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Gina Winters said she couldn’t believe her eyes when she took her first steps into the newly renovated Foodtown in Bayside. She let out a wholehearted “wow” when she noticed the change of scenery.
The Bell Boulevard supermarket at 47th Avenue, formerly known as C-Town, completed a months-long gutting of its interior in March and will celebrate a grand opening July 20 to mark a new era of grocery shopping, at 47-33 Bell Blvd. in Bayside.
“Everything is so different. It’s beautiful,” Winters said. “I am definitely coming back.”
With the nearby Waldbaum’s closing on Francis Lewis Boulevard to make way for Korean supermarket H Mart, Foodtown General Manager Mike Fernandez said he hoped local shoppers learned there is another option closer to home.
“We’re here to bring a great balance to the community,” Fernandez said. “In bad times, we took the next route up and invested. Now, we brought in a fresh new store with a more personable approach.”
After undergoing a nearly $750,000 overhaul, the former C-Town was transformed into a completely different supermarket, outfitted with a brand new juice bar, coffee station, energy efficient lighting and more.
“This is not even remotely close to what you saw here before,” Fernandez said.
The general manager also said the change went beyond the aesthetics to make for a friendlier shopping environment.
“I think it is the customer care that makes this place the most important for me,” Winters said. “It is also very clean, but the service is the difference.”
The nearby Waldbaum’s near the intersection of 47th Avenue and Francis Lewis Boulevard should close its doors for good by the end of the summer, costing 77 local employees their jobs. Since moving into the former C-Town location in January, Foodtown increased its workforce by hiring more community-based employees and Fernandez said the store would continue that trend by investing in the community it is a part of.
While patrolling the aisles, Fernandez would stop and chat with customers well beyond the usual small talk, asking how one man’s daughters were or how another shopper enjoyed their last purchase.
“We are geared to please this community,” Fernandez said. “This more than your average supermarket chain because we tailor the store to keep up with the times.”
Foodtown even recently extended its operating hours from an 8 p.m. closing time to 10 p.m. because Fernandez said Bayside’s working clientele needed more options for later in the day.
One of the new store’s biggest challenges, Fernandez said, was its lack of a parking lot. The 47-33 Bell Blvd. grocery store has meter parking in front, but no official lot.
But Fernandez said he was in the process of potentially renting out a nearby parking lot during the day for his customers.
“Some people might not know the store is even here because we don’t have a parking lot,” Fernandez said. “But I’ll offset that parking lot by offering more services, a clean supermarket, smiling faces and variety at decent prices.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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