New Safeway is big competition
The elite Lifestyle store will compete with the planned Whole Foods
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The new Safeway, which held its grand opening on Kapahulu Avenue yesterday morning, has raised the bar for a conventional supermarket.
At approximately 64,000 square feet, Hawaii's largest Safeway has taken its lifestyle format to new levels in the state by adding a bulk-item foods section, extensive deli section, nut bar and in-store Starbucks.
Though it doesn't consider the incoming Whole Foods a primary competitor, Safeway has bolstered its organic, natural and gourmet produce offerings.
Steve Burd, chairman, president and chief executive of Safeway, said the Kapahulu Safeway represents the company's largest investment in a new store.
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Whether it was by design or chance, the new Safeway that opened on Kapahulu Avenue yesterday morning will give the incoming Whole Foods Market some competition.
Address: 888 Kapahulu Ave.
Safeway stores in Hawaii: 19
Total Safeway stores: 1,738 in U.S./Canada
Size: 64,126 square feet
Parking stalls: 300
Hires: 250 to 300 employees
Manager: Clayton Eto
New offerings: Nut bar, bulk foods, culinary center
Inside Safeway: Starbucks, First Hawaiian Bank
Time of operation: Open 24 Hours, Free Wi-Fi
Measuring about 64,000 square feet, the elite Lifestyle store is Safeway's 19th store in Hawaii, and its largest in the state.
It is also the Pleasanton, Calif.-based company's largest, single investment in a new store, according to Steve Burd, chairman, president and chief executive of Safeway.
Although Burd declined to disclose that figure, he did say that Safeway's average investment in a new California store ranges up to $20 million and that the Kapahulu store surpassed that.
"Predominantly, our competition would be other conventional supermarkets," Burd told the Star-Bulletin. "Our strategy is to be the best conventional supermarket."
But Safeway carries about 80 percent of what Whole Foods would sell in its produce section, and about 20 percent of its items are from local farmers.
In its fact book, Safeway named many stores that don't exist in Hawaii as its primary competitors, including Raley's, Nob Hill, and Ralphs. The only competitor listed in Hawaii is Costco Wholesale Corp.
But the new Safeway Kapahulu has a significantly expanded line of gourmet offerings, with an emphasis on organic, natural and fresh goods.
Safeway's new "lifestyle" format, which it plans to roll out in all of its existing stores over the next five years -- offers a warmer ambiance with earth tones, wood floors, and large, colorful signs.
Safeway took the format further for the Kapahulu store by offering a bakery with a hearth oven, more than 300 imported and gourmet cheeses, 1,200 wine labels, bulk items section, hot food bar with Asian food, cold salad bar, sushi bar, salad bar -- and a nut bar.
The nut bar, new for Hawaii, offers at least 50 kinds of nuts and seeds from around the world, and are sold raw, warm or roasted. Customers can make their own nut butter from machines, mixed with honey.
Seating is available both indoors and outdoors, along with a pharmacy, Starbucks and First Hawaiian Bank.
Besides the Safeway anchor, the company built 14 other retail stores on the 4.5-acre site, formerly home to Love's Bakery and an aging strip mall.
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kapahulu Safeway store manager Clayton Eto yesterday tapped on the store's front door to signal its official opening. It is Safeway's 19th store in Hawaii, and the largest in the state.
The Avenue Shops at Safeway Center were leased to a number of shops and eateries, including Barefoot League, Seattle's Best Coffee
, Cold Stone Creamery
and Pearl's Korean BBQ
Due to neighborhood resistance, Safeway scrapped plans to include a gas station at its store.
A small group of protesters, residents at the 70-plus-unit Holiday Parkway next door, waved signs asking why it was OK to block their driveway.
Doug Olivares said the new traffic light, at the intersection of Olu Street, causes a backup, making it hard for any of the residents to get on to the avenue.
He wasn't against Safeway, he said, but just wants the city to put in a stop line asking drivers to leave room for them to get in and out.
Hundreds of shoppers, meanwhile, were browsing the new supermarket yesterday morning.
"It's excellent" said Kapahulu resident Susan Laihipp, who walked to the store. "The bulk items are fabulous and we'll be shopping here in addition to Foodland and Times."
Safeway opened its first Hawaii store on Beretania Street in 1963. It has been rolling out its new lifestyle format in Hawaii, beginning with the Hawaii Kai store in 2005, followed by its Kapolei, Kailua-Kona, Kahului and Kihei stores.
Safeway will also be looking for other potential locations, said Burd, and is scoping out neighbor isles.
Texas-based Whole Foods Market is planning to open its first Hawaii store at Kahala Mall next year, followed by stores at Ward, Kailua and Maui over the next few years.