Sunday, November 18, 2018

Pub Lion, We Bid Thee Farewell

Food Lion #828 / Kash n' Karry #1875 / Publix #1102 / Future Publix #1682
1851 North US Highway 1, Fort Pierce, FL - Taylor Creek Commons

     Considering this store's recent uptick in popularity, as well as it's impending date with the wrecking ball, why not make the trip back down to Fort Pierce for an AFB store revisit! While most store revisits that make their way to the blog are to document a significant change that took place, in this case absolutely nothing has changed at the Pub Lion since my original post in August 2017. Nothing (at least yet, as the big changes will be coming early next year). This post is merely serving to provide all of you with more photos of this one-of-a-kind supermarket that will soon be no more.

     If you're interested in all the details of how a Publix ended up in an old Food Lion, you can read about that in the original post. I'll spare everyone the details of this store's history in this post, as we'll take the time today to enjoy this store one last time through these photos. As you may know, Publix did very little to this old Food Lion building upon taking it over, leaving the original Food Lion floors, lighting, layout, and even some tile backsplashes in getting this store ready for business 14 years ago. I'm actually surprised Publix kept this store for 14 years in almost original condition, not replacing this store sooner with one more aligned to Publix's liking. Once we head inside, you'll see just how cramped this store is, and how Food Lion's layout of the fresh departments really doesn't work well for Publix.

    Currently, the Pub Lion is around 30,000 square feet, which is on the smaller end for Publix. Publix does operate stores in the 28,000 square foot range, however they don't feel as cramped as this Publix does. The new Publix that will be going up at this site will be the 45,000 square foot prototype, expanding both to the left and to the right of the current building (some better images of the expansion are coming up later in this post, where I'll explain what will happen in more detail).

     One final exterior photo before we head back inside one of the most unusual Publix stores I'll probably ever see...

     It doesn't appear that I got a photo of the entry vestibule at all in the original post, so I'll make up for that now. Entering through the doors on the right side of the building, this is what you see. Pretty standard 90's Food Lion vestibule, however the interior set of doors were removed at some point for an open entryway into the main store. In a way, the old Food Lion vestibule is somewhat reminiscent of the late 1980's Publix stores with the single vestibule.

     Turning into the main store, produce is the first department you come across (tucked into the front right corner of the building, like the average 90's Food Lion). This is a look across the store's front end from produce.

     Turning around, here's a look into the produce department itself. I went over the layout of this store in a good bit of detail in the original post, so you can skim through that for a refresher if you need.

     Classic of these late 1980's and early 1990's Food Lion stores, frozen foods are located in the first aisle and a half of the store. Food Lion is still the only store I've ever come across that put Frozen Foods as one of the first departments you enter in the natural rotation of walking through the store, which has always struck me as odd. However, Food Lion probably figured since their stores were somewhat small, your frozen foods would still be somewhat frozen by the time you made it to the checkouts!

     With the minimal amount of money put into this place, it's no surprise Publix left the placement of the frozen foods coolers as-is (although I believe Publix replaced the freezers themselves before the store opened). I've seen some Food Lions from the same era as this store get their frozen foods department flipped to the left side of the building in later remodels, but many of these Florida stores were so short lived they never got that kind of attention.

     Stockroom door in the back right corner, surrounded by some old Food Lion wood paneling (now painted Publix red for the meat department).

     The meat department is located along the back right portion of the store, with the meat and seafood service counter approximately centered along the back wall.

     The remainder of frozen foods find their home in aisle 2, alongside the wine. Even with the odd placement of the frozen foods at the beginning of the store's natural rotation, someone at Food Lion at least thought ahead to place the ice cream in the last aisle, aisle 13. That would have been terrible putting the ice cream in aisle 1!

     Another look across the front end. The tiny deli and bakery departments are located just beyond the customer service desk. It's hard to tell in many of the photos due to the glare from the lighting, but the flooring is clearly the original Food Lion white and brown tile pattern. This tile pattern can be seen throughout the store, with the glare rather minimal in the photo above.

