By Kaitlin Hoskins, News Editor
The grand opening of a new grocery store does not usually feature fireworks and a large motorized shopping cart — but Food City in Gadsden recently put on a celebration like no other.
On Tuesday, January 23, city, county and state officials, along with company leaders and members of the public gathered at the Gadsden Mall, where the new Food City stands, to see the building, sample the food selections, listen to live music and to cut the ribbon on the now open grocery store.
Some members of the public even started shopping ahead of the store’s official opening date of Wednesday, January 24.
Shelves were stocked in preparation for the much-anticipated opening of the 53,700 square food supermarket.
According to the company, the Gadsden store is the retailer’s second location in Alabama. The other Alabama location is to the north, in Albertville in Marshall County. Food City recently broke ground on a third location in Fort Payne.
Steven Smith, Food City president and chief executive officer, attended the ribbon cutting celebration Tuesday and introduced the local management team after taking a moment to thank the large crowd gathered outside of the store.
“Golly, thank you,” Smith said. “You honor us with your presence here tonight. It’s such an honor to see so many people come out to visit our store and we feel so welcome.
“That welcoming started many, many months ago when we started talking to the officials here in Gadsden and they presented us with an opportunity to come to your great city and great county,” Smith said. “We understand that when a community succeeds, we’ve got a pretty good chance of succeeding too.”
The gratitude flowed both ways Tuesday night. Etowah County Commissioner Tim Ramsey thanked Food City for being a part of Etowah County’s future.
“This is going to be a great thing for our community and a great thing for our county,” Ramsey said. “I’m excited about you guys being here. As an elected official people come up and say ‘why don’t you get us this or why don’t you get us that?’ We don’t get that. We don’t do that. People like David Hooks who put our best foot forward do that. They put our foot forward and then it’s just asking the prettiest lady in the room to dance and hoping they’ll say yes. Thank you [Food City] for saying yes. I want to say thank you for saying yes to Etowah County.”
Gadsden Mayor Craig Ford told Smith that he hopes that the Gadsden location becomes the number one store for the company.
“We want to make this the number one store in the United States,” Ford said. “I think y’all told us you had almost 150 stores. Well, Gadsden wants to be number one. We’re excited about what’s going on here and we’re excited about Food City. And we’re excited to go shopping.”
During the celebration prior to the cutting of a ceremonial blue ribbon, Food City presented $400checks to each school in the Gadsden City Schools system.
“Thank you for what you’re doing for our education,” Ford said. “This is a great winning team. That’s amazing to see what y’all just did tonight. We look forward to many more checks being presented and we hope to be able to support y’all.”
Alabama State Senator Andrew Jones, who was celebrating his 40th birthday by attending the ribbon cutting, said he was glad Food City was in Etowah County and that the new jobs created by the company was a blessing to the area.
“Our grocery stores like this are part of the fabric of our local community,” Jones said. “I want y’all to know that they are already investing in our community. We’re talking about 225 full time and part time jobs that they’re bringing to this economy.”
Once the ribbon was cut and photos were taken, the parking lot lights were turned off and a large firework show began. Bright colors filled the sky right above the building for several minutes and drew many gasps and claps from the crowd below.
Following the fireworks, the crowd returned to the inside of the store and more shopping continued.
The location includes an in-store bakery and deli, hot food bar, large café seating area with a fireplace,
Asian wok and food bar, fresh food bar, hickory wood smoker, brick pizza oven, full-service meat and seafood departments, in-house butchers, Food City Floral Boutique six traditional check-out lanes
and seven self-checkouts.
Gadsden’s Food City also offers curbside pick-up and home delivery. The store also includes a Food City Pharmacy, Gas N’ Go fuel center, an in-store bank and a Starbucks café.
Food City is Headquartered in Abingdon, Virginia. K-VA-T Food Stores, Food City’s parent company, operates 152 retail outlets throughout southeast Kentucky, southwest Virginia, east Tennessee, north
Georgia and Alabama.