Santee's own opened its doors on Wednesday with a grand opening celebration. The store was bustling with shoppers exploring a new consumer landscape while buying dinner.
Located at the corner of Mission Gorge Road and Cuyamaca Street, the newest addition to a strip mall shared with , really stands out. It opened about a year after popped up in the old Henry's building.
The store has a bit of a European feel to it (hard to put my finger on it, but something definetly different than your average ), an unshakeable influence from the chain's owner, British super-market giant Tesco. And, that may be the point of the "neighborhood market"- something different than American consumers are used to.
It seemed like they had most of the staff out on opening day, all of whom were friendly and helpful.
Everything is pre-packaged- no butcher, deli or other service counters. One notorious aspect of Fresh & Easy is the predominance of self-checkouts. There was one employee per checkout lane opening day, but it's my understanding that the self-checkouts are staffed much like , with one employee helping a bank of checkouts.
From what I can tell, you can get most any product you could at a larger super-market, but it is mostly Fresh & Easy or another uncommon brand.
Representatives from United Food & Commercial Workers union stood out front of the newly opened store handing out fliers claiming that Fresh & Easy has an anti-union stance and asking that customers shop at another store. Ten feet later, store employees countered these claims by handing out another flier explaining that employees are free to make the choice to unionize. The Fresh & Easy flier also points out that employee pay starts at $10 an hour, with access to health insurance for all and an option to participate in a 401k. Also, they point out that 60 percent of the produce they sell is farmed in CA.
The Missus and I had just come back from the with arms full of food and produce, so we'll have to come back on shopping day to see how the food tastes, and of course, we'll put a review (maybe with some recipes) on the site.
Have you been to the new Fresh & Easy? What do you think?