Albertsons' Next-Generation Store is a Showplace for the Fresh Experience

John Colgrove can barely contain his excitement when leading a tour of Albertsons on Broadway, the retailer’s next-generation concept store a mere stone’s throw from its corporate headquarters in Boise, Idaho.  

“We call this our food paradise store,” asserts Colgrove, president of Albertsons’ Intermountain Division, as he walks the perimeter, talking up the store’s “meal in a bag” ready-to-cook dinner solutions, the surprise success of exotic meats like frog legs, and a fresh prepared department that, in his words, just kills it. “This is all about winning in fresh.”

Fresh, like organic produce, house-made mozzarella and sausage, dry-aged beef, sustainable seafood, hand-dipped chocolates, and a scratch bakery including signature items like dill pickle-flavored rye bread.

The Albertsons on Broadway team

There’s also a food court offering pizza, sushi, carved meats, custom sandwiches, salads, soups and a hot bar.

And then there’s Broadway on the Rocks, a full bar that hosts bands and other social events, and where patrons can order food from the store’s kitchens while on a lunch break from Boise State University across the street, or enjoy a weeknight meal while gazing into the nearby mountains at what Colgrove calls the best sunset in town.

All of these things come together to offer an experience captured by the store’s appropriate tagline: Eat Life Up.

“It’s a totally new concept for a grocery store here in the Treasure Valley,” Colgrove says. “This is the first Albertsons store like its kind in the area. The culture of this store is unique, focusing on creating a food experience through expertise, demos and education. From hard-to-find unique ingredients, to prized local favorites, to cooking classes and live events, Albertsons on Broadway raises the bar for what customers can expect from a fantastic grocery store.”

Albertsons is already replicating the concept with a new store about double the size of Broadway over in Meridian, smack in the center of Idaho’s fastest-growing city, about 12 miles west of Boise.

The Broadway store “was designed to attract shoppers looking for something uniquely different,” Colgrove explains, “for those looking for local and fresh ingredients, those who want to learn more about food and nutrition, and those who are needing help in planning the perfect event — even for those who are looking to spend time with family and friends in a unique and trendy environment. We have something for everyone.”

The ‘Wow’ Line

Visitors entering Albertsons on Broadway are met with fresh in every direction, finding themselves surrounded by a sweeping floral boutique, fresh produce, prepared foods and, in the mezzanine above the main sales floor, the bar area, Broadway on the Rocks. These various elements coalesce to create shock and awe for first-time shoppers.

“It became the ‘wow’ line,” Colgrove says of folks lined up for the store’s grand opening last July. “As they walked in, they’d stop and the first word out of their mouth was ‘Wow.’”

Albertsons on Broadway offers time-crunched consumers grab-and-go foods and beverages, a coffee shop, a sushi bar and a dedicated grocerant checkstand right at the front of the store

He elaborates: “We wanted to bring something fresh and new to Boise, and we felt this new store concept would resonate. We also thought the time was right to bring Boise the culinary experiences many hunger for but haven’t gotten yet locally. The store concept was inspired by one of our company’s subsidiaries, United Supermarkets, several years ago. We leveraged that great brand name into something that’s distinctly Idaho. Featuring all things local and fresh, it is a destination food getaway. It is the gathering place where guests can enjoy the exploration, education, preparation and consumption of food in a relaxed and trendy environment, surrounded by employees whose sole purpose is to help them enjoy time with food, family and friends.”

And despite the presence of three other Albertsons stores within a few miles, no business has been cannibalized by the new location — in fact, the retailer has experienced incremental sales, Colgrove notes. “We were able to draw in new business that we hadn’t been able to satisfy” with the older, smaller market that Broadway replaced, he says.

The store features “ultra-premium merchandising with the convenience of mainstream,” according to Store Director Brian Conley. This includes what Conley says is the largest variety of natural, organic, specialty, health and ethnic (NOSHE) and local items in the region. Foodservice items are developed by the store’s executive chef for in-store dining as well as take-home consumption.

