By IAN MUNRO
Daily News-Record 2/1/20
Friendly City Food Co-op will expand into an adjacent building, according to a building permit application submitted to Harrisonburg.
Steve Cooke, the general manager at the grocery store, said work will begin in March and the market will stay open for the eight- month duration of the project.
The expansion will bring the footprint for the business to over 10,000 square feet, according to Cooke. The grocery store will have about 40 to 50% more products and will bring on several more employees as a result.
The retail space will grow from 4,600 to 6,200 square feet.
“They’ll be lots more grocery products, more wellness products, more meat — the meat department is definitely expanded,” Cooke said.
He said the expansion has been planned for several years, and the co-op took over the lease of the adjacent property four years ago.
It had previously subleased the space to the food pantry run by Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church and one of the store’s vendors, Teeny Tiny Spice Co.
Layout for several areas will change. For example, the sitting and eating area will face south, not east. New windows will be constructed on the south- facing front, and aisles will run north to south instead of east to west.
The store’s kitchen spaces will also be moved and combined.
“We’re gaining a lot of efficiency because the kitchens are currently split by a hallway, so now everything will be in one space,” he said.
There will also be another refrigerated case for products such as meat alternatives and soy cheese.
“I know some people have been concerned that we are going to be too big, and they really like shopping at our store because it’s small and convenient,” Cooke said. “At 6,200 square feet, it’s still going to be the smallest grocery store in town.”
He said the changes to the size and layout will not affect the character and quality of the service at the market.
“It’ll just be a little bit more of what people like about us,” Cooke said.