Food City remodels six stores, starts fuel centers in Chattanooga area

Food City remodels six stores, starts fuel centers in Chattanooga area

August 17th, 2016 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

The remodeled facade of the St. Elmo Food City location is seen on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn. The location was one of six area stores to undergo a major remodel.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Gallery: Food City remodels 6 stores; starts fuel centers

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Food City Remodels

* 5604 Hixson Pike

* 4510 Highway 58

* 3801 Tennessee Ave.

* 8634 Highway 58, Harrison

* 10161 Dayton Pike, Soddy-Daisy

* 6043 Relocation Way, Ooltewah

Food City marked a full-scale remodel of its St. Elmo store on Tuesday, and the grocer unveiled plans to begin work today outside the unit on its first fuel station in the Chattanooga area.

The supermarket chain's Tennessee Avenue store received a complete makeover, officials said. It's one of six former Bi-Lo units renovated so far, as Food City plans to spend up to $50 million over three years on the 29 area stores it acquired about a year ago.

Mickey Blazer, the company's executive vice president of operations, said plans are to start work renovating about six more stores by early fall. He didn't immediately name the sites, because the company is still negotiating with property owners.

Also, Food City is to begin raising a fuel center at its Harrison store within about a week, Blazer said. A half dozen additional fuel stations are in the works, he said, though he wasn't specific about those locations.

The St. Elmo store is "a really good example" of how Food City plans to refashion its units in the area, Blazer said.

"We shook it upside-down and put it back together," he quipped.

A remodeled storefront and a variety of upgrades inside, such as new refrigeration cases, an improved meat and seafood service area, a fresh food bar, and cafe seating, were included in the makeover. The deli has a newly expanded hot bar and pizza case, and a beer growler station was added with 12 craft beers on tap.

Blazer said more than 10,000 items were added to the store.

John Jones, executive vice president for the Abingdon, Va.-based grocer, said officials are "tickled to death" with how the six-store renovations have turned out.

Jones presented a check for about $330,000 to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation as a result of this year's in-store collection campaign. Since 2011, Food City had contributed over $900,000 to the foundation, and the latest amount is the largest since the inception of the program.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said Food City's store remodeling is "the type of investment that's important" to the city.

He cited Chattanooga's improving economy and noted that "when people have money in their pockets, they spend it. That feeds the system."

Shoppers at the Tennessee Avenue store gave a thumbs-up to the remodeling effort.

"It looks good," said Brandon Tidwell of Chattanooga. "The fruit seems fresher."

Stacey Womble of St. Elmo said she's excited about the changes and hopeful prices will stay reasonable.

"It's very important to me," she said.

Manny Rico of Chattanooga said he's looking forward to the fuel center, which officials said should be ready in two to three months.

"It's a one-stop shop," he said.

Food City is the Chattanooga area's biggest grocery chain. About a year ago, it entered the Chattanooga market via the region's biggest grocery store deal in more than a decade when it purchased the former Bi-Lo units.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.


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