By Tiffany Holland
The Roanoke Times | January 4, 2017

(Full article available here.)

Earth Fare is the new grocery that’s headed to Roanoke’s Ivy Market development, the company announced Wednesday.

Speculation about which grocer would land at the Franklin Road site has been going on for several months, after the owners of the property filed a zoning request to build a grocery store but did not name the tenant.

It will be next to the new Mellow Mushroom pizza restaurant and near the Carilion Institute for Orthopaedics and Neurosciences.

The store is slated to open in the fall. This will be the first Virginia store for the Asheville, North Carolina-based supermarket, which has 39 locations.

Earth Fare is an organic and natural foods grocery store founded in 1975 that has been a growing player in the health foods industry.

Products sold by the chain do not contain high fructose corn syrup or artificial ingredients, and are free of antibiotics and growth hormones. The company is known for its Boot List of unacceptable food ingredients. Any products containing these ingredients are not allowed in the store.

Its main competitors are boutique and specialty groceries like Whole Foods and, to a lesser extent, The Fresh Market, which has a location at Towers Shopping Center in Roanoke nearby Earth Fare’s new location.

“Earth Fare’s unparalleled commitment to keeping our products free from harmful additives means you can shop our store and be confident that your cart is full of healthy, wholesome options,” Earth Fare president and CEO Frank Scorpiniti said in a news release. “Virginia shoppers deserve a store where they can find all the products they need to help their families lead healthier lives, and we are looking forward to bringing our mission of providing healthy food for everyone within the Roanoke community.”

The store will be 24,000 square feet, about the same size as Fresh Market and smaller than the average Kroger store. It will feature an organic juice bar with coffees, smoothies and juices. It also will have a kitchen selling prepared foods, including a salad bar, hot foods bar, pizza station, sandwich counter and prepackaged foods. People can eat their meals on site at an indoor/outdoor 80-seat cafe.

Earth Fare will be the new anchor tenant of Ivy Market, which is owned by Harbour Retail Partners and covers four acres in a busy retail corridor along Franklin Road.

Randy Kelley, principal of the partners, said Earth Fare was particularly appealing for the site because it will offer new options for Roanokers, especially with its organic food selections. In addition to Earth Fare, another 7,000-square-foot building is being designed at Ivy Market behind Mellow Mushroom to house one to three tenants, he said.

Roanoke City Manager Chris Morrill touted the grocer’s arrival. In a news release, Morrill said it will add to the region’s retail options and enhance other development activities in that part of the city.

Kroger has long been the dominant grocer in the Roanoke region. But in the past few years, new grocers have popped up, including discount grocer Aldi. Lidl also recently purchased land in Roanoke County to construct a new store.

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