Two years in the making, Market Square grocery store's opening is near
April 15, 2015 12:00 AM
Dan Rencewicz, general manager of Market Street Grocery, stacks products Tuesday at the new store in Market Square, Downtown.
Ralph Falbo is the owner of Market Street Grocery, the new grocery store in Market Square. The store’s official grand opening is next week.
The wine section of Market Street Grocery in Market Square.
By Mark Belko / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
On a cloudy and cool spring morning, Downtown’s first grocery in five years was emerging from its shell like a butterfly from its cocoon.
Some workers stocked a freezer with frozen shrimp, lobster langostino and other seafood. Others handled deliveries of cheeses and other goods. Yet others trained to use the cash register.
At the back of 435 Market St., bottles of imported red and white Italian wines beckoned visitors. Pastas, cereals, chocolates, pickles, olives, teas, cookies, jelly, potato chips and sauces crammed the shelves.
“ ‘Finally’ is the word,” developer Ralph Falbo said as he talked to two friends and surveyed the scene.
Some two years in the making, Market Street Grocery will make its long-anticipated debut today with a VIP reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The official grand opening is next Wednesday.
Mr. Falbo originally had hoped to open the store a year ago. But construction problems kept pushing back the deadline.
By late Tuesday morning, the moment of truth was nearing as deliveries arrived through the back door and preparations took place throughout the space.
Mr. Falbo carried a smile with him as he conducted a tour of the store. “I really feel good,” he said. “I can see it now.”
The grocery will feature a coffee and liquor bar on the right side as customers walk through the front door. On the left will be Gaby et Jules, the Squirrel Hill bakery leasing store space with plans to sell macarons, cakes, croissants, baguettes and canele, delivered fresh daily.
At the center of the store will be the deli filled with fresh meats, lunch meats, fresh seafood, prepared foods to go, and cheeses — lots of them.
Anais Saint-Andre Loughran, the floor manager overseeing the cheese selection, said 50 cheeses — domestic and imported — will be available at the store. Ten will come from Pennsylvania.
The store also will offer at a variety of fresh seafood — including tuna, salmon, swordfish, halibut, cod and flounder — all delivered by Pittsburgh Seafoods.
A selection of frozen seafood will include cooked shrimp, lobster langostino, lobster tails, Alaskan king crab, salmon and tuna steak.
Rather than being packaged, much of the frozen seafood will be loose so customers can pick up as much or as little as they need. “This is all experimental because we just don’t know how it’s going to go over,” said Rich Tronzo, the seafood manager.
The wine bar at the back of the grocery is actually a retail store featuring wines and champagne imported from the Collefrisio winery in Italy. Visitors will be able to buy wine by the bottle or the case or sip it by the glass at a table.
Also to be offered will be fresh fruit and produce delivered by Consumer Produce in the Strip District and fresh dairy products provided by Turner Dairy.
Mr. Falbo is partnering in the venture with the owners of Vallozzi’s restaurants and his stepson David Priselac. Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation rehabilitated the building.
More than 250 guests have been invited to today’s VIP reception. The grocery will close after the reception to work out any bugs and then reopen again next Wednesday.
The owners decided what to offer with the help of focus groups made up of Downtown residents, who have been clamoring for a grocery for several years. The store will offer a range of pricing to appeal to a broad range of customers and will adjust its selection based on demand.
David Glickman, director of retail services for the Newmark Grubb Knight Frank real estate company, said the dramatic increase in the residential population and number of hotels in Downtown should create a “nice customer base.”
The store, he said, may be able to charge slightly higher prices than suburban counterparts as a premium for convenience — but not too much higher.
Manager David Rencewicz said the grocery already is creating a buzz, with people stopping by to ask when it is opening. “You can kind of feel the excitement. Just to be in the middle of it is awesome,” he said.
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