When Albertsons opened its new Broadway Avenue store last July, it could have been described as Whole Foods on steroids.
It was twice as large as the 1959 store it replaced. The store featured a wood-burning pizza oven, a restaurant-style food bar, artisan breads made from scratch, and expanded butcher cases full of meats and fish. It had a bar serving beer, wine and mixed alcoholic drinks.
When the Boise-based grocer opened its newest store at 10 a.m. Friday — in an old Shopko store at Fairview and Eagle roads in Meridian — shoppers’ experiences surpassed that even of the Broadway store, says John Colgrove, the company’s Intermountain Division president.
“I think they’ve taken Broadway and made it even better,” said Meridian resident Lisa Holzer, who attended a preview Thursday evening. “I love it.”
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Holzer, a real estate agent, is married to Eric Holzer, a senior real estate manager for Albertsons. She said she has been driving to the Broadway store since it opened, so she’s glad the new store is in her hometown.
The Meridian store, called Albertsons Market Street, is the largest store among the company’s more than 2,300 stores operating under 21 banners in 35 states and the District of Columbia.
The store features a walk-in wine cooler and wine sold by the case. There are 3,000 types of wine — yes, that’s 3 followed by three zeroes — and 1,000 varieties of beer stocked in coolers.
The butcher cases are wide: 40 feet of fresh meats and 27 feet of fish. The store has a live lobster tank, an oyster bar and a seafood soup bar featuring crab bisque, salmon chowder and clam chowder, all provided by Seattle’s famous Ivar’s restaurant.
There’s also a poke bar, featuring raw fish seasoned with spices, chiles and other vegetables. It’s a Hawaiian delicacy.
The store, which has 600 workers compared with about 400 at Broadway, features a bulk-foods case offering prepared dishes such as macaroni and cheese and other one-skillet meals with various chicken, shrimp and rice dishes.
The bakery has breads not available at other Albertsons stores and individual cinnamon rolls.
The new store has a popcorn stand featuring Nuts on Clark from Chicago. Unlike the Broadway store, where the popcorn is popped and boxed in a back room, the Meridian popping takes place on the sales floor.
“When people come in, I think they’re going to have a better experience than they can imagine,” Colgrove said.
The Meridian store is massive: 110,000 square feet, compared with 68,000 square feet at the Broadway store. The average Albertsons store in the Treasure Valley has 45,000 square feet. The original Albertsons store at 16th and State streets in Boise, which opened 80 years ago, had 10,000 square feet.
“You could fit 11 of Joe’s stores in here,” said Colgrove.
The store, at 3499 E. Fairview Ave., will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday. Regular hours, from 6 a.m. to midnight, begin Saturday. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday.