New Gourmet Store Set for Downtown Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH -- The owner of a nightclub and tapas bar here is getting into the grocery business, with a new store being billed as the first food market to open in the downtown corridor in decades.

Pittsburgh entrepreneur Robin Fernandez in October will open his first Vidalia Fine Foods, in the lobby of an apartment building - which is welcome news to the more than 4,000 residents who currently reside in downtown Pittsburgh.

"My partners and I wanted to offer residents, downtown workers, and visitors a small but complete grocery store with premium items sold at reasonable prices," said Fernandez, noting that "food quality, convenience and customer service will be our top priorities."

Calling yesterday's groundbreaking festivities a "truly...momentous occasion," Tom Grealish, chairman of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP), said the market "will be the first grocery store located downtown in many years, and the need for one has been well-documented as more and more people opt to live downtown."

A PDP grocery store demand feasibility study published earlier this year indicated that a hybrid grocery store and deli would be most successful in downtown. PDP spokeswoman Hollie Plevyak told Progressive Grocer that extensive research indicated that total grocery expenditure for current downtown households is $2.8 million per year, "a figure that could triple by the end of the decade as more people call downtown home."

Vidalia will offer a variety of fine foods, including locally-grown produce, fresh and frozen seafood from Pittsburgh seafood purveyor Wholey's, prime cut meats and poultry, Boar's Head deli meats and cheeses, baked goods, and a full array of fresh prepared foods.

The store will also sell flowers, magazines, pet food, canned goods, coffee, cleaning supplies and other grocery items.

Plevyak said a catering and delivery service will add another layer to the store's amenities and will initially be available to the apartment building's residents, with plans to expand to other locations later this year.

Slated to be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the upscale market will be just around the corner from Fernandez's Bossa Nova, a nightclub and tapas bar.

Hugh Boyd Architects, a Chicago-based architecture firm focusing on specialty grocery stores, consulted with Fernandez on the store layout. Design Stream, a local architect, will oversee the completion of the construction work.

The privately-owned Pittsburgh venture is not connected with Vidalia Marketplace, a new specialty gourmet food market that opened in Eastern Pennsylvania earlier this year.
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