It’s been over a year in the works, but the time has almost arrived. The Hills Market Downtown is finishing up with construction work and equipment installation and ready to soon begin stocking shelves and preparing employees for opening day. Hills Market Marketing Director Jill Moorhead is understandably reluctant to announce an official grand opening date as timetables are still a little loose, but it sounds like they have about two months of work left to be finished.
We were given a tour of the space last week by Moorhead and Store Manager Matt Brown, who provided an overview of the layout of store departments and sections throughout the 12,000 square foot building. That includes a bakery, self-serve coffee bar, produce, floral, dairy, salad bar, canned and boxed goods, prepared foods, seafood and meat counters, sushi, beer, wine, deli and more.
“Something we don’t have up north that we’ll have here is hot food to go,” said Moorhead. “So we’ll do things like rotisserie chickens, pizza, fried chicken, et cetera. I think it will be great for the students in the area at CCAD and Columbus State.”
Prepared foods will be made on site in a back-of-the-house kitchen area adjacent to the store’s storage coolers, freezers, and a twice-daily sanitized meat cutting room. The front of the store will have three registers staffed by cashiers (no self-serve checkout), administrative offices, and a place for in-store seating and events near the produce display.
“I’m really excited about having natural light on the produce,” said Moorhead. “I think that’s going to look dreamy.”
Natural light permeates the entire store through tall windows, illuminating the exposed wooden rafters in the high ceiling, giving the store a much larger feel from the inside than what appears on the outside. Grocery shelves will be stacked taller than normal to provide additional space for items in a way usually seen more often in urban stores in New York, according to Moorhead.
Once open, The Hills Market Downtown will operate Monday through Thursday from 7am to 9pm, Friday and Saturday from 7am to 10pm and Sunday from 8am to 8pm. The store will operate 364 days a year, closed only for Christmas Day.
“We’re going to test out these hours in the beginning to see how customers respond,” said Brown. “If they say that they want us to stay open until 10pm on weekdays, we’ll adjust and stay open until 10.”
Construction photos from inside the new store can be found below.