Farm Fresh remodel complete

Published 9:25 pm Wednesday, December 2, 2009

During the process of a major remodeling of their store on N. Main Street in Downtown Suffolk, Farm Fresh officials made a lot of changes to the 48,000 building.

With new soup and salad bars, a walk-in beer cooler, a Starbucks, lower prices throughout the store and more, the grocery store might seem like an entirely new place to some customers.

But there are two things that workers didn’t do as part of the renovation, regardless of how it may seem on first walking into the building.

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They didn’t move the building farther away from the parking lot. And they didn’t move the parking lot farther away from the building.

Store officials joked Tuesday during a community leaders’ preview of the newly renovated store that after construction workers demolished the portico that used to be attached to the front of the store, some customers wanted to know why they had to park so much farther from the doors than they once did.

In fact, the distance from the parking area to the front doors is one of the only things that stayed the same following the renovation.

“The remodel of the Downtown Suffolk store has been highly anticipated by the community,” said Ron Dennis, Farm Fresh president and chief operating officer. “The focus is on fresh, convenience and new lower prices, and (we) will offer residents, businesses and visitors of Suffolk a shopping experience like no other. We are proud to offer a great place to work and a great place to shop for the residents of Suffolk.”

Company officials joined representatives from the city of Suffolk on Tuesday evening for a reception and again on Wednesday morning for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Suffolk government and economic development officials were pleased with the company’s commitment to the city and to the 105 employees who receive paychecks from the downtown Farm Fresh.

“This is an exciting renovation project for the city of Suffolk and Farm Fresh patrons,” Mayor Linda T. Johnson said. “Farm Fresh has a great community spirit, and we are extremely pleased they have decided to make such a significant reinvestment in our city.”

With 45 stores located throughout Hampton Roads, Farm Fresh employs 5,000 “associates,” according to a company press release. The chain is part of Supervalu Inc., which includes grocery stores with estimated annual sales of $41 billion.

Among the services offered at the newly remodeled downtown store are full-service seafood, deli, bakery, pharmacy and floral departments; self-service salad bar and hot wing bar; bill-paying services, money orders and catering services at a customer service center; and even full-service carryout of groceries, with no tipping required.

Customers from Suffolk will be especially interested to see the wall above the dairy case, as it features blown-up photos of people and landmarks out of Suffolk’s history.