A hickory wood smoker to the left of you, a stone hearth pizza oven to the right, fresh sushi in the middle. This is not your mom’s Food City, that’s for sure. Not with Starbucks on the side and LEDs overhead.

The grocery chain known for preserving legacy brands like Kay’s, Lay’s, Kern’s, Moore’s and Terry’s is stepping up to match modern food marketing aisle for aisle.

The name’s not changing — not to Food Metro or whatever — but Food City is stepping up to keep up with 21st century grocery trends with it’s newest store that opens today at 8 a.m. at 1715 W. Broadway Ave. in Maryville.

The new store is not much of a move in distance from its former West Broadway location that’s just up a ways and across the street. But the new concept is a next-level grocery steeped in history.

Steve Smith, Food City president and CEO, talked about that as company staff mingled with vendors in the store before the ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday evening.

He began, “Let me tell you a little history. We came to Maryville and the region in 1990 with the acquisition of the White Stores …”

The Maryville White Store was converted to a Food City and operated that way for about nine years before acquiring the old Winn Dixie. Five years later, they moved out of that building to the store on West Broadway that Food City is moving out of now.

“So this is actually the fourth store we’ve been in the 30 years that we’ve been here in Maryville. We’ve continually tried to improve our product, improve our stores, improve the variety, the selection, the facility for the consumer. Each time we’ve moved into a little bit bigger store,” Smith said.

Which brings Food City to the new 58,800-square-foot store. It’s a size Smith thinks works for blending the company’s legacy into a modern grocery that maintains focus on food and household items.

“This is a flagship store we’ve built, one of the largest we’ve ever built from the ground up. We think it’s a nice, shoppable size. It’s not as big as some of the super stores that you’ll find, but it’s a lot bigger than your average store,” Smith said.

“It’s still very maneuverable and it’s a fun store to shop. I’ve actually been around in it with a buggy in my hands and it flows well, and I think the consumer will really, really like it.”

The new store includes a signature element of Food City stores, their deli with hot bar and café seating area, plus a salad bar.

“You can have a leisurely lunch, or you can come in and have breakfast. It’s a nice environment to do a little shopping, do a little visiting if you want do that.”

Smith said he believes that for some customers a grocery store is more than a place to buy things. With seven traditional checkout lanes and six self-check-outs, the store is designed so customers can shop quickly, but they don’t have to.

“We think a grocery store is a little bit of the hub of the community, where people like to go, like to see their neighbors and their friends, like to meet. We want people to feel free to spend some time in here. Obviously, some people have to get in and get out. We’re set up for that too.”

With that said, Smith emphasized Food City is true to its name.

“We’re in the food business. That’s what you’re going to find in here. You’re going to find fresh food. You’re going to find great perishable selection. You’re going to find fair prices,” Smith said.

Bob has served in a variety of roles since joining The Daily Times in the 90s. He currently is editor of the business section. When someone gets promoted, retires or gets hired at a new job in Blount County, he's the man to email.

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