WEEKI WACHEE — The grocery selections are copious, the aisles sufficiently wide to prevent cart jams, the lighting and coloring inviting, and the pharmacy spacious at the Publix that opened Aug. 21 in the new Shoppes at Glen Lakes.
But the customers have been raving mostly about the convenience of the new shopping center, on U.S. 19 just north of the entrance to this golf course community.
Kathy Lynch, a Glen Lakes resident for five years, noted she that she can get to the strip center from the community's back gate.
"I don't even have to go out on (U.S.) 19," she said.
Previously, with no shopping nearby, she had to drive several miles to get groceries, not an overly welcome drive for a 73-year-old.
Joseph Agnelli, 77, also uses the back entrance.
"I can take a scooter out here," Agnelli said, "or a golf cart."
"This is what we needed," said Beverly Micek, a recent move-in from St. Petersburg who lives about a mile and a half away. On hearing her comment, a shopper exiting with a full cart gave her a thumbs up.
"It was 5 miles to get to Winn-Dixie (in Weeki Wachee Village) and 10 miles north to the nearest Publix (near Homosassa)," said the 68-year-old retiree from Eckerd Drugs.
Her 20-year career background figures in her like for Publix. "They really serve the public," she said.
As for the selection of goods, Lynch said, "It's wonderful. So far, I haven't noticed anything missing."
A large floral section greets visitors just inside the door. Next comes the bakery with aromas to start a shopper's salivary glands.
The produce department boasts unpackaged vegetables and fruits, individual cucumbers, carrots, even small jalapeno peppers arranged properly in rows. For an exotic taste, there are figs of the varieties calemayrna, kadota, black mission and brown turkey. Store brand "Greenwise" encompasses a variety of organically grown dried fruits. Fresh fruits and vegetables arrive seven days a week.
The long deli is loaded with meats and cheese. Tempting are prepared seasoned spare ribs, roast breast of turkey, beef top round roast, Genoa bologna and Spanish style pork roast. Gouda and Swiss cheese in hefty rounds are on hand.
The fresh seafood counter boasts Coho salmon, coldwater lobster tail, stuffed clams and scallops. A specialty chef will make sushi.
At the meat counter, a window is open on the butcher floor beneath the sign "Custom Cuts." A knife-wielding meat man inquires, "Find everything you want?"
In addition to the usual at the meat counter, there are ready-to-cook seasoned pork tenderloins wrapped in bacon, seasoned boneless stew meat with vegetables, parsley-topped ground chuck meatballs, boneless chicken breast accompanied by vegetables for stir fry.
For this upscale neighborhood, there are various cuts of lamb and veal seldom found elsewhere locally: chops, medallions, roasts and shanks — also fresh turkeys and a large assortment of smoked pork products.
The market-sponsored Apron's Cooking School staffs a kitchen kiosk where it prepares give-away samples of two recipes a week with the ingredients for making them at home nearby. Every Monday it sponsors a value meal, enough to serve four diners for less than $15.
As for the selection, media relations manager Shannon Patten said: "We opened with the standard. We do cater to customers in the area. We will adjust our product mix (to sales)."
Unique to this seventh Publix supermarket in Hernando County is the integration of its Greenwise products throughout the store rather than in one vicinity. They are featured in radial shelving for shopper recognition.
The 45,000-square-foot store employs 125 associates, full- and part-time — 80 percent new to Publix, 20 percent transfers who provide experience, Patten said.
Lisa Williams, a 20-year veteran with Publix, most recently assistant manager at the Mariner Commons market, has assumed the role of manager.
Elsewhere in the strip and on outparcels, signs saying "opening soon" are Mirhan Jewelers, Pronto Cleaners, SunTrust Bank and Walgreens drugstore. The windows of 10 additional units either bear "for lease" placards or are unidentified, with stacks of interior construction materials in view, awaiting tenants' demands.
Leasing agent Chris Logan of Paradise Group in Tampa declined to talk with the Times about attempts or possibilities to fill the spaces.
Beth Gray can be contacted at [email protected]