SANTA CLARA – The long-awaited Harmons Neighborhood Grocer in Santa Clara opened Wednesday morning with an overflowing parking lot and crowds of happy shoppers inside the store.
“The grand opening has been phenomenal,” Harmons Vice President for the Customer Bob Harmon said, estimating that up to 1,000 people were in the new store — located at 3520 Pioneer Parkway — at noon.
“We have a 60,000-square-foot wonderland of food,” Harmon said. “It’s an experience happening right now inside the store, really, the sounds, and the energy and people tasting food and looking at all the varieties we have to offer.”
“It’s all about the food and that’s the way that this store is really built,” Harmon said. “We strive to be the place that has the freshest, highest quality products and this store certainly accentuates all of that very, very well.”
The new store was originally set to open in 2010 and the site preparation work had begun when the recession hit and the project was put on hold.
The store is Santa Clara’s first large employer, with 240 employees. Of those, about 140 are new positions with the remainder filled by transfers from the St. George Harmons or northern Utah stores, Harmon said.
The store encompasses 67,500 square feet and has an attached 8,500-square-foot retail pad, an adjacent fuel station and the potential for more retail buildings on the site in the future.
The roof of the new store has a cooking school along with a chef’s station, with upstairs seating and an outdoor balcony. An artist is on staff to design signage, and a dietician advises both customers and chefs on how to make healthy choices, Harmon said.
The project was designed with buildings on the perimeter and parking in the middle to minimize the possibility of vehicle headlights shining into the windows of neighboring homes.
The color scheme of the exterior has been designed to fit in with the surrounding desert environment, with earth tones, grays and black, Frank Lundquist, vice president of store development, said in an earlier interview.
About 40 percent of the store’s power will be provided by solar panels, Lundquist said, and the Santa Clara location will be the first Harmons store to use solar power.