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Staff Photo by Olivia Ross / Bill Abline and Steve Smith stand Tuesday outside the new East Ridge Food City. The grand opening of the 54,00-square-foot supermarket will be at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

After more than 40 years of operating a 34,000-square-foot grocery store along Ringgold Road on the south end of East Ridge, Food City has moved across the street to open a new and expanded supermarket that adds a Gas 'N Go fuel station, a food cafe, a credit union office, and a broader offering of produce and grocery items.

At 54,000 square feet in size, the $12 million store that officially opens at 8 a.m. Wednesday has more than twice as many workers as the store it replaces, adding nearly 100 full-and part-time jobs, Food City President Steve Smith said.

"It's exciting to be able to have a bigger store with more variety and selections and to be able to bring a Starbucks cafe, a Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union office, and all of the extra food, merchandise and gasoline service options this store now provides," Smith said Tuesday night during a ribbon-cutting for the new supermarket.

Smith said the grocery chain has been looking for years to replace its store at 3715 Ringgold Road, which was originally a Red Food supermarket that Food City acquired when it bought the Chattanooga area Bi-Lo stores in 2015. With its added services, officials expect the new store will draw shoppers from well beyond the city of East Ridge, including the Brainerd area, Missionary Ridge and parts of North Georgia.

Food City, the region's biggest grocery chain with 33 supermarkets in its Chattanooga district, built the new supermarket on a 7-acre tract that formerly held a bowling alley. The new location at Ringgold Road and Bales Avenue has a traffic light to help both attract more shoppers and improve store access.

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Food City opens expanded supermarket in East Ridge

(READ MORE: Food City seeks to hire over 1,500 workers across 5 states)

The new East Ridge store is one of four new supermarkets Food City is planning in the region. K-VA-T Food Stores, the Abingdon, Virginia-based parent company of Food City, operates 138 grocery stores in five states and is also adding new stores in downtown Chattanooga, in Kimball, Tennessee, and in Cartersville, Georgia.

Smith said work will soon begin on a 50,000-square-foot store planned on Broad and West 13th streets in downtown Chattanooga on the site of the former Cater Distributing Co., where apartments and other commercial businesses also are planned.

"We're going to break ground this fall on that store and, hopefully, have an opening in 2023," Smith said. "Because of the complexity of that overall development, it will probably take us nine or 10 months to build as opposed to six months (for most other stores)."

Food City is preparing to open a nearly 60,000-square-foot supermarket in September in Cartersville and will open a store in 2023 in Kimball.

The new East Ridge Food City store unveiled Tuesday night includes an in-store bakery and deli offering fresh baked goods, deli meats, cheeses, hot foods, a large café seating area, Asian wok, fireplace, fresh sushi, hickory smoker, pizza oven, fresh food bar offering a variety of soup, salad and fruit selections, and full-service catering and event planning. The new supermarket also includes a pharmacy, florist shop and rapid checkout service on six check-out lanes and seven self-checkouts.

"Our customers are certainly going to enjoy the expanded variety/selection and exciting new conveniences and services," Daryl Massey, the district manager for Food City in Chattanooga, said during Tuesday's ribbon-cutting.

The new store will continue the same hours as the supermarket it replaces, opening at 7 a.m. and closing at 11 p.m.

The store also includes the fifth branch of a Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union inside a Food City store.

"One of our biggest priorities as a credit union is to provide members with an accessible, convenient and enjoyable experience," Todd Fortner, credit union president and CEO, said in an announcement of the new location. "This new branch will enhance our services in East Ridge and surrounding areas while also providing a great opportunity to reach new people."

The branch features one device for tvfcuLIVE Stream and two interactive teller machines, giving members direct access to credit union personnel from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday. The full-service branch offers the same services as any other credit union location.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6340. Follow on Twitter at @dflessner1.

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