Safeway/Albertsons has set a grand opening date of Apr. 26 for the Ashland Safeway store, currently being remodeled.

Work has begun on the interior, with major changes in store, including a Starbucks outlet.

Outside, the main entrance is being relocated to the middle of the front facade. A low wall on the west side of the store encloses what will be an outdoor lounging area for customers.

Some of those customers may use the space for a casual lunch from the deli or the new fresh sushi department, where an in-house chef will prepare sushi menu items.

It’s been a long haul for the store, caught up in the Safeway/Albertsons merger about two years ago. First, the store was sold to the Washington-based Haggen chain to satisfy Federal Trade Commission anti-trust concerns. Then it was closed when Haggen filed for bankruptcy in the fall of 2015.

The store gained a new lease on life when Safeway/Albertsons was allowed to buy back 33 divested Safeway stores, the Ashland facility among them. Since then the company has been in the planning stages and now construction phase of a newly remodeled store.

Company officials expect to provide about 100 new jobs when the store re-opens, hiring many of those who worked there before.

The store, located at the intersection of Siskiyou Boulevard and Sherman Street, has been in Ashland for nearly 50 years.

— Jim Flint is a former newspaper publisher and editor now living in Ashland. Reach him at jimflint.ashland@yahoo.com.