The in-store bar offers indoor and outdoor seating, in addition to a state-of-the-art wine collection and three dozen beers on tap, of which about half are local craft selections. Large windows allow panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, as well as a glimpse of Albertsons Stadium at Boise State University; the arena is within earshot of the store, making game days on the outdoor patio even more exciting.

The store's signature items include scratch-made baked goods and hand-dipped frozen treats

The meat and seafood assortment includes numerous ready-to-cook, pre-seasoned and value-added selections, as well as dry-aged beef .

An extensive scratch bakery also offers handmade candies and ice cream, while charcuterie and specialty cheeses abound in the service deli. There are also bulk foods; a wide variety of natural, organic and locally made skin care, hair and body products; and concierge services for event-planning needs.

“Boise has deep roots in great local food, stemming from our farming and ranching industry to our refugee and Basque community,” Conley notes. “The Albertsons store on Broadway is a place where people are hungry for improved culinary experiences that feature more locally sourced quality ingredients.”

Made In Store

As a next-generation store, Broadway has become a test bed for new concepts. “We’re looking at what are we doing in this store that we can scale up and take it to the rest of the division,” Colgrove says.


Among them are solutions like meals in a bag, exclusive to this store, delivering a single-serve meal including a protein and vegetables. Able to be cooked in a conventional oven or microwave, the items are proving to be “very, very successful,” according to Colgrove.

As for the dry-aged beef: “We sell every bit we can get our hands on — we’ve got a waiting list,” Colgrove says, noting that the meat is aged 14 days before arriving at the store, and then mellows for at least 21 more days.

Another huge seller in the meat department is the house-made sausage, available in 25 varieties, including, appropriately enough for the locale, potato (“We can’t keep up with it,” Colgrove says). An unexpected win has been exotic meats, with brisk sales not only for elk, bison, boar and pheasant, but also frog legs and octopus. “We put this in to differentiate ourselves, and it’s been a surprise,” Colgrove observes.

The store’s meat department provides all of the protein for the carving station in the food court.

“Foodservice is our No. 1 volume department,” Colgrove asserts. The food court features a hot bar that he describes as “off the charts”; shallow pans mean that items are “continually added fresh all day long,” Colgrove notes.

The meat department features a multitude of preseasoned, stuffed and value-added selections, as well as house-made sausages, dry-aged beef and exotic meats

Meanwhile, the bar menu upstairs at Broadway on the Rocks is replete with chef-inspired entrées that are prepared downstairs and whisked to patrons relaxing upstairs. Visitors may bring food from elsewhere in the store to the bar area, and you can enjoy a bottle of wine purchased at the store in the bar with no corkage fee. There’s also a community room off the bar, available free of charge to local groups for meetings.

“We’ll have a band up here to play while the sun’s setting,” Colgrove says. “You won’t be able to find a table.”

Back downstairs, the deli features a variety of meats and cheeses, alongside salads and other items, “all clean labeled and made from scratch,” Colgrove notes. Scratch-made products are big here. The most prevalent signage seems to be “Made In Store.”

To serve the large Basque community in the area, the store has a partnership with The Basque Market, a specialty grocery store in Boise. The market supplies an assortment of products to the Broadway store, merchandised in center store, as well as a cooler near the dairy department, and each retailer promotes the other’s store.

“It’s a unique partnership,” Colgrove remarks. “We sell so much of the stuff, customers can’t believe we do this. It’s exciting to offer things no other grocery store does.”

To be sure, that’s the whole point of Albertsons on Broadway. “You can walk up and down every category and you’ll find mainstream items, but we’ve gone overboard on local and specialty items to give people variety in every category,” Colgrove says.

Chef-inspired menu items include signature sandwiches and custom pizzas, to eat in or take home

“There are several unique products that we carry in the store, and it gives us a chance to see what our customers like and want to see more of,” he continues. “For example, we showcased a mochi ice cream bar in our bakery department. It was so well received by our customers that we decided to add them in a few other stores across our division. We will continue to evaluate other items that might be a great fit for our stores in the various markets we serve.”

A Gathering Place

Albertsons had intended to call this store Market Street Idaho, using a name borrowed from the retailer’s United Supermarkets division in Texas. As the time to raze the original store on the site drew near, however, the equity of the Albertsons name at this site after so many years was made clear.

