SOUTHINGTON — Construction crews are working to finish a roomier, more energy-efficient Tops Market that could open at the end of next month.
Owner John Salerno said he’s “amazed” at the store that replaces the building lost in a fire nearly one year ago. There’s LED lighting, higher ceilings, wider aisles, better refrigeration and a roomier layout.
“It’s going to feel a lot more spacious,” Salerno said. “Everything is bigger because of the space we picked up by the redesign.”
On Thursday, workers were finishing up a pick-up window on the side of the building. The reopened Tops will offer grocery and meal delivery as well as the option to order groceries and pick them up.
Salerno said he and co-owner Betsy Tooker are also continuing the prepared foods and other premade options.
“It meets the new needs of people. People are grab-and-go,” Salerno said.
The former building was declared a total loss following the March 3, 2019 blaze. There were no injuries.
While the building footprint hasn’t changed much, the new building is more efficiently laid out which created more space. Bozzuto’s Inc, Tops Market’s supplier, helped design the new building and improve the layout.
David Falt, Bozzuto’s design and engineering director, was at the store going over plans on Thursday.
“The new store will welcome customers into a spacious layout enhancing the fresh, perishable, and prepared food areas while keeping all of items and store made favorites the loyal customers have grown to love through the years,” he said. “The store will benefit from state of the art refrigeration and energy saving lighting systems.”
Falt said the company was proud to have been part of the rebuilding effort.
Insurance payments after the fire fell short of what it would cost to build the store and replace lost product, Salerno said. He took out a loan to bridge the funding gap, saying he wanted to leave a thriving store to his children.
He’d initially planned to open in February. Salerno is now hoping to open at the end of March or as soon as possible.
While grocery sales ended with the fire, Salerno has been continuing the store's catering service, Carmela Marie Catering. He said he’s also been busy with other jobs such as driving for Uber, although he’s at the store every day.
The fire started near the store’s pizza ovens, but the exact cause could not be determined due to extensive damage, fire officials have said.