On the outside, it’s a blast from the past combined with high tech amenities. Inside, it’s completely re-imagined, with the big reveal set for next Wednesday when the Ashland Safeway holds its grand reopening.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 8 a.m. on April 26, with store officials and Ashland Mayor John Stromberg on hand. During the day there will be tastings, give-aways, and other festivities.
“We kept the exterior tile mosaics that are original with the store when it opened in 1963,” said Safeway Division Manager Mark Keepes. But also out front are four electric car charging stations for customers’ use while they shop.
The store, opened more than 50 years ago, is located at Siskiyou Boulevard. and Sherman Street. It was sold to the Washington-based Haggen chain after Safeway merged with Albertsons in 2015, the Federal Trade Commission citing anti-trust issues. When Haggen filed for bankruptcy, the FTC allowed Albertsons to buy back several Safeway stores, Ashland’s among them. It has been closed for more than a year while the company prepared for the reopening under the Safeway name.
But it’s not your grandfather’s Safeway. It’s modern. It’s gleaming. And there is an emphasis on organic, natural, eco-friendly, and specialty products.
“We’re supporting a lot of local suppliers and vendors,” Keepes said. “We have some autonomy that allows us to cater to our local customers.”
Shane Young, bakery operations specialist for Safeway, is enthusiastic about the offerings in the in-store bakery.
“Besides breads, rolls, and pastries, we’ll have fresh cream items, fruit products, and custom cakes,” Young said.
“We also will feature items from local sources such as Four and Twenty Blackbirds Bakery (Ashland), Red Plate Foods (Bend), Little Shop of Bagels (Ashland), and Apple Cellar/Village Baker breads (Ashland).”
Red Plate is a line of gluten free, vegan, dairy free, and nut free foods. The Safeway bakery also will sell La Brea Bakery petite loaves of artisan breads.
Jeremy Looney of Medford is in charge of organizing the produce department.
“Nearly half our produce will be organic,” Looney said. “Our bulk foods department will have more than 150 varieties of nuts, grains, and snack foods. And then there are the chocolate covered things,” he said, smiling.
There also will be a large selection of chilies, peppers, soy products, and meat replacement items.
“We have more refrigerated cases in our produce department,” Keepes added. “Maintaining the cold chain is important for freshness.”
Kelly Mallone is in charge of developing store delicatessens for the corporation. She said that in addition to the usual offerings, there will be an expanded cheese selection.
“We’ll carry the top 50 cheeses,” Mallone said. “And we’ll feature products from Rogue Creamery. In fact, Rogue cheeses will be among the tastings on grand opening day.”
She said she expects the custom sandwich counter to be a popular deli stop.
In the meat department, the Butcher Block case will be stocked with fresh cut meats and seafood. David Stafford, who worked at the Ashland store a couple years before it closed, is department manager.
“It’s good to be back,” he said. “We’ll also have organic chicken and our Open Nature brand of 100 percent vegetarian fed products for sale.”
Keepes noted that Safeway processes meat from primal cuts to the finished product in the store.
“We’re one of the few chains that do that. We think it’s fresher than commissary or warehouse processing,” he said.
Don Morrison is store director and Samantha Elmore is assistant director. Following are hours of operation: the store, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Starbucks, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.; the bakery, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and the Butcher Block, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Company officials expect to provide about 100 new jobs when the store reopens, hiring many former employees.