“The media was here, and people were telling all these stories about how long they’ve shopped here,” Colgrove recalls, “and with the [Albertsons-sponsored Boise State University] stadium down the street, we decided to keep the Albertsons name because there was so much value.” (The new store under construction in Meridian is scheduled to open in March under the name Albertsons Market Street.)

Broadway on the Rocks offers a pub atmosphere, with a full bar featuring craft beers on tap and an opportunity to enjoy any grocerant item available in the store

While honoring tradition, the new store brings a different experience than previously available.

“National grocery trends are changing and evolving very quickly. Many shoppers are interested in buying local and are purchasing more NOSHE items,” says Gineal Davidson, VP of merchandising and marketing for Albertsons’ Intermountain Division. “They are frequently reading labels and wanting to learn more about what is in their food. The new store concept caters to that audience with a large variety of local items throughout the store, as well as a large variety of NOSHE products that can be found in all departments.”

The store attracts shoppers “looking for something uniquely different,” Davidson notes. “Our customers are able to find the items they buy every day and find new items they did not yet know they were looking for. Albertsons on Broadway also features cooking classes and nutritional classes that allow our customers to learn and grow. By having all these features under one roof, our hope is to make life easier for those who shop with us.”

The product mix and a fun atmosphere combine to create “an electricity in the store that can’t be beat,” says Shane Sampson, Albertsons EVP  and chief marketing and merchandising officer. “The customers are telling us we’ve really got something here, and we absolutely want to bring this kind of store and experience to more communities across the country.”

The store is arranged so folks can target their specific needs. For example, in addition to the main entrance from the parking lot, there’s an entryway on the street side facing the university, allowing visitors to enter directly into the Starbucks coffee shop and prepared food area, and leave without going through the rest of the store. It’s also where the concierge desk is located, at which customers can place catering orders. “We’re getting weddings and all kinds of special events,” Colgrove notes.

Another destination is the Living Well aisle in the pharmacy area, where contoured shelves feature natural products, lotions and remedies, along with a refrigerated end cap offering probiotic products. Meanwhile, the fragrances of aromatic bath products draw shoppers to an opposite end cap.

Colgrove beams as he discusses the opportunities for concepts launching at Broadway that can be scaled up for stores all over the division, from an emphasis on local products, to healthy refrigerated offerings in the checklanes, to talented chocolatiers turning out decadent treats, to a lavish floral department that’s been busy doing special events.

“We didn’t want this to be just a grocery store,” he says. “We wanted it to be a gathering place.”

So far, it looks like Albertsons on Broadway is everything that its shoppers need it to be.

  • Albertsons in Boise

    The original store at the location of the current Albertsons on Broadway supermarket was a 26,000-square-foot store built in 1959. It remained open during initial construction of the new store, but was finally demolished in April 2018.

    “When the company broke ground on this particular store in June 2017, it represented our first new store here in Idaho, built from the ground up, since 1999,” says John Colgrove, president of Albertsons’ Intermountain Division. The new Albertsons on Broadway opened 79 years to the day since the opening of Joe Albertson’s first store at 16th and State streets in Boise.

    “When Joe Albertson founded our company on July 21, 1939, he began a legacy of delivering an innovative and welcoming shopping experience. Joe’s first store was innovative, with magazine racks, a household section, bakery, meat shop — all under one roof,” Colgrove recounts. “Fast-forward 79 years, and Joe’s innovative ideas and journey are stronger than ever. This new store carries forward his innovative spirit and is the place to shop in the Boise community. I think opening this next-generation store in Boise was a proud day for Joe, and a proud day for our entire company.”

    As the store’s mission statement declares: “To serve you culinary delights and unique food experiences everywhere you turn. To offer world-class expertise, from cooking classes and events to hand-selected items found nowhere else in Idaho. To build personal friendships that leave lasting impressions and keep you hungry for more. To ignite your appetite and inspire you to … eat life up.”

About the Author

Jim Dudlicek

Jim Dudlicek was Progressive Grocer's editorial director. 

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