Market District Express debuts

Market District Express debuts in Peters Township

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The Iggle has landed.


Giant Eagle’s first Market District Express complex opened at 5 a.m. today at Route 19 and Circle Drive in Peters Township. It is across Circle from Beinhauer Funeral Services.


“We refer to this as a bite-sized Market District store,” Dick Roberts, spokesman for Giant Eagle, said of the showpiece building on the property. It has a similar setup to, but at 15,500 square feet, is much smaller than the company’s four Market District groceries, including the one in Bethel Park three miles to the north.


That is not the only structure on the four-acre lot. The site of a former auto dealership, appropriately, also features a massive parking area that separates the store from a GetGo fueling station, with 16 pumps, and an adjacent Wet Go automatic car wash. Both are Giant Eagle brands.


“We have a multi-format strategy,” said Rob Borella, senior director of marketing and corporate communications. “With the Market District Express, we take the best of our formats and pull them together into a community location.”


Those formats are full-service Market District stores (90,000 to 150,000 square feet, the largest in Robinson Township); full-service Giant Eagle stores (about 90,000 square feet); and the smaller Giant Eagle Express operations in Harmarville and Indiana.


“The best thing about running 420 outlets in four states is we get a lot of customer feedback,” Borella said, acknowleding that the Peters operation is partly based on that feedback while, at the same time, serving as something of a trial balloon for future Market District Express stores, which are planned for Cleveland and Columbus in 2014.


Food will mostly feed the operation of the new store. There is a restaurant, with indoor and outdoor seating; takeout items; a gourmet/prepared foods/deli area; a soup/salad bar and sushi area; a wide variety of grocery items; and a small Starbucks outlet near the front entrance.


Oh, and diners can select from 350 varieties of beer and eight selections of wine by the glass.


A full-service pharmacy, replete with a drive-up window, is inside as well.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner are prepared made to order. After placing their requests, eat-in diners are handed a GPS-generated Table Tracker before selecting from 130 seats – 84 inside and 46 outside. Customers then are served by staff who locate them via the GPS.


Borella is especially enamored of the dine-in area, which features high ceilings and reclaimed barn wood for supports.


“It’s rustic, an inviting place to spend quality time with friends and family,” he said.


About 120 are employed there, Roberts said, with 90 percent living within five miles. Store leader Anna Card has a little farther commute – from Murrysville.


The 10 who worked at the Get Go store/gas station a half-mile south on Washington Road moved to the larger complex today. They closed their operation at 10 p.m. Wednesday.


There will be a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9 a.m. today, four hours after the opening. Daily hours vary in different areas of the building. The store operates from 5 a.m. to midnight; the restaurant area from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; the prepared foods/deli area from 10 to 10; and Starbucks from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.


Gasoline access is 24/7.


Continental Building Systems, based in Columbus, Ohio, with a local office in Homestead, built the complex. Design changes resulted in a work stoppage of about a month last summer, but the project took off following resumption of construction.


There has been speculation that a new Giant Eagle operation, of undetermined type, may be coming to the Washington or Canonsburg area. Borella said he wasn’t aware of that talk, but admitted that company duties in recent months had left him “a little out of the loop” on real estate matters, an area in which he is usually involved.


In the meantime, he is pleased with the Peters Express.


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