Sunday, December 20, 2015

Albertsons Florida Remodel Updates - December 2015

Albertsons #3304 (Formerly #4304)
503 E. Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs, FL - Palm Springs Center   

     So the other day I decided to head back to the Altamonte Springs Albertsons to check on the progress of the remodel and get some questions answered. I originally wanted to go to Oakland Park instead, however I ended up changing my mind since I forgot to photograph a store nearby here that was rather significant to Florida supermarket history the last time I was in the area. However, when I went back to that other store to get some pictures, it ended up looking a little, how should I put this...flat. It's amazing at what changes in only two months. Same goes for the Altamonte Springs Albertsons, which at least changed for the positive compared to my other experience that morning. This time, it actually looks like a remodel in here compared to the pictures I took in October, where it looked like nothing was happening. 

     And like I said, along with getting some more pictures of the remodel in progress, I also spoke with two employees (one of which was a manager) about the remodel and what it has in store. Albertsons is pumping a lot more money into this store than I originally thought they would. The remodel is way more than a decor swap. Albertsons is putting at least $1 million into the Altamonte Springs store (possibly more even), and the figure is probably around the same at the other two stores. The remodel at Altamonte is going to include completely rearranging the store, with just about everything being replaced. The store is getting all new freezers and refrigeration units, a new layout, new decor, a large and expanded selection of prepared foods including a salad bar, wing bar, soup station, sushi station, and a few others, and they will also be adding (and I never thought they would do this in Florida again) - an in-store Starbucks! While I'm not really a Starbucks person (gasp!), I know they can be a big draw into the store, and people like having a cup of coffee or a double iced mocha frappuccino whatever else latte to sip as they do their shopping. Most of the Florida Albertsons built from 1999 onward usually included a Starbucks, although any remaining Starbucks locations inside of Albertsons stores in Florida were removed by 2009. I can't recall any stores older than that having a Starbucks, so this will be a first for Altamonte (and the other two stores if they're getting a similar treatment). 

     And I know what everyone is thinking - "What did AFB find out about this Safeway conversion thing?!?!" I didn't go up to either employee and begin by directly asking "Is this store becoming a Safeway, yes or no?" (too many questions would arise if I said it like that). I gradually lead into bringing up Safeway after commenting about the remodel, what it would involve, and how it will be nice to see new life coming into this store, gradually leading into a more polite and less direct version of the Safeway question. The manager dodged the question. The other employee responded with this: "This remodel is going to be really big." Interpret those responses however you wish. Even though hard proof in answering the question of Safeway is still up in the air, I did confirm one thing: the remodels aren't going to be complete until Spring 2016, which would make sense given the amount of work they seem to be doing, so the switch to Safeway probably wouldn't occur until the work is complete. Anyway, let's take a look at some of the changes that have happened since October: 

     Over on the right side of the store, the produce department has been condensed to allow for the addition of another half aisle of products that were moved due to the installation of some new freezer units. See here for what this area looked like in October. It feels much more cramped with all of these displays shoved into a smaller area now.

     This is the wings bar. I believe this was added since my last visit, but I'm not sure. Behind this was the olive bar, which I do remember from October. Also, this store has a sub station located right next to the right side front door, attached to the cheese counter. That was there in October, but I forgot to mention it in the original post.

     The 'new' aisle 1. The dislocated canned foods on the left were added into space that was originally a part of the produce department. I believe this set up is only temporary. The produce displays used to go right up to those lunch meat coolers on the right. 

     The produce department is going to be moving up into the front right corner of the store, next to the right side entrance. These marks on the floor indicate this shuffling of displays will be happening pretty soon, and will dislocate aisles 2A, 3A, and 4A. 

     Some electrical work going on in preparation for the installation of the new freezer units.

     Looking up aisle 5. With the forklift and all the work going on over here, I'm surprised they didn't completely block off this aisle for safety reasons. The dislocated canned foods from aisle 1 were originally located on the right side of the aisle in this picture, against the freezers.

