JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A long-awaited Publix opened its doors in East San Marco Thursday morning after being in the works for 20 years.
Dozens were through the doors in the first hour Thursday with balloons set up at the main entrance to welcome them in after the 7 a.m. ribbon cutting.
“Honestly, it is a huge deal for down here. It is their first shopping plaza that is really nearby. It is super clean. It actually felt like a wedding reception. They had so many people greeting you, the managers and everything,” customer Amy Lorenz said, adding that she was second in line for a “Pub-Sub” Thursday morning.
Related | Video: Thunderstorms create standing water in brand new San Marco Publix parking garage
Lorenz was among those in line being pumped up by music before they were the first to walk through the aisles of the new grocery store.
The new 60,000-square-foot Publix at the corner of Atlantic Boulevard and Hendricks Avenue near San Marco Square has a traditional grocery store on the second floor along with indoor and outdoor seating near the deli.
“There is a really cute seating area. So it’s a little bit different. It’s a little bit of what you would expect because of the vibe of San Marco. Period. It is more homey, it is very welcoming,” Lorenz said.
A liquor store and covered parking are on the ground level. Elevators and a stairwell provide access to the main store from the covered parking below.
The grocery store itself is 39,000 square feet.
“We are excited to open our much-anticipated newest location in Jacksonville,” said Hannah Herring, Publix media relations manager. “We look forward to providing a premier customer shopping experience along with the products and services our Jacksonville customers know and love.”
Lass Lassiter said he no longer has to drive a few miles out of the way for groceries anymore. Now he can walk.
“But this one is very close. I could just get up and walk. Leave the truck over there and just walk,” Lassiter said. “I personally come down to this area every morning. It is awesome to be able to go and pick up a couple of items. I have a nice size bag and everything. It’s a good thing.”
But what’s a grand opening without a few hiccups? A few hours after the store opened, heavy rain and wind blew through Jacksonville Thursday afternoon -- creating standing water in the parking garage below the store.
The water receded after only a few minutes. Click here to read more.
The first talks of adding this store to the San Marco area began in 2002, then The Regency Center announced the project four years later, but it ran into significant delays, including the recession from 2007 to 2009, and a residential developer pulling out of the deal in 2017, according to our news partners at the Jacksonville Daily Record.
Finally, plans for the new supermarket were then revealed in 2019 with the lease being signed a year later. The $9.7 million project was finally completed this year.
Hours for the new Publix will be 7 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Publix, the largest employee-owned company in the U.S. with more than 230,000 associates, currently operates 1,301 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.