- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 26, 2006

The D.C. area’s grocery market continues to grow as two new chains plan to enter the area. The Fresh Market, a privately owned chain that sells produce, meats, seafood, bakery and prepared foods, has signed a lease for 20,000 square feet at Quarry Lake at Greenspring in Baltimore.

The chain then plans to open four to five stores in the D.C. area, spokesman Eric Blaesing said. The chain’s next shop is likely to be in Loudoun County, according to Blue & Obrecht Realty.

Fresh Market is similar to a farmer’s market but priced similarly to Giant Food stores. The stores do not carry many nonperishable items such as paper products, health care goods or baby foods. Customers typically shop at both Fresh Market and a larger grocery chain, Mr. Blaesing said.

Quarry Lake at Greenspring, owned by Obrecht Properties LLC, and Fresh Market are expected to be completed in early- to mid-2007. The mixed-use development of retail, office and residential is centered on a former mineral quarry.

Fresh Market was founded in 1982 in Greensboro, N.C., and operates as a family-owned business. It has 56 stores in the Southeast, including three it opened in the Midwest last year. The Baltimore location is the chain’s northernmost store on the East Coast.

D.C.-area residents annually spend about $8.5 billion in grocery stores, making them a popular target of chains.

Ellwood Thompson’s Natural Market, an organic grocery store in Richmond, is eyeing Northern Virginia for its second location.

“We are looking, but it’s really preliminary,” said Rebecca Harrison, vice president of operations. She declined to go into specifics.

Ellwood Thompson’s sells organic and minimally processed foods, including free-range meat, poultry and seafood.

Ellwood Thompson’s and Fresh Market won’t open stores here until at least 2007. But existing grocery chains, including Harris Teeter, Giant, Safeway and Shoppers Food Warehouse, are expected to open at least 23 new stores in the D.C. area this year.

Like most retailers, Fresh Market was drawn to the area’s high income — from $46,000 in the District to Fairfax County’s $88,000 — and education levels.

“We do really well with customers that are educated, enjoy cooking, enjoy entertaining and are interested in nutrition. All of those things you’ll find in the D.C. metropolitan area,” Mr. Blaesing said. “We’ve been trying to get into the D.C.-Maryland-Baltimore metro market for quite a while.”

In other news …

• The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington announced the finalists for the 2006 RAMMY Restaurant Awards.

Nominees for new restaurant of the year include: Acadiana on New York Avenue NW, Black Salt on MacArthur Boulevard NW, Hank’s Oyster Bar on Q Street NW, IndeBleu on F Street NW, and Willow Restaurant on Fairfax Drive in Arlington.

Other categories include neighborhood gathering place, power spot and favorite restaurant. Winners will be announced June 25.

• Olly Shoes, a retailer that uses a computer to scan and measure children’s feet, plans to open an Alexandria location on Richmond Avenue and Fordson Road April 1. The Toronto company also has stores in Hunt Valley, Md., and White Flint mall, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Wilmington, N.C.

• Contact Jen Haberkorn at [email protected] or 202/636-4836.

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