By Andrea Tomkins –
The 21st location of the supermarket chain officially opened on June 23 on McRae Avenue near Scott Street, a block north of the Great Canadian Superstore.
The close proximity to the Superstore is a deliberate move on Farm Boy’s part, says CEO of Farm Boy and soon-to-be Westboro resident, Jeff York.
“We like to be beside our competition,” says Jeff. “Westboro deserves a Farm Boy. That’s the way we look at it. We just find the offerings in Westboro are just not good enough for the population and we saw a void in the marketplace.”
The Westboro location features a few unique elements, including a pizza station – hand rolled dough with a customer’s choice of toppings and baked in five minutes – and a two-storey layout with a dining area on the second floor and free Wi-Fi.
It’s also the first Farm Boy location to offer underground parking.
Although the chain, originally based in Cornwall, has been a rising star in the supermarket business since it first opened its doors in 1981, Farm Boy does not define itself as a grocery store but a “fresh food experience.” The store models itself on an indoor farmer’s market with a butcher shop, cheese shop, specialty grocery, and most recently, ready-to-eat and self-serve food options. This aspect of Farm Boy is relatively new and Jeff admits Farm Boy staffers are figuring it out as they go along.
“It’s a food adventure, that’s what we want to be,” says Jeff. “We’re learning as we go along, and hiring really good people to help us keep improving that experience.” The hot food bar, salad bar, fresh sushi, and the new pizza station are all part of that vision.
It seems like a natural transition for a business that prides itself on bringing local produce to store shelves. Customers are demanding good quality food and a healthy serving of authenticity to go with it.
Jeff believes Westboro is more than ready for Farm Boy, adding that today’s customers are more discerning than ever. According to Jeff, who has been with Farm Boy since 2009, they are serving up the most meals in Ottawa at lunchtime, proving that the drive-through is not the only choice any more.
Perhaps not surprisingly, men are a growing group of customers looking for chef-prepared food options that are healthier than traditional fast food options. In fact, Jeff refers to men as “the forgotten shopper,” along with other smaller niche groups in the community, such as seniors who are living at home and singletons who don’t have the resources to cook a great meal.
“We see [food service] as an area we’re going to keep expanding because there’s a need in the marketplace…. businesses who identify a need and move quickly, well, they win today. And that’s where we want to be.”