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A new Grocery Outlet is set to open Thursday in Midtown.
Local residents and state workers seemed not to recognize the place when owners Mindi and Ken Admire offered a sneak peak during a ribbon-cutting celebration late Wednesday afternoon.
A market-scene mural still marks the corner store at 17th Street and Capitol Avenue, where Rick's Uptown Market operated. But following a costly renovation, the 9,000-square-foot space is much more neighborhood market than convenience store.
The sidewalk in front is lined with wooden produce bins holding tomatoes, avocados, onions and fruit. Cheeses, meats and more produce line back walls. A grab-and-go section in front offers pasta salad, sandwiches and cut fruit. A small flower stand marks the entrance to the store.
"I can't believe it's the same store," said 28-year-old neighbor Heather Woodford, who checked out the store with Ryan Malhoski, 25.
Guests at the ribbon-cutting celebration included City Councilman Kevin McCarty and Grocery Outlet owners from Modesto, Folsom and West Sacramento.
The Admires, who relocated from Orange County, are opening a branch of the chain that calls itself the country's largest "extreme-value" grocery retailer. Their children, Kristina and Kenneth, will help manage the store. Ken Admire has worked in the grocery industry for 34 years and once managed a Wild Oats Market in Colorado.
The store will offer brand-name products at steep discounts, like others in the chain. Brands include Kellogg's, General Mills, Betty Crocker and a Texas brand from H-E-B Grocery Co. The store, open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., also sells Naturalist vitamins, beauty products, frozen foods and household goods.
The market is the type of thing the central city needs to be sustainable and less car-dependent, said Patty Kleinknecht, executive director of the River District.
As the celebration began, artist Michael Stanford continued his work to restore the mural he created 10 years ago for Rick's Uptown Market. He's replaced the name of the old store with "Midtown Grocery Outlet Bargain Market." Neighbors and Sacramento artists led by the Midtown Murals Project persuaded Grocery Outlet officials to keep the mural, said the chain's spokeswoman, Melissa Porter.
The exterior was painted and landscaped, the interior gutted and completely renovated. Betsy Barnhart, who works across the street at the California Department of Public Health, used to buy her lunch at Rick's market. Now she plans to do a lot of her grocery shopping there, she said.
"I like Grocery Outlet. I like the deals you get," she said. "This is a huge difference from what it was."
Photos by Suzanne Hurt, a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.