Wegmans opens doors at University Station

Jo Natale, VP of media relations, and Valerie Fox, media relations coordinator, in front of the company’s famous replica wagon (Mary Ann photo)

Jo Natale, VP of media relations, and Valerie Fox, media relations coordinator, in front of the company’s famous replica wagon (Mary Ann photo)

The managers and employees of Wegmans Food Markets strongly believe in providing the freshest food, lowest prices, and best customer service to everyone who walks through their doors. Their pride in delivering and maintaining excellence is evident throughout every facility in the store, including the ones behind closed doors.

“We have great restrooms,” Jo Natale, vice president of media relations for Wegmans said. “We’re quite proud of our restrooms.”

The clean and spacious restrooms offer the expected facilities as well as folding steps under the sinks so that the smallest customers can easily wash their hands. That attention to detail and pride can be found throughout the newest Wegmans, located at 169 University Avenue in University Station. The 122,000-square-foot store opened last Sunday morning, October 11.

The roots of the popular New York-based grocer go back to 1916, when John Wegman started the Rochester Fruit and Vegetable Company. His brother Walter joined him a year later, and the two brothers peddled fruits and vegetables from a wagon. “They were produce huskers,” Natale said.

The company has a replica of the brothers’ wagon that is taken to the opening of every new store. That wagon was parked just outside the entrance to the Westwood Wegmans and filled with pumpkins and gourds, with large pots of colorful mums set alongside it. Wegmans continues as a family owned and operated business, headed by Danny Wegman and his daughters, Colleen and Nicole.

The produce section is the heart of the store, and it’s the first thing that shoppers see as they enter. The grocery, pharmacy, wine and beer departments are to the right of the produce department, while fresh prepared foods, the bakery, and meat and seafood departments are to the left. The dairy department is in the back of the store, where a model train runs continuously on a track suspended overhead.

A large and unusual clock sits atop the Buzz coffee shop near the entrance. The clock is in the shape of the barn on Wegmans’ 50-acre organic farm in upstate New York. Every hour on the hour, the light comes on in the barn and birds begin to chirp. Then a rooster emerges from the barn to crow four times. Similar clocks have been installed in all of the new stores.

Wegmans in Westwood stocks over 70,000 products, of which about 3,000 are organic, arranged on shelves and in specialty areas. Sushi is made fresh daily and arranged in color-coded categories according to its preparation. Freshly prepared foods may be purchased separately or combined with sides to make a meal. The bakery carries cookies, muffins, doughnuts, fruit tarts and pies.

“We have a line of ultimate cakes: chocolate, white, carrot and celebration cakes,” said Valerie Fox, media relations coordinator for Wegmans.

The staff of the produce department prepares fruits and vegetables for stews and salads and will cut, chop and dice customers’ selections on the spot for an additional charge. Butchers in the meat and seafood departments will prepare special cuts for customers.

“They bring in fresh whole fish daily and cut it in front of the customer,” Natale said. “They also steam shellfish to go.”

The store stocks locally sourced produce and meat. The meat department sells boar, Wagyu beef, and beef that is dried and aged in-house. Wegmans also sells hundreds of cheeses from the United States and countries around the world.

The wine and beer departments sell beverages from many countries and have paired with international experts, such as Jorge Ordoñez for Spanish wine. In the beer department, customers can create their own six-pack, choosing from beers, ciders, seasonal ales, stouts, and porters. Wegmans has created a convenience case that includes milk, eggs, juice, butter and ice opposite the bank of 26 regular and four express checkouts at the front of the store.

Wegmans has created a sense of community with indoor and outdoor seating for nearly 300 people. Patrons can purchase a meal or snack and then enjoy it at a comfy banquette or table with friends. In addition, Wegmans offers a mobile app that allows customers to create a personalized grocery list at home, receive an estimated cost of the items and find out the location of the items, no matter the store in which they are shopping.

“We are all about incredible customer service,” Natale said.

For more information on Wegmans, go to www.wegmans.com.

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