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Delay in C-Town opening blamed on design changes

MERIDEN — The business owner readying a C-Town Supermarket said Monday that design changes to build a bigger grocery store have pushed back the target opening date.

Daniel Diaz is leasing the building from developers Joseph and John LaRosa and is now in the midst of converting the former Colony Street tire retreading company into an 11,000-square-foot supermarket in the city’s downtown.

“We’re trying,” Diaz said. “We had all the drawings and went back to make some changes to make it better and carry more merchandise. That’s what is taking so long. We should be open in two to three months.”

The LaRosas, doing business as 152-160 Colony St. LLC, have completed the parking lots and driveway and are ready to pour the concrete foundation in the rear, Diaz said.

Store owners had hoped to open in late spring or early summer, but Diaz, who also owns a C-Town in New Britain, wanted to make the changes that would make the store one of the larger C-Towns. Once the concrete is poured and the freezers installed in the rear, passersby will start noticing the store banners.

The property sits on the site of the former Malerba Silver City Tire and consists of three buildings, one was formerly an A&P supermarket. City ordinances allowed it to be turned back into a grocery store.

The site underwent considerable cleanup to remove waste from the previous owner. C-Town Supermarkets is a chain of independently owned and operated grocery stores in the northeastern U.S. It was founded in 1975 with the goal of allowing small member stores to pool their purchasing and advertising to improve competition against the larger chains.

C-Town operates approximately 200 stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania and is the fifthlargest food retailer in the New York City metropolitan area. Chain stores are supplied by Krasdale Foods.

The Meriden store is owned by Diaz and two brothers who grew up in the grocery business following their father.

The Colony Street store will follow C-Town’s nontraditional model of moving into locations that suburban stores have abandoned. C-Towns tend to draw a lot of foot traffic and don’t require as much parking as other locations. Its downtown location allows it to service the community while providing community jobs.

The store will carry products from Europe, Latin America and Asia as well as traditional all-American foods. Meat, dairy and produce will come from local suppliers.

The two other buildings on the parcel could be used for the grocery store, a bakery and possibly a fish business.

City officials are excited about the C-Town because it means downtown jobs and downtown foot traffic, both of which are critical to the city’s economic development plan.

“It’s a pretty complicated project,” said Mayor Michael S. Rohde. “There is a lot of equipment installed.”

The August Puerto Rican Festival is a good opportunity for C-Town to introduce its new store, Rohde said.

The festival always needs more donors, especially food and beverages, he said.

mgodin@record-journal.com (203) 317-2255 Twitter: @CConnBiz



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