Fiesta Foods plans Hermiston store

Fiesta Foods' proposed store design<br><I>Contributed graphic

The city of Hermiston netted its latest new business arrival last week, when Pasco-based Fiesta Foods acquired the building that housed Super 1 Foods on Highway 395. The company plans to open a new grocery and retail store there by next spring, said Fiesta Foods president and owner Craig Gaylord.

The company also aims to revamp the 40,000-square-foot building and add another 6,000 square feet, Gaylord said. The entire project will cost about $7 million.

"It will basically, by the time we're done, be a brand new building," he said.

The building has stood vacant since May, when Super 1 Foods closed its Hermiston location. Gaylord said he expects construction to begin at the site within 30 days to aim for the spring 2009 opening.

Gaylord brings some familiarity with Hermiston to the new venture, which will be Fiesta Foods' fourth overall store and first in Oregon. He owned a grocery store at the same location when it operated as a Shop N' Kart.

Hermiston emerged as a front-runner for the new location partly because of that connection and market familiarity. The city's relatively large Hispanic population - a group Fiesta Foods caters toward - also helps, he added.

But the departure of Super 1 Foods opened the door in the first place, Gaylord said.

"Hermiston kind of came up because Super 1 closed," he said. "I really wasn't looking at Hermiston until that happened, and then I saw an opportunity."

The new Fiesta Foods store will include several departments including a bakery, meat market, juice bar and a tortilleria making fresh tortillas from scratch. Hermiston's location will also include something new, Gaylord said - an in-store barbecue with grilled items. The company opened its first store in Pasco, Wash. in 2003.

Hermiston City Manager Ed Brookshier called the store a "good boon for the local economy," likely to bring several jobs with it. He said a number of businesses expressed interest in the old Super 1 Foods location once it emptied, but the city stayed in contact with Fiesta Foods throughout the process.

The announcement also comes on the heels of another significant business development for the city. Last month, international seed producer Pioneer Hi-Bred announced its own plans to build a production plant in Hermiston.

"It's important to always be aggressive," Brookshier said of the city's recent partnerships. "A real secret to economic development is never, ever rest on your laurels."

Brookshier said one development can often lead to another as businesses try to locate in a high-activity area.

"We try to keep that momentum going," he said.

The city's planning department is already working with Fiesta Foods to expedite the project, Brookshier said. Gaylord said the new store will offer a very different feel than previous stores at the prominent location, including his own Shop N' Kart venture.

"We're very excited to be coming back," he said.

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