Sunday, March 20, 2022

The Capital City's BOGO Publix - Publix #1427 - Tallahassee, FL

Publix #1427

Publix #1427
Former Publix #689 / Bruno’s #184
2111 Capital Circle Northeast, Tallahassee, FL

Hello! This week AFB was kind enough to allow me to be a guest contributor! I plan to explore an interesting store with a storied past that I stumbled upon a few months ago.  Normally you can find me over on the Sing Oil Blog, where I dive into the history of the regional convenience store chain’s final stations across the Southeast; however, today I will be looking at the Publix at Capital Circle (#1427). 

This store is located diagonally across the intersection of Capital Circle & Centerville Road from Tallahassee’s Sing Store #9 and is one of eight Publix stores in the market to be within a block of a former Sing Oil Company station.  The remaining three Publix locations in Tallahassee are within 2.4 miles of a former Sing Store.  Needless to say, both companies seemed to have a similar view on how to control the Tallahassee market which is part of the reason I am here today!

Map of Tallahassee Sing Oil Company Food Stores and Publix Supermarkets

This map shows the Tallahassee Sing Stores open by 1999, including the three stations opened by Amoco post-merger, in relation to the currently-open Publix stores in the Capital City.

Just for reference, here are the Publix locations that were open in Tallahassee in 1994 compared to the Sing stores open at that time.  Publix has since replaced all six of the stores in this map with new buildings.  Just North of downtown, Publix's first store in the city was developed as part of Northwood Mall and opened as a Wing Store in 1969.

During my mission to Tallahassee, I wanted to scope out the Publix scene to see if I could find any interiors besides Classy Market 3.0 ("Sienna") to photograph.  After seeing recent pictures on Google indicating this store still had Classy Market 2.5 ("Invigorate"), I set out to visit it and any other store of this vintage I came near (I was a bit later to the retail photography game than people like AFB).  Regardless, when I walked into the store, I was greeted with all of the "Invigorating" goodness I have grown to miss since my former go-to store closed and relocated.

Welcome to Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

Our first indication of this store’s age is the absence of the infamous green beans and the presence of the green checkered tiles on the wall.  They don’t provide concrete evidence but at least show that this store had its last thorough renovation before Classy Market 3.0 rolled out. 

Bakery Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

Once inside, we look to our right and see the bakery and greeting card departments.  This store seems to be laid out as a 54M prototype and resembles the nearby store #1498 just across the Georgia line.  Both of these were built / redone within a year of each other which would make sense.  The primary difference between them is the décor packages they received. 

Another hint of this décor package is the orange paint on the bakery awning. Sienna would have swapped the color out for a bold blue had it been installed in this store.

Produce Department Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

Turning back to the left, we see the produce and floral departments.  If we weren’t sure before, we see a true “sign” of Classy Market 2.5 in late 2021!  I like the hanging leaves in these stores because they are more interesting than the single curved bulkhead most CM 3.0 stores got.  In contrast to the more-common 45M, the 54M stores have this larger produce department closer to the front of the store instead of the back corner where wine is here. 

If you look to the left of this picture, the keen-eyed among you can spot an Evergreen sign offering “3/$12 Designer Bunches” which is an interesting compliment to the other decade-old design elements of this store.  This does show how well Publix’s recent décor packages can blend together though!  I also want to note how there is only one balloon for FSU on the flower display on the right but three for FAMU and a whole host for other SEC & ACC schools.  I guess Publix doesn’t want to be too biased toward the schools in the local market.

Deli Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

Walking in a bit further, we get a better glimpse of the deli department and olive bar.  You can also see some of the tile pattern Publix used for Classy Market 2.0 / 2.5 delis which is a lot brighter than the slate look used in CM 3.0.  Unlike store #1498 a few miles north, this store got a small seating / dining area between the deli and bakery.  I ordered a Pub Sub when I visited and pondered if they intended for customers to pay at the register up front and walk back into the store to eat.  Just a thought.

