By Laura Lennie, News Staff
Customers will have to wait a little longer to check out the aisles of the new Fortinos at Fiesta Mall.
Fortinos marketing director Beverly Wright says the store’s initial mid-spring opening has been pushed to mid-to-late July because of construction delays.
“We are behind in construction by about a month due to the severe weather that we’ve had,” she said. “I think there will be more progress with spring, hopefully, here to stay.”
Construction of the new $20-million, 70,000-square-foot Fortinos began in early November.
The exterior of the building is pretty much completed.
Crews are working on the facility’s inside ductwork.
“It’s anticipated that we will be able to, hopefully, pour concrete for the floor (this week),” Wright said. “We’ve had to wait until the frost is out of the ground in order to do this. It’s all going to be worth the wait.”
The new Fortinos will employ about 300 people and will replace the current store at the site.
The existing Fortinos, which is 52,000 square feet, employs about 170 people and opened in 1984.
The new Fortinos will feature a Pane Fresco – a meals-to-go concept the grocery store chain launched in 2011 at the opening of its Appleby Line and Highway 5 store in a deal with the Pane Fresco bakery on Locust Street in Burlington.
Pane Fresco features a bakery that offers a full line of artisanal breads baked fresh daily and signature gourmet pizzas. It also has a soup station that provides 16 variations made fresh each day and a salad bar.
In addition, Pane Fresco includes a café that offers coffee and baked goods and a carvery that provides fresh and hand-sliced dinners of roast beef, roast turkey or fish to take home or eat at a nearby seating area.
Wright said the improved Fortinos will also have a Natural Value health foods department, a larger pharmacy with a consulting room and many other new products.
“We continue to try and evolve our offering,” she said. “The Pane Fresco is so much a part of the store, but you’ll see that, in terms of our production selection in the other departments, we’ll just continue to evolve and add in greater variety, which will be quite exciting.”
Wright said during construction of the new Fortinos, customers will be able to access the store’s garden centre, which should be open for business by the end of April.
When the old store is demolished, the property will be used as a parking lot, she added.
Wright said the community is “extremely excited” about the new Fortinos.
“Customers regularly approach the franchisee to find out when it’s opening, which is great,” she said. “There’s a lot of excitement because what it does is, it rejuvenates the area and it stimulates the economy. It’s a bigger store, it will offer more and I think customers are ready for that because it’s keeping them within that local community, so they don’t need to venture out as far, and I think that’s where the excitement comes in.”
Fortinos renovated its Upper Centennial Parkway store last August to incorporate a Pane Fresco.
Wright said there are no plans at the moment to do the same at the Fortinos Eastgate Square location.
“Because of the cost of adding it into the business, we’re trying to be very strategic with our spending in terms of where we put Pane Fresco,” she said. “Eventually, we’d like it across the entire business, but again with the cost of that, we do need to be very strategic with it.”