Sunday, October 21, 2018

Former Safeway Reopening Dates

Publix sign going up on the front of the new Largo Mall Publix on October 23, 2018. Photo courtesy of Dave M.
     Thanks to some information from commentor Publixaurus Knight, we now have a confirmed reopening date of the three former Safeway Florida stores as Publix. All three stores (Altamonte Springs, Largo, and Oakland Park) will reopen as Publix on November 1, 2018 at 7am, complete with grand opening festivities for those who may wish to go the very first day. From what I have seen, Publix has only repainted these stores to add their current interior decor, leaving behind the old Safeway layouts and many of the old Safeway fixtures. For a look at some of the recent progress at the Largo store, you can check out the progress in this flickr album from duckman66, who's been checking up on the Largo store the last few months.

More to come on this soon!


Sunday, October 7, 2018

Former Albertsons #4387 - Orlando, FL (Dr. Phillips)

Albertsons #4387 / Publix #1439
7524 Dr. Phillips Boulevard, Orlando, FL - Dr. Phillips Marketplace

     Continuing on with the theme of Publix opening stores in one of their competitor's former buildings, we move on from Pub-Dixie to our old pal Publixsons. However, unlike many Publixsons stores, Publix put a lot of work into this building. Other than keeping the general look of the exterior the same, Publix gutted and completely rebuilt the interior of this former Albertsons store. While Publix has been heavily remodeling and even doing complete tear down and rebuilds of many of the former Albertsons stores they've acquired over the years, the story behind what happened here in Dr. Phillips is just a little bit different than most...

     The Dr. Phillips Albertsons store opened in 1993, just a little out of sequence considering its store number of 4387 (which is a number that would usually correlate with an Albertsons store opened in 1990-1991). The Albertsons building was added as an addition to the existing Marketplace at Dr. Phillips shopping complex, which already had a major grocery anchor at the time: a Gooding's store that had opened with the complex in 1982. I wonder if Gooding's had a little bit of resistance to Albertsons opening a superstore in the same complex they already had established a location in, which maybe contributed to Albertsons' slightly delayed opening, but that's just a theory. From 1993 until 2000, Albertsons and Gooding's coexisted at opposite ends of this shopping center. In 2000, the Dr. Phillips Gooding's became one of nine stores that chain sold off to Winn-Dixie. However, the Dr. Phillips Winn-Dixie was a bit of a crash-and-burn situation, as that store only lasted another year or so after the buyout before closing, officially letting Albertsons have the honor of being the sole grocery anchor of the Marketplace at Dr. Phillips.

     Albertsons remained at this location until 2008, when this store became one of the 49 locations Albertsons sold to Publix that year. Publix reopened almost all of those 49 stores they acquired within a few months of the purchase, with the exception of two locations: this one and one in Tallahassee (#4315). From 2008-2013, this former Albertsons store sat empty, as Publix already had a semi-modern store across the street from here at the time of the sale. After sitting on this building for 5 years, Publix finally decided to do something with this place. In late 2013, Publix converted this former Albertsons store into one of the first larger format Publix prototypes (which I believe is called the 56M format internally), featuring nearly every bell and whistle Publix currently offers. Inside, this store is a near duplicate of the Winter Park Village Publix, which itself is an extensively remodeled former Albertsons store.

      What's so interesting about the exterior of this store is how original Publix left it from the Albertsons days, yet how good of a job Publix did modernizing the facade to bring it to their own standards at the same time. In the above photo, we're looking toward the far left side of the former Albertsons building. Other than the green paint and the modernized awning, this looks exactly the same as Albertsons left it. Actually, the address number hiding behind the column is an Albertsons remnant itself!

     This is what it looks like under the four large arches that line the front of this store's facade. When Albertsons was here, the front wall went all the way up to the arches. Publix took the wall back a few feet, and added some windows to the front too. Behind those windows is the "dining" area, where you can sit and eat your lunch from the deli.

     Looking at the far right side of the building, we can see where Publix moved this store's main entrance. The main entrance occupies what was originally Albertsons' right side vestibule, which Publix modified into their own entry vestibule. The exit doors are just out of frame to my left, leading out of the building under the four large arches.

     The white rectangle that now advertises the in-store Aprons Cooking School would have originally housed the "Food" sign when Albertsons was here. There is an identical (now blank) white rectangle at the far left side of the building where Albertsons' "Pharmacy" sign was located. What's interesting about this store is that while the main doors are located on the front of the building, Publix also installed a side door under the archway where Albertsons' original doors were. That side door provides access to the front walkway, where some outdoor dining tables were installed.

     Here's a look at Publix's main entrance. Let's go inside and see what lies ahead...

     Stepping through the first set of doors, here's a look across the vestibule from the cart stall toward the side door. This area is the original location of of the vestibule from Albertsons, although heavily modified and updated by Publix.

