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Photo by Dave Flessner / Food City President Seve Smith, center, talks about the new Starbucks outlet at the company's Ooltewah location as Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, left of Smith, and others listen. The new Starbucks opened Friday and is the 32nd Starbucks outlet operated by Food City.

Four years after first introducing coffee and pastry outlet Starbucks in its supermarkets, Food City on Friday opened its 32nd Starbucks location at its newly remodeled store in Ooltewah.

"Starbucks is a great brand and has a loyal following, so we are putting more locations in our stores," Food City President Steve Smith said Friday during the grand opening of the new Starbucks at the Food City outlet at 1667 Ooltewah-Ringgold Road near East Brainerd. "We hope to put in another dozen or so locations next year, including our new stores in East Ridge and in downtown Chattanooga."

Food City, a privately owned grocery chain based in Abingdon, Virginia, became a Starbucks franchisee in 2017 to help supplement the cafes the grocery chain has put in most of its stores throughout its history. Food City has a half dozen Starbucks outlets in the Chattanooga area.

"I would think probably half of our stores may qualify for a Starbucks, so we clearly think there is room to grow more," Smith said.

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Photo by Dave Flessner / The staff members at the newly opened Starbucks cafe in the Food City supermarket in Ooltewah serve customers Friday shortly after the new coffee shop opened at Ooltewah Ringgold and East Brainerd Roads.

Most of the Food City stores have cafes for in-store dining, and some of the grocer's new shopping carts even include cupholders for shoppers to enjoy a Starbucks coffee or beverage while they shop.

Smith said the grocer's newest stores will also include Starbucks cafes. Food City is building a bigger supermarket on Ringgold Road in East Ridge and will soon begin building an even bigger supermarket on South Broad Street in downtown Chattanooga, which Smith said will likely open in late 2022 or early 2023.

Food City owns about half of its stores and leases the others.

The new Starbucks at the Ooltewah store will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day and employs 13 full- and part-time workers.

"Every time Steve Smith comes to town, it's good news," Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said Friday. "We appreciate this investment and these jobs and services for our community."

In addition to its 129 grocery stores, Food City also operates five Super Dollar stores and four Wine and Spirit stores in Kentucky.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6340.

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