     Meat counter. But what is that I spy along the back wall...?

     Well that just happens to be wall tiling left over from this store's days as a Kash n' Karry! During my first visit to this store, even though I thought the tile backsplashes were odd, I didn't make the realization until later on they were left over from the Kash n' Karry decor this store sported from 1999-2004, just prior to Publix's takeover of this building. You can see the same tile pattern along the back wall at the old Ocoee Food Lion/Kash n' Karry, which still retains the original Kash n' Karry decor in its entirety. On my return visit to the Pub Lion, I made it a point to get some more photos of the Kash n' Karry tile backsplash while I was here.

     Even though this store is on the smaller side for Publix, I believe the shelves are about the same height as you'd find in any other Publix store. This store just has a low ceiling compared to most other Publix stores, which makes the shelves appear to be much taller than they really are.

      Speaking of that low ceiling, here's another example of it. The aisle markers practically hug the ceiling, otherwise they'd hang too low to the ground.

     The seafood counter, with more of Kash n' Karry's tile backsplash visible here.

     The low ceilings over the meat coolers was another 90's Food Lion trait. Publix added their own coolers when they took over this store, one of the only major investments Publix ever put into this place. Food Lion's meat coolers were much shorter.

     This Publix location does not have a pharmacy, providing only this aisle of health and beauty products and medicines. There was no place Publix could have stuffed a pharmacy in this store even if they wanted to, yet another reason this store was probably put up for replacement. The new Publix will have a pharmacy counter like the majority of new Publix stores, complete with a pharmacy drive-thru too.

     Cleaning products are located in aisle 10. However, do you notice something off about this photo? (Don't scroll down any further of you want to take a guess at it first).

     If you guessed that the aisle 10 sign was placed a bit askew, you would be correct! It looks like Publix placed this aisle marker a bit off-center due to the location of that air vent (at least that's my guess, as there's always the chance someone wasn't paying attention when they were hanging these things!).

     Moving along the back wall, the meat department gradually turns into dairy. In addition to the few coolers back here, the remainder of the dairy department winds its way up aisle 13 along the left side wall.

     A bit of a tight squeeze to get those gooseneck signs on the back wall to fit.

     Coolers and beach chairs could be found mixed in with the soda here in aisle 11. This store is located at the end of Fort Pierce's North Causeway, which is one of the two main access points in Fort Pierce to get to the beaches on the barrier island (and hence all the beach stuff at this store). Unfortunately, this store got rid of its selection of fishing poles since my last visit, which was a pretty unique product offering for a Publix!

     Cold beer gets its own hanging sign here in aisle 12, which is also home to the chips and snack foods.

     Aisle 13, this store's last aisle, is home to the dairy department as well as ice cream. At the very end of this aisle is a wide corridor that leads to the restrooms, another trait of these 90's Food Lion stores. I wasn't able to get a photo of that corridor during this visit since some employees were hanging around in there taking apart pallets, but thankfully I got a photo of it last time!

     Somehow the number 13 got a bit off-centered on the aisle marker in the distance. Being original to when Publix opened this store, those aisle markers are pretty old for Publix standards, so they've gotten to look a bit rough around the edges. This store as a whole had clearly seen better days, as the floors were in pretty rough shape and the ceiling was quite dingy looking for a Publix. If you look at my interior photos closely, you can see that many of the ceiling tiles are quite dirty looking. That wasn't so much of a problem during my last visit, so it's clear Publix is letting the condition of this store slide as its date with demolition nears.

     The last departments to take a look at in this store revisit are the tiny deli and bakery departments, located in the front left corner of the store. My photos of these departments in the original post weren't all too great, so I tried to get some better photos this time around. I also wanted to get some better perspectives to show just how tiny the deli and bakery departments at this store are. The deli takes up most of the space under the lower ceiling to my left, with the bakery using the remaining space at the far end in the corner. There is a sub station tucked between the deli and bakery counters, and a few coolers of pre-packaged deli products to my right.

