A week following the grand re-opening of Kings Food Store in Bedminster, shoppers on Saturday morning were still being treated to jalapeno cheese, espresso spiked with hazelnut, mini kobe burgers and other samples of the supermarket's expanded offerings.
Tom McNerny, area director for Kings, had promised the new store would continue its gourmet foods stations and cooking demonstrations throughout the week after the now 24,000-square-foot store re-opened with a party on Feb. 3.
The store also continues to collect donations for the Food Bank Network of Somerset County.
Shoppers and invited guests last week attended an official "pasta-cutting," with long ribbons of fresh pasta replacing the usual ribbon, to recognize the completion of the expansion of the store's size and offerings.
All through the day, "food stations" gave out bits of baked goods — including the Balducci's cakes now available to the bakery — along with tastes of veal tenderloin, seafood, stuffed mushroom tarts, Lidia's sauce and pasta and other samples of new brands added to the store's merchandise.
The Kings store in Bedminster is the first remodeled store in the chain of 24 Kings Food Stores in New Jersey, with one on Long Island in Garden City, N.Y.
"It's good for our local economy — it's good for all of our food hounds," said Bedminster Mayor Bob Holtaway.
The Kings store in Bedminster is the first with the new logo, and the first in New Jersey with such features as a cafe that seats 48, McNerny said. "We looked at the potential in this store," he said.
Some, but not all, of the new brands, will begin appearing in other Kings store, the department managers said.
McNerny said that during a five-month remodel, during which the supermarket remained open with usual schedule, changes were made throughout all of the aisles while floor space expanded into an additional 5,000 square feet. The extra space, transformed into a larger produce and floral department, was taken from smaller vacant storefronts in The Hills Mall off Route 206/202 north and Hills Drive, he said.
The availability of the extra space allowed Kings to broaden its vision of what the remodeled food store would become, McNerney said.
On Saturday morning, shoppers had ventured into a new cafe area that now provides WiFi. More prepared foods, a coffee bar that serves cappuccino, lattes and other specialty coffee drinks, and a pizza oven in the store are designed to draw shoppers to Kings as a destination, McNerney said.
Other additions are an expanded meat and seafood counter with specialty meats such as American Kobe grassfed beef, Tomer kosher beef and an expanded line of seafood products, such as Black Pearl salmon.
"It's more of an experience now," shopper Elaine Schaeffler, from Bedminster, said at the grand re-opening.
"They worked really hard," Schaeffler said of the store employees, who had been constructing and relocating new sections of the store in the previous month. "They did a fabulous job."
The original store opened in the mall at the end of the 1980s. McNerney said. He said he believes the food store serves customers within at least a five-mile radius, including shoppers from Bedminster, Bridgewater and elsewhere in the Somerset Hills.