     Entering the main store, here's what we see just inside the entryway. Like we saw at the Winter Park Village store, there's isn't a trace of Albertsons to be found inside this place after leaving the vestibule. The main entrance into Publix leads into the deli and prepared food department. Expanded prepared food offerings are one of the highlights of this store, and are what really differentiates these prototype stores from any other modern Publix. Outside of the "grand aisle" that contains the deli, bakery, and produce departments, the rest of the store is set up like most other modern Publix stores.

     This store has a small cafe and beverage station located just to the left of the main entrance. Unlike at the Winter Park prototype store, whose generically branded in-store cafe was converted into a Starbucks a year or so ago, this store in Dr. Phillips still has the generic Publix cafe according to the store locator.

     In these prototype stores, the main deli counter is located in an island between the grocery aisles and the rest of the prepared foods departments. At the deli island, only sliced meats and cheeses are available. The rest of the prepared deli offerings (including the subs, chicken tenders, platters, salads, and the specialty items) are located in a separate deli counter opposite this island.

     Stepping a bit deeper into this store (specifically into the produce department), we can see just how all of the deli counters in this place are arranged (well, kind of - the produce sign is blocking the sign on the deli island). The deli sign toward the left side of this photo is hung over the prepared foods portion of the deli, which includes all those items I mentioned before, as well as some special offerings like a salad bar, hot bars, olive bars, entree dishes, and sushi (which has its own section, rather the being crammed in with seafood at most other Publix stores). The prepared foods portion of this store is located where Albertsons' deli counter was once located, although what's here is certainly on a much grander scale than Albertsons could have ever imagined!

     Here is a close-up photo of one of the prepared food stations, this being one of the hot bars (specifically the Asian foods bar if I remember correctly).

     Panning to the left of the sushi and hot bar, here's a look at the remainder of the prepared foods counter. Over here is where you can order your Pub Subs, as well as pick up one of the store's prepared meal combos.

     Beyond the prepared food counters is the floral department, followed by the bakery. The bakery is another department in this store that lines up near where Albertsons once had it, along this building's right side wall. Just beyond the bakery is the cheese counter, complete with a cheese expert! (Yes, a cheese expert - it almost sounds too Gouda be true!) The cheese expert is there to answer any of your ponderings about Parmesan, concerns about cheddar, and any fallacies about feta you may have.

    A large produce department is located in the middle of all the service departments. It looks like there was some kind of special on cantaloupe when I was here, as there sure were a lot of them available for purchase when I took this photo.

     Melons aside, here's more of the produce department for you to see.

     Getting near the back right corner of the store (where Albertsons' original produce department was located), we find the Aprons Simple Meals counter and the Aprons Cooking School. While most Publix stores have the Aprons Simple Meals counter (where a different recipe is featured every few days for shoppers to sample in-store and inspire them to try to make the recipe at home themselves), this store ones-up that by featuring an Aprons Cooking School too. I explained the Aprons Cooking School in the Winter Park Village post, but it's essentially what the name implies - a cooking school run by Publix, with classes for cooks of all ages to experiment with different recipes, usually focusing on a certain topic or style of cooking. If you click on the 'Aprons Cooking School' link I provided above, you can click through links relating to the cooking school at this particular Publix if you want to see more detail on what this concept is all about.

     Here's a close-up of the cooking school room, although my phone washed out much of the cooking school sign itself. I visited this store during the week, when most cooking classes aren't in session (as the classes seem to be mostly Fri-Sun from what I see on the school's website).

     In addition to the cooking school, the back right corner of this store was also home to the wine department. These prototype stores feature a wine selection that's much more extensive than the average Publix, and extensive enough to include some bottles of $200+ wines from what I saw poking around back here (which I know my local Publix doesn't carry!). Just remember to be very careful with your shopping cart when going down the aisle with the $200 wines here!

     Here's one last look back at the wine department before we leave the fresh departments and head off into the remainder of the store.

     From here on, most of what you see will be very reminiscent of just about any other Publix store built within the last few years. Leaving the fresh departments, the first two things we see along the back wall are the seafood counter and the meat department.

     Turning the camera just a bit, here's a look down the entirety of the main back aisle. The meat counter is visible in this photo, with the meat coolers stretching beyond that for much of the remaining length of the back wall.

    Due to the placement of the deli island, aisle 1 in this store makes a small turn near the front of the store, ending near the beginning of aisle 2. You can see that turn in the distance in this photo.

     Coming out from aisles 1 & 2, we see the in-store cafe once again, as well as the service desk. In these newer Publix stores, the service desk is located in an island between the entrance and exit doors.

     International foods are located in aisle three, complete with "awnings" to create a tunnel effect in this aisle.

      Another back aisle photo, looking toward frozen foods.

     Here's a look across this store's front end, looking toward the pharmacy counter. The pharmacy is also located in about the same place where Albertsons would have had theirs. Due to this store's location in the middle of the plaza, this store does not have a drive-thru pharmacy, something Publix has started putting in many of their modern stores when possible.

