First-timers to The Fresh Market may want to take note of the specialty grocer’s slogan — experience the food.
So if a customer hasn’t tried an Asian pear before, a store employee will cut one up so they can take a bite and “try before they buy.” There also will be food samples already set out throughout the store, cooking demonstrations on a regular basis, and plenty of cooking tips.
The Fresh Market plans to open its first area store at 8 a.m. today at 6261 W. 135th St., Overland Park. It also will be the first tenant to open in the upscale Prairiefire development on 135th Street, between Lamar and Nall avenues.
Instead of a ribbon-cutting, The Fresh Market will “crack the Parmesan,” by opening a 75-pound wheel of Parmesan cheese. The first 1,000 customers will get a reusable shopping bag and a sample-size of the company’s gourmet coffee.
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There also will be chef demonstrations, food samplings and an opportunity to register to win one of five $100 Fresh Market gift cards through Sunday.
The grocer 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. Green-and-white striped canopies hang over the meat and bakery departments in back and classical music plays overhead.
A deli counter holds center court. There’s also a floral department that will make custom gift baskets, including ones with Fresh Market’s own branded food items. The store will have a soup and salad bar, an olive bar, and a bulk candy aisle selling everything from buttered popcorn Jelly Belly candies to chocolate covered cherries.
The bakery will produce 30 different breads daily and 14 different pies, along with such items as a molten lava cake and salted caramel chocolate tarts. A full-service meat counter will offer such items as freshly ground beef and 11 different kinds of kabobs ready for the grill. Seafood is delivered fresh several times per week.
The store also will have more than 200 different cheeses and more than 400 different items in the produce department, many of them organic.
Overland Park’s new Fresh Market will open just in time for the company’s 19th annual Sidewalk Sale from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday. The benefit is for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation with 100 percent of the money raised from the sell of hot dogs, root beer floats and ice cream sundaes (regular and sugar-free) donated to the charity.
The Fresh Market of Greensboro, N.C., opened its first store in 1982. The Overland Park store will be 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 expected to have all of its first phase tenants open by May 2014.
Next up, Recreational Equipment Inc., better known as REI, is scheduling a grand opening celebration Oct. 4 to Oct. 6. But expect a soft opening before then.Quick bites
• Dunkin’ Donuts is now open at 12137 Shawnee Mission Parkway. The Shawnee store is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
• Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, 4701 Mission Road, Westwood, plans to open at 7:30 a.m. Sept. 18.