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Bedford Market Basket's grand opening is next week

Union Leader Correspondent

May 01. 2013 8:09PM
The grand opening of the new 78,500-square-foot Market Basket is set for May 9. (HENRY METZ PHOTO)

BEDFORD - Tom O'Loughlin feels like he's in a good place right now. Although he's lived in Bedford for 27 years, he's never worked in the town.

But that changed recently when he was named director of the new Market Basket at 539 Donald Street, which will hold its grand opening on Thursday, May 9, about a month later than had originally been anticipated.

"I'm excited to be here," O'Loughlin said during a tour of the 78,500-square-foot store. "It's like I'm coming home."

The new store is what O'Loughlin describes as a "state of the art" facility that includes a café that seats 48 and comes equipped with Wi-Fi and a large-screen TV. "We expect it to be a very busy store," said O'Loughlin. "And we certainly would love for people to come see it."

Demoulas Super Markets Inc., Market Basket's parent company, had hoped to open the new store last month, but the harsh winter caused delays to work on the exterior of the building, which included finishing up the siding, the topcoat paving of the parking lot, curbing and finishing touches to the landscaping.

Inside the store yesterday, shelves were getting stocked, and new employees were going through orientations from their managers. Perishables such as fresh-cut meats and fish products will arrive at the store on Wednesday, May 8, O'Loughlin said.

In total, the store will stock more than 60,000 items, O'Loughlin said.

The store has hired 300 new employees, most of whom have spent the last six weeks training at Market Baskets in Hooksett and Manchester, O'Loughlin said. Between 50 and 100 existing Market Basket employees are being transferred to the Bedford store from other locations so they can lend assistance to newer workers, he said.

In addition to the Market's Café, another feature of the new store is the Market's Kitchen, which will serve Niji Sushi, pizzas cooked to order, including slices, a salad and soup counter and a sandwich shop that will offer up subs and paninis. All the products, O'Loughlin said, will be prepared to the customers' specifications.

The Bedford store is the 30th Market Basket in New Hampshire. Demoulas has 69 Market Basket stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

The butcher shop in the Bedford store will sell what O'Loughlin describes as "certified Angus beef," and all the meat will be cut to order. Seafood and meat products will be delivered daily, he said, and the bakery will sell artisan breads and specialty desserts.

Next week's grand opening marks the end of a process that was threatened by legal action brought by competitor Hannaford Brothers, which sued the Bedford Zoning Board in an effort to block construction of the Donald Street store, alleging the board improperly granted Demoulas a variance to build the 78,500-square-foot building, which sits on the site of the former Golfland miniature golf course and Slammer Sports Bar and Grill.

Last month, the state Supreme Court ruled that Hannaford Brothers wasn't eligible to challenge a variance that allowed Demoulas to build a larger store than what previous zoning there allowed.

Hannaford also sued Bedford over a town meeting vote that changed the Donald Street parcel from mixed use to commercial 2, which effectively eliminated the footprint restrictions. That case is scheduled for trial in July.

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