Newton County's third Kroger store - located at the intersection of Salem Road and Kirkland Road - celebrated its grand opening early Thursday morning before a crowd of more than 100 with a ribbon cutting ceremony and the presentation of checks to two local schools.
The new Kroger, located in the just completed Covington Market Place cost $12 million to build according to Bruce Lucia, president of Kroger's Atlanta division.
The 88,000 square feet store, which employs 167 associates, features a Starbucks, a Best Bank, a drive-thru pharmacy, a fuel center, a natural foods department and an expanded housewares section.
According to Lucia, the new store contains 40,000 grocery/drug items, 500 varieties of fresh produce, 200 varieties of floral, 1,000 varieties in deli/bakery and cheese and 1,000 varieties in the meat and seafood department.
"Basically it provides that one store shopping experience," said Glynn Jenkins, director of communications and public relations for Kroger of the store, which is one of the chain's newest prototypes designed to stay competitive with Wal-Mart Supercenters and Super Targets.
The store features several architectural changes which set it apart from older Kroger stores including an open-air design without a drop ceiling, wider aisles and brighter lighting.
The store manager for the new store is David Sheppard, who formerly managed the Kroger store on U.S. Highway 278.
"He brings leadership," said Lucia of Sheppard. "He brings energy like no one I've ever seen."
The first Kroger in Newton County opened in 1962 according to Jenkins. That Kroger was located at the corner of Usher Street and Pace Street in downtown Covington and was only 15,000 square feet.
In addition to the Kroger store several other businesses are scheduled to open up soon in the Covington Market Place which is being developed by Madison Retail LLC. They include Overton Cleaners, Cleopatra Nails, Michelle's Hair Salon, Syndicate Communications, New China and Franchise Barbershop.
Chase Jerol, director of property management for Madison Retail, LLC, said that there is space for 25 tenants in the plaza, with additional space available in Covington Market Place's out-parcels.
Both Kroger and the smaller stores in the plaza have brick and stacked-stone storefronts which help to create a village streetscape atmosphere. The architecture of the plaza also features decorative moldings, period lighting and a central water fountain feature.
Among the attendants of the ribbon cutting ceremony were Newton County Chairman Aaron Varner, District 5 Commissioner Monty Laster, Newton High School Principal Joe Gheesling and Clements Middle School Principal Dr. Sylvia Jordan.
Both Gheesling and Jordan were presented with $500 checks for their respective schools, an action that Sheppard said was part of an overall increased partnership between Kroger and local schools.
Store hours for the Starbucks are 6 a.m. - 9 p.m., Saturday through Sunday. Store hours for the Best Bank are 10 a.m. - 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Saturday and 12 p.m. - 4 p.m., Sunday.