Market uses Boars' Head meat.
"It's my favorite deli meat — what a nice, pleasant surprise," she said.
Tahoe Central Market's deli offers a "build your own" sandwich and salad option, as well as a daily soup and pre-made pasta salads and dips. Head chef Ben Kenny is currently creating signature sandwiches and salads to add to the market's menu. Ben said the deli has been averaging 60 sandwiches per day and doesn't doubt the numbers will triple come July.
Ben recently left as sous chef at Wolfdale's to head the market deli with the Harbegers.
"It didn't seem like a bad choice — joining a family like this," Ben said with a smile.
The story of the Harbeger family is told through the mural that stretches across the store above the aisles and check-out stands.
Paintings of a bright red barn and yellow cornfields decorate the stretch of ceiling above the organic produce, representing the farm in South Dakota where Vickie Harbeger grew up.
Above the crackers, breads and Amador County wines, the mural shows the blues and whites of the water and mountains surrounding Kings Beach, where the Harbegers came as a young family. In 1976, Bob and Vickie came to the area to buy a Shell station at Dollar Point.
The couple eventually opened a parasailing and water sports business, still owned and operated by the Harbeger family.
The mural continues over the specialty cheeses, farm raised whole chickens and Clover dairy products, there is a painting of Pigeon Point Lighthouse just north of Santa Cruz. Bobby went to school and played baseball in Santa Cruz and Monterey and the area is important to all of the Harbegers.
Tahoe Central Market aims to carry not only organic produce, but a wide variety of it. Currently at the market one can find sunchokes, kumquats and watermelon radishes.
The market also plans to offer activities and events to foster a sense of community.
Ben's cooking classes as well as in-store juicing demonstrations will he held and help cultivate "a farmers market feel" Bob said.
On Jan. 14 Central Market will host a book signing, wine tasting and cooking demonstration by Rima Barkett, author of the award-winning cookbook "Cooking Dinner."
Bob also plans to host a "Meet The Farmer" event on Jan. 19 where community members can get to know Suzanne Ashworth, author of "Seed to Seed" and farmer at Del Rio Botanicals. Community members will also be able to sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture box.
Tahoe Central Market is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. with plans of extended hours in the summer.
Jenny Luna is a freelance reporter for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Sierra Sun newspapers. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.