     Further up aisle 5. The rugs are covering pieces of plywood that were installed to cover the holes created to access the piping for the freezer units. 

     Still no traces of new decor to be found. The walls are still all white.

     The left side of the store is still fairly intact. Right now there's only one big project going on over here...

     ...and that's the construction of the new Starbucks in what was previously this unused space next to the pharmacy. I believe this spot was home to a video store/rental area after this store's last remodel in the late 90's. Prior to that, this area was home to the side entrance into the store.

     For now, you can still find the analgesics next to the wine. If they rearrange this area, how will I ever find either?! I'd be so lost.

     The "decor overload" once again. Another big question is this: What will the new decor look like? Will it be the typical current Albertsons fare (like this and this)? Or will it be Safeway's Lifestyle 2.0 interior (which looks like this)?

     Looking across the store down the main center aisle. Big changes are happening at Altamonte, but it looks like we'll have to wait a little longer to see just how "this remodel is going to be really big."

      Before moving on, I just wanted to say that during this trip to Altamonte, I at least got a current Albertsons bag, unlike in October when I got one that was probably sitting around since 2012.

     In addition to my pictures from Altamonte, contributor Otis "Joe" Smith from flickr sent in these pictures of the Largo Albertsons from about a week ago, giving us a quick look at how the remodel there is progressing:

Albertsons #4402
10500 Ulmerton Road East, Largo, FL - Largo Mall

     So far at Largo, they're still working at stripping out all of the old decor, which was the same Blue and Green Awnings interior that Altamonte Springs had. I have pictures that another contributor sent in of the interior of this store long before the remodel started, however I've been wanting to save those pictures for when this store finally gets a full AFB post.  

     Since I've never been to this Albertsons, I'm not too clear on the layout, but I believe it's something like this: Produce is in the front right corner, the bakery is on the right side wall after produce, the deli is located in an island across from the bakery, meat and seafood is in the back, and the pharmacy is in the front left corner. Correct me if I'm wrong on any of that.

     Looking toward the front of the bakery.

     I believe the wall behind the drink cooler is the front facing wall of the deli island. The deli island still has the original Blue and Green Awnings wall texturing, which for some reason has always made me think of those uncomfortable decorative pillows people put on their sofas for show.

     Beer coolers line the back of the deli island. Looks like some work has been done in regard to the coolers with that patched up hole in the floor.

     Frozen foods.

     This store still has most of it's Blue and Green Awnings signage left as of earlier this month, not just the aisle signs and frozen foods category markers like Altamonte.

     Pharmacy department sign. This is what the Blue and Green Awnings department signage looked like, for those of you unfamiliar with this interior.

     Fresh what? I wonder if this sign went missing as a part of the remodel, of if this has been like this for a while.

     Closeup of one of the department signs. The ribbons and Albertsons Guaranteed Quality logos were notorious for falling off of these signs.

     Seafood and Meat sign still looking good.

     So it still looks like there's a bit of work to be done in Altamonte Springs and Largo. I'm sure the same is true for Oakland Park as well. However, Oakland Park had the basic version of Industrial Circus, so ripping all of that decor down isn't as difficult a removing all of the decorative wall patterning and decorations that Blue and Green Awnings had.

     As always, feel free to send in any Albertsons Florida remodel pictures you may have, or any information you might have on the progress of the remodels. I'm not sure when I'll be near one of the three stores again to check on anything, but hopefully these remodels are going to be as big as they claim they will be, whether the signage on the front of the store says Albertsons or Safeway. I just hope this huge investment pays off for Albertsons or Safeway or whatever these stores will be called when all of this is over. Let's make Publix scared!

Anyway, have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everyone! Until the next time,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger


  1. It's frustrating to me that we still don't know if these stores are going to Albertsons or Safeway, because with Safeway, the reputation of the store could change in positive or negative ways (and what of those cookies)? Either way, there is more Signature Cafe branding coming soon...noticed that the fried chicken at the Louisiana Albertsons was branded as Signature Cafe. With the news out of Oak Harbor that they kept the ABS fried chicken recipe, I would guess that the SC fried chicken might actually be Albertsons' recipe, but I don't know.

