Fiesta Foods aims for July opening

Project manager Bob Lindquist of Supervalu confers with Fiesta Foods owner Craig Gaylord in Hermiston Thursday as workers continue the store's major renovation.<BR><I>Staff photo by Dean Brickey</I>

The parking lot is like a sandy beach and the inside is a beehive of construction activity, but Fiesta Foods owner Craig Gaylord says it'll all be ready for a mid-July opening in Hermiston.

Gaylord and his brother, Cary, were in Hermiston Thursday, supervising major remodeling of the former Super 1 Foods and Shop-n-Kart store at 1875 N. First St. Cary formerly was store director of Shop-n-Kart. He's on the Fiesta Foods corporate staff and will have a Hermiston office.

Rosauers Supermarkets Inc., parent of Super 1 Foods, closed the store May 10, 2008. Gaylord acquired it late last year and began his plans to expand his Pasco-based Fiesta Foods to Hermiston.

"When we had the opportunity to buy it back in December and turn it into a Fiesta Foods, we jumped at it," Craig said.

The Hermiston store will be the company's fourth. Others are in Pasco, Sunnyside and Yakima, Wash.

Shoppers who were familiar with Shop-n-Kart or Super 1 Foods won't recognize the place.

"Basically, the only thing that's original from the other store is the shell," Craig said, noting the contractors began with a 40,000-square-foot building, gutted it and then began expanding it.

Once shoppers pass through the vestibule, where they'll obtain shopping carts and baskets, they'll pass by a mesquite grill as they enter the store. It's among the sections offering ready-to-eat food. Craig said chicken and carne asada (beef) will be among the items available.

On the northwest corner inside, workers are installing bakery equipment in the area where he said breads and pastries will be prepared daily.

Farther west, workers are installing a special carving station for another section, Tacos Al Pastor, which will serve what Craig calls a unique brand of tacos. Pork drizzled with pineapple juice will cook on a rotisserie over a mesquite charcoal barbecue spit.

"Our hot food selection is over 48 feet of different entrees and dishes," he said.

In addition, he claims Fiesta Foods will have the city's largest seafood department. The meat counter will feature specially marinated products.

Craig said the store will include a service center, where shoppers may pay utility bills and cash payroll checks. Service center employees will charge $3 to cash checks, but will give customers a $3 coupon good anywhere in the store.

Fiesta Foods will employ 130-150 people, mostly from the Hermiston area, Craig said. He is transferring about 20 people from other Fiesta Foods stores to Hermiston.

"We've already hired 120, and we're still hiring," he said. "We hire everybody at part time, but 90 percent will be full time."

Wages ranges from entry level to $75,000 per year. The company offers benefits, including health insurance and a 401K retirement plan.

Managing the store will be Salvador Aguayo, assistant store director in Yakima. It will be open daily 6 a.m. to midnight.

Since the $8 million project began, workers have added 6,800 square feet of retail space on the building's northeast corner, a 1,600-square-foot vestibule on the eastern front and 250 square feet of storage to the shell.

Cary Gaylord's Suds Yer Duds, a 2,500-square-foot self-service, but attended, laundry and dry cleaners will occupy one of the four retail spaces. The other three spaces, up to 1,500 square feet each, are available for other businesses, Craig said.

"We're looking for businesses that ... have a good marketing plan and are healthy," he said.

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