After nine long months, and with a collective sigh of relief, modernizations at the Kroger on Montrose Boulevard (Disco Kroger) have come to an end. Though it remained open throughout the renovation process — the store's third revamp since its initial opening in 1978 — allowing shoppers to watch the new look unfold, now you don't have to navigate buggies around the caution tape or dodge the floor buffer on the organic aisle.
Disco Kroger celebrated the completion in a demure fashion, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday morning. The grocery store presented Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston (non-profit neighbor and organizer of Meals on Wheels) with a $5,000 check and offered the crowd a full tour of the improved digs. And a few words of defiance for the new grocery giants in the neighborhood.
"We're part of this Montrose community," store manager Michael Marino said. "And we're here to stay, no matter who comes into town. Let's see where the future takes us!"
The defiant battle cry left no room for doubt. The new Whole Foods down the street and the H-E-B opening a few blocks away later this fall factored in to the company's decision to update the store. And the facelift was long overdue. Now featuring higher ceilings, softer light and stained concrete floors, the store feels significantly more modern, open, clean and customer friendly.
Rebecca King, consumer affairs manager for Kroger, explained that the redesign revolved around a "fresh fare" concept, which includes an expanded produce section, healthy prepared foods options and fresh meats. "We've paired up with Texas farmers for fresh and seasonal produce. We have more products and a broader selection tailored to healthier living."
Now featuring higher ceilings, softer light and stained concrete floors, the store feels significantly more modern, open, clean and customer friendly.
Kroger has also increased the beer and wine selection (1,300 different varieties of wine! Mix and match six packs of craft beer for just $8.99!), added a bulk section, and revamped the check-out process. Gone are the self check-out kiosks and the days when one might wait five to seven minutes in line: The new system allows customers to pay and go in as little as 40 seconds.
The most notable change, though, is the new mezzanine lounge, which offers a spot for customers to watch television or check their emails (Wi-Fi to come soon) while eating a sandwich or a quick meal from the deli below. Plus, the store plans to offer demos, wine tastings and cheese pairings in the space before holidays and during special occasions.
There's no in-store bar, but the changes do demonstrate a willingness to suit customers' changing needs — and to keep up in the grocery wars.