Bakery Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

We will take one final look at the bakery and point out a few things before we head back to the grand aisle.  Publix typically won’t redo the tilework in a store unless it is part of a major remodel – except for the bakery.  I’ve seen many stores that had the same tile pattern installed during the Classy Market 2.5 remodel, including ones that would be replaced only a few years later.  I recently discovered a Publix design guide for the “Sienna Environment Package” (the official name for Classy Market 3.0) where I read that the tile pattern in this picture is also used in some cases for CM 3.0 if the standard 12” x 24” “Cooperative Naturali” tile is unavailable.   I also read that this interior package is named for the “Sienna Crosscut Wood” tile by Ceramic Technics that is used in some floral departments.  Neat!  If anybody wants to decorate their kitchen like a Publix Deli, here is your guide.

Produce Department Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

I love Publix, and I love the product I receive from the Publix Deli, but it seems like I usually spend the majority of my shopping trip waiting in line for Deli service.  This trip seemed to take longer than normal; at least I wasn’t in a hurry!  While I waited on my chicken tender wrap, I took this shot looking back at produce and floral departments, toward the main entrance.  I also got a surprised look from a deli employee who popped out from behind a shelf, and I thought I was busted!  Luckily, she kept walking and we both minded our own business.  Whew.

Produce Department Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

After I (finally) received my wrap, I couldn’t resist taking one more picture of the produce department “crate” and accompanying leaves.  On the right side of this picture, we can see where the Apron’s demonstration station used to be, which has been replaced by a temporary Tostitos display.  I will miss having the samples from the Apron’s cooking demos.

Wine Department Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

Wine Department Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

Here we see two shots of the wine department in the back right corner of the store.  I thought Classy Market 2.5 still used the “Wines of the World” branding, but it looks like it might have died with Classy Market 1.0 / 2.0.  I used to love observing the different countries while waiting on my family to find what they were looking for.

Seafood Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

Not to w(h)ine, but it is time to move on to the rest of the store.  Turning the corner from the “grand aisle,” we now see the Seafood and Meat departments, with a glimpse of the dairy coolers in the distance.  I find it interesting that Classy Market 2.5 had a few variations of the department signage, with this store getting one similar to Classy Market 2.0 but other stores getting one that is closer to Classy Market 3.0, like this store in Jacksonville.  I have also seen this variation in the Produce signage in Store #1167 outside Orlando.

Seafood Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

Seafood Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

This is a better view of the Seafood department where you can see Classy Market 2.0 / 2.5’s bubble tile pattern.  I think this may be my favorite backsplash from this décor package due to its direct correlation with the department.  I want to apologize to the lady in both of these pictures, but I hope she enjoyed her sushi! I am also glad I wasn't searching for live lobsters to prepare; let's just say the Lobster Hotel and Resort had plenty of vacancies.

Aisles 2-8 Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

Spinning around, we see the first half of the grocery department and aisles 1-7.  I noted last time I was grocery shopping that Publix began putting small trash cans at the end of the aisles.  Is this new, or have I just been blind?

Meat department Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

Turning back toward the back wall, we see the custom meat counter and the meat department.  Unfortunately, we only have boring white tiles instead of another fun pattern.

Freezer aisles Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

Between aisles 7 & 8, we see Mr. George bagging some groceries in the typical spot above the coffin coolers. (No, I wasn’t intending to make a morbid pun, but it is fascinating why Publix selected this spot for his picture . . .)  

Meat, Seafood, & Wine departments Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

We’ll take one more look at the back right of the store before we continue our journey.

Aisle 8, frozen Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

We can’t leave Publix without stopping to look at the seasonal flavors of Publix Premium Ice Cream!  Nevertheless, I do see something interesting at the end of aisle 8, more on that later.

Dairy dept. & back aisle Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

Now, we move on to the dairy department and the left side of the store.  

Dairy Sign Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

I had to get a close up of the CM 2.5 dairy sign, if only that pesky camera wasn’t in the way! 

Aisle 13 Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

This store tops out at unlucky aisle 13, three aisles less than . . . well, you’ll see.  This aisle is home to bread, the majority of dairy, and the pharmacy.

Pharmacy from aisle 13 Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

Here is a closer view of the pharmacy, which looks like most other Publix pharmacies.  Ironically, I believe every other CM 2.5 store I have photographed now features the new pharmacy logo instead of the one seen here.

Pharmacy from front end Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

This is the other side of the pharmacy.  I also noticed that Publix installed Evergreen themed “Carryout Service” signs on many of the endcaps.  I think this is an odd place to promote the free service (especially next to vitamins and laxatives), but I guess somebody smarter than me knows what they are doing!

Historic Photo Collage Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

To the left of the pharmacy, we see the Publix vintage collage used in Classy Market 2.0 & 2.5 (It looks like it even dates back to some versions of CM 1.0, like this store AFB covered in West Palm Beach).  I would say this is my favorite element of the décor package and one of the reasons I wanted to visit this store!  We had our first preview of this at the end of aisle 8.

Front end of store, from pharmacy Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

The front end of this store looks much like any other Publix, and still features the old checkout cube lights.

Aisle 9 Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

Aisle 9 & 10 Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

I wanted to get a few close-ups of these rare CM 2.5/3.0 hybrid aisle signs before they were gone, and aisle 9 also happened to be home to the beer aisle. Note that these signs look the same for the ones used in Sienna except for the lighter wood grain at the top.

Cold Beer Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

It is always fun to see how the local craft beers will vary between different Publix markets, and this store obviously carried many from the Panhandle.  They did have a large selection of Cigar City from Tampa, too.  Unfortunately, I only got the standard imports in my picture of the “Cold Beer” sign.

Checkout lane 5 and Publix sign Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

Customer Service Island Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

Here are the standard checkout lines and customer service booth (featuring the retired "P" logo).

Front end of store Publix #1427 - Classy Market 2.5

This final look at the front end of the store will conclude our visit of the last "Invigorating" store left in Tallahassee.  I have since found that Invigorate isn't as rare as I initially thought.  I have been able to photograph several others; however, their days are certainly numbered.  Interestingly, Invigorate and Sienna were both debuted around 2010, with 2015 being the primary year when they "swapped" popularity.  As mentioned earlier, store #1427 otherwise looks like most any other Publix built during the mid-2010’s and has probably avoided remodel since it only dates back to 2014.

Now for the fun part.

Out of curiosity, I looked up this store in the Leon County Property Records to see when it was built during the Classy Market 2.5 era.  (I want to give a quick shout-out to Leon County for keeping an exceptional database of property records, with deeds dating back to at least the 1950's.)  I was shocked to see the building’s date of construction:  1993.  I’ve been in tons of Publix stores that were built in the early ‘90s, but none of them look like this one.  Had I not known this fact, I would have said this store was built around 2014 since it uses an earlier prototype of the CM 3.0 aisle markers.  I thought the property records were just plain wrong; until, I found a deed dated November 4, 1998.  This is where the BOGO comes into play.

Screenshot of Bruno’s #184 / Publix #689 deed
Courtesy of the Leon County Property Appraiser

It turns out that this is one of the four corporate-owned Publix stores in Tallahassee, and it was purchased from none other than Bruno’s, Inc.  You might remember Retail Retell’s mention of Bruno’s a few months ago in his post, but the chain was formerly Alabama’s dominant grocer and had locations across the Southeast.  Unlike many of the other Florida chains mentioned on this blog, Bruno’s ran into financial troubles not directly related to their expansion.  In 1991, the top five Bruno’s executives were touring stores across the chain when the jet they were traveling on crashed near Rome, GA.  This article from the Associated Press sums it up well and gives us a glimpse of the beginning of the end for the chain.  According to an excerpt from the Bruno's website in 2004,

“In 1995, Bruno's was acquired by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), and in 1998, Bruno's filed for Chapter 11. But, showing the same determination that marked Joe Bruno, the company pulled together, recommitted itself to its mission of excellence and in 2000 surged out of Chapter 11, an achievment (sic) made by less than 2% of companies in that situation. The recovery was so complete, Bruno's was able to purchase 19 Delchamps stores in January of the next year.”

This statement was a bit optimistic for the floundering chain because, like many other retailers, Bruno’s would not survive The Great Recession.  What remained of the once-dominant chain was erased by Belle Foods’ acquisition and subsequent conversion in 2012. 

Bruno’s in Tallahassee

As far as I can tell, Bruno’s entered the Tallahassee market with a store on Kerry Forest Parkway in 1991.  Store number two was this one on Capital Circle NE, which opened on December 1, 1993.  Apalachee Parkway came soon after, opening in 1994, and the fourth and final store was planned but never built. The location became the site of a Winn-Dixie as shown in the map above. According to this document, the three Bruno’s stores employed nearly 350 people in 1996 which was probably the peak of their operation in Tallahassee.  To this day, all three stores (kind of) stand, but only one is still a grocery store. 

Bruno's #187 - 2910 Kerry Forest Pkwy

Courtesy of - Tallahassee Democrat - August 18, 1998

Kerry Forest Parkway opened in 1991 as the 45,000 sqft anchor of the Northampton Shopping Center.  The store had an extensive marketing campaign to welcome the chain to Tallahassee, which included a 10-minute video tour.  While not a bad location, it was just down the road from Food Lion #648 which was built in 1989.  The shopping center also doesn’t face the much busier Thomasville Road/US 319/SR 61 which didn’t help the matter.  Finally, Publix built a brand-new 56,000 sqft store in 1996 just north of here, across from the Bradfordville Sing Store, and Walmart built a Supercenter in 2003 just across Thomasville Road.  As part of their 1998 bankruptcy procedures, Bruno’s closed their three stores, with this one closing a week later than the other two on August 29.  This store, along with Capital Circle, was rumored to be sold to Winn-Dixie; subsequently, a Quit Claim deed was issued by Bruno’s for the site on September 25, 1998.   

Courtesy of - Tallahassee Democrat - November 5, 1998

On November 4, the store would reopen as a Winn-Dixie, featuring the "rose-and-teal color scheme" Marketplace décor.  Winn-Dixie ran a six-page advertisement in the Tallahassee Democrat to commemorate the store's opening, which is an interesting read if you have time (that's where I got the picture above).  The location remained open until the chain’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy brought it to a close on August 20, 2006.  This parcel has since been subdivided but still retains its iconic Bruno’s exterior.  A popular pizza restaurant called Red Elephant has occupied the right portion of the store for a number of years.

Bruno's #184 - 2123 NE Capital Circle (2111 Capital Circle NE)

Bruno's #184 recreation using Adobe Photoshop - 2022

The address for this store must have changed over the years because the Bruno’s ads I found reference the 2123 address.  The Capital Circle store that this post explores was originally scheduled to open on July 1, 1993, but must have run into delays because it eventually opened on December 1, 1993.  It was Bruno’s largest store in the area at the time, coming in at 52,000 sqft.  This store’s final day as a Bruno’s was August 22, 1998.  It would eventually sell to Publix, not Winn-Dixie, in November of that year.  Publix reopened this store as #689 on November 18, 1999, and would again reopen this location as Publix #1427 on September 18, 2014.

Courtesy of - Tallahassee Democrat - November 28, 1993

Bruno's #235 - 1400 Apalachee Pkwy

Bruno’s nears deal to occupy ex-HQ - Bruno's #235
Courtesy of - Tallahassee Democrat - February 21, 1993

Bruno’s at Gulf Wind Shopping Center opened sometime in 1994 to replace HQ, a home-improvement retailer.   Bruno’s joined junior-anchors Office Depot and Blockbuster and had a 45,000 sqft floorplan.  It, too, would close in 1998 when Bruno’s sold 14 stores in Nashville and Chattanooga to Albertson’s (the same ones mentioned by Retail Retell here and here).  The article above also mentions that Albertson’s recently became the largest supermarket chain in the country, which is a fitting tie back to the theme of the blog.  This store was heavily remodeled in 1999 and now looks like any other Best Buy from that era.

Courtesy of - Tallahassee Democrat - August 4, 1998

1525 W Tharpe St

Bruno’s proposed building a fourth store in Tallahassee to establish their legitimacy in the market amidst fierce competition from Publix, Albertsons, and Winn-Dixie.  While Bruno's did complete site work, the lot was not developed until it was bought by Winn-Dixie in 1999.  That Marketplace store opened on December 16, 2000, and replaced two other nearby stores.  At its peak in 1998, Winn-Dixie operated at least eight locations in Tallahassee. This store closed in 2018, leaving the Jacksonville-based chain with one store remaining, which is a block from the Gulf Wind Bruno’s.  Ultimately, Publix won the war for Tallahassee, with Winn-Dixie being the only of these opponents left. 

One of the rarest birds of paradise: Pubno’s

That’s right, as I mentioned above, Publix moved into their new store #689 nearly a year after they bought it from the Alabama-based retailer.  I thought that all traces of this original store would be lost to time, until I stumbled across an old Foursquare listing that said otherwise.  Publix operated store #689 from 1999 until late 2013 when they determined it was time for a change of scenery.  A Foursquare user noted on January 14, 2014, that the store had closed, and renovations had begun.

Front of Publix #689
Courtesy of Keith P. on Foursquare - September 19, 2012

While I couldn’t find a picture from Bruno’s time in this building, I believe the exterior would have looked largely the same as it does in this picture.  Bruno’s had the vestibules in their other Tallahassee stores, so it seems likely that Publix just did a paint-and-polish before they moved in.  When Publix gutted the store in 2014, they removed the vestibule and set the entrance back to match the face of the building. They also added an additional column where the vestibule was.

Front of Publix #689
Courtesy of Isabel T. on Foursquare - April 21, 2012

Front of Publix #689
Courtesy of Veronica O. on Foursquare - July 18, 2011

Here are two more shots of the façade of Publix #689.  While the nighttime one isn’t great, you can still read the “Welcome to Publix” just inside the store in Classy Market 1.0 Serif font.

Publix #689 Shopping Carts
Courtesy of Tallykat on Foursquare - October 1, 2012

Let’s grab a cart and look around!

Bakery & Seafood Department Publix #689 - Classy Market 1.0
Courtesy of Ato F. on Foursquare - June 1, 2013

I believe the bakery and seafood departments were on the right side of the store.  In the picture, I think I see a sign for aisle 3, meaning this is considered an unsigned “aisle 1.”  I do not remember seeing a Publix larger than 30,000 sqft where the aisles are numbered left-to-right, leading me to believe that aisle 1 ran along the right wall of this store.  This aisle looks a bit short, so I’m imagining that the person taking this picture had their back toward the produce department.

Bakery & Seafood Department Publix #689 - Classy Market 1.0
Courtesy of Staci S. on Foursquare - July 11, 2012

Here is another picture of the bakery and seafood departments.

Floral & Produce Department Publix #689 - Classy Market 1.0
Courtesy of Robert B. on Foursquare - July 11, 2013

Since I cannot tell the exact layout of this store, I’m going to guess that produce occupied the front, right corner of the store.  It seems logical for the flowers to greet customers as the come in the store and it looks like the cooler along the right side of this shot ends with enough space for an entrance.   I doubt Publix changed the layout from what Bruno’s used and it looks like all they did was change the flooring, paint, and signage.  Neither the ceiling tiles nor the lighting look like something Publix would have installed.

Rear Aisle Publix #689 - Classy Market 1.0
Courtesy of Karen P. on Foursquare - June 10, 2012

Our final shot we have of the Pubno’s is of aisles 9-16, seemingly in the back, left corner of the store.  Publix #1427 now has 13 aisles instead of 16, with most of the extra space probably being absorbed by the new “grand aisle”.

