Longboaters who are tired of the trek off the island for major grocery store purchases won’t have to do so for much longer. In fact, they can plan on shopping for their December holiday dinners without having to cross a bridge.
Monday, Longboat Key Planning, Zoning and Building Director Robin Meyer told the Longboat Observer that Publix officials have informed him that the opening is planned for Thursday, Dec. 13.
Publix Super Markets Inc. spokesperson Shannon Patten said the Longboat Key Publix is following its construction timetable “to the T” and is set to open in mid-December, right on schedule.
“We know how much residents miss their store,” Patten said. “We’ve been receiving calls about it since we closed, and I can tell you we look forward to servicing our customers again in mid-December,” she said.
Meyer said his department is scheduled to give Publix a temporary certificate of occupancy next week, which allows Publix a month’s time to stock the store’s shelves and prepare for opening day.
News that the Publix will be open soon is welcome news to Key residents who are driving to Sarasota and Bradenton for larger grocery-store purchases that can’t be made at the Key’s local convenience stores.
The Lakeland-based food store chain has plans for a new and improved Longboat Key Publix interior and exterior.
The new Publix will be a hybrid store, with conventional items along with many of the chain’s earth-friendly GreenWise products. Of existing Publix stores in the region, the 54,000-square-foot hybrid store at the Marketplace in Pelican Bay in Naples, which opened in October 2010, is the one that most closely resembles the future Longboat Publix, according to Patten. Similar to the planned Longboat store, it has enhanced selections of wines and cheeses, a salad and soup bar and a Pacific wok station carrying Pan-Asian dishes.
The Longboat Key Publix will also offer coffee and a seating area, but, unlike the Naples store, it won’t have a café because the Longboat store is smaller at approximately 49,000 square feet.
The store will have a pharmacy, but no Publix liquor store. It’s anticipated that a former liquor store in the old plaza will be a future tenant in the building’s retail area.
The new Publix will also have an event-planning center, staffed by an event specialist. According to a list of store attributes prepared by Publix:
“Event planners will ensure all items are pulled together for the gathering, including placing orders for cakes, platters, beverages and floral arrangements and making suggestions that will perfectly complement every themed event.”
In July, details of the store were also revealed at a construction “topping off” event.
At the event, Publix Vice President of Lakeland operations Tom McLaughlin guided the crowd through plans for the store aisle-by-aisle, describing its Pacific wok salad bar with more than 20 items, enhanced produce, deli, bakery and seafood departments, coffee and additional gluten-free, organic products.
“When you walk in the entrance, you will know right away that it’s a different kind of store,” McLaughlin said in July.
The store will also have a seating area with free Wi-Fi and daily cooking presentations.
One thing Longboaters won’t be able to do in the short term at the new Publix: pick up prescriptions.
According to McLaughlin, the new store will open with a pharmacy area that will, at first, be empty. The store has an agreement with CVS, which is also building a new store at the shopping center, to hold off on opening a pharmacy for 16 months.
“This store will be unique and a great destination for our customers to explore an array of foods and services in one location,” Patten said.