    It might be interesting if the Albertsons in Florida ended up becoming a new brand entirely, one exclusive to Florida and relaunching the stores for a new generation.

    1. Anything but the cookies! I didn't notice any Signature Cafe branding while I was here, but it will definitely be coming with all of the fancy new prepared food bars they plan to add. I was surprised at how full the wings bar was stocked, as I was here at 7:30 in the morning when I thought most of that would still be in the prep process for later in the day. I can't give any insight on the fried chicken recipe, as I've never had Safeway's, and it's been a very long time since I've had Albertsons'. I hope if these stores do become Safeway, they at least keep the old Albertsons recipes.

      If Albertsons does a name swap, changing to Safeway would probably be their best bet. Out of state operators who use special Florida specific names and branding tend to not do well (just look at what happened to Kroger). At least Safeway has some name recognition, whether it be for the positive or negative.

  2. Heh - I'm not a Starbucks person either, so I find your comments probably funnier than those who do drink Starbucks :P

    Sorry that your trip fell a little flat! I do find the answers to the Safeway question a little cagey, but just as you weren't going to give the question so directly I should have figured that they wouldn't have given a direct answer. Looking forward to more updates and definitive answers as the remodels progress...

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, too! :D

    1. How can you go one day without a large double shot mocha iced frapuccino latte, no foam, hold the cream, one and a half cubes of sugar, one shot of peppermint syrup, with a smiley face of powered chocolate on top (in that order!)?

      I feel I got enough information to justify my return to the Altamonte Albertsons, and I spent the rest of the day going to some other interesting stores to make up for the "flat" experience. The non-manager employee was the one who told me most of the information that I got, as she was extremely excited about the remodel and my interest in it. The manager tried to keep the details fairly limited, although she was the one who told me the completion date. After I left, I thought of some better ways I could have asked the Safeway question with out being too direct, but still having the same meaning and not arousing suspicion. I'm sure I'll have another chance at some point, whether at Altamonte or one of the other two stores. I'm looking forward to updates on this as much as everyone else!

      And thanks, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you as well!

  3. If Albertsons is anything like the chain I work at, then there are policies in place that state employees aren't supposed to comment on speculation (Albertsons becoming Safeway in Florida would count as that at this point in time). I would assume that's why the manager ran around your questions the way they did.The lower level employees aren't as aware of these policies as the managers are, so they're a bit more likely to gossip with customers about things.

    I won't disclose where I work, but it's been mentioned on this blog before. I'd give another hint, but it would make it kinda obvious.

    1. Probably so. Albertsons has been very tight lipped about the details of the remodels publicly, other than making an official announcement that there were going to be remodels to begin with, not really mentioning what would be involved. I do know the employees were all very happy about the remodels, no matter what happens with the stores in the end.

  4. If they are spending a million on those stores its probably safe to assume they are changing to safeway and this is the start of the safeway invasion of Florida

    1. They're definitely planning something big, as putting that much money into three isolated stores doesn't make much sense to begin with.

    2. Well we could use the completion here in FL all you really have is publix or Walmart. Winn Dixie just really might as well close up as no one I know goes there. The pries are high a WD and they have some low quality items in their stores. So I am hoping Safeway does invade Fl at least it would be an alternative to Publix.

  5. This is a really interesting blog. I was under the impression that Albertson's was gone, will check back to see what happens.

  6. Oh man....all the pink and teal! This is what it would look like if the Golden Girls opened a supermarket. Just add some wicker and you are set. This store must have had this decor for at least 25 years, no? I can't wait to see the new look!

    1. The pink and teal decor was put in at some point in the late 90's, probably around 1998 or 1999. It didn't take long before this store began to look like something of 80's vintage though. The new decor is a very modern brown and while look, and looks very nice from the samples I've seen so far. It will be interesting to see the final product.