Quality Foods has changed the way people will shop for groceries with a new store in Harewood.
The store, located on Bruce Avenue near Eighth Street, opened Thursday morning with a brief ribbon cutting before Noel Hayward, one of Quality Foods’ founders, opened the doors to dozens of customers with shopping carts waiting to do their first round of shopping in the new building.
“We’ve been a part of the community a long time,” Hayward said. “Obviously, we know that our customers are really excited about having a new store and we’re really excited about having this investment in Harewood. We hope that the Harewood community will take ownership of this store and that it’ll have an uplifting effect on the entire community.”
At 40,000 square feet downstairs plus another 10,000 upstairs, the store is about three times the size of Quality Foods’ old Harewood store that was located in University Village mall since 1999, but what is significant about the new store is how the space is used.
The Quality Foods Harewood store has a deli, a bakery, floral shop, sushi bar, meat department – the store smokes meat on site – and just about every other department one would expect to find in a large contemporary grocery outlet. There are also two cafeterias, one downstairs and one upstairs and both have indoor and outdoor patio seating. The second floor, called Upstairs, where shoppers will find that second cafeteria plus a gift shop – offering kitchen wear, gifts and decor – two conference rooms and a licensed pub, which also serves Starbucks coffee and snacks. The larger of the two conference rooms is licensed, too.
Everything is upscale, said Hayward.
“We have a meat specialist who’s come on board with the company… a European-trained master butcher and he is really skilled at value-added and full-service counter and we took that as our lead to the way the meat department is designed here,” Hayward said. “New to us is a very expanded deli with a wood stone oven that cooks at 500 degrees, so you’ll cook a pizza in six to eight minutes and we’ve got a commercial smoker here, so we smoke our own ribs and stuff.”
The downstairs Perk Avenue café serves breakfast and the store expects to sell more than 200,000 breakfasts to its customers in the coming year.
Hayward said the company wanted to create a “space that was more a little about something social” where people could have drink and a bit to eat, something the neighbourhood has lacked since the Harewood Arms Pub closed a few years ago.
“So we went and toured a bunch of craft breweries locally and in Vancouver and we went to the Starbucks reserve store in Vancouver that’s licensed … and so Upstairs has two community meeting rooms and A Step Above gift shop,” Hayward said. “It’s designed as a store with a store, so it’s like a shopping mall where it’s glassed in.”
The overall design and layout of the store and the services it offers is innovative in its approach and unique to B.C. Hayward said he is only aware of a store chain in Ontario that has a store with a mezzanine upstairs, but not the array of services offered in Nanaimo.
An expanded operation meant the company needed to hire about 40 new staff and now has about 100 employees in its Harewood operation and because the company could transfer existing staff from its old Harewood store it had a base of experienced employees to train its new hires.
“It’s not a totally new location, so it’s really nice for us to have the majority of our crew up to speed,” he said. “That is really nice.”