      Frozen foods.

     The beer coolers are located just beyond the frozen food department going further into the left side of this store.

      A few more grocery aisles...

     Here's a close-up of the pharmacy counter, as seen from the few short aisles of health and beauty products located in front of the counter. I really like the look of the pharmacy counter in these newer Publix stores, especially the glass tiles used above the counter. Those tiles create a neat, shimmery effect.

      Dairy is located in the last aisle of this store, aisle 14.

      One last back wall shot, looking toward meat and seafood from the back left corner.

      And another look across the front end. While all seems quiet and calm up here, this was actually a very busy Publix store! (Although what Publix isn't busy is the better question).

     Here's one last look across the front wall, the in-store dining area visible just beyond the restroom sign.

     Thank you for shopping Publixsons!

     While Publix stripped the main store to the bare walls, Publix hardly did anything to the old Albertsons Liquor Store space tucked into the far right side of the building. Publix did such little work in the old liquor store, that even Albertsons' old Blue and Gray Market decor floor tiles are still inside! See here for a 360 degree look inside the liquor store.

     Above is a map of the Marketplace at Dr. Phillips shopping center, also including some of the surrounding area. The Marketplace is the large, twisty complex in the center of the map. I labeled the location of both the former Albertsons and the former Gooding's stores on the map for reference. It's a bit surprising that such a modern shopping center had two grocery anchors at one time (an occurrence that became pretty rare after the 1960's or so), but I guess Gooding's and Albertsons' formats were different enough to where the two could coexist in such close proximity with each other (Gooding's being high-end, Albertsons being more price-conscious back in the 1990's).

     One other thing to note is that at the bottom right corner of the image is another Publix store. Not that a Publix across the street from another Publix is something shocking anymore, but I believe the presence of that other store was the reason Publix was slow to jump on moving into the former Albertsons building. The other Publix, store #741, isn't anything too special. Other then the custom Italian-inspired facade (complete with a little fountain out front), that store is just a typical larger-format early 2000's Publix inside.

       Before moving on to satellite imagery, above you can see the former Gooding's/Winn-Dixie space in its current state. Not long after Winn-Dixie closed, this building was subdivided between Home Goods and Office Depot, neither of which left much of a trace of the old Gooding's store behind.

     Anyway, it is now time to move on to some Bird's Eye satellite imagery, courtesy of Bing Maps:


Right Side


Left Side

    And now for some historic satellite imagery, courtesy of Google Earth and

Former Albertsons #4387 - 2018 - An overview of the entire complex

Former Albertsons #4387 - 2015

Former Albertsons #4387 - 2012 - An abandoned building at this point.

Albertsons #4387 - 2008 - Nearing the end of Albertsons' run here.

Albertsons #4387 - 2006

Albertsons #4387 - 2002

Former Gooding's - 2002 - Winn-Dixie had already closed at this point. This is what the building looked like before it was subdivided.

Albertsons #4387 - 1999

Albertsons #4387 - 1995

Albertsons #4387 - 1995 - The entirety of the Marketplace at Dr. Phillips in 1995. The northernmost wing was not yet constructed at this point.

Future Albertsons #4387 - 1980

     As usual with these Orlando area stores, we'll finish off with a few older photos of this former Albertsons building that I dug up. The above photo is one I pulled from the internet a long time ago, showing what this place looked like after Albertsons closed. Even though Publix doesn't own this building, I guess they were just holding onto the lease until they felt the time was right to do something with this place.

     And lastly, a few Orange County Property Appraiser photos from 2006, showcasing this Albertsons store back when it was still open. The above photo looks like it was taken pretty early going off the way the sunlight is hitting the building, so the store looks pretty dead in this photo as it probably wasn't open for the day yet.

     The Dr. Phillips Albertsons Liquor Store, photo complete with an old Albertsons cart in the foreground for good measure!

     Even though hardly anything remains from Albertsons at this particular store, this was a very nice Publix. I like the new Publix prototype stores. They're not overbearing, yet they do a good job at improving the prepared foods selection compared to most other Publix stores (which keep prepared foods to a minimum outside of pre-packaged goods, subs, and chicken tenders). Publix has a lot of higher volume stores, so I don't know why they don't try to bring some things like a small hot bar or salad bar to some of those existing stores for added convenience to shoppers.

     Anyway, that's all I have for now. Unfortunately, this will be the only big feature post this month. I have some other projects taking up my time in the coming weeks, but maybe I'll try to squeeze in a small post of some sort later this month. However, come November, we'll be starting off the month with a fun bonus store that I've gotten a few requests for recently. While Florida has plenty of strange supermarkets floating around (even though we'll be losing one come early 2019 if you haven't seen the news yet), the store we'll be seeing in November is definitely in the top three on the list of strange supermarkets in Florida, if not at the top of that list itself. In a month, we'll see just what this place is and what makes it so unique!

So until then,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger