Great news on the downtown grocery front

I’ve been meaning to congratulate everyone who has been involved with the good news that not one but two new retail stores will be open soon in downtown.  This is a sure sign that the demographics have turned and that we are becoming more urban.  I just wish that the store on Esplande will find a way to stay open later than 6pm on weekdays and not at all on weekends.

If we are ever going to transform downtown from an office park into a real neighborhood, we need to have retail activity that acknowledges that people are here after normal work hours. That and we have to get offices off the first floor.  They absolutely should be prohibited on the ground floor of downtown buildings.  How’s that for a not-so-subtle dictatorship.

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Second grocery announced for downtown Lexington

By Beverly Fortune — bfortune@herald-leader.com

Mar 23, 2011

Town Branch Market is expected to open in May at East Main Street and Esplanade. Businessman Howard Stovall, who made the announcement Tuesday, said the store will carry local products whenever it can. DAVID PERRY | STAFF

A grocery selling food, beverages and sundries will open in May at 233 East Main Street, at the corner of Esplanade.

Plans for Town Branch Market were announced Tuesday by businessman Howard Stovall.

“We’re going to try to have the basics for people who work downtown,” he said.

Customers may pick up salads, milk, fruit and microwave meals. There will be fresh-brewed coffee, plus pastries, doughnuts and bread made by Lexington bakeries. “We’re going to try, whenever we can, to get products from local suppliers,” Stovall said.

The market also will stock health and beauty aids, and basic office supplies.

“We’re not trying to compete with Kroger,” Stovall said. But the selection will more closely mirror a standard grocery than a convenience store, he said.

Stovall owns Signs Now at 365 Southland Drive and is a partner in Kentucky Theatre Management Group, which manages The Kentucky Theatre, across the street from the planned market.

Market hours will be 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday but will be adjusted when there are special events downtown, Stovall said.

“Our end of Main Street needs a grocery store,” said Gene Williams, an owner of Natasha’s Bistro & Bar at 112 Esplanade. “We need more neighbors like this in our block. Retail businesses thrive on foot traffic.”

The building that houses Natasha’s, Town Branch Market and several other businesses is scheduled to be sold April 11 at a master commissioner sale to raise $2.5 million owed to PBI Bank and the Urban County Government.

Building owner Farzin Sadr said in February he was working with two local banks to avert the public sale.

Stovall has a lease with Sadr and said the lease will be honored no matter who owns the building.

The name Town Branch Market comes from Town Branch creek, which flows underground through downtown.

Another independently owned downtown grocery store was announced in January, near the Lexington History Museum. Shorty’s, An Urban Market, will be at 163 West Short Street in the Traditional Bank building.

Grocery to open on Short Street in downtown Lexington

By Beverly Fortune — bfortune@herald-leader.com

Jan 6, 2011

General manager Darren Teodoro, above, expects to open Shorty’s, An Urban Market, next to Traditional Bank on West Short Street, by late April. The store site previously was used by another bank. DAVID PERRY | STAFF

An independently owned grocery store carrying fresh meat, produce and sundries will open downtown at 163 West Short Street in the Traditional Bank building.

General manager Darren Teodoro said Shorty’s, An Urban Market, will be a New York-style city grocery to serve people who live and work downtown, which does not have a supermarket.

Edgar Hume, who owns The Clock Shop across the street from the Shorty’s site, can’t wait. “A grocery store is desperately needed in this area,” he said. “I really wish them a lot of success.”

Teodoro said he hopes to work with Lexington Farmers Market to carry locally grown produce. He hopes to open a wine shop adjoining the market later.

“We will not try to compete with major markets like Kroger. But we want to be self-sustaining with everyday items people need like milk, bread, paper towels, aspirin and ladies’ products,” Teodoro said.

“The idea is it will be a market for people who are downtown and want a place to run in and get things without having to get in their car and drive to the suburbs.”

Shorty’s will offer delivery service and Internet ordering. It is expected to open in late April. If the concept is successful in Lexington, it will be franchised in other cities, Teodoro said.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who lives downtown, called the project “a great example of preserving these old buildings and finding new uses for them.”

Gray, who had a sneak preview of the work going on in the building Wednesday, said “it’s going to be not just a grocery, but a destination, which is exactly what we need.”

The market will have on-site parking on the east side of the building. After 4 p.m., a larger adjoining parking lot also will be available. Shorty’s will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Chris Estes, principal interior designer with EOP Architects, said the interior will have exposed brick walls and antique wood floors. A large vault door, a holdover from another bank that used to take up the entire first floor, will be a focal point of the 2,500-square-foot space. Grocery shelves will go floor-to-ceiling, and items at the top will be accessible by old-fashioned rolling wood ladders.

Teodoro is a certified public accountant who, in recent years, was comptroller for several Mercedes Benz and BMW car dealerships in Connecticut. His family owned restaurants, delis and gourmet ice cream shops throughout Connecticut and the Northeast. “I come to this with experience in the food business and a strong financial background,” he said.

He is also in the horse business. Three years ago, Teodoro came to Lexington to train jumpers for his friends, New York fashion designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka.

Teodoro and his financial backers, several local people in the Thoroughbred industry, have been working on the urban market concept since February.

Harold Tate, president of the Downtown Development Authority, said the opening of a grocery was “a big win for downtown.”

“It will be a great asset. A grocery will work well in conjunction” with the farmers market just a block to the west in Cheapside Park, Tate said. “I really hope everybody supports this.”

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