I spy a key décor piece in this picture:  the pasta cooler that reads “Value, Quality, Variety.”  While these days, it is rare to still see the endcap cooler say “Cool it, Chill out, Take it Easy,” this one dates back to AFB’s favorite décor package – Wavy Pastel.  We also get a good glimpse of the CM 1.0 aisle markers and most of a CM 1.0 Restroom sign.  I do find it interesting that this store has a raised ceiling over the grocery department; I don’t think Publix would have bothered adding this even though it was a popular feature of its stores from this era.

Deli Counter Publix #689 - Classy Market 1.0
Courtesy of Dante D. on Foursquare - September 15, 2012

Finally, we have a picture of this store’s deli cases.  I don’t see much to note in this image, but I wanted to include it for comprehensiveness. 

Aerial Views

While I could not figure out how to work Bing Maps' Birds Eye feature, Leon County saved the day again with their property appraiser website.  Without further ado, here are your aerial pictures:

Publix #1427 from the West - Tallahassee - Leon County GIS - October 2018

 We'll begin with the current store #1427 in October 2018.

Publix #1427 from the South - Tallahassee - Leon County GIS - October 2018

Publix #1427 from the East - Tallahassee - Leon County GIS - October 2018

Unfortunately, the view from the North was split into two-separate images so I did not include it.  The building to the North is a Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse.

Former Publix #689 from the West - Tallahassee - Leon County GIS - February 2014

Heading further back in time, we spot the ghost of Pubno's #689 past. This February 2014 image shows Publix in the midst of renovating the store.  I also noticed that Publix reconfigured the HVAC units during the remodel; Bruno's configuration can be seen in this picture along with the original four-columned façade.

Publix #689 from the West - Tallahassee - Leon County GIS - October 2010

Finally, we catch a glimpse of Pubno's #689 in operation from October 2010.

Publix #689 from the South - Tallahassee - Leon County GIS - October 2010

Publix #689 from the East - Tallahassee - Leon County GIS - October 2010

Publix #689 from the North - Tallahassee - Leon County GIS - October 2010

Satellite Imagery from Google Earth & Historic Aerials:

Publix #1427 - Google Earth - April 2021

Publix #1427 under construction - Google Earth - May 2014

Publix #689 - Google Earth - March 2013

Bruno's #184 - Google Earth - February 1995

Future Bruno's #184 - Historic Aerials - 1984

With all of that out of the way, we will take one last look at the intersection, courtesy of Google Maps:

The Centerville Road alignment was reconfigured in the mid-2000's to allow for a much higher traffic volume.  It splits to the West of Capital Circle to protect one of Tallahassee's many sections of protected canopy road.  The Circle K in the bottom left of the screenshot above is the former Tallahassee #9 Sing Store.

And that will conclude our two-part tour of this Pubno’s.  As AFB noted, “a Publix in a former Bruno's is quite intriguing (and I believe that's the only example of such a conversion out there, even if Publix essentially rebuilt the interior of the store later on),” which shows how rare this store is.  I read that there could have been some Bruno’s to Publix conversions in Tennessee but did not bother to look any further into that.  I guess when Publix decided to dominate the Florida grocery market, they knew they would have to take down plenty of competitors along the way – and make shopping a pleasure.

Fortunately, I was able to visit two Bruno’s properties before they disappeared: FoodMax #79 (turned Southern Family Market) in Carrollton, GA and Bruno’s #371 in Miramar Beach, FL.  Mind you, these stores closed over ten years ago and I did not take any pictures of them with one of my disposable cameras (lol).  I guess the once-dominant Alabama chain is just another chapter in the history books now!

I hope you enjoyed my first post on the blog, and hopefully I will be invited back some other time!  Meanwhile, you can check out the Sing Oil Blog for updates on convenience stores from the ‘60s, ‘70s, & ‘80s across the Southeast.  It is “More than Convenient!”

Until next time,

- The Sing Oil Blogger

This has been a feature post from my series Sing Oil Blog: More Than Convenience, in conjunction with my post on Tallahassee #9.  To check out my other posts from this series or to learn more, click on the logo above.