The suspense must have been killing them. A crowd of shoppers, shiny new carts in hand, surrounded the entrance to the new Safeway on Route 1, awaiting its official 4:00 opening. The Safeway in Mount Vernon Square has been under construction for several years, and people were beginning to wonder if it would ever open. Craig Muckle, Safeway’s Manager of Public affairs, said the delays were "very atypical." There were "a lot of approval problems," he explained.
But he said that Safeway has managed to take that dead fish and turn it into sushi. "One of the benefits of having the delay… is now this is our most state of the art store," with services such as a Suntrust Bank, a Starbucks, a dry cleaner, deli, and an expanded prepared foods section, including sushi.
Local politicians attended the grand opening. Del. Mark Sickles whetted the crowd’s appetite for the free samples being offered inside. "You can almost have dinner," he told them. "I just did it." State Sen. Toddy Puller also planned to take advantage of the new locations. She said her son had given her a grocery list.
During the ceremony, Safeway also presented a check for $109 thousand to the Capitol Area Food Bank
Supervisor Gerry Hyland described his constituents’ interest. "I do not want to have another town meeting in Mount Vernon and have people say, ‘When is the Safeway going to open?’"
The politicians helped hold a red ribbon, while store supervisor Monica Shannon used an over-sized pair of scissors to ceremonially cut it. The security guards stood aside and the crowd surged through the doors. A bottleneck soon formed, and people waited patiently in line for the opportunity to shop in the upscale supermarket.
Nancy Hackney began by browsing through the produce and bagged salads. "I came because the [Safeways] at Belle View and Manchester Lakes are fantastic. They can’t help you enough," she said. "I do enjoy Safeway."
Gerry Hyland stood beside the sushi stand, where they were dispensing California rolls. "I am a sushi nut," he explained. "It’s a relief to finally have everything come together," he said. He cited the store’s upscale design as a symbol of revitalization. "It’s nice to show other people there’s opportunity along the Richmond Highway that didn’t exist before."