For the last two months, people have approached new ShopRite employee Greg Pinchuk with the same question: “When are you guys opening?”
Phones have been ringing leading up to Sunday’s 7 a.m. grand opening of the Niskayuna supermarket. And the formerly vacant St. James Square has seen steady traffic as community members cruise the parking lot of ShopRite Square for a glance at the new grocery store. Tomorrow, those shoppers can carry home groceries.
ShopRite, which currently operates stores throughout New York’s Hudson Valley and New Jersey, is opening the doors to its 30th store, five months after announcing it was coming to the area.
“I was expecting a regular grocery store to be quite honest, like Price Chopper or Hannaford,” said Pinchuk, 18, of Niskayuna, as he wiped down his checkout counter Friday during a public tour of the supermarket. “But when I realized what this was really like just by training with them and learning about the people, I realized why people are excited for this to open.”
Officials and employees showed off with pride the services they say ShopRite customers have come to expect, some of which are relatively new. But with the closest ShopRites located in Kingston and Hudson, area residents don’t know what to expect outside of the standard groceries and fresh produce.
There’s the bake shop and Asian Cuisine bar, a fresh-made sushi bar and a 36-variety Mediterranean olive bar. Adjacent to the olive bar and especially convenient for combination platters is Augie Reyes’ favorite store feature: the “Cheeses From Around the World” bar. He is deli prepared foods director.
“This is one of my unique places,” Reyes said. “I have over 250 varieties of cheese, some from Europe, Italy, Spain, France. I mean you name the country we probably have a cheese for it.”
Down the aisle from Reyes’ deli selection are the Asian Cuisine and International Buffet bars, where customers can order chicken and lo mein dishes, Asian soups, paninis and wraps.
A cook-to-order grill station nearby is a feature ShopRite regulars enjoy, said Executive Chef Robert Petrie. They can pick up a breakfast sandwich to go in the morning, or steak and pork chop dinner on their way home from work.
“We see regulars who come in for a quick meal,” said Petrie. “Especially because we offer a lot more healthy options, so they’re able to not only get their breakfast sandwich but if they wanted to have fruit or that sort of healthy option, they can.”
There’s a staff florist to assist in floral arrangements, gift baskets and home décor. Culinary students from surrounding colleges will teach cooking classes.
The $12 million project has brought 350 jobs to the region, with about 90 percent of associates from Schenectady, Albany and Saratoga counties, said Tom Urtz, vice president of human resources.
ShopRite employees are trained to help. For example, if a person who needs to follow a gluten-free diet walks in, registered dietitian Sarada Bernstein said she can help them shape a grocery list. She works out of ShopRite’s Health and Wellness Center, which offers pharmacy service as well.
“If you have a question about an item in the aisle — whether it be reading a food label or maybe you’re trying to lose some weight, it might be doing something simple like preparing produce or doing something with Quinoa — we’re kind of that piece, that resource to answer those questions,” Bernstein said.
If someone wants to discuss a weight-loss food plan, Bernstein has a private counseling office to do just that. But most of her work is done in the aisle, she said.
“When your questions come is when you walk into a grocery store,” she said. “It’s not when you’re at the doctor’s office, or maybe you’ve met with a dietitian. But you don’t have the questions that you have when you’re standing in front of 50 cereals and someone tells you ‘Eat whole grain’ and you’re just bombarded. Someone can walk you through that and help you make that choice.”
Shoppers will also have access to a Wi-Fi lounge, situated next to the store’s Health and Wellness Center, and equipped with a big screen TV and automated coffee machine. The variety of store services is something ShopRite prides itself on and the reason people keep asking about opening day, said Urtz.
“You can hang out here, have your coffee, have your muffin, have your bagel,” he said. “This has been a feature at a few of our other stores and customers love it. It’s just something that as you move on in times that customers come to expect. Everyone’s got a mobile device. It’s a community environment.”
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Categories: Business, Schenectady County