Wednesday, December 5, 2012
New Kroger at Cityplace focuses on organic foods, prepared meals
Its mantra is "ready to heat or ready to eat."
DALLAS A new Kroger opens Friday, December 7 in the Cityplace district east of Central, and, after touring the facility in the final days of preparation, the grocery store is shaping up to be a store of a different flavor.
Kroger Fresh Fare is located on Capitol Avenue between Carroll Avenue and Peak, concealed behind the future Cityville Cityplace apartment complex, an L.A. Fitness Center scheduled to open December 10, and Bank of America. The more than 60,000-square-foot building (notably one of the smaller structures in the region) differentiates from other brand stores in its specialized focus on perishable items.
Public Relations Manager Kristal Howard said the term “fresh fare” refers to Kroger’s aim at a more prominent demographic in the Cityplace neighborhood.
“We say, ‘Ready to heat or ready to eat,’” Howard said during a walk though the deli, which includes a hot panini bar and "chef on the run" shop to be filled with prepared meals. “The younger demographic is more concerned with what they are going to eat tonight rather than filling up their shopping cart.”
Upon entering the building, there are several accents that make the Kroger comfortable, including a waterfall adorned with pine and a lanky tree holding a sign marking the produce section. The floor is concrete and ceiling has skylights throughout, in an effort to reduce the store’s energy consumption. There are also two electric car chargers stationed in the parking lot.
The produce department boasts more than 100 organic fruits and vegetables (many from Texas farmers), a build-your-own-salad bar, and extensive antipasto selection. The Cityplace Kroger will be the 11th store in the southwest region with a fresh juice bar. Closer to the deli is a cheese lover’s paradise, with more than 130 varieties and sample blocks priced under $5 for those either undecided or looking to experiment.
Next on the map is the bakery, which will feature artisan bread made daily. Customers can either buy whole loaves or slice them using a self-operated machine. Kroger also makes custom cakes easier by allowing patrons to plug a USB drive into a stationary computer and upload images they want recreated.
One unique feature of the new Kroger Fresh Fare is a comparatively oversized natural food section that features organic items from yogurt and baby food to body wash and toilet paper. Howard said the company saw a 20% increase in natural food sales between 2011 and 2012, constituting a new niche of Kroger shopper. In September, Kroger launched its own brand of organic products called Simple Truth, which takes a natural approach at a bargain price.
“Because of things like the Food Network, people are a lot more in tune and savvy about what they want to eat,” Howard said. Kroger launched Simple Truth in response to customer trends and feedback, she added.
With more than 1,100 wines and a respectable beer selection where customers can build their own six-pack, there is no way anyone who enters this Kroger is leaving thirsty. Inventory manager Mark Rayner said he is currently trying to engage local microbreweries to sell their products; however, the beer must be bottled. There is also a Starbucks with two adjacent lounges, one upstairs and one downstairs.
Cityplace Kroger Fresh Fare will be open 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. beginning on December 7. It's is the third Kroger to open in North Texas this year and the 87th in DFW.
The new Kroger is near an Albertson's in Uptown on McKinney Avenue and a Walmart Neighborhood Market on the southbound frontage road of Central Expressway.
Uptown dwellers can attend a community preview of Kroger on Thursday, December 6.
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