Giant Eagle Launches Upscale 'Market District' Format

PITTSBURGH -- To the delight of both Epicureans and mainstream food shoppers, Giant Eagle here unveiled a new upscale Market District retail concept. The format adds a new dimension to the regional market leader's artful playbook.

The official grand openings for the first two Market District stores will take place Thursday. Giant Eagle officials yesterday invited members of the media to tour one of the two stores, both of which were existing locations that were expanded and converted over the course of several months.

The new Market District units, located at 7000 Oxford Drive in Pittsburgh's South Hills region and 5550 Centre Ave. in the city's Shadyside neighborhood, are expected to draw customers from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, said company officials.

The company said the format features what could be the nation's first and only authentic supermarket Brazilian-style churrasco -- from which fresh meats, seafood and vegetables are spit-roasted over an open flame and carved to order. It also has a charcuterie showcasing domestic and imported cured meats from countries such as Italy and Spain, as well as products like Saucisson pork from the mountains of France.

The stores also feature a variety of other unique offerings, among which include cooking demonstrations, ethnic offerings from 19 countries including Thai, Latino, African and Hispanic foods, an on-site coffee roaster, thousands of organic and natural products, an extensive produce department featuring more than 500 varieties, a barista and beverage bar, a salsa bar, and dry-aged certified Angus Beef.

Market District is the "perfect choice for those passionate about food," said Kevin Srigley, Market District s.v.p. Srigley said Market District stores, "simultaneously satisfy the customer need for a full weekly shopping trip" and the desire for a wide array of freshly prepared foods made in store everyday. In a single location, he said, customers can purchase unique, fresh and specialty items alongside mainstream national brands, while enjoying convenience-oriented services such as pharmacy, photo development and dry cleaning.

At 117,000 square-feet, the Market District in the South Hills area is significantly larger than the typical Giant Eagle; the Shadyside Market District is 68,000 square-feet, however. The larger size allows for additional offerings, including a baby section, toy section, office products and housewares, bulk foods and spices, and a candy rotunda featuring freshly made fudge and chocolate bark.

Srigley said the format will not be rolled out in every neighborhood the way current Giant Eagle locations are. The Pittsburgh market, for instance, might be able to support only a handful more.

The stores are staffed by a contingent of highly trained associates who yesterday seemed only too happy to gush about their departments' respective specialties.

"Our food training is extensive," said Srigley. "Our people experience food from producers located all over the world, from small farmhouses to large suppliers. They then utilize this knowledge to help satisfy the culinary curiosity of our customers. We also spend a significant amount of time training on superior customer service," said Srigley, noting students from the area's culinary schools are being recruited to help in the demonstration area.

Among the other features of the new Market District stores:
-- An expansive meat department featuring duck, quail, buffalo and wild boar;

-- A 500-item Kosher section and deli with its own kitchen designed with help from rabbis, and offering popular authentic brands like Kedem, Aaron's, and Tnuva;

-- An 800-square-foot cheese emporium and cheese cave with 500 varieties from around the world;

-- A foodservice area with a traditional pizza oven and sushi bar, plus authentic Italian creations including fresh mozzarella and pasta, and pasta sauces made from scratch;

-- Take-out gourmet meals;

-- A fresh fruit smoothie bar;

-- Nearly 5,000 specialty food and beverage products from 19 countries/regions and more than 4,000 natural, organic and gluten-free items;

-- An in-store bakery using traditional scratch baking methods and featuring a Bongard hearth oven from France;

-- A chef demonstration station;

-- Wi-Fi café;

-- A large greeting card department featuring Papyrus stationery;

-- An ongoing schedule of in-store events to entertain and educate shoppers;

-- And a candy store-within-a-store carrying imported Leonidas chocolates from Belgium, and store-made preservative- and additive-free chocolates;

Giant Eagle operates 140 corporate and 74 independently owned and operated supermarkets in addition to 100 fuel and convenience stores throughout western Pennsylvania, Ohio, north central West Virginia and Maryland.

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