The grocery chain Safeway opened its new expanded store Friday in North Berkeley after a yearlong remodel.
The updated 45,000-square-foot store — located at 1444 Shattuck Place, near the Gourmet Ghetto — replaced its 28,763-square-foot predecessor and features larger bakery, pharmacy, full-service meat and seafood departments. It will be open daily from 6 a.m. to midnight.
The $17 million remodel will feature underground parking and five entrances, which will make the store more accessible, said Keith Turner, director of government and public affairs for Safeway’s Norcal Division.
“We’ve got a whole lot more departments that are featured than a normal store,” he said.
As part of the company’s lifestyle concept, the supermarket will also include fresh sushi, a larger Starbucks and more organic food than a traditional grocery store, Turner said.
“I think that fits the Berkeley market really well,” Turner said.
Besides aesthetic improvements, Safeway also prides itself on public outreach. The company is the first major corporation to partner with AC Transit to offer bus passes to store workers to allow them to get back and forth from work, Turner said.
At Thursday’s opening ceremony, Safeway presented a $5,000 donation to the Berkeley Public Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to connect teachers, students, families and parents with donors and volunteers.
“We’re delighted anytime someone who has a business presence in Berkeley chooses to support the public schools,” said Molly Fraker, executive director of the Berkeley Public Education Foundation. “I think it’s a great show of support. The donation is going to be put right to work in the schools.”
Tacy Traverso, general manager of Saul’s Restaurant and Delicatessen, located across the street, said she has some reservations about the larger store’s reopening.
“We’re a little worried about the competition from their new expanded deli,” she said. “It’s not that concerning because most of our customers know what we do and want to be a part of what we offer.”
But Traverso also said she feels it will be a positive change overall because the new store will draw customers into the neighborhood.
“We’re hoping that it will have a very positive effect on the neighborhood,” said Heather Hensley, executive director of the North Shattuck Association. “Having an upgraded Safeway will really help. It’s one of our anchor businesses.”
Hensley said she expects Safeway will draw additional customers from other areas, like Albany, who want to shop at the renovated store.
“It’s a much improved store,” Hensley said. “The underground parking is going to be much safer. I think it’s going to be a very great asset for us. It was really an eyesore before.”
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