Drink while you shop: Giant Food opens in new NW development

Everything but the 1950's neon lettering on the store is new, store designers say. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Keaira Edmonds is charged with placing price tags marking the cheeses in the back of the produce section. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Employees set up the consumption bar which will offer customers wine and beer on tap. Customers are limited to two drinks per visit and can sit at the bar or take it with them as they shop. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
There are eight menu options at the smoothie bar but customers also can request their own blends. A fresh squeezed orange juice machine is positioned next to the smoothie bar. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
More than 150 people are on hand Wednesday to prepare for the store's opening. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
A jug of freshly picked grapes waits to go into the refrigerator at the smoothie bar. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
There is an isle designated for organic and specialty food, including a gluten free section, near the produce department of the store. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
The beer aisle is 65 feet long and features both local and national brands. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
The Starbucks Cafe inside and to the left of the store's entrance will open at the same time as the Giant, 6 a.m. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
The grab and go section was designed to be large and near the front entrance as many customers work or live nearby and need quick meal options, says the chain's area director. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Carts are temporarily stored in the milk and yogurt isle as it's one of the recently completed sections of the store. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
With a CVS next door, area director Jason Raborg says the store's designers decided to forgo the in-store pharmacy and make it an expansive wine section. There will be frequent tastings, Raborg says. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
366844 The store has 12 self checkout stations, the most of any Giant Food, continuing with the idea to cater to the on-the-go customer. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Store manager David Grove used to work in this Giant before the reconstruction. "The old store would have taken up the area that's now the produce department," he says. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
An employee arranges peppers for sale. The produce was the last to be shipped into the store, Grove says. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
The store will hold a VIP grand opening with guests including Mayor Vincent Gray and WTOP's Hillary Howard. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)

WASHINGTON — It took more than two years, but the new Giant Food — the flagship store of a new development along Wisconsin Avenue — is preparing to open at 6 p.m. Thursday.

The original 1950s neon lettering is about the only thing that’s the same about the Giant Food grocery store north of the National Cathedral.

“Since we’ve had the signs up and the paper off the windows, people have come to peek into the window to see what’s going on. Folks have been on the edge of their seats,” says an employee.

Inside: a Starbucks, a smoothie bar, an expanded organic section and 12 self checkouts, the most of any Giant in the area says Jason Raborg, area district director for the store.

The store was designed based on the preferences of the average customer in the area, who Raborg says is a young professional.

“That’s really how we set the store up, based on the demographics. We went expansive on the natural foods, the grab and go. They want to get into the store, get in and get out,” Raborg says.

The store, open from 6 a.m. to midnight daily, also boasts what’s called a consumption bar.

“So the customer can enjoy a beer or glass of wine while they shop,” says store manager David Grove.

The bar is set up to the right of the store entrance and has eight beers on tap, both local and national brands.

A digital ordering station at the deli lets customers build their sandwich and then shop while it’s made. The grab and go section also includes a soup bar, sushi chef preparing fresh rolls and a hot food area.

For more than a year, residents around the McLean Gardens neighborhood have had to travel down to Cleveland Park or up to Tenleytown to shop.

“They’ve been waiting. There was a big, big…I don’t want to call it a battle. There were a lot of hoops to jump through to bring the Giant back,” says Tony Summers who manages the deli department.

A handful of the employees who worked at the old store before it closed are returning, but Grove says 250 new positions were created for the store.

More shops including a solidcore fitness center, Barcelona wine bar and two banks are also set to open in the mixed use development. Asian restaurant Raku and an iDoc Optical are also slated to open nearby. No timetable has been made available by developer Bozzuto.

So far, the only other business open is a CVS next to the Giant.

The development also includes luxury condominiums and apartments.

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