HALES CORNERS - Lines were already forming to enter the new Sendik's Fresh2GO when the grocery store opened its doors July 7.
The first 50 people in line that Friday received a free Sendik's goodie bag, and the first 50 people in line on Saturday will receive one as well. According to Nick Bandoch, Sendik's Communications Director, there were even more than 50 people waiting in line when the Fresh2GO opened its doors at 6 a.m.
Owner Ted Balistreri said that this response was very encouraging.
"We know this will be a very supportive community, and we will do our best to provide exceptional service," said Balistreri. "Every customer that comes in, we're grateful for."
The store at 5101 S.108th St. is on the site of what used to be a gas station. Though the Fresh2GO does have several gas pumps on the east side of the building, right next to the highway, the focus of the store is providing food that is both fresh and convenient.
This Fresh2GO location is the largest yet, totaling 18,500 square feet, but it is still considered a "small format" store, according to communications director Nick Bandoch.
"It's where you can find the freshest food and the friendliest people in a convenient format," said Balistreri. "(What sets it apart) is the quality of the products and exceptional customer service for a great shopping experience."
While the store is new to Hales Corners, the Fresh2GO concept is fairly new, as well. This store is Sendik's third Fresh2GO to open, and it's the 18th store overall. The opening of this store caps off a run of five new store openings in the last eight months for the company.
This push for more stores, Bandoch said, was likely the reason for the store's delayed opening. When the grocery store was first proposed for Hales Corners in fall 2015, Sendik's estimated that it would be able to open by summer 2016.
"The most important thing is that we get the store right, that it's the right thing that customers in Hales Corners deserve," Bandoch said. "We would have loved to get it in sooner, but we think it's going to be a great location for Hales Corners."
Front and center
According to Bandoch, what sets the grocery store apart from others in the village is the large amount of prepared, but fresh, offerings that shoppers can grab and go, like fresh-cut fruit or grilled-to-order panini.
The middle of the store features several different self-service stations, like a salad bar, hot food bar, and olive bar. Just to the left, and one of the first things visitors see when they walk in, is the food prep/deli counter.
While some stores put their delis and bakeries on the edge of the store, as a "perimeter department," the Fresh2GO store puts it right in the middle.
"In the store, we made that the focus," Bandoch explained. "Those things are right there in the epicenter of the store for people to see."
Bandoch added that shoppers can see the food being prepared right in front of them in the island.
For opening weekend, the store hosted several different cooking demonstrations and tasting opportunities. That was in addition to the free samples spread throughout the store and workers doing normal food prep like rolling sushi.
And there was other fun-oriented activities, including face painting and a bean bag competition with Sendik's "Street Team" on Saturday and balloon creations on Sunday.
The store held its official ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday, July 10.