     More original Kash n' Karry wall tiling can be seen behind the deli counter, even though this cooler is blocking much of our view of it.

     The bakery is shoved into the corner of this store almost like an afterthought, with its two tiny coolers and a few tables in front of it. In time, this store's bakery will get the treatment it deserves, transforming into something along the lines of this when the new store opens next year.

     More beach stuff was placed off to the side of the bakery department, somewhat of an odd placement compared to other Publix stores that carry beach items.

      So let's begin to head back upfront for a few more photos before we leave...

     The customer service desk, which is located just around the corner from the deli. I visited this store during the height of Mega Millions fever a few weeks ago, and just so happened to catch the desk at a calmer moment for this photo. For a while (especially around the time I was about to leave), the line for the lottery machine wrapped around the corner toward the deli. And unfortunately, a certain supermarket blogger was not the lucky recipient of that $1.6 billion prize.

     Standing in front of the checkout counters, here's one last look at the interior of the Pub Lion. Here we see the produce department one final time as we head back outside...

     Exiting from the right side doors, here's a look down the front of the strip center that juts out to the right side of the Publix. In front of me are two small storefronts. The storefront with the open door is a Chinese take-out place, with an empty storefront just beyond that. Both the Chinese restaurant and the empty storefront will be demolished to accommodate Publix's expansion as well as the construction of a new Publix liquor store. 

     Immediately after the Chinese restaurant and empty storefront is this large empty space. This space was originally home to a Rite Aid, who was frequently used as the pharmacy tenant in new-build Food Lion-anchored shopping centers in Florida in the early 1990's. As far as I can tell, this was the only Rite Aid to ever operate in St. Lucie County. Rite Aid operated in this location from 1990 until 1995, when they pulled out of Florida due to fierce competition from Walgreens and Eckerd. Eckerd would later take over this Rite Aid space, with Eckerd converting into a CVS in 2004. CVS stayed in the old Rite Aid space for only 2 years before they moved into a new freestanding store in the parking lot of the shopping center. After CVS vacated this space, West Marine moved in. West Marine stayed in this space until 2014, when they moved a few miles south to a much larger new store. This space has sat empty ever since West Marine moved out. As part of the plans for the new Publix store, the back half of the old Rite Aid space will be demolished, with the front half remaining to be divided into three smaller storefronts.

     In about a year, the view in the above photo will look very different. All you see here will be wiped away and replaced by this:

     Thanks to blog contributor Publixaurus Knight, he was able to dig up the plans for the new Taylor Creek Publix store from the City of Fort Pierce's public records database. The new store, which will be Publix #1682, will be built in the same style as most other new Publix stores these days. The top half of the photo shows what Pub Lion's replacement store will look like, with the bottom half showing what the remodeled strip center will look like. Other than some new landscaping and paint, the strip center will remain pretty much as-is, with the heavy construction taking place where the new Publix will rise from the ground.

     Also included in planning documents was this diagram, which superimposed an outline of the new store over a satellite image of the current one. This should give everyone a pretty good idea of just how much larger the new store will be compared to the old one.

     And since it was there, here's another diagram of the new store, this time showing the design of the final product. This diagram also shows the changes that will be happening to the part of the strip center immediately adjacent to the new Publix building.

     So from Food Lion to Kash n' Karry to Publix, to its ultimate fate as a much larger (and not quite as unique) modern Publix, that concludes our story of the Pub Lion. I haven't found an exact date for when this store will be closing yet, but my assumption is that Publix will let this store stay open through Christmas at the very least. Should that be the case, you have a little more than a month from when this post goes live to check out this one-of-a-kind Publix store for yourself. If you happen to be in the Fort Pierce area during the next month, I highly recommend checking this place out!

     Next time - AFB's 5th (yes, 5th!) anniversary is coming up in just under 3 weeks. You know I like to save something rather interesting for the blog's anniversary post, and hopefully this year's anniversary post won't disappoint!

So until then,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger