Kroger completes $2.2 million upgrade to North Suffolk store

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Wednesday morning saw Kroger Mid-Atlantic commemorate another Suffolk re-grand opening.

Located on 1017 University Blvd, Kroger company officials, store employees and Suffolk City Council members celebrated the completion of the store’s remodeling with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The $2.2 million store upgrade included updates to the meat, deli and sushi departments as well as additional expansions for produce, bakery, and adult beverage options. The store also remodeled the restrooms and installed brand new kitchen and apparel sections.

Kroger Mid-Atlantic Division President Lori Raya started the ceremony by discussing how her and her team’s “greatest days” are the opportunities to celebrate their employees.

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“It’s a tough business that you’re in. It’s 24/7, there’s a lot of challenges, we get storms every once in a while. We write crazy hot ads and the customers come in droves which we really like, but it’s a hard business and if you ever wonder if we appreciate you, just know that we really, truly do,” Raya said. 

With a round of applause and cheers from his associates, Store Leader Donati High took the mic to spotlight his team members for their efforts and support for the store.

“They say that a team is a reflection of their leader, but I think for me personally, I truly am a reflection of these folks that are around me right now. As you get around the store today, you’ll see a lot of great things – a lot of full departments, a lot of freshness, and these are the folks that make it happen,” High said, surrounded by his team members. “They’re planning their execution the way they lift up themselves and those around them. Words really can’t describe what they mean to this community and what they mean to me. So I just want to say thank you all for the work you all do.”

Supporting the ceremony alongside City Council Members John Rector and Roger Fawcett, Vice Mayor Lue Ward commended the work of Store 544 team members.

“What you have done for not only Kroger but what you all [have] done for this city, for this community, is great,” Ward said to store employees. “Thank you so much for all you do, and keep up the good work…”

Kroger Mid-Atlantic Corporate Affairs Manager James Menees also presented a $1,500 check to Melissa Smith of Southeastern Virginia and Eastern Shore to help alleviate hunger. Smith praised the food bank’s 21-year partnership with Kroger, both corporately and locally.

“Financial support from Kroger, over our 21-year history, has provided an astounding 1.9 million meals to local families here in Hampton Roads who are facing food insecurity,” Smith said. “For this location in particular, here on University Blvd., through our Food Rescue program, we have rescued 237,000 pounds of food that ordinarily would have gone to waste, but instead have gone to local families who need it the most.”

Also noting that the store serves as their site for the food bank’s Mayflower Marathon fundraiser, Smith said they were able to collect 20,000 pounds of food from the drive thanks to this partnership with Kroger. After the ceremony, Raya and High commented on the event, saying it was great to celebrate the store’s re-grand opening and all of Suffolk’s “amazing associates.” 

“We’ve committed to being in this area, in the community. All of our associates live around the community, we donate a lot of food in the community, but today is a special day when you get to come in and thank your associates,” Raya said. “Over 240 associates work in this store and thank them for what they do each and every day to take care of each other, and certainly our customers. It’s just a fun day.”

High shared similar thoughts with Raya, noting that his position provides another opportunity to serve his community.

“As a resident here in Suffolk, I’ve taken pride in knowing my Kroger is here with a fresh, full experience for my neighbors and my family, and their family as well,” High said.

High also reflected on the “excitement” he felt from the warm reception he received from his team members. 

“I’m just over a year here in this assignment with Kroger and really taken the past year in this project to really continue to work together and forge those relationships. We spend a lot of time together and they show you everyday how resilient they are, and I am just so proud of them and what we’re here to offer the community today,” High said.

Raya followed up on how she “got the chills” regarding the team’s response to High as a store leader.

“The reception that Dontai received from his associates when he took the mic 

to get up there and talk about the store and talk about them but to hear that applause and the cheer and see the smiles on their faces as they’re really acknowledging what a great leader and what a great person Donati is, that’s what you want. You want your associates and that store leader to have that bond.”

Likewise, she turned to High, reflecting on the moment.

“It was moving to me and it had to be for you to get that reception, because it’s genuine. It’s humble. Which means, he’s leading exactly the way Kroger wants our great leaders to lead and what an example you are,” Raya said to High. “So proud of you.”