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This article was published 29/10/2018 (480 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Tops in the country.
That’s what the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers has named the Save-On-Foods store on McPhillips Street.
The Northgate Shopping Centre anchor tenant took home the national gold award for best large-space grocer in Canada at a gala event in Toronto last week.
"It was pretty cool to bring that back. We were up against some pretty nice stores our there," store manager Tim Styba said Monday.
St. Norbert Marketplace, which has been closed for more than a year, also won in the themed event category for small-surface stores. The popular store at the south end of Pembina Highway is being rebuilt by Federated Co-op.
Styba credited staff and Save-On’s varied offerings for the win. "It’s got everything, from the obvious to the Starbucks to dim sum to frozen yogurt to a solutions kitchen where chefs cook."
It has a perogy bar and a wing bar. It has a sweet shop with candy apples and popcorn.
The perogy offerings range from potato-and-bacon-flavoured perogies to blueberry, apple pie, cinnamon and sugar perogies.
"There are some grocers here in the city that have tried to copy some of the things we do and I take that as the ultimate form of flattery," Styba said.
Chefs perform demonstration cooking where people can watch and pick up pointers. "It’s like a demo kitchen or sampling kitchen. We have our own chefs in the store that do our Chinese food and dim sum and stuff," Styba said.
The store has five Chinese food chefs. They cook items such as barbecued duck and pork, soya chicken and dim sum. "You know, we hand-picked those guys. We went around the city and sampled Chinese food and when we found some of the best in the city, we hired them," Styba said.
There’s also a multimillion-dollar commissary that produces smoked meat, deli meat, smokies, beef jerky, pasta and other products for the company’s three stores in the city.
Stores are nominated and then auditors spend time inspecting them. The auditor goes out and scores the store for a period from April to the end of June.
The process puts the store under a microscope.
"It’s a forensic audit of how you run your store and they interview your customers, team members and they check for gum under the tables, balloons in the rafters and what you’re parking lot looks like and your back loading bay. It’s a very detailed audit."
Styba said the store’s strength is its staff.
"Nothing happens without a power team, and a team that really cares about the community and where they work," he said.
"It shows in our store with how clean we are and friendly. We get a lot of comments on that every week and ultimately it’s a team award."
The 65,000-square-foot store opened two years ago in November.
Save-On tries to sell products tailored to the tastes of its community. The store features an International Market with more than 6,000 products from places such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Greece, South Asia, South Africa and Mexico.