September 9, 2013

The Fresh Market lets customers experience the food

The Fresh Market grocery chain, whose slogan is “experience the food,” opened last week in Overland Park’s Prairiefire development. In other news, Recreational Equipment Inc. has set an October grand opening for its first area store, and Rockstar Burgers will open in the West Bottoms later this year.

A woman entering the new Fresh Market in Overland Park worried that her faithfulness was about to be put to the test.

“I wonder if I will like it as much as


Whole Foods,” she said, as if making a confession to the party on the other end of her cell phone call.

Some new Fresh Market customers weren’t ready to write off their old favorites yet, but also vowed to add Fresh Market to their favorite store list.

The specialty grocery chain opened its first area store last week at 6261 W. 135th St., Overland Park. It is the first tenant to open in the upscale Prairiefire development, on the south side of 135th Street between Lamar and Nall avenues.

The Fresh Market’s slogan is “experience the food,” and customers were doing just that Monday. One discussed shrimp recipes with a seafood department employee; another found it hard to choose between the oak roasted salmon or the Gouda burgers for that night’s grill.

Jennie Lentz of Leawood stopped by with her daughters, Caroline, 3, and Amelia, 1. She typically shops at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Hen House Market, but now plans to add The Fresh Market to her route. On Monday she picked up tuna and seaweed salad, along with organic milk and eggs for her young daughters.

The oval-shaped deli holds center court in the store, selling more than 200 varieties of cheeses, along with deli meats and other prepared food items such as Chinese egg rolls, baby back ribs, and spinach feta pizza.

There’s a bulk coffee section, salad bar, olive bar, bulk snack bins (with such choices as okra chips and chili lemon rounds), and a produce department with more than 400 conventional and organic items, including such hard to find items as white asparagus, red bananas, and graffiti eggplant.

The bakery will produce 30 breads daily and 14 types of pie. Then there’s the Tuxedo Truffle Bar Cake or salted caramel chocolate tarts. A full-service meat counter offers freshly ground beef and different kinds of ready-to-grill kabobs. Seafood is delivered fresh several times aweek.

The Fresh Market wants its customers to have a “European market” experience so the stores have soft lighting, antiques, wood floors and wood display counters, including bookshelves stocked with snack chips or small spice packets. Green-and-white-striped canopies hang over the meat and bakery departments, and classical music plays overhead.

The Fresh Market of Greensboro, N.C., opened its first store in 1982. The Overland Park store is the 140th location for the publicly traded company.

Prairiefire, a 58-acre mixed-use development, will be home to upscale restaurants, retail and entertainment offerings, along with residential, hotel and office components. The center expects to have all first phase tenants open by May.

Next up, Recreational Equipment Inc., better known as REI, is scheduling a grand opening celebration Oct. 4-6 for its first area store. But expect a soft opening before then. The stores sell outdoor recreation gear, sporting goods and apparel.

A burgers and breakfast place

Brian and Natalie Smith plan to open Rockstar Burgers in the West Bottoms later this year.

The restaurant, at 1611 Genessee, will be open 24-7 selling burgers, fries and breakfast items. It will have a new $10,000 glass half-circle bar top to go with the original tin ceilings.

The Smiths live in the West Bottoms and own and operate several other businesses there including an Internet marketing company.

“I’m up late because of my internet business and used to go to Town Topic a ton, now at least once a week,” he said. “The West Bottoms needs some kind of late night eatery.”

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