Fresh Market opening marked with “Cracking of the Parmesan”

Published Jul 3, 2013 at 4:08 pm (Updated Jul 3, 2013 at 4:08 pm)
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The grand opening of the new Fresh Market grocery store in Mt. Lebanon was marked not with a ribbon cutting as in the case of most grand openings – instead, The Fresh Market at the corner of Washington and Connor roads proclaimed itself open for business July 3 with its traditional “Cracking of the Parmesan.”

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“We’re a food company. It’s what we do instead of cutting a ribbon,” said Marc Jones, senior vice president of marketing for The Fresh Market. Cheese vendor Pam Rosencrans used several knives to “crack” the large wheel of parmigiano-reggiano cheese, weighing in at 83 pounds. The cheese was made with about 150 gallons of whole milk and aged for more than three years, Jones said.

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“We’re excited about this store,” Jones said, adding that the Mt. Lebanon store is “probably one of our prettiest stores.”

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While the official grand opening wasn’t until 9 a.m., eager shoppers started lining up much earlier than that, said Randie Alf, manager of the new store. Others were invited to a special VIP breakfast that started at 8 a.m.

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Alf said the focus of the store is on its perishable produce. “It’s the best you’ll find. We’re all about quality,” she said. She said she feels The Fresh Market “compliments other stores” – the neighboring Giant Eagle Market District and Trader Joes – instead of competing with them. She added that the store offers full-service fresh meat and fresh seafood departments and an extensive bakery. It also offers free samples of its coffee for customers every day.

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Fresh Market consists of more than 19,000 square feet of items, including bulk coffees and candies, a wide variety of ready-to-serve entrees and more than 200 imported and domestic cheeses. The produce department has more than 400 items, including a large organic selection.

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“Everything we bring in is the best for our customers,” Alf said, adding that sometimes select produce won’t be available if the market cannot get the best quality.

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Alf added that people come to The Fresh Market for the experience of just being there. “Some people come just to relax,” she said.

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About 90 employees from the area were hired at the new store. “It’s a great thing for the community,” Alf said.

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Grand opening activities included cooking demonstrations, food sampling and free reusable shopping bags, and sample bags of jelly beans and the company’s own coffee.

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“I love it. There are a nice variety of options,” said Ginny Carse of Mt. Lebanon, as she was picking up some salad at the prepared foods counter.

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Lisa Robinson and her son, Thomas, of Mt. Lebanon were also shopping during the grand opening day, picking up some fresh peaches. Robinson said she came to the store because she knew a few people from North Carolina who “always raved” about The Fresh Market, so she wanted to see what it was like.

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Maegan Bregenser of Upper St. Clair said she had been waiting for the store to come to the area for a long time. Bregenser added she has gone to The Fresh Market in Hilton Head, S.C. “They have things you can’t get in most places,” she said, including the white asparagus sitting in her shopping cart. Also in her cart were various salads, produce and bakery items.

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The Fresh Market was founded in 1982 in Greensboro, N.C., and is a specialty grocery store focused on providing high-quality products in a unique, European-style atmosphere.

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