By Mike Pearson, News staff
It’s a name known in Hamilton for its hanging sides of beef and store-made pork sausage. But Fortinos has become much more than a grocery retailer in recent years, offering everything from value-priced clothing, housewares and cell phones to banking and small appliances.
You can still buy a cell phone and even take out a mortgage at the new Stoney Creek Fiesta Mall Fortinos, but for more than 100 customers who lined up for a July 25 grand opening, the biggest appeal was the food.
Customers were greeted to the smell of freshly-baked bread, donuts, free roses for the ladies and a smiling Joe Caruso. The local franchisee began his career at 14, working for the chain’s former Gateshead location before purchasing the Fiesta Mall store. Caruso and his staff hired 170 full and part-time workers leading up to the opening, which brings the store’s workforce to 310. Hundreds of customers streamed into the store within minutes of opening time.
“It feels great to see all my customers here,” said Caruso, who shook hands and greeted each person in line at the opening along with his daughters Madison and Micaela, son Giordan and wife, Rosemary.
The new $20-million, 70,000-square-foot Fortinos at 102 Hwy. 8 features the Pane Fresco line of ready-to-eat foods, fully cooked meals, a soup station, panini station, artisan breads, Roman pizzas, an Asian noodle and rice bar, store-made donuts and a café with retro-style seating and free wi-fi.
“We’ve concentrated on our core food offering,” said Beverly Wright, Fortinos marketing director.
Other features include a deli with artisan meats, plus an olive and antipasto bar, a juice bar, additional seafood offerings, a selection of more than 500 bulk foods and an expanded organic produce selection with more than 80 items, including large sized and local fruits and vegetables.
Wright said several additions to the Fiesta Mall store are unique to Fortinos in Hamilton, including the Asian noodle bar and juice bar. The juice bar features 17 varieties of freshly squeezed juice, most of which are orange-based. The store-made juice blends combine everything from pineapple to kale.
Shoppers will still see Fortinos’ hanging sides of beef along with Ontario-raised lamb and veal, and the store’s signature Ontario pork sausages.
The new store now offers expanded health and wellness services with registered holistic nutritionists on-site daily along with an extensive selection of sports nutrition supplements, protein powders, super foods and raw food. A full-service pharmacy is available with on-site consulting room.
Other features include a mobile shop with wireless devices, a President’s Choice Financial banking kiosk, photo kiosks and lotto centre.
The old, 52,000 square-foot Fortinos next door will be demolished for additional parking. The Fiesta Mall location is one of three Fortinos in the Stoney Creek area.
Wright said Fortinos isn’t looking to expand its in-house apparel brand Joe Fresh at new stores in Ontario. Parent company Loblaw has instead announced plans to expand the chain in 23 countries over the next five years.
-With files from the Toronto Star