Monday, July 24th, 2017

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New downtown Heinen’s fills niche in urban community

You have to see it to believe it.

The new downtown Cleveland Heinen’s location inside the historic Cleveland Trust Building at E. 9th and Euclid Ave. is the gem of the chain.

The Cleveland Trust bank building first opened to the public in 1908. The architect, George B. Post, was known for his innovative engineering skills and was acknowledged as, “the father of the tall building in New York.” Beautiful murals, painted by Francis David Millet, adorn the third-level walls and were his final pieces of art before he was last seen helping women and children into the lifeboats aboard the Titanic. After being abandoned by the bank, the building was purchased by Cuyahoga County. The Geis Co. bought the Cleveland Trust complex from the county in 2012 for $22 million. Geis redeveloped the adjacent 29-story Cleveland Trust tower as a luxury hotel and apartment complex. Seeing the possibilities for an urban market to serve the needs of an expanding downtown community, Heinen’s co-owners Jeff and Tom Heinen stepped forward and invested $10 million to insert a supermarket into the former bank.

Kathryn Falls, director of marketing for the third-generation, family-owned Heinen’s grocery chain, said business has been non-stop since the store’s grand opening on Feb. 25. “The pace is incredible,” she said. “It has been wonderful to see how excited people have been to come here. They just enjoy the beauty of the space.”

The store is different from other Heinen’s locations because it is designed in the round and on multiple levels. A dining area in the center of the historic rotunda offers gourmet selections from the soup and salad bar, Global Grill, sushi and Hawaiian poke bar, Two Brother Deli, Salads We Love bar and the prepared foods counter. The seafood counter features a seasonal selection of more than 20 items, many of which are delivered overnight six days a week from places like Boston, the West Coast, Hawaii and Alaska. The full-service meat department continues a tradition established by Joe Heinen, when he opened the doors of a small butcher shop on Cleveland’s east side in 1929.

The second floor of the store is a wine and beer lounge. The wine department under the rotunda offers a thousand varietals of wine from every corner of the world. More than 40 wines are available in self-serve wine dispensers. Customers can purchase a swipe card that allows them to enjoy a taste of wine or a full glass. Put $20 or more on the card and Heinen’s waives the $3 card activation fee. The adjacent beer department carries a selection of more than 400 craft beers, with eight beers on tap. A menu of chef-prepared small plates, cheese and charcuterie boards complements the beverages. There is comfortable seating at banquettes throughout the second level of the store, with many of the tables made from marble salvaged from the Cleveland Trust bank.

“The lounge area is a very communal space,” Falls noted. “It is a very different experience from our other stores. This is a restaurant alternative. It functions differently at different times of the day.” Falls said the store offers downtown workers endless possibilities for breakfast and lunch. After work, many downtown office employees gather in the lounge area to enjoy a glass of wine and an appetizer.

“This project has been a learning curve for all of us,” Jeff Heinen said. “We had a running start with the beauty of the building. The traffic patterns of an urban store are completely different from all of our other stores, which are suburban. We’ve been very gratified so far to hear our customers say that we have done a pretty good job of fitting our downtown store into that unique space.”

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