Business

Safeway opens flagship store in downtown Bellevue

Safeway employee Bob Holloway checks the perfectly lined shelves prior to the grand opening of the new store in the Avalon apartment complex. - Fumiko Yarita / Bellevue Reporter
Safeway employee Bob Holloway checks the perfectly lined shelves prior to the grand opening of the new store in the Avalon apartment complex.
— image credit: Fumiko Yarita / Bellevue Reporter

The ushering in of the flagship Safeway store on the corner of Bellevue Way and Northeast Second Street signified both a historical end and a new beginning. As the new store prepared for its grand opening to the public on June 27, the old Safeway located across the street closed its doors after 48 years of business.

Longtime customers may be sad to see the original store go, but Safeway District Manager Adam Wampler remains confident that the new state-of-the-art Safeway will quickly become a favorite destination for Eastside shoppers. Wampler described the new store as a unique shopping experience that offers upscale products at a great value.

The 54,490 square-foot grocery store sits at the base of the recently built Avalon Meydenbauer, making it the first “housing-over-grocery” concept in downtown Bellevue. Avalon Meydenbauer includes 368 luxury apartments, 19,000-square-feet of retail space on the ground floor, and the new Safeway.

Parking was a main concern for future tenants and customers. The developer and the grocery officials worked to put parking for the rental community and the retail customers in different areas to avoid overflow. The parking garages have their own entrances and exits. Safeway alone has a total of 340 free parking stalls available to customers, including on-street parking. Brian Fritz, Vice President of Development for Avalon Meydenbauer, said it took special planning to design a project of this magnitude.

“It all starts with the design and if there’s one word to describe how you do a project this big it would be coordination. The parking was a tricky paradigm to solve, but then things fell into place,” Fritz said. “We also had to be aware of mechanical issues that a grocery store demands and how that works with five stories of apartments on top of it, but I think the finished product speaks for itself.”

The new Safeway captures what Wampler referred to as an elite lifestyle concept by incorporating unique features and luxury design throughout the store. Customers can browse a customized nut bar that includes more than 60 varieties of fresh roasted nuts, kept in a temperature controled area. The store also features an extensive produce department that offers more than 1,000 produce items along with a large designated organic section. Safeway anticipates organic produce to account for roughly 30 percent of total sales at their new store.

“We’ll see a day very shortly when we’ll see more organic sales then traditional and it’s not a day too far off,” Wampler explained. “Our organic pricing is hands down the best in the area.”

The full-service meat and seafood departments doubled in size compared to the old Safeway, adding an additional 28-square-feet to allow for a bigger selection and variety. The two department managers will guide customers through the process of choosing from the large selection of meats and seafood including speciality kabobs, gourmet burgers, marinades and offerings such as squad, octopus, shark and king crab flown in from Alaska.

The store also includes an upscale pharmacy with accents of dark cherry wood and wide aisles along the center of the store for easy maneuvering of carts, strollers and wheelchairs. Another key feature is the hearth oven for artisan breads that can be ordered ahead of time or baked while the customer shops.

Located nearby, a wine cellar holds 1,450 varieties including more than 230 select wines from the Pacific Northwest. The wine selection is complemented by a classic wine bar equipped with a large plasma television and two full time wine stewards to make selecting the perfect wine a breeze.

To pair with the wine, a large cheese selection is on display with more than 200 varieties from all over the world. The new grocery store also features a salad bar and fresh deli with a customized sandwich station. Satellite registers sit several feet away to eliminate crowded space and decrease customer wait time.

A full-service sushi bar and gelato station are situated next to a Starbucks with a 38-table seating area including lounge seating that boasts a fireplace and a flat screen television.

“Many of the features here aren’t in the regular traditional stores, but it’s something we thought would fit with the Eastside. We tried to cater to the customer by building a store around them,” Wampler explained.

The flagship Safeway is located at 300 Bellevue Way Northeast on the corner of Bellevue Way and Northeast Second Street underneath the Avalon Meydenbauer. The store hours will be from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. seven days a week. For more information on Avalon Meydenbauer visit

www.avaloncommunities.com.

Lindsay Larin can be reached at llarin@reporternewspapers.com or at 425-453-4602.

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