Q: I understand that the new hybrid Publix at the Marketplace at Pelican Bay — I wrote to you about that over a year ago — is now set to open on Friday, Oct. 15, in keeping with all Publix's Friday morning new store openings. Have you heard that date as well?
— Mark, Pelican Bay
A: The opening date has been changed. Publix's first "hybrid" supermarket, which combines features of a traditional Publix store with a Publix GreenWise Market and cafe, will open Oct. 21 in the former home of Albertsons in the Marketplace at Pelican Bay, 8833 U.S. 41 N.
That's a Thursday, the day of the week for opening all new Publix stores. The new supermarket will open at 8 a.m., and its adjacent Publix liquor store will open at the same time that day. A brief ribbon-cutting ceremony will proceed the stores' opening.
Photo by TIM ATEN // Buy this photo
The Publix across Vanderbilt Beach Road in The Pavilion shopping center will close the night before at 7 p.m. Oct. 20 and not reopen. Most employees will retain jobs across the street.
"The majority of our associates will be transferring from that store to the new location," said a company spokeswoman, noting that the grocery chain has hired many new folks, as well.
L.A. Fitness is scheduled to open in The Pavilion by next spring. The renovation of the space is expected to take about three months, said Jake Devita at the L.A. Fitness location at Gulf Coast Town Center in Estero.
The new Publix, the Lakeland-based company's prototype for what it is calling a "hybrid concept," is nearly 55,000 square feet, larger than the average 45,000-square-foot Publix store, said Shannon Patten, a spokeswoman for Publix Super Markets Inc. This concept will be located only in selected markets and not replace the company's 1,023 neighborhood stores in four states, Patten said.
"This is a special store, a very unique concept," she said.
Despite its uniqueness, the new store's exterior signs provide no indication that the store is any different than any other Publix. But, inside, the design of the new Publix creates a sense of abundance and freshness, Patten said.
The first hybrid concept store will feature conventional Publix items combined with an extensive selection of Earth-friendly, all-natural, organic products, Patten said.
"This store is unlike any other in the area," she said. "It will have a large selection of freshly prepared foods."
A cafe seating area offers WiFi and a variety of cuisine from a Pacific Wok area for Asian dishes to a location for gelato and gelato smoothies. A wide variety of entrees, side dishes and appetizers available include specialties such as cedar plank salmon, quinoa salad, a salad bar with 20 fresh selections and a soup bar with four gourmet choices available daily.
Every department of the supermarket will offer regular Publix items in combination with additional special products. For instance, the bakery department will have an assortment of chocolate-dipped items and products made with all-natural ingredients. The deli's full-service counter will include an international selection of olives and antipastos. The produce department has been expanded with more exotic fruits, vegetables and organic items.
The store will offer more than 200 variety of cheeses from around the world, and a huge wine department will sell a variety of premium and specialty wines, including varieties made with organic grapes. Bulk dispensers will provide many items and the seafood department will include a lobster tank and an expanded sushi counter. The store's body care section will offer conventional products, as well as a natural line of shampoos, vitamins, cosmetics, and other products.
"Our customers have become more food savvy," Patten said. "We want to provide them with a place they can explore all these options in one convenient location."
In addition, an event planning area of the store will be staffed by a specialist to coordinate party planning needs for every special occasion. It offers one-stop shopping and ordering for platters from the deli, cakes from the bakery, flowers from the full-service floral department and other items from throughout the store.
On opening day next month, free gifts will be presented to the first few hundred customers, and the store will feature a lot of samples and giveaways, including a special weekly sales ad for that store, Patten said.
The store's location was one of 49 Florida stores Albertsons agreed to sell to Publix in 2008.
UFood Grill reopening?
Q: I was wondering what happened to UFood Grill in North Naples? They had a note in the window that stated they were closed for vacation in August and a new note for September stating the same. I looked on the corporate website and they are no longer listed there. Thanks.
— John, Naples
A: The UFood Grill will not be reopening in Naples, said Mark Messina, owner and general manager of the local fast-casual restaurant, located in Piper's Crossing, 1201 Piper Blvd., where Airport-Pulling Road meets Immokalee Road.
"The economy just took such a turn," he said. "I basically had two options: Raise the prices or lower the quality of food. I couldn't see doing either one of those two."
After being closed for the last two months, Messina decided not to reopen his local restaurant, which originally opened in June 2007. The Naples location was the first and only Florida franchise for the Boston-based UFood Grill, featuring cuisine intended to provide a healthier, fresher alternative to fried, fast food.
A couple of celebrities showed up in Naples to help promote UFood Grill during its more than three-year run. Messina brought in his cousin, country music star Jo Dee Messina, for his store's opening, and hosted George Foreman in early 2008 when the boxing champ and grill guru became the spokesman for UFood Grill.
More area restaurant news:
■ Bonita Breeze Restaurant and Catering Inc. is opening Oct. 1 in the The Beach & Tennis Club across from Doc's Beach House in Bonita Springs. The restaurant, 5900 Bonita Beach Road, features crab cakes and seafood and a tiki bar with weekend entertainment. Sunday's lineup includes breakfast from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and a limited menu of barbecue ribs and chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs, beer and wine from 2 p.m. until 9 p.m. closing.
■ The Lazy Parrot Bar & Grill, formerly the Pickled Parrot and C.J.'s Boardwalk Bar & Grill Inc., is scheduled to open Oct. 8 in the Dockside Boardwalk, 1100 Sixth Ave. S., near Tin City in Naples. The new tropical-themed waterside restaurant will be open every day for lunch and dinner and is permitted to feature indoor entertainment Wednesday through Sunday evenings.
■ Pastrami Dan's, 586 U.S. 41 N., Naples, plans to reopen Oct. 13 after being temporarily closed for vacation and remodeling.
Find a complete archive of “In the Know” at naplesnews.com/intheknow.