By Michelle Price
Special to the UCBJ
COOKEVILLE – On Monday, local officials and business leaders gathered with the Food City owners and senior leadership team to break ground on a new 54,600-square-foot store at the intersection of 10th Street and Old Kentucky Road. Set to open in December, the store will bring 170 new full- and part-time jobs.
Food City President and CEO Steve Smith gave the background of the chain that has 134 retail supermarkets, 109 pharmacies and 110 fuel and convenience stores.
“Our Food City locations offer a wide variety of services and conveniences, including a full-service bakery deli, floral boutique, full-service meat and seafood departments with in-house butchers to hand cut the meat on site, locally grown produce in season, expanded grocery frozen, healthcare items, full service pharmacy, gas and go fuel center, curbside pickup and home delivery,” said Smith.
There will also be a full-service Starbucks located inside the store with tv’s and seating for people to work on computers or just relax while enjoying their beverage.
Cookeville, opening in December, and Winchester, opening in June, will be the westernmost points for the company that is headquartered in Abingdon, Va.
“Cookeville is a progressive city,” Smith acknowledged. “One that has growth and good infrastructure and good leadership, but also, we see a lot of opportunities here, not just for one store to develop but for other stores in other communities around here.
“So, it’s a normal progression of our growth to move a little bit to the west. We hope to look at other towns and other communities that we think could support a supermarket of this type, and we look forward to growing,” he said.
Even with all the growth and expansions, Food City is at heart a family-owned company, and over 17,000 employees, who are considered family, own 13% of the company through an employee stock option program at no cost to the employee.
“We’re proud to be locally owned and operated. We’re proud to be a family-owned company but we are also proud of our mission statement, and that is ‘to run the best store in town.’ That’s what we are going to do when we come to Cookeville. We will have the best people. We will probably create somewhere between 170 and 190 new jobs here and our teammates here will have that mission of running the best store in town.”
Local officials were excited to see Food City breaking ground on the new store and celebrated their commitment to the city.
“It’s exciting that we’re finally here to celebrate the groundbreaking of this development, and we’re honored to celebrate alongside the anchor store that will set the tone for all the stores to follow,” said Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton. “Food City’s commitment to elevating the image of retail in Cookeville along with their desire to be truly invested in their community will make for